Thursday, June 28, 2012

Book Review: Kushiel's Avatar by Jacqueline Carey

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Title: Kushiel's Avatar
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Publisher: Tor
Series: Kushiel's Legacy Book 3
Hardcover: 702 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. It's inhabited by the race that rose from the seed of angels, and they live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.  
Phèdre nó Delaunay was sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by a nobleman who recognized that she was pricked by Kushiel's dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. Phèdre's path has been strange and dangerous. She has lain with princes and pirate kings, battled a wicked temptress, and saved two nations. Through it all, the devoted swordsman Joscelin has been at her side, following the central precept of the angel Cassiel: Protect and serve.  
But Phèdre's plans will put his pledge to the test, for she has never forgotten her childhood friend Hyacinthe. She has spent ten long years searching for the key to free him from his eternal indenture to the Master of Straights, a bargain with the gods to save Phèdre and a nation. The search will take Phèdre and Joscelin across the world and down a fabled river to a forgotten land. . . and to a power so intense and mysterious, none dare speak its name.

Overall Rating: 4/5

I fell in love with this series years ago with the first book. Jacqueline Carey is incredibly clever and makes a complex, beautiful world loosely based on the cultures from this one. What I love about this series is that it's a mix of adventure, fantasy, philosophy, and romance. Really, you can't lose with this one.

I think this is the most gruesome out of the series so far. The previous two had some bad stuff, but nothing like what Phedre endures while enslaved to the sadistic warlord, the Mahrkagir. However, the reader is spared the worst of it and it's nice that the conflict is enhanced with each subsequent novel. The relationship between Joscelin and Phedre is really put to the test, and Phedre's strength of will to carry out her mission is also challenged. These two characters are so extraordinary that they sometimes seem invincible, but Carey makes sure to never take it easy on her characters. She gives them the ultimate challenges, making life difficult for even them.

I really love the relationship between Phedre and Joscelin. They fiercely love each other, and it makes me so happy to read about their story. They accept all of each other: the flaws, the strengths, the quirks. I feel like this is how relationships should be. They hardly ever argue because they are always looking at situations through the other person's point of view, and they respect each other to make the right decisions for themselves. I love it. This is what true love is, and this is what a mature, adult relationship should be.

This series is unique in that it just dives right into the dark stuff and keeps going. But amid all the death, torture, kidnappings, and slavery, there are so many great lessons and things to think about for real life. Most of all, what Kushiel's Avatar especially does is show the strength of love. What it is, what people will do for it and because of it, how it tears people apart, brings people together, and how it gives meaning to our lives are all main themes woven through this novel. For that alone, I'd recommend it. However, it also has fantastic writing, an interesting world, brilliant characters, and an entertaining plot. I don't think it's for everyone, because there is a lot of darkness and stuff many may considered "weird," but for those who can take the different culture of the D'Angeline world, you will be enamored of this series.