Phèdre is Naamah’s servant, laying down with people she does not love for her master. Unlike her companion, she looks forward to being tormented by her patrons. She was taught intrigue and spycraft, and no matter what else happens she will help the true Queen hold the throne.
I feel some confusion about these novels. Yes, they are on an epic scale, but somehow I can’t bring myself to care about most of the characters. Delaunay was nice and all, but I didn’t feel sorrow when he died. Thus the power grabs are secondary to my interest in Phedre’s character. I felt this way when I read Kushiel’s Dart nine years ago (review here).
Perhaps part of the problem is that I couldn’t get a real understanding of why Phedre is so special. She could have gone to Valerian House, and I’m not sure it would have mattered! If she can get excited by a sewing needle going in an inch on her spine, I don’t see why ‘punishing her’ would get such a rise out of people. Or perhaps there are more people into bondage and pain during sex than I would expect? Update after reading Kushiel’s Chosen: I think it is more that she can have endless sex, and pain makes it somehow better? Or maybe it’s pure humiliation.
I slogged through Kushiel’s Chosen, but I couldn’t make myself read the final book in the trilogy. I feel guilty that I’ve not finished reading them (especially as I own all 9 books!) but I also don’t want to waste more of my reading time. I need to let them go and make more room on my shelves for the epic fantasy that fills me with joy (The Way of Kings, anyone?).
I find it difficult to suggest an audience for these books – maybe those who enjoy non-historical / alternative-historical novels, who aren’t afraid to invest in a short-sighted character who shows little growth. Part of the problem was that it was written in past tense, with hints as to future events, and so I had no fear of the main characters dying. I demand more from my fantasy.