“This brilliant and daring debut catapults Carey immediately into the top rank of fantasy novelists . . . . At the end, the heroine reminds one of an equally strong-minded sister whose home was Tara.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
This trilogy, told in the first person, follows the adventures of a young girl born in a nation with a cultural reverence of, and liberal attitudes to, the sex act. As a nation of attractive children of the Gods (literally), she is deemed ‘imperfect’ until someone with knowledge of such things realises that said imperfection is actually a mark of being god-touched to experience pain as pleasure. Thus begins her career of courtesan and spy.
If this sounds less than promising, it’s no more than I felt when I was reading the description. However, it appears on several lists of best fantasy series and there are lots of people raving about it in reviews on various pages – so I decided to give it a go. I was not disappointed.
The author is a good writer with a pacy and accessible style. Whilst the descriptions of some of the S&M sex that occurs is not my thing (and slightly discomfiting on occasion), there was only one particularly horrific part in the middle of the third book that was very hard to read. This was mercifully only a small percentage of the book.
However, the sex is by no means the whole of the series – which is full of Machiavellian machinations and political intrigue. This is an adventure in the grand style where the character ends up exploring (not always by design) the world she is in (essentially an alternative Europe) and fetches up in some weird, wonderful and scary places.
I found the labyrinthine family names of the nobility somewhat hard to follow at first but, to be honest, you don’t need to get more than a slight handle on them to follow the plot – all of the important characters get referred to throughout the books so you soon get to know them. I would imagine that this is a trilogy that improves on 2nd and 3rd reading – something I can see myself doing in time – once I’ve read the next two trilogies in the series!
This would definitely not be to everyone’s tests and is strictly for adults only. I, personally, would have liked to see more magic in it but that’s just me. If you’re a fan of political intrigue and adventure, I would recommend it.
Added 8th July 2017
Jacqueline Carey – Kushiel’s Dart
Phedre’s Trilogy, book 1
Jacqueline Carey – Kushiel’s Chosen
Phedre’s Trilogy, book 2
Jacqueline Carey – Kushiel’s Avatar
Phedre’s Trilogy, book 3