Genre: alternate history/epic fantasy/historical fiction
Length: 701 pages
Setting: Terra D’Ange (which seems to be an alternate history France), in an equivalent of medieval times
Interest: I put it on my reading list a long time ago. I’m trying to read some of the books that have been on reading list forever.
Summary: Phedre, the narrator, is sold to Cereus House as a child to pay her parent’s debts. She is flawed (a red spot in one eye) so will never be a true servant of Namaah (people who provide sex as part of their religion). Only Delauncy realizes the flaw is the mark of Kushiel’s Dart and signals that Phedre is a true anguissette (someone who gets sexual pleasure with pain). Delauncy buys her marque and trains her to gather intelligence for him as he tries to keep the Dauphine Ysandre safe. Unfortunately, another courtier, Melisandre, plays a deeper game that results in Delauncy’s death and Phedre being sold into slavery to the Skaldi. She learns the Skaldi are about to invade her country, so she escapes with the help of Joscelin to bring the knowledge to Ysandre. Phedre is then sent to Alba to bring more soldiers and Ysandre’s betrothed.
Final thoughts: A high quality book – a combination of epic fantasy and historical fiction, with a dash of romance for flavor. All things I love. It’s definitely an adult book, considering the narrator’s job was to have rough sex and try to get secrets out of her clients. While the story had a fantastical edge, I could still see the threads of history and Christianity in the setting. The book would probably be considered blasphemous by conservative Christians because of the religious component. I loved the world that Carey built and the journey that Phedre and Joscelin take in the story.
Awards won: the Locus Award for Best New Novel in 2002
Title comes from: Kushiel is one of the angels worshiped and Phedre had a red mark in her eye that is known as Kushiel’s Dart.
Reading challenges fulfilled: 3/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge, a K in my Title Alphabet Challenge, and 2/12 in my Award Winning Challenge
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