Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, May 16, 2008

Being book bespelled by Kushiel's Dart and other Jacqueline Carey delights

Part of my blogging duties are to hunt down new and interesting books to read and talk about(which is more fun than work,truth be told),so when a book rep friend of mine asked if I would like to check out the new Jacqueline Carey book this summer,Kushiel's Mercy and also was generous enough to send me the first two books of that trilogy(yes, there is more than one,I'll explain shortly),I figured"Oh,why not? It'll give you something to write about."

Also,my friendly book representative has introduced me to some really good books in the past,which made my decision that much easier. Being the completionist that I am at times,I did a little online research and found out more about Jacqueline Carey and her Kushiel series. To start at the beginning is always best,in my opinion,so I picked up the original Kushiel's Legacy books and dove into the first one,Kushiel's Dart.

The heroine of the first three Kushiel books is Phedre,who was born with a red mote in one of her eyes that is known as the dart of Kushiel,one of the original followers of Elua. The mythos of this world is rather elaborate but yet an unique mix of Judeo-Christianity with what some would call "paganism".

Basically,Elua is a god born from the blood of Christ and the tears of Mary Magdalene combined with the power of Mother Earth. Elua's main tenet is "Love as Thou Wilt",meaning that sex is a sacred act and should only be enjoyed willingly with one that you love.

One of Elua's companions was Kushiel and that red eye of Phedre's makes her an "anquissette",a person born with the ability to take pleasure in pain and can heal rather quickly from their wounds,in a sexed-up Vampire Slayer sort of way. Phedre was sold as an apprentice to a pleasure house as a child and later on,recruited by Anafiel Delaunay,a prominent spy master,to use her talents to gain information about political enemies to the throne of Terre d'Ange.

The first trilogy is all about Phedre,while the second deals with Imriel,who becomes Phedre's adopted son later on in the series. His story starts with Kushiel's Scion and according to what I've read,the second series stands well enough on it's own without having read the earlier books.

To test that theory,I intend to take a Godfather II approach and read Scion right after Dart,crisscrossing the rest of the books instead of just reading them in order. A little experimental reading for the summer,along with the rest of the books on my TBR list.

I'm still in the midst of Dart but already I know that that these books are real sexy saga treasures,very much like my old favorite,Maia,that I rediscovered last summer.

Carey creates an elaborate but not overly complicated world that is an reimaging of European culture and filled with plenty of intrigue,romance,theology and kinky bedroom romps that are,believe it or not,actually intrinsic to the plot. Another point in the plus column,her prose is utterly addicting and like potato chips,you can't read just one page without needing to read another and another.

These books may seem raunchy and while a few of the sex scenes come close to the NC-17 mark,more focus is placed on the characters and the situations they have to deal with. Their sexual preferences are meant to be reflections of each character's
personality,rather than a cheap thrill for the reader. While a couple of the supporting players share some of Phedre's more painful passions,it is their deeds outside of the bedchamber that truly show them as they are.

So it looks like I have quite a bit of reading there,but I do intend to check out some other less steamy titles as well. Don't want to overload my senses,otherwise my new found interest could burn out before I've barely begun.

After all,despite the summertime TV shows about to magically reappear and several promising new hit films,there'll be lots of open time slots for me to fill up with entertaining goodness and one of the Kushiel books alone is long enough to be a miniseries for cable.

On top of that,I am not the most outdoorsy type of person(I sunburn easily)and prefer to beat the heat in air conditioned surroundings. Kushiel's Legacy should provide enough simmering storytelling to keep my summer well warmed.

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