Review by Booklist Review
Carey returns to the world and characters of her beloved Kushiel's Legacy series with this retelling from the point of view of Joscelin Verreuil, the sworn protector of courtesan-cum-ambassador Phèdre nó Delaunay. Spanning the same time period as Kushiel's Dart (2001), the book follows Joscelin from age ten to adulthood as he undergoes the rigorous training to become a Cassiline Brother, an order of warrior priests who serve as companions to Terre d'Ange's elite. He reluctantly accepts a posting protecting spoiled courtesan Phèdre, and finds himself along for a harrowing ride as Phèdre becomes embroiled in a deadly game with the fate of Terre d'Ange itself at stake. As newfound respect for Phèdre grows into something more, Joscelin is caught between his vows and the sacred precept that guides all d'Angelines: love as thou wilt. With the exception of Joscelin's Cassiline training, the story mirrors Kushiel's Dart closely with no additional major revelations or insights. Nevertheless, many ardent fans will love revisiting this world and the characters who inhabit it.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
With this lyrical, BDSM-infused romantasy, Carey circles back to her Locus Award--winning debut fantasy, Kushiel's Dart, 21 years after its first publication--but the epic love between courtesan Phédre, who was sold into sexual slavery as a child, and celibate warrior Joscelin, here retold from Joscelin's point of view, sits differently in 2023's sexual and political landscape. Fortunately, in this revamped version, Carey does her best to minimize the sexualization of children and racialization of beauty that were prevalent in the original.With the edges filed down a bit and all of the larger plot points known (the book ends with the wedding of Queen Ysandre), the original political themes fade, and a narrative that often verges on cozy emerges, lingering over Joscelin's youthful training days in the Cassiline Prefectory before shifting to his rube-in-the-city culture shock as he takes his first assignment, which brings him disapprovingly into Phédre's decadent world. It's the stuff of fan fiction, with Carey lovingly applying a full painter's palette to what had previously been only sketched. Carey proves she has lost none of her inimitable style nor her ability to fully realize characters; devoted fans will revel in getting Joscelin's backstory. (Aug.)
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Review by Library Journal Review
"Love as thou wilt." Those words from Carey's beloved series "Kushiel's Legacy" are burned into scores of readers' minds; the first book, Kushiel's Dart, followed the life of a young indentured servant, Phèdre nó Delaunay, who rose to become one of the most influential people of her world. In this novel, Carey retells that first entry through the eyes of Phèdre's consort, Joscelin Verreuil. In Terre d'Ange, noble families pledge a middle son to the warrior-priests that serve in the Cassiline Brotherhood. After leaving his family and life behind at age ten, Joscelin spends his childhood becoming the honorable, serious fighter who is later assigned to protect Naamah's servants, leading him to a crossroads where he must choose the code of his faith or the love of his life. Familiar characters written from a different perspective open the reading wide, revealing new details through old footsteps. VERDICT While many parts of the story are familiar, Joscelin's point of view will revitalize fans of the series and draw new readers to this lush epic fantasy. Libraries should prepare for requests for the original series.--Kristi Chadwick
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
Carey retells her debut novel, the darkly erotic political fantasy Kushiel's Dart (2001), from the perspective of the protagonist's lover, the warrior-priest Joscelin Verreuil. Kushiel's Dart was a first-person narrative by Phèdre, a courtesan and spy living in an alternate version of France called Terre d'Ange, who was chosen by the angel Kushiel as an "anguissette": someone who finds physical pain and submission pleasurable. She uses all of her skills and capacities to ferret out a conspiracy against the queen of Terre d'Ange and foil an invasion. In the process, she falls in love with her bodyguard, Joscelin Verreuil, who breaks several vows he has made to the angel Cassiel--including celibacy--when he returns her affections and does his utmost to protect her against a number of threats. Now we get the opportunity to revisit these events from Joscelin's point of view, but whether the reader will feel enriched by this is questionable. Phèdre is a unique, complicated character who uses her dark desires to disguise that she is also a fiercely intelligent and well-educated spy with a strong independent streak. As her fellow courtesan/spy Alcuin notes, she's a paradox; as such, the first-person narration in Kushiel's Dart helps to reveal her thought processes. But Joscelin is basically a trope character: a priest who breaks his vows for a woman and is tormented by the conflicting forces of love, loyalty, and faith. Third person makes him inscrutable and fascinating. You don't entirely know what he's really like in the beginning of Carey's first book; we come to learn that he's a deeply feeling, passionate person whose attempt at stoicism ultimately fails. The first-person narration in this book makes him less mysterious and compelling, which is too bad. This is also an aggressively adjunct book that assumes you've read the source material, because it races by all the delicate details of the political conspiracy and how they're ferreted out. It is somewhat fun to revisit the story, but it feels like an echo, perfunctory and lacking the poetry of the original. The additional material without Phèdre is frankly not all that interesting, either: In particular, Joscelin's training to become a Cassiline Brother resembles practically every other fantasy novel's sequence set in a remote school where children learn an elite skill. For dedicated (and somewhat uncritical) fans only; others might prefer to revisit the previous work. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.