Thursday, July 7, 2016

Commute Saver: Kushiel's Dart

Available on Audible and Amazon
If you have kept up with my blog, you may remember that I have a long commute that I absolutely hate. I listen to audio-books to make it bearable, but for a month or more I kept forgetting to swap out what I had available. Luckily for all the drivers I share the road with, I finally swapped out Stephen King's The Shining for something less likely to fuel a deadly, maddening rage: Kushiel's Dart, by Jacqueline Carey.

First things first: this book is amazing. The whole series is phenomenal, actually. This isn't the first time I've listened to it, and it's a wonderful experience every time. I mean that to the point where I might sit in my car for a few minutes longer after I get home just for a bit more story. I've been taking long walks the past few days— despite the high temperatures— just to have an excuse to immerse myself in the world of Terre d'Ange longer. This is due in part to the writing, of course. But before I get to the story, I want to point out that the voice actress for this series— Anne Flosnik— has a beautiful and captivating voice. I can, and do, listen to her for hours. It's a little like listening to a long-time friend tell me about her adventures as a super sexy spy.

Begging your pardon?
Well, that's the gist of the story. Phaedre nó Delauney is a courtesan, trained as much to observe and analyze behavior as in the arts of pleasure. When Phaedre's bond-master is slain and she— along with her bodyguard companion— are sold into slavery in a hostile country, they must pool their resources (wits and talents) to escape captivity, return home, stop a war, and save their monarch from certain death. On the off-chance that you are not yet convinced you must read this book, I add this: there are sex scenes and they are beautifully balanced. There are not too many of them, but not too few, with enough flowery writing not to make it seem vulgar, yet let you know exactly what is happening. They are hot and— like Goldilocks' bed— just right.

Actually, I daresay it's unfair to refer to the sex scenes as "just right," when the entire story hits a phenomenal sweet spot. My favorite part about this package is probably the complexity of the characters. Phaedre's beautiful face and often submissive demeanor hide a cunning mind capable of matching wits with Moriarty-esque antagonists. She is often underestimated, and she uses that to her advantage. But she is also rebellious and proud, which lands her in deep waters with deadly undertows of trouble. Even the side characters have feelings, traits, and multiple drives. I often see the intellect and talents of side characters compromised to make the protagonist appear smarter and more capable. Personally, I consider that to be lazy writing, and am happy to report that you will not find that in this book. But you will find fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, True Love, and miracles...

To sum up, Kushiel's Dart is an amazing beginning to an epic series. It makes me squeal with unabashed delight, and I recommend it to anyone who will listen. Now you know you need to read it. Will you read it or listen to it on audio? You won't be sorry, either way.

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