A nation born of angels, vast and intricate and surrounded by danger… a woman born to servitude, unknowingly given access to the secrets of the realm…
Born with a scarlet mote in her left eye, Phédre nó Delaunay is sold into indentured servitude as a child. When her bond is purchased by an enigmatic nobleman, she is trained in history, theology, politics, foreign languages, the arts of pleasure. And above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Exquisite courtesan, talented spy… and unlikely heroine. But when Phédre stumbles upon a plot that threatens her homeland, Terre d’Ange, she has no choice.
Review 4 of 5 Stars
It took me a while to get around to reading Kushiel’s Dart as it comes in at over 900 pages and I needed some time away from my hectic real life to sit down and enjoy it. Phédre nó Delaunay is a courtesan in service to the god Kushiel in a culture where courtesans are a normal part of courtly life .
Her guardian, Delauney, buys her marque (indentured servitude) from the Night Court and takes her into his house to be raised as a member of his family. He teaches her languages, critical thinking and a host of other skills to enable her to be a spy as well as a courtesan so that she might gain important tidbits of information that affect the realm from the lips of her benefactors. This is a fantasy story in that it is set in a fantasy realm with seers and gods that are at least somewhat active in the affairs of their subjects, but it is filled with court intrigues, a kingdom under attack, treachery, and a courtly love story that reaches across the sea to a far off kingdom rather than great feats of magic though there are some mystical happenings along the way.
Phédre is an anquisette, a courtesan that enjoys pain, and has her own encounters and loves and dependencies along the way as well as her struggle to become more than she believes she is in order to save Terre d’Ange. In my mind I see Mata Hari in the fantasy world, but much darker. With her fiercely loyal Cassiline companion (warrior priest) she is captured and enslaved by a fierce barbarian tribe. Using the lessons learned from Delauney she sets out to escape and save her nation.
To tell any more than this might ruin the story for any that would care to read it. It is a very involved story, with multiple sub-plots and an erotic overtone. Though Phédre’s nature is an important part of the story I was well pleased to find such detail inner workings and intrigue after the story got started. When the book began I was thinking it was going to be basically an erotica type story, but it was really so much more. The author’s careful plotting, character development and care with intrigue made this a truly enjoyable story. Phédre is an unlikely heroine, but one I was truly pulling for by the end.