A Fantasy Series Book Review
Genre: Fantasy Series, Alternate History, Erotic, AdultPublisher's Blurb:
Publisher: Tor Fantasy; 1st edition (March 14, 2003)
Mass Market Paperback: 704 pages
Mighty Kushiel, of rod and wealPhèdre, peer of the realm, has been issued a challenge. The challenge comes in the form of a gift, her sangoire cloak, last seen in the possession of Melisande Shahrizai. Trained as a courtesan fit to pleasure royalty, skilled in the art of spying, it is a challenge Phèdre cannot refuse. Her quest to solve the riddle of Melisande Shahrizai will carry her to distant shores, and put her in extreme danger, but the greatest danger of all is to her beloved queen. Can Phèdre stop an overthrow of the throne or will Melisande Shahrizai win the game. The stakes are high and not least of these is the possible loss of Phèdre's one true love. How this story plays out may just surprise you.
Late of the brazen portals
With blood-tipp'd dart a wound unhealed
Pricks the eyen of chosen mortals
The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. The inhabiting race rose from the seed of angels and men, and they live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.
Phèdre nó Delaunay was sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by a nobleman, the first to recognize that she is one pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. He trained Phèdre in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber--and, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze.
When she stumbled upon a plot that threatened the very foundations of her homeland, she gave up almost everything she held dear to save it. She survived, and lived to have others tell her story, and if they embellished the tale with fabric of mythical splendor, they weren't far off the mark.
The hands of the gods weigh heavily upon Phèdre's brow, and they are not finished with her. While the young queen who sits upon the throne is well loved by the people, there are those who believe another should wear the crown... and those who escaped the wrath of the mighty are not yet done with their schemes for power and revenge.
As a second book in a trilogy, this book seems to suffer from the middle book blues. It does not seem to flow as well as Kushiel's Dart, the middle of the book itself just dragged along. However, the beginning and the ending more then make up for this. The ending brought a tear to my eye, something that NEVER happens, (I am not an emotional person), while making me want to cheer at the same time. This fact points directly to Jacqueline Carey's ability to make characters you love, or hate and she has done a great job of creating both in this series.
Another thing I love about her writing style is the prose, while some readers hate lyrical prose I happen to enjoy it. It is obvious to me that Carey loves words and knows how to use them to beautiful effect. The world she has created, an alternate Renaissance, is so well crafted that you can actually picture yourself as being there. While the names she uses to label the various countries are obscure ones, you will have no problem recognizing Venice or Crete, as they might have been if the world she envisions actually existed. All of these factors combined with a world with the worship of sex at its heart make for a very fun read. Now this is not a series for just anybody, Phèdre is an anguissette, marked by the gods to experience pleasure from pain. This proclivity is one she uses often and it may make some people very uncomfortable. It did not bother me however mainly because of the way it was handled. By placing myself into the world as it is portrayed, a world founded on the precept of "love as thou wilt,” her talents are very natural and normal within the confines of the setting. If anything, I admire Jacqueline Carey for daring to create such an atypical heroine.
The characters are great, the love story is heartbreaking and beautiful by turns, the political intrigue is masterful, there were surprises I definitely did not see coming and there was tragedy as well. As an added bonus, there is some great swashbuckling action also! If you are not offended or made uncomfortable by detailed sex scenes and you love high adventure, romance, political intrigue, and swordplay, I highly recommend this series. Now on to book three to see what kind of trouble Phèdre gets into next.
Other books in the series
Shelfari Rating 4+/5
Librarything Rating 4.29/5
Amazon Rating 4+ out of 5 stars
(93 Customer Reviews)
What Should I Read Next?
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