Synopses & Reviews
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.
Betrayed into captivity in the barbarous northland of Skaldia and accompanied only by a disdainful young warrior-priest, Phédre makes a harrowing escape and an even more harrowing journey to return to her people and deliver a warning of the impending invasion. And that proves only the first step in a quest that will take her to the edge of despair and beyond.
Phédre nó Delaunay is the woman who holds the keys to her realm's deadly secrets, and whose courage will decide the very future of her world.
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. It is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. A world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, deposed rulers and a besieged Queen, a warrior-priest, the Prince of Travelers, barbarian warlords, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess... all seen through the unflinching eyes of an unforgettable heroine.
"A very sophisticated fantasy, intricately plotted and a fascinating read." (Robert Jordan)
"A very sophisticated fantasy, intricately plotted and a fascinating read."-Robert Jordan
"Perhaps once in a decade, if you are fortunate, you discover a debut novel as intoxicating as Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart. Part reimagined history, this sumptuous, spellbinding fantasy is kaleidoscopic in breadth, intimate in detail. It is sure to be read and talked about for years to come."-Eric Van Lustbader
"Kushiel's Dart takes fantasy into shadowy, exotic corners it rarely dares to tread. The standard of the writing is so high, it's hard to believe this is a first novel. Jacqueline Carey is a writer to watch, as the cliché goes, but more important a writer to read." (Storm Constantine)
High intrigue and a fantastic heroine make for a tale of pagan splendor in "Kushiel's Dart". Phedre is sold into slavery as a child, but she possesses a secret that can topple a kingdom and bring warlords to their knees.
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.
"When Love cast me out, it was Cruelty who took pity on me."
In a kingdom born of angels, Phedre is an anguisette, cursed or blessed to find pleasure in pain. Sold to the Court of Night Blooming Flowers, her fate as a beautiful but anonymous courtesan was sealed. Her bond was purchased by the nobleman Anafiel Delauney, who recognized the scarlet mote in Phedre's eye as the rare mark of one touched by a powerful deity. Under Delauney's patronage she is trained in history, politics, language, and the use of body and mind as the ultimate weapon of subterfuge in a dangerous game of courtly intrigue.
Guided into the bed chambers of Terre D'Ange's most influential nobles, Phedre uncovers a conspiracy against the throne so vast that even her teacher cannot see the whole of it. As her nation is besieged by invading hordes from the north, the most unthinkable threat to her beloved home comes from traitors within. Betrayed and blindsided by her own longings, only Phedre and her trusted bodyguard Josselin are left to cross borders and warring armies in a race to stop the final blow from falling.
Enter a lush world of pleasure houses, ambitious warlords, scheming courtiers, and the harsh justice of blessed deities through the eyes of a heroine like no other. Sprawling and darkly sensual, Kushiel's Dart is the start of a truly original fantasy series perfect for mature fans of George R. R. Martin, Robin Hobb, and Anne Bishop.
About the Author
Born in 1964, Jacqueline Carey
was an avid reader since early childhood. She began writing in high school, not realizing her hobby would become a permanent vocation. After receiving B.A. degrees in psychology and English literature from Lake Forest College, she spent time living in London and working in a bookstore, then traveling throughout Europe. While living abroad, the desire to become a professional novelist emerged as a driving passion.
Upon returning she embarked in earnest on a writing career, which came to fruition some ten years later. During this time, she worked at the art center of an area college, gaining a strong background in the visual arts. This, along with her early studies in literature and psychology informs her work, as does a lifelong interest in mythology. She enjoys doing research on a wide variety of arcane topics, and an affinity for travel has taken her from Finland to Egypt to date. Although often asked by inquiring fans, she does not, in fact, have any tattoos.
Jacqueline currently resides in west Michigan, where she is a founding member of the oldest Mardi Gras krewe in the state. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Kushiel's Legacy fantasy trilogy, including Kushiel's Dart, which received the Locus Award for Best First Novel and the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Fantasy in 2001. Other previous publications include a nonfiction book, various essays and short stories.
Reading Group Guide
Questions for Discussion
1. Anafiel Delaunay opened his home to Alcuin and Phèdre, gave them his name, and treated them like family. Yet at the same time, he benefited from their services to Naamah as a means to spy on his enemies and gain insight into plottings against the throne. Alcuin and Phèdre in turn would do anything to please Delaunay, even risk their lives. Do you feel that Delaunay knowingly took advantage of Alcuin and Phèdres loyalty to him? Do you feel Delaunay allowed Phèdre to accept dangerous assignations, knowing that her love for him would drive her to do anything to make him proud?
2. Delaunay often spoke of Rolandes rashness as being the cause of his downfall in the Battle of Three Princes. Did you feel that Delaunays better judgment was also clouded by his obsession to avenge Rolandes death and his solemn oath to protect Rolandes only daughter, the Dauphine?
3. Delaunay had treated Phèdre like a daughter and was the only person to turn her “curse” into a blessing. Yet when Phèdre discovers Delaunay and Alcuin are romantically involved, she cries bitter tears of despair. Did you feel she was upset because she wanted to be intimate with Delaunay? Or did you attribute her despair to sibling rivalry? Was she jealous of Alcuin for once again being Delaunays favorite pupil?
4. Melisande Shahrizai proves to be a dangerous woman to Delaunay, Alcuin, Phèdre, and all of Terre dAnge. Shes a lethal combination of blinding beauty, cunning intelligence, and evil ambition. Yet she is first introduced as a friend to Delaunay. Do you feel that with all of Delaunays knowledge of human nature he should have seen Melisande as a threat much earlier on? Or do you feel he was always aware of how dangerous she was and neglected to protect himself, Alcuin, and Phèdre from Melisandes deceitful machinations?
5. Hyacinthe is Phèdres only real friend, since before she even enters Naamahs services. Up until the war in Alba, their relationship had always been platonic. Or was it? Did you feel that there were feelings of unrequited love for either of them? Did Phèdre harbor feelings to one day be with Hyacinthe? Do you feel Phèdre and Hyacinthe have some unfinished business to settle in the sequel to Kushiels Dart?
6. When Joscelin and Phèdre are first sold as slaves to the Skaldi, theyre treated fairly well by many of them, in particular, Hedwig and Gunter. Gunter even allows Joscelin to defend himself against Evrard the Sharptongued, after which Joscelin is allowed to join the Skaldi as Gunters bodyguard. Its not until they are traded to Waldemar Seligs steading that they are truly mistreated. Would you have liked to know that Gunters steading had escaped the war without injury? When Joscelin and Phèdre escape Seligs steading, did it upset you when Phèdre was forced to kill Harald the Beardless, one of the thanes in Gunters steading who had been kind to her?
7. Blessed Elua says “Love as thou wilt.” Yet when Joscelin Verreuil does just that with Phèdre, he is cast out of the Cassiline Brotherhood. While it was Joscelins choice to remain with Phèdre, did you feel that the Cassilines should have respected Eluas will?
8. Joscelin has a difficult time accepting Phèdres status as an anguissette and the services that accompany the role of one of Kushiels servants. In the sequel, do you feel that Joscelin will learn to accept Phèdres need to serve Kushiel? Or is this something that could eventually destroy their relationship?
9. While reading Kushiels Dart, did you find yourself wishing that Phèdre would stop being an anguissette and settle down to marry Joscelin? Early on in the book, did you think that Delaunay and Phèdre might end up together?
10. Jacqueline Carey has left Kushiels Dart wide open for a sequel. What are some of the things youd like to see happen in her next book? How would you like Joscelin and Phèdres relationship to develop? How will the book resurrect Melisande? Will Phèdre be able to resist Melisandes charms? Do you hope Hyacinthe will return as a main character again?