I had some weird, odd deja vu going on reading this one. It tripped a bunch of nostalgia centers in my brain, but since I’m positive I’ve never read it before, I’m going to chalk it up to this being a book I would have LOVED in high school. (Not that that’s a slight on the book or anything, but it totally would have fit right into my geometry book once I finished reading about the vampire Lestat during class instead of memorizing the Pythagorean theory.)
There’as a lot to take in through the first half of the book. It’s essentially world building of the highest order. While I do love a good, well thought out world, this slow paced journey through an alternative history France was not the backpacking through Europe trip I wanted. There was a lot of Game of Thrones style political machinations that needed time to machinate, but I wish this took place in the steam age so maybe things could’ve gotten a move on.
The most succinct summary I can give is that Christianity didn’t become a reigning religion in Europe, but an offshoot sect base on Elua, who was born from Jesus’s blood and the earth. Elua got a bunch of angel groupies to follow him around and one of the angels became a prostitute to keep the medieval hippie nomad commune from starving. So prostitution is a religious rite in this society. Enter Phedre, a former orphan adopted by a wealthy and well-connected patron, to be his sex spy. Phedre has the added bonus of a genetic mutation, which means she’s into BDSM. So, heads up, there is some more than vanilla sex scenes; I didn’t find it too graphic at all, but some people up on the Goodreads reviews are up in arms that people are into kinky things.
Things pick up once Phedre’s adopted father is murdered and Phedre and her monk bodyguard, Joscelin, are sold as slaves to the Vikings. There are daring escapes, life or death battles , and a fat pony. Now, I loathe the term “Mary Sue”, because I also feel that most of the people who throw that term out are just upset that a woman in a story has more of a role than just being pretty. But Phedre… Phedre somehow becomes the most important person in the kingdom and gets sent on important ambassador missions and generally becomes the center of the entire universe with her magical vagina.
I picked up all three trilogies for less than $5 at a book sale, so I’m committed to seeing all of this through. And as much as i just bashed her, I really do want to see what other shenanigans Phedre gets up to. Especially when she kicks that wet blanket Joscelin to the curb. That’s going to happen, right? There’s no realistic way that those two people would ever be able to stay together.