It's time for another Flights of Fantasy Book Club review! In July, we invited you to read Kushiel's Dart with us; today, both Rachel & I are sharing our thoughts on this series starter, as well as answering the usual questions. If you've read the novel, we want you to answer the questions too - whether in the comments section below or in your very own post. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on Kushiel's Dart! (P.S. You can still sign up to participate in Flights of Fantasy!)
I honestly went into Kushiel's Dart unsure of how I was going to feel about it. I'd heard a little bit about it from my husband, who binge read the entire series (and that's comprised of nine books in total, though the main character changes for some of them) and really liked the books, but I was determined to form an opinion that was wholly my own - whether or not I was in agreement with him. As it turns out, I need not have worried because I absolutely loved Kushiel's Dart.
Kushiel's Dart is the kind of densely written fantasy read that will satisfy those of us with a taste for getting lost in worlds and characters and stories. Carey's ability to concoct a world that the reader can feel immersed in is incredible. She integrates actual history and culture from our own human world, but puts her own spin on it to make it unique - and it works. Her world is just as memorable a part of this novel as anything else, because I felt like I, while reading Phedre's tale, was a part of it. I was traveling the same roads (or seas) as Phedre and her companions, and it felt like I was seeing it all too.
Carey also has the insane ability to write a really well-rounded set of characters. She really makes use of the spectrum of personalities, infusing main character Phedre and choice secondary characters with such strong characteristics. I love that she was willing to lay it all bare and show readers both the good and the bad of these characters, Phedre herself included. It felt all the more realistic to see them portrayed with such complexity; it made it so easy to get emotional right alongside them - whether it was regret at a mistake made, anger at a situation, sorrow over loss, relief when aid came or joy at some triumph little or large.
Phedre, in particular, is the character I came to love the most (though Joscelin is certainly a close second!). She's got one hell of a legacy to live up to, an upbringing that makes her smart in many ways and a story that's impossibly complicated yet easily unraveled through the way she narrates it here. It is so brilliant to have the novel narrated as if Phedre was recalling her past; it allows Carey to integrate commentary that sounds like Phedre's thoughts in hindsight without it being too jarring, which in turn allows readers to get to know Phedre a little better.
And the story! Ah, this tale, friends. To quote my Goodreads review, "It brought me to the brink of hope, the depths of despair, the fires of anger and the light of joy; it is sincerely one of the most epic first novels in a series I have ever read." I can declare this with all honesty, because upon finishing Kushiel's Dart, I raved about it to my husband for a good long. The skill Carey uses in telling her story, in developing her character's voice, in laying out this plot - it's undeniable, and it's so, so brilliant. I don't want to go into specifics regarding the plot itself (because it's very complicated with all the little nuances), but suffice to say that this is a story of one girl becoming more than she ever dreamed she could be, set against the backdrop of a kingdom experiencing unrest. And this is obviously a deceptively simple sounding plot, but trust me, it works out well and in unexpected ways.
Really, the only tiny reservation I've got regarding Kushiel's Dart is that it could get confusing trying to remember all the names, territories and histories that are laid out. But apart from actively having to do this (and occasionally flipping back to figure it out), I have no complaints to bring to bear. It was, quite simply, bloody brilliant and all-consuming and I certainly loved this story to pieces. I plan on reading the next one (though not anytime soon because it's a commitment reading such long, dense novels), and I would certainly recommend it. (Just a quick warning - this definitely has mature content in it, and younger readers would be best advised to take caution.)
Every time we share about our book club reads, we'll be answering the questions below! We'd love for you to join us and share your answers in the comments or in your own post. Don't forget to leave a link in the comments or in the monthly link-ups.
Who is your favorite character? As I mentioned earlier, Phedre is the character that stands out the most to me. It's partly because the story is narrated through her memories, and that means we get to know her the most intimately of all the people we meet. But it's also because Phedre is a gal who becomes more than she's expected to be. She's whip smart, realistic, brave; she's flawed and impetuous and curiously naive in many ways. I just fell in love with her as a character, and enjoyed her journey tremendously. (Joscelin is my second favorite character though.)
Would you read more books by this author? Oh, like I said earlier, I am definitely continuing with this series! It's a bit of a commitment (in time, particularly) because the novels are quite lengthy and dense, but I can't help being curious about what happens next for these guys. Plus, I want to meet my husband's favorite character... who hasn't shown up yet.