Phedre’s Trilogy, Book #1
Kushiel’s Universe, Book #1
By Jacqueline Carey
Author’s Website: http://www.jacquelinecarey.com/
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Heidi
*Beware of Spoilers*
Phedre was born flawed, with a red mote in her left eye. Once her parents realized the mote wasn’t going away, they sold her to a high-end whorehouse, for them to raise until she turned 10, where she can then be sold into service.
Once it became clear to those at Cereus House, that young Phedre took pleasure out of pain, they called Anafiel Delaunay to take a look at her. He immediately recognized what the mote in her eye was, a prick from Kushiel’s Dart, she was marked by the God Kushiel to forever feel pain and pleasure as one. Delaunay already had a pupil and wasn’t looking for another, but after meeting Phedre he decided to buy her bond (at a staggeringly high price) and train her beside his current pupil, Alcuin.
Life with Delaunay was better than anything Phedre could have ever expected. She grew up with the household motto that all knowledge is worth having. He taught her and Alcuin different languages and studies and trained them to be the perfect little spies to help him gain the knowledge that helped him along the political front once they became of age and were able to become true courtesans. But Delaunay did truly love them and their safety was always of utmost importance to him, sending a guard with them on all of their assignations and always letting them choose which patrons they would take on.
But Phedre’s world comes crashing down when tragedy strikes the Delaunay household and she loses everything she holds dear. Now she has to figure out how to move on and who she can trust. However, nothing can prepare her for the betrayal she is about to face and war is brewing. She will have to rely on everything Delaunay has taught her and her own will to survive.
I will be honest, I did not have high hopes for this book. And, sadly I was not proven wrong. I’m coming to learn that in most cases ‘Epic Fantasy’ just means a really long boring book. This one was over 900 pages and really felt like a major waste of time when I was done. But once I start a book, I have to see it through to the end.
I think I could have liked this book better if not for all the politics and name dropping. In the beginning Delaunay was trying to teach Alcuin and Phedre about all the big players and there were so many different people with names I couldn’t begin to pronounce that I was constantly afraid I was going to miss something or get confused by all the players. That was one of the nice things about when Phedre was with the Skaldi, she wasn’t in the loop and therefore wasn’t much politicking to be had. But the politics and names to keep up with gets even worse later in the book.
I did like Delaunay even though he was a ‘nice’ pimp for all intents and purposes. He was the closest thing to a parent that Phedre had ever had. But when both he and Alcuin were killed I really didn’t want to continue the story. There were over 500 pages left at that point and I was like ‘what am I supposed to do with that?’ If only Alcuin would have survived it would have given me something to keep going on. But no, it was not to be. At this point in the book though, I found myself thinking about the story and the characters a lot when I wasn’t even reading the novel so I guess the author should get some credit for that.
But whenever I would think this book was getting better it would take a turn for the worst and I’d find myself bored once again. The whole war part of the book was pure tedium for me. And I hated how things turned out for Hyacinthe (speaking of names I have no hopes of being able to pronounce). I’m sure his situation will change as the series continues, but I don’t see me ever reading another book set in this world.
Another thing that really bothered me in this book is the romantic aspect. Phedre had two front-runners for her love interest and neither of them could ever give her what she truly needs to be happy. Neither could ever hurt her to give her the pain/pleasure she craves. They both gave up so much for her. One gave up his very family and the other broke almost every vow he ever made and was kicked out of the order he was raised to serve his entire life, all for her. However, she will never be able to fully commit to either. She will never be able to be faithful to either, she will never be able to give up her courtesan ways because neither can give her what she needs.
And in no other book have I ever read was there a situation where prostitution was a way of worship. *Shakes head*. Not to mention the priest flogging her until her back was bled open. This book was so far away from my kind of book that it’s not even funny. I’m sure there are some out there that would love this book, I’m just not among that number.