The other day, Jen asked me if I’d be interested in writing a 500 word blog recommending either a book or series of books and why. Sure I was interested. Nobody’s asked me to write a blog about that before.
Coming up with one thing to recommend was the hard part. I like a whole lot of books and a whole lot of authors. This isn’t a long piece however, and in a nod to the fact that Red Hot Books is a romance blog and if you’re reading this you’re likely a romance reader, I decided that I’d go for a book which is in my beloved field of fantasy, but that also has romance in it.
My favourite series when it comes to fantasy with romance is Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series. The three books in the first series (there are more) are KUSHIEL’S DART, KUSHIEL’S CHOSEN, and KUSHIEL’S AVATAR. These books are set in a fantasy world that is geographically a mirror image of ours with the story starting in Carey’s remade version of France. There the similarities don’t quite end, but they do become very subtle (to someone as bad at geography as me) in the face of the way she remakes the world and its peoples. There is magic in this land and there are gods, and they influence everything.
Phèdre nó Delaunay is a girl sold into indentured servitude in the land of Terre d’Ange, where sexuality is sacred and what is taboo in other places is celebrated instead as a gift to the gods. Phèdre is unique because she is an anguisette, and the scarlet mote in her eye marks her as the chosen of Kushiel, the harshest of the gods.
I love this series because of the richness of the writing and the honesty of the characters. The author’s voice is very different from mine and the books are very deep. These aren’t quick reads but they’re worth it. They get into the concepts of sacrifice and courage and the pure concept of love truly overcoming all.
This isn’t a romance in the traditional sense. There is a love story in it and a man who Phèdre loves and is loved by very deeply but, well, give up on that whole concept of monogamy. In Terra d’Ange, the gods are honoured with sex and Phèdre is devoted to the service of Naamah, servicing clients in her name. I didn’t have a problem with that concept. Carey pulled it off beautifully.
There’s more to the books than this, of course. There’s betrayal and adventure and treason and war. Love and death and failure and success. There are gods to serve and gods to fight and both men and women to love and free. It absorbs you. It takes hold of you and keeps you entranced and fascinated as Phèdre faces more in the service of her goddess than anyone else in her world could ever survive. I mean that quite literally in a few spots. Phèdre is unique, but at the same time she’s never unbelievable.
If you want a light and fluffy read, this isn’t likely the series for you, but if you want serious depth with a healthy dose of sex, then the Kushiel series might just be right up your alley. Speaking as a writer, I give it the highest compliment that I personally can give.
I wish I’d thought of it first.
Thank you to LJ McDonald for sharing her recommendations today. I asked LJ to participate in this feature because I really enjoy her Sylph books. I don’t read a lot of fantasy but there is just something about these books that grips me. The most recent book, Queen of the Sylphs, really put me through the wringer. Click here to learn more about the Sylph series.
In the meantime, here’s your chance to try out one of LJ’s recommendations. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win Kushiel’s Dart. US/CAN only please.
*”Favorites from…” photo: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos