This book is above all a well written piece combining political intrigue, diverse passions, and betrayals on many levels. The main character has a unique voice as well as a unique position in the story.
As Phedre says, “When Love cast me out, it was Cruelty who took pity on me.” Phedre is born into a House of the Night Court, the truly high class establishments where children are raised in such a way as to best please themselves and their patrons in a sexual way in the service of Namaah. Sold into slavery because Phedre has a scarlet mote in her left eye and was therefore deemed unworthy of her House, it takes one very special man only a moment to realize what she is, an anguissette, someone who truly experiences pain and pleasure as one. This means that she is the chosen one of Kushiel, a companion to Elua.
Many of the beliefs in the book as well as the names can be traced back to a combination of the life of Jesus and myths and legends. Carey creates a wonderfully intricate belief system and political system that makes all things seem probable. If one speaks or reads French one will appreciate the names and words that Carey often uses to set her world apart. These names are familiar as a a few of the character traits, making it easy for the reader to accept what is happening, while still creating a whole new legacy to go with them. Names such as D’Angelines to name the people with the beauty of the Angels were self-explanitory without being pushy or obnoxious as sometimes obvious names can be. In all ways this book is beautiful, complex, and intriguing. I will be picking up the next one with my next paycheck.