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The Guns of August
Barbara W. Tuchman, Robert K. Massie
Kushiel's Dart - Jacqueline Carey I AM DISGUSTED! And jealous! No one’s debut novel should be this damn good! Would you like Kushiel's Dart? If you thrilled at the Battle of Pelennor Fields, you might. Do you like Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Series? If you like the Saxons, you’ll recognize the Skaldi. Like the idea of an ancient warrior race from England, complete with a warrior queen in the mold of Boudicca? There is one here. Like strong women, as well as men, plotting and carrying out mayhem? Yup, got it here. Do you want a plot rich in intrigue and political maneuvering among many fiefs and kingdoms ala “Game of Thrones? You’d probably like this and it competes nicely with GRRM’s monsters at 901 pages in length. For being so long, it moves swiftly through 10 years in a lush, imaginative world built by Jacqueline Carey. An amalgam of medieval European kingdoms are re-imagined yet familiar, mixed with social, religious and mythological undercurrents from Christianity, Judaism, Druids, Norse gods, Rome, Persia, Gypsies, etc. Fantasy it is, but magic is rarely used or present.

Ok, what might drive you away? If you are uncomfortable with Love as thou wilt which means basically almost anything sexual goes on. Bisexual relationships are ok, gay or lesbian trysts are fine too. Safe to say that Ms Carey has claimed ownership of the BDSM, LGB, erotic fantasy genre. But don’t misunderstand; the sex is not overdone or overwrought. The main protagonist, Phedre, is a courtesan who is the first in generations who is genetically wired to enjoy pain and pleasure as 2 sides of the same coin. Her episodes are integral to the plot yet can be skipped over if you find it “icky”, as some reviewers have said. One thing is for sure, only a woman could have written this story with these elements. You will, however, laugh your tookus off when you meet “Phedre’s Boys” and their anthem.

Please read the many fine reviews on this book, both pro and con. I am definitely on the pro side of the equation.