Kushiel's Avatar Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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Phèdre nó Delaunay is a woman pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. Her path has been strange and dangerous, and through it all the devoted swordsman Joscelin has been at her side. Her very nature is a torturous thing for them both, but he is sworn to her and he has never violated his vow: to protect and serve.
But Phèdre's plans put Joscelin's pledge to the test, for she has never forgotten her childhood friend Hyacinthe. She has spent ten long years searching for the key to free him from his eternal indenture, a bargain he struck with the gods - to take Phèdre's place as a sacrifice and save a nation. Phèdre cannot forgive - herself or the gods. She is determined to seize one last hope to redeem her friend, even if it means her death.
The search will bring Phèdre and Joscelin across the world, to distant courts where madness reigns and souls are currency, and down a fabled river to a land forgotten by most of the world.And to a power so mighty that none dare speak its name.
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|Listening Length||31 hours and 21 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||March 25, 2009|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #25,561 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#287 in Historical Fantasy (Audible Books & Originals)
#671 in Classic Literature (Audible Books & Originals)
#1,112 in Historical Fantasy (Books)
Top reviews from the United States
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In this concluding chapter of the trilogy, Phedre and Joscelin undertake their most dangerous and heart-wrenching adventure yet as they venture both into the Heart of Darkness and then a grueling quest to find the Name of God which is the key to rescuing their long-suffering friend Hyacinthe. The story also introduces a refreshing new character in Imriel, the son of Melisandre, He is a welcome addition to the story and helps to show the growth of the two main characters and also be the child that for a myriad of reasons they could never have themselves. While I wont go into the details of how everything fits together, this was a satisfying conclusion to an awesome trilogy that explored the themes of love, self-sacrifice, and faith.
So why four stars instead of five? (SPOILERS AHEAD)
1) Though the book is strong in emphasizing the theme of self-sacrifice for a greater (if not always understood) purpose by Phedre, it confounded me to see the selfishness she displayed at various points of the story. My heart broke for Joscelin throughout. What he was forced to endure at Drujan was both cruel and brutal, but I understand why Phedre needed to do that and why he chose to stick with her. The most aggravating part to me though was near the conclusion of the book, when they are on their way to try and free Hyacinthe. Throughout the books, I always viewed him as her best friend and someone she needed in her life, but never someone that was a true love interest. So when Phedre basically tells Joscelin, a man who literally goes to hell and back for this woman, that she doesnt know who she is going to choose to be with once they do free Hyas, I almost fell off my chair. It did not ring true at all and made zero sense. Even worse, when they finally do free him, the author takes the choice out of Phedre's hand and lets Hyacinthe decide for her. This to me really marred what had been an epic love story for P and J throughout the series, as it should have been Phedre making that decision and rewarding Joscelin for everything he did on her behalf.
2) The other quibble I have with the story is with Melisandre. if anyone throughout the series has been the true third point of the triangle with p & J, it is her. She has always been an engaging villain and alluring temptress to Phedre. However, even here, after all they have been through, and all the defeats she has had at Phedre's hand, she still manages to basically end every interaction between the two with the upper hand and hold an almost magical power over her. Seeing this was basically the end of the Phedre story, it would have been nice to see her claim some self-respect by saying no or refusing to give in to Melisandre's grip over her, so she could finish up with some sort of true victory between the two. As it was she basically lies to Joscelin several times about her relationship with Mel and makes sure she has plenty of time alone with her so she can make out with her out of his presence.
Overall, despite those issues, I loved the book and the series. Even though at times, I absolutely hated Phedre, I loved her too and was impressed how the author was able to make an unforgettable hero out of a "whore's unwanted get". There were so many heartwarming moments and brutal lows, that one could not help but feel tense and engaged throughout, with a clear need to know how things would end. I will definitely read this series again and look forward to undertaking the next chapters of the saga centered around Imriel.
I continued to be enchanted with the way the book was written. The author's writing style makes the reading experience quite enjoyable. The book's difficulty reading level wise I found to be just right as a 22 year old college student who struggles just a little in English. The story and the characters were as captivating as ever and I felt like I had been pulled into the world of the story every time I read. And I've always loved how the series incorporated it's sexual elements without making it the focus of the story. This isn't a crappy paperback romance you find in your local grocery store whose plot is as thin as soggy cardboard. Rather this is a strongly developed narrative that just happens to have themes of sex and moments where it writes about it (albeit a lot less explicitly than most erotic novels do).
My only real warning to readers is that this book contains more violence than any of the past novels. There were moments in the novel that were honestly hard to read due to some of the violence and horrors that the characters faced. There is also much stronger themes in this novel of non-consensual and much more violent sex (again still not quite as explicitly written as a erotic novel). Past readers may find they have to put the book down for a bit when things get too dark.
Regardless though I loved this book and will continue to read others from the series when I find the time.
Set 10 years after Book 2, Kushiel’s Chosen, Phedre and Joscelin have had all that time to settle into their relationship. Both have made compromises to their wants in order to make room for their love. Phedre only takes two assignations a year in Naamah’s service while Joscelin has learned to let his sense of humor show here and there. But through this well-earned and hard-found bliss, Phedre has never forgotten Hyacinthe and his sacrifice for Terre D’Ange and herself. He still lives an isolated life out on the Three Sisters, learning the powers of the Master of the Straights. Then she receives an unexpected missive from an old enemy and one-time patron, Melisande. Phedre’s adventuring days are not over yet.
This is a re-read for me. I have enjoyed this series over and over again and it was awesome to revisit this book as part of a read along with several blogger friends. They brought new insights to this much beloved book. I have always found this book to be the darkest of the first trilogy. The entire series deals with consent in its many myriad forms. However, in this installment of the series we see how those lines can get blurred and shattered apart. This epic fantasy is not for the faint of heart.
There’s two plot lines for Joscelin and Phedre to solve in this book and one has always been more interesting to me than the other. First, as we know from Book 2, Melisande had a son who she somehow spirited away. Now, it is up to Phedre and Joscelin to track down this long-lost Prince of the Blood, Imriel. Second, the Master of the Straights has passed his powers on to Hyacinthe after a long 10-year apprenticeship. Phedre still searches for the key to free him and will never give up.
The search for Imriel is the one that has always held my attention. It deals with child slavery and the broken trust of a child and how, if ever, to recover that trust. Meanwhile, I have never gotten caught up fully in Hyacinthe’s plight. He went into the agreement with full knowledge as an adult. I know the life on the Three Sisters is a complete 180 for him, being trapped on these three isles with only his servants and the Master of the Straights for company. And yet…. Well, I always felt that he was moping about it, for ten years. He wasn’t trying to make the most of the situation. He wasn’t making an effort to embrace the few, yet awesomely powerful, perks of his new station in life and I think that is what dampened my feelings towards him. Meanwhile, Phedre was all in an anguish over him every other chapter and felt this great survivor’s guilt for not having been the one trapped on that isle instead of Hyacinthe. It’s totally in keeping with Phedre’s personality, and yet I still found it a little tiring.
So, setting aside that one tiny quibble, this is an excellent book to wrap up the first trilogy. Phedre’s gods ask her to take on a dangerous and most difficult task. The asking is subtle and I feel there’s plenty there for each reader to interpret their own way. The magic of Terre D’Ange is not often direct. Phedre’s deities will be tested by the dark powers that have taken up residence in Darsanga, a land far to the east of Terre D’Ange. Phedre and Joscelin won’t be able to count on any help from friends and allies. My heart really went out to Joscelin on this one. In the past books, Phedre’s actions have often tested Joscelin’s vows, but this is a new level. I think both Phedre and Joscelin lost a little bit of themselves.
There’s plenty of travel for Phedre and Joscelin in this story. New lands and new cultures are explored. The Yeshuites continue to play a part in this tale. Indeed, they have quite a significant role in part of the adventure. It’s easy to see how both Phedre and Joscelin have grown throughout the series in this book. They take on meeting new peoples in stride and adapting their own manners to be more accommodating to their hosts. In Book 1 and Book 2, Phedre can sometimes come off as a little conceited. I think she’s really grown out of that here in Book 3. She still observes differences, but she’s not longer simply comparing those differences to the ways of Terre D’Ange.
As with the first two books, the author doesn’t shy away from detailed sex scenes. They are always used to move the plot forward or show some aspect of the characters. One of the reasons that I adore these books is that they don’t ignore the fact that sex is a main driver for human behavior and that how we treat someone both outside and inside the bedroom is important (and sometimes is mightily different). This book contains one of my favorite sex scenes of all time. It involves fishing. The scene was moving, beautiful, arousing, loving, sensual, and meaningful.
Enough gushing. You know by now that I adore this book even if I find it the darkest of the three. I also find that it holds the most food for thought. The myriad of characters show their strengths, and try to hide their weaknesses, in a variety of ways. It’s not just swords and muscles that will win your way through this adventure. The ending was quite satisfying. Not everyone got everything they were hoping for, but everyone got enough.
The Narration: Once again, Anne Flosnik gives a stellar performance. The list of accents needed for this trilogy grows yet again with this installment. I can’t imagine the amount of research she had to put into this before she could begin the narration. Her character voices are always distinct and she holds this accent or that accent steady for each character. I love her little kid voice for Imriel. Great narration!
Top reviews from other countries
Ten years ago, Melisande's attempt on the Queen's life failed, imrisoning her in the temple of Asherat-on-the-sea and hiding her son, Imriel, from the world. In that time, Phedre has been searching for the Name of God to free her friend, Hyacinthe, who yet stands as the Master of the Straits - without finding it.
Now, though, Melisande sends for Phedre; her son is missing from where he has lived this past decade. And she offers Phedre a choice - her son for the Name of God she so desires.
We all know what happens next, of course - in this trilogy we've all learned our favourite character. She accepts - throwing her into her darkest journey yet, where she will have to face both her own gods and herself.
There is no way this could have been better, in any respect. I loved the first two, Kushiel's Dart and Chosen, and I love Avatar as well!
I have read the series many times and have no doubt I will return to it many more times to come.