Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The whore that saved the world



I just finished reading Kushiel's Scion, the fourth in a series by fantasy author Jacqueline Carey. She's one of my favorite authors in the fantasy genre; her books are lush, evocative, with themes that resonate throughout history, and an excellent literary style that brings you into the story with all five senses.

But what I really love is that the first three books of the series is features a non-stereotypical strong heroine. Essentially, Phedre, is a whore (and I'm using the word in a positive way to reclaim it from all it's negative connotations). She performs physical services in exchange for compensation. But aside fromo that, Phedre breaks the stereotype because she's a whore who saves the world, not by picking up a sword and fighting and getting all alpha-girl in Wonder Woman way (not that I don't love those characters, but sometimes it's easy to think that female heroes have to save the world in the same manner that a man might chose to) but she saves the world essentially by being a whore.

For Phedre, sex is power and she uses that quite skillfully in a world governed by a religion where the foremost precept is Love as thou wilt. In the world of Terre D'Ange, sex is not dirty; it's a celebration of love and life. As a result, whores are sacred and respected for their services in the way that doctors are. I really enjoyed this series not just for the gorgeous prose, but for the completely different depiction of a what a female heroine is.

Kushiel's Scion the 4th book set in the world of Terre D'Ange is the story of Imriel, Phedre's foster son and the real son of her deadliest enemy, Melisande Shaihrizai. Melisande and Phedre are enemies in the classic, opposite sides of the coin in that Magneto/Xavier kind of way with respect, love, and hate entwined in all their interactions. Although I didn't think Kushiel's Scion is as strong as Kushiel's Dart, it was wonderful to return to the world of Terre D'Ange. Moreover, this novel is different in that it features a hero who has been emotionally damaged by forced sex with implications of rape at an early age (though I was disappointed to see the author do some shying away of actual rape of the hero, though the question is still up in the air). In general, premises like this usually feature women. It will be interesting to see how Carey deals with sex, rape and its implications for a hero's masculinity. Can a male hero have been raped, come to terms with it, find sex as a source of power and fulfillment and still be considered a hero? If female heroines can, why not male heroes?

1 Comments:

At 4:58 AM, Blogger Myth_1977 said...

I love the first three books, for many reasons, including a unique female character. I have not read the forth, but I think I may just add it to my list, as it sounds interesting.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home