Author: Jacqueline Carey
Date of Publication: May 31, 2001
Formats Available: Hardcover, Paperback, E-book
Buy This Book: Amazon.com
Synopsis: When Love cast me out, it was Cruelty who took pity on me.
The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good...and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.
Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission...and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.
Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair...and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear.
Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel's Dart - a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new.
Kushiel's Dart is one of those books that, for some reason, I got in my head that I wanted to read and I couldn't stop thinking about it once I decided I wanted to take on the challenge. At over 900 pages this book is a big commitment. I was a little wary of starting this novel, because I knew it contained BDSM, something I'm not a fan of, but the rest of the story sounded interesting enough that I decided to give it a shot.
In the beginning Kushiel's Dart wasn't a bad book, a little slow maybe, but not bad. Phedre's back story was interesting and the world of Terre D'ange was an original one. There is a vast amount of information at the beginning of the novel, mostly about politics, that I never really understood. The writing is really hard to get into, Carey has a very flowery writing style that makes picking out the important pieces of information difficult. Though her writing could be considered beautiful I just wasn't a fan of how slowly and carefully I had to read in order to figure out the most important bits of information. However, the beginning wasn't bad and I read through it reasonably quickly.
Though slow moving the story really hit it's peak at about page 300 and I found myself getting really into the story. I really enjoyed the parts of the book that didn't focus so much on the political side of the novel, which were few and far between, and even the BDSM aspects didn't bother me much. Maybe it was Carey's writing but I wasn't as disturbed the be BDSM as I usually am, maybe because it was mostly hidden under so many extra words. Phedre was an interesting character, and though I wouldn't say I liked her I had a certain amount of respect for her. This was one of those novels that challenged me to look at certain characters and situations in a different way and I really appreciated that, unfortunately the rest of the novel was just so darn boring.
By page 500 I was so bored I was ready to be done. I've never much been one for political stories and this one was just too much for me. I found myself getting bored by the story and no longer caring about the characters or their mission. I skimmed the last 200 or so pages of this novel and because of the writing I didn't understand a bit of it. Though this novel had a lot of potential, I really liked the idea of Phedre being a spy and courtesan, it was just written in such a way that it was hard to really understand what it was she learned as a spy. Plus all of the characters had such similar and unheard of names I kept getting the mixed up and confused myself. Though this novel had a few things going for it, Kushiels Dart just wasn't executed in way that would make me enjoy it.
Fans of high fantasy and politics may really enjoy this story but it was just a little over the top for my tastes. I understand why this is such a popular novel, but it just wasn't for me. The writing, paired with the length, just didn't make this an enjoyable read for me.