05 May, 2009

Review: Kushiel's Legacy, by J. Carey

     Kushiel's Legacy, by Jacqueline Carey, is made up of Kushiel's Dart (2001), Kushiel's Chosen (2002), and Kushiel's Avatar (2003). The trilogy follows Phèdre nó Delaunay, a brilliant and stunningly beautiful anguisette, as she saves the kingdom of Terre d'Ange from enemies both foreign and domestic.

The Setup

     Kushiel's Legacy is a rich and deeply intricate work of historical fantasy set in a land similar to that of France, with complex mythologies and religions not far removed from our own. Phèdre begins the series as an indentured courtesan at the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, where her beauty is marred by a red mote in her left eye. Anafiel Delaunay, a spy extraordinaire, knows that the mote marks Phèdre as one touched by the gods. But being marked by Kushiel, god of suffering and justice, is no easy burden to bare.
     Delaunay buys Phèdre, along with another beautiful courtesan, and begins to train them in the ways of spies and scholars. From court intrigue to foreign invasion, Phèdre uses her cunning and god given gifts to pull Terre d'Ange back from the brink of disaster.

My Take in Brief

     This was a wonderfully rich series that remains truly unpredictable throughout. Phèdre, with her peculiar predilections, makes this a hugely interesting read that is sure to keep your attention. Given, there is more erotica in here than I am accustomed to, but to really understand the protagonists and the world of Terre D'Ange, it would be impossible to gloss over that aspect of the novels. Ultimately, the erotic is only an expression of the greater theme of love, which saturates the novel.
     Then again, the scenes in which Phèdre is taking pleasure from being tortured, often in a sexual way, might scare off some of you (speaking of which, make sure to check out my article on the use of torture in science fiction and fantasy). If you can brave those rough parts though, you will gain a world that is mired in history, and in which the characters are as original as they are endearing. Rarely have I read anyone who builds worlds this eloquently without drowning the reader in tedious detail. A great, rich read that won't let you down.

  • A rich and compelling work of historical fantasy.
  • An naturally flowing yet unpredictable plot.
  • Conspiracies and desperation abound.
  • Vivid and realistic cultures as archetypes form our own history.
  • The emotional detail and originality of the characters.
  • A possible overemphasis on the erotic.
  • A somewhat relaxed tempo.
  • An arch-nemesis that you want to succeed. 
Your Take

     As mentioned, some of you might be slightly put off by some of the, shall we say, more detailed encounters in Carey's work. That said, there is a dedicated fan base, who I agree with, that sees the erotic elements as secondary and necessary to the construction of Terre d'Ange. What's your take on the erotic elements of Kushiel's Legacy?

Ratings and Links

Amazon: 4/5
B&N: 4.2/5.5
SFReviews: 4/5
My Rating: 4/5 (I can't always be different!)

A great and in-depth review of Kushiel's Legacy, by The Alien Next Door.
A fascinating interview with Jacqueline Carey, courtesy of All Things Girl.

Piqued Your Interest?

     This series is worth your time, but I have found that it can be hit or miss with some. If you have your doubts, just go for the first book, Kushiel's Dart, before buying the others. The good news is that if you love the first trilogy, the second trilogy just came out in its entirety, so you will have plenty to read!


Caffey said...

Very much interested! I remember seeing a book out of hers and checking it out some and then meant to check it online when I was home and I forgot. Between this post and the links I know where to start. Great review!

Awesome blog too! I've been looking for more with fantasy with some romance or romance elements in it and this sounds perfect!