Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey
It’s consistent with the others, except for the irking fact that her tattoo keeps changing location and size. And the second book is the only one where it’s exactly right. I find it annoying when something is thoroughly described multiple times, and they still depict it wrongly on the cover. But other than that, it’s fine. I don’t love the cover style, but I don’t hate it, either.
The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. It’s inhabited by the race that rose from the seed of angels, and they live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.
Phèdre nó Delaunay was sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by a nobleman who recognized that she was pricked by Kushiel’s dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. Phèdre’s path has been strange and dangerous. She has lain with princes and pirate kings, battled a wicked temptress, and saved two nations. Through it all, the devoted swordsman Joscelin has been at her side, following the central precept of the angel Cassiel: Protect and serve.
But Phèdre’s plans will put his pledge to the test, for she has never forgotten her childhood friend Hyacinthe. She has spent ten long years searching for the key to free him from his eternal indenture to the Master of Straights, a bargain with the gods to save Phèdre and a nation. The search will take Phèdre and Joscelin across the world and down a fabled river to a forgotten land. . . and to a power so intense and mysterious, none dare speak its name.
This trilogy is now done, but there are still two more related trilogies ahead for me!
I mean, yes, it totally is worth reading–this series is brilliant and intricately written and all of that. But ALL OF THE BAD THINGS happen, in this book in particular. It was so painful to read certain parts. You should still totally read this series, though. I mean it! They’re really great!
Strong Heroine! Phedre, although she may use different methods than a Katniss or a Hermione, is nonetheless very tough, smart, resourceful, and basically just awesome without being unrealistically weakness-free.
Intricate World-Building! Carey’s alternate universe is stunningly detailed and clearly took a lot of research and a lot of creativity.
Sexual Violence. The whole point of these books is that Phedre’s been chosen by Kushiel for great deeds, but also to be a masochist–in the truest sense of the word, pain is pleasurable for her, but that doesn’t mean she necessarily likes that this is her nature. I know this is a trigger for a lot of people, and honestly, it usually is for me, but because of the way it’s framed, and because we get Phedre’s thoughts throughout, I can handle it, but this is definitely the most intense of the three books. There is (highlight to read minor spoiler) a lovely scene of Phedre learning to heal after the abuse.
Elaboration (Proceed With Caution If You’ve Not Read 1 & 2):
Phedre and her faithful companions set off to find Melisandre’s missing son, Imriel. Everything awful happens to them, and especially to Phedre and Joscelin. Talk about a star-crossed relationship! I love Carey’s writing, which remains consistently engrossing and elegant. The adventures and hardships that they weather are awful, but never seem to be useless: they are all in service of their greater quest. It was hard not to feel that Carey went a little too far in Darsanga, but I suppose it was only logical that it would go that far once, given the premise and the fact that some people are really like the Markhagir. And it is without a doubt important to the plot. Highly recommended, for those with strong stomachs.
Borrowed from work–I returned it because it was a mass market, and I’d like to own it in hardcover to reread.