84 points/100 (4.5/5 stars)

Phèdre nó Delaunay was born flawed, with a spot of red in her eye. Little did that know that spot, Kushiel’s Dart, would shape the rest of her life. Born to experience pleasure in pain, Phèdre is unique, the first born in three generations. Sold and sold again to Anafiel Delaunay, Phèdre learns to be true to herself, her gods, and to play the game of political intrigue. When her life gets turned upside down, she knows just what to do – survive and protect her homeland.

I really enjoyed reading this series, even though on the surface I shouldn’t. I really don’t care for political intrigue, and that is a large part of this series. No, I really liked this series because of Phèdre and because of Joscelin.

Each book starts off super slow. So slow I would have DNF’d Kushiel’s Dart if I ever actually DNF’d anything. It honestly takes 40% of the book for the first one to start. Book two is just as bad, but three is much better about this. Or maybe I just cared about books two and three more than I did the first by the time I got to them.

The narration of this book is ridiculously hard for me to get over. There are several problems I have with the narration of this book that even now I have issues with at the end of this book. It isn’t that this is first person narrative – I’m 100% fine with that and actually tend to prefer it for most of what I read. No, that isn’t the problem. The problem is, is that Phèdre talks as if I already know the story and what is going on. She is constantly “talking to me” through the narration, and it kicks me out of my belief that I am her. The problem is also the foreshadowing. If this happened once or twice, I wouldn’t mention it. But, the “Oh, if only this thing that just happened hadn’t happened that way, maybe things would have been different” happens like every five chapters. The “I had no idea this would be so important!” happens every two chapters. The foreshadowing happens all the time! The only book this isn’t overused is in the third book, but by then I got a bit used to it anyway.

In the beginning of book one, there are so many names introduced it was impossible for me to keep up. In fact, there were actually several lists of names to remember. They were disguised as lists, but they were still lists. It felt like there were 500 names in this book that I was just expected to remember after seeing once so when they play a part in the story later they wouldn’t be out of nowhere. This was not the case for me. I cannot just see a name once and remember who they are instantly. I was actually lost for portions of this book because I honestly can’t remember names that way. I am still not certain if two names are the same name, or different names that are just really similar.

The overall plot of each book is pretty interesting, even if how we get there isn’t always interesting. There is a large amount of intrigue, sure. However, Phèdre and Joscelin take their fair lick of pain in this series. These two go through hell and back together. They may start off safe and warm and surrounded by people who are trying to maneuver their way into more power, but they end up alone in enemy territory just trying to survive again and again.

Phèdre is one of the strongest characters I know. She isn’t physically strong, but she is strong in fortitude. You can do just about anything to her, and she will survive – even if she has to find a way to kill you to do it. Joscelin, her romantic interest and protector, is also strong, but physically. He is one of the best fighters most will ever see. However, at points he is weak in fortitude, he needs Phèdre to goad him into doing what he must – survive.

The relationship these two have is a true relationship. They have their moments where they fight. Joscelin in particular goes through a phase I dislike in regards to their relationship. But, they are for each other. They love each other, they make it work. I know that when the curtain falls, these two will still be together, and that is amazing.

Kushiel’s Avatar is the end of the series, but it isn’t the end of the story. It sets up the story for the next trilogy great, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to read it. Phèdre’s trilogy ends true.