Kushiel's Dart

By Jacqueline Carey,

Book cover of Kushiel's Dart

Book description

The lush epic fantasy that inspired a generation with a single precept: Love As Thou Wilt

The first book in the Kushiel's Legacy series 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…

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Why read it?

7 authors picked Kushiel's Dart as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

After I quit my law firm and was trying to decide what (if anything) I wanted to write, I read Kushiel’s Dart. This book convinced me that whatever stories I wanted to tell, no matter how extreme, I could tell them within science fiction/fantasy. And it really puts the “alternate” in alternate history.

During the Roman Empire, angels came to earth and mated with mortals in the area of modern France, again producing a race like the biblical Nephilim, only sexier, and with one commandment: “Love as thou wilt.” In this Europe that never knew a dark age, the angels’…

Jacqueline Carey writes worlds that are so rich and juicy with literary cadence and poetry that reading her work is like reading music.

The story of Phèdre nó Delaunay’s call to destiny, which is answered by love, is such a sexy adventure, so deeply enmeshed in humanity and personal freedom that it’s literally impossible to put down once you start.

I put Phèdre’s story on this list because she answers the call of destiny with tenderness, supplication, and surrender, versus warrior heroics and overt violence. Her tool is self-mastery, and a willingness to be of service in all ways that…

From Athena's list on when destiny calls, and love answers.

This is the kind of series you have to read twice to catch all of the depth. Love as thou wilt—such a simple concept. But in reality, it’s full of spies, intrigue, angelic magic, and danger, the depths of which go so deep, you’ll get lost in the pages. But Phedre knows in her soul, that there is a love that can see her through it all. The question is, can Josselin, a warrior priest no less, follow her to the darkest depths, and make it out on the other side with his heart intact? Make sure you bring a…

Reading this book in the summer between high school and college led my personal writing journey down a significant detour from which I’ve never really returned. It was the first time I encountered a world in which fantasy elements both coexisted with and had enormous impact on familiar places and cultures. Most discussions of this book focus on the romantic and sexual aspects of the plot lines, but none of that would be possible without the tremendous amount of worldbuilding Carey based on an existing historical and religious framework. I’m not sure this would remain one of my favorite books…

I couldn’t possibly write a list of fantasy with polyamorous relationships and not include all-time classic Kushiel’s Dart, the beginning of Carey’s first trilogy set in a fantasy version of Europe where the dominant religion lives by the dictate “Love as thou wilt.” Phèdre, an elite courtesan and spy, gets caught up in a plot to conquer her homeland while she’s caught between her love for cunning Melisande and loyal Joscelin. She does ultimately choose between them, but her happy ending involves other partners as well. These books are all lush, sexy intrigue, and epic adventure, and they changed…

From Felicia's list on fantasy with polyamory.

This ground-breaking fantasy novel incorporates eroticism with worldbuilding. The religion of the society centers around sex with the motto, “Love as thou wilt.” The heroine, Phèdre nó Delauney has been born with a mote in her eye, signifying that she is one of the rare individuals who finds pain to be erotic, and so she becomes a celebrated and sought-after courtesan.

Reading Kushiel’s Dart helped me overcome the shame that comes with the enjoyment of kink—and it did so in the context of a hearty fantasy adventure. Carey imagines a world where sex isn’t taboo, no matter how bizarre the desire. The main character, Phedre, has a rare predilection for pain that makes her infinitely valuable, and also infinitely vulnerable. The reason I fell in love with Phedre is that her strength as a character comes from her vulnerability. Without lifting a sword, without clever political manipulations, without any political power of her own, Phedre manages to escape great danger, warn…

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