Book 5 – Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
I often wander through the book store just looking at books and jackets to pick a random book by an author I don’t know. This practice has led to many wonderful discoveries but I think the best one that I ever picked up was Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey.
It’s a fantasy novel and yet the setting of the story is remarkably similar to Europe and Asia in history, even some of the names she uses relate to real life historical events.
The story centers around Phedre no’Delaunay an orphan adopted by a spy. She has been chosen by the God’s or Angels of this story to fulfill a very hard path. One of the angel’s is Kushiel who finds pleasure in pain and who took the lash unto himself in order to protect the ‘God’ that the angels followed. The other angel who has chosen her is Namaah, who laid down with strangers in order to secure food and lodgings for their God. She learns to become a ‘companion’ which is a woman who sells herself for profit. However this occupation is revered and has strict rules to follow. Despite this the novel doesn’t center on the sexual, it is simply a part of who she is and a part of the wonderfully rich society that Jacqueline Carey has created.
This book changed my life for a few reasons; one because it opened my mind up to the real possibilities of fantasy writing – I had previously thought it was all about epic tales full of dwarfs and elves. Second, after contacting Jacqueline Carey by email through her site, she taught me a valuable lesson, how to let go of my own insecurities and fears.
Before she told me that I was always worried that if my family and friends read my work they would think that I was either very sick or had very disturbing fantasies. She taught me that it’s ok, as a writer, to delve into the dark side of humanity and even the perverse and disgusting side too, because they exist. Just because you can write from the point of view of a serial killer doesn’t mean that you want to be one, it just means that you have a very good imagination and understanding of human nature.
These revelations helped me so much in my own writing and letting myself jump off the ‘safe’ topics I wrote about and delve into the darker side of my mind as well as my characters. She freed me to just go for it, go as deep and dark as you can and then find your way back to the light, or sometimes not, as in her Banewreaker Series.
I have since and continue to read all her books because her characters are so wonderful and ‘real’ and when I pick up her book, it’s like going home and visiting family that I loved and missed.
If you haven’t already then I highly recommend getting lost in her world, it will be a trip well worth it.