Okay- I feel as though there will be a lot of prefacing before I continue to the actual review. A little backstory first. . .I had been wanting to read the Gray Series (you know the one, 50 shades) but I had continually been told that it was poorly written, and repetitive in certain. . . scenes. So I just kind of threw it on my TBR pile, and my attitude was when (if) i get to it, then I get to it. In the meantime, family member gifted me the (almost) complete series of Kushiel by Jacqueline Carey, and basically said that this series will blow you away.
Now. . .I honestly would not consider myself a romance reader. I never really was into that kind of genre, I always stuck with science fiction, young adult, etc. However, looking for Kushiel at book sales, for some reason, was ALWAYS categorized in either ‘Mystery’ or ‘Science Fiction’. Suffice it to say, if this truly is a ‘Romance’ novel/series, it converted me. . .at least just for this series.
Have you ever wanted to read a book simply by looking at the cover? For some reason or another, this particular book had come up in my recommendation list on Goodreads, shortly after said family member gifted me the series. The cover was appealing to me. First instinct was that it had an Egyptian theme, I thought great, there will be a bit of history reading this book, it’s right up my alley. I’m not typically one to read the back of the book to see what the plot will be. I like to be surprised as the story progresses. That being said, let’s review the book!
This book does NOT take place in Egypt lol. This book takes place in it’s own world; Terre de Ange. Don’t ask me how to pronounce 3/4 of the names in this book, I did my best. I can say (in my opinion) that this book is solely based off of two ideals that run the entire book; “Love as thou wilt” and “All knowledge is worth having”. The first ideal is how the book starts. An unlikely marriage yields a child; not really an unwanted child, but her parents wanted better for her. So what other place would a parent of Terre de Ange drop off their child? Well at the Night Court, where else? So what exactly is the Night Court? Everyone who lives under the Night Court is a servant of Naamah. They are trained in what that particular house represents; modesty, healing, wealth, perfection, fragility, dignity, creativity, mysticism, devotion, sensuality, dominance, humor, and submission. When Phèdre is taken in, there is one distinguishing attribute that makes her stand out from anyone else; there is a red mote in her eye, Kushiel’s Dart, that has not been seen for centuries. What her mark actually means is that derives pleasure from pain. Being Terre de Ange’s first anguisette does not bode well for the house Phèdre belongs to; Fragility. She is defiant, expressive, rebellious, and adventurous. Luckily, a patron sees her potential and buys her so that she may study and find her own place in this world.
Phèdre now becomes known as “Delaunay’s anguisette”. Delaunay, having taken his second pupil now, makes sure that Phèdre studies language, behaviors, tactics, listening skills, tumbling, anything that would help in the world of politics. Phèdre is also taught in depth about Kushiel’s Dart. She is trained as a servant of Naamah (basically a religious prostitution) although Phèdre’s training is more harmful, and she must pick a “safe word” so that her patron’s may know to stop. All patron’s must first go through Delaunay, and then be approved by Phèdre. Because of her unique condition, Phèdre quickly gains popularity, too much popularity. Phèdre moves quickly through the ranks of politics, and thanks to her training takes what she hears, and applies it to practice to decipher meaning in upcoming events.
To become an individual servant of Naamah, one must have a completed “marque”. This signifies independence, and the right to choose at one’s own free will. It is during the last installment of Phèdre’s marque that things go awry. Phèdre is betrayed by a patron, and is sold (or maybe kidnapped depending on how you look at it) to barbarians on the outskirts of Terre de Ange. By surviving her kidnappers, and adapting to her surroundings, Phèdre again uses her numerous abilities to foil a plot. It is at this point in the book that I could not put it down. See how a simple servant of Naamah becomes the Queen’s most respected Comtesse of Terre de Ange.
Born into this world as “a whore’s unwanted get”, Phèdre goes above and beyond what anyone thinks she is capable of doing. What starts out as a meek and mild character, grown into a character who would demand respect because of her bravery and tactics. This was a long book, which by no means should put you off from reading it. It is a bit slow in the beginning, and there is a lot of information to take in. But give this book a serious chance. I have not read 50 shades of Gray, but from what I’ve heard, I’m pretty sure that Kushiel’s Dart is far more engaging.