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Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Review by SS

The World
Kushiel's Dart is set in our geography, with altered histories and names. The D'Angelines would = the French, Alba = England, Eire = Ireland, Skaldia = Germany etc. The D'Angelines are a sophisticated people, who follow Elua's (sort of son of sort of Jesus) command of love as thou wilt. This means that prostitutes ("adepts") play a large part in their social structure. And of course, like any other civilized land, there are lots and lots of intricacies of politics.

The Characters
Phedre a, girl who is ostracized from the Night Court because she carries the flaw of a scarlet mote in her left eye. Delaunay, a nobleman who buys her marque. Alcuin, a boy also in the employ of Delaunay. Hyacinthe, Phedre's oldest friend. Joscelin, a warrior-priest employed as guard.

The Plot
Phedre is an adept, but she is also a spy for Delaunay. What makes her special is that she is chosen by Kushiel (a god/saint like figure), as told by the red fleck in her iris. She is an anguisette, which, as far as I can understand, means she's really, really into S&M. This helps her discover the secrets of the nastier sorts of courtiers, which in turn helps Delaunay with his mission. Then, Phedre learns too much, and the story starts moving much more quickly from there.

The first third or half of this book was not nearly as enjoyable for me as the later part. For one, it was focussed too much on S&M. I understand that S&M is an integral part of the story, but still. I didn't want to be constantly reading it. The last half/ two thirds is much better, because now Phedre has something to do besides be an S&M bedslave. Homosexuality (or maybe bisexuality, as it doesn't mention if they're exclusively homosexual) is commonplace and easily accepted. Anyway, once I stopped thinking of Kushiel's Dart as a cheap romance novel, it was very good. Fast paced, lots of action. One thing that annoyed me was Phedre's talking to the reader. She only does it on stupid occassions, too, like "If you've never been forced to run naked in the snow behind someone's horse, I really don't recommend it". Well, that's not what she said, but she says things like it many, many times. Duh, woman! And another thing is the way Phedre tells the story. She keeps talking around the point, and also has a habit of telling us vital points of the story long before they happen (this is told first person, in hindsight). While this does a great job of building up suspense, I personally don't like it because I want to be surprised by the plot!

This book turned out lots better than I thought it was going to. I am going to go buy the sequel now, so hopefully that will be good, too!

Nearly 4 amulets.

(My rating system is all awry. If I rate it 3.5, that will mean I like it the same as Dune, but I liked it better. And if I rate it 4, that will put it on the same level as American Gods. And nearly 4 is the rating I gave Five Quarters of the Orange, but I like this way, way better. So how am I going to rate things now?? *l*)

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