Mighty Kushiel, of rod and weal
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
No, you’re not seeing things. Yes, I did just review the first book in this series less than a week ago (okay, 5 days ago to be precise). It is a testament to how much I loved the first book that I felt the desire to dive straight in to the second, which is fitting, as indeed this book picks up where the previous left off.
Since I did do such a recent review of Kushiel’s Dart left off, instead of repeating why I so adored that book, I thought I’d touch on some of the things that I missed before.
First off, we have Melisandre our antagonist. As I mentioned the dire lack of strong female protagonist lead epic fantasy, so too are we lacking for strong female antagonists. Melisandre does what she does out of a lust for power and because she sees Phèdre as a worthy opponent. Not once does a lover scorned ever enter the picture – though I will say there is a rather twisted kind of love between the two players that is all kinds of wrong and yet remains seductive. It is definitely a strength.
Also, I love the travelogue-esque aspect of these tales. The places Phèdre visits this time around are decidedly more interesting than Skaldia, but that same level of care and craft in terms of its peoples and its beliefs and all feel distinct. Carey loves her world without question.
I also love that through it all, Phèdre never loses her faith. It would be so easy for her to become jaded and it is a wonder that she does not. I myself am not religious, but I appreciate those who are and I can understand respect how she in her faith she finds the strength to go one.
I do have two minor quibbles, however. The first is, is that even with only two books it feels like there is a formula setting in: Phèdre slowly gets drawn into an intrigue, and at the half-way mark events spiral out of control and send her on an adventure. It’s not bad, but at the same point in time it probably is just as well that her story is a trilogy or else I think it might grow stale, especially since there are only so many times one can escape certain death (while not being a fighter herself) without losing some plausibility.
The second is that Joscelin gets to be ridiculously annoying. You understand why he struggles so but that does not change that relationship between Phèdre and Joscelin turns borderline melodrama. When fate conspires to separate them for large chunk of the book, I do think it is for the better of the book, and thankfully it is settled by the end of this book.
All in all, the series remains excellent and an easy recommendation.Fantasy would truly be well served to have more characters like her.
Finally, for those worried about such things, there is decidedly less emphasis on sex in this than in the first (though it of course does remain an undercurrent).
Verdict: Buy It