by Jacqueline Carey
(from Tor Fantasy)
Wow. It is just amazing that this is a first novel. A part of me is craving the second one desperately, so I can learn what happens to Phedre. Another part of me simply wishes to bask in the glow of finishing this tale. The book is 925 pages long... I was captured before page 100, and could hardly put it down after 200 pages.
Let me warn anyone who reads this book -- there is a point near the end where you simply cannot stop. I read through a haze of tears for many pages, but was desperate to continue, to find a place where I could rest for the night and continue it again in the morning.
In the end, it was only that I was passing out, and had finally found a moment where it began to move into the endgame of the story, that allowed me to rest last night.
Possible spoilers ahead...
Phedre is a true anguisette, the first known in Terre D'Ange in three generations. Pricked by Kushiel's Dart, a tiny red mote in her eye, Phedre fits in nowhere in the Night Court. But Anafiel Delauney recognizes her for what she is, and takes her as one of his two students, to train not only to be a Servant of Namaah, but also to listen, to learn, and to understand what is seen.
She is a courtesan of a rank to be presented to Kings. She is one who knows pleasure, and how to give pleasure, and she takes pleasure from pain. But she is also so much more.
The characters bring this book to life. Alcuin, her "foster brother" -- the other student of Delauney's. Hyacinthe, her Tsingano friend whom she met the first time she ran away to Night's Doorstep. Joscelin, the Cassiline bound to guard her, though he despises what she is. They all come alive, and are so much more than we think upon first meeting. And they only continue to grow throughout the novel.
This is not an easy book to read. It has its sorrowful moments -- I have cried more in this one novel than for the last several I've read. It has its erotic moments (but if you are bothered by masochism or same sex relationships, this is not for you). It is a romance. It is political. It is magical. It is a little of everything, and yet, those pieces entwine together beautifully to create one solid tapestry.
"That which yields is not always weak." That single statement defines Phedre.
Kushiel's Dart called to the Bethany in me. I look forward to reading Kushiel's Chosen.Posted by Deb Atwood at July 30, 2002 10:20 PM | TrackBack