Kushiel's Dart is Jacqueline Carey's first novel and the first of the novels in her Kushiel's Legacy series. The idea for this book first came to Carey when she was reading the Biblical Book of Genesis, and specifically a passage about "sons of God" coming into the "daughters of Men." Later, when she was writing a coffee table book, she encountered Jewish folklore, which paralleled the story in greater detail. The fictional nation of Terre D'Ange in the story was founded by a rebel angel.
The Kushiel's Legacy series takes place in a medieval world that is modeled on Earth (the map at the beginning of the novels is a map of Earth, with creatively historically named countries). The main characters are from Terre d'Ange (French for: Land of Angels), which occupies the area of France.
Terre d'Ange was founded by Elua and His Companions and is thereby a nation of progeny of fallen angels.
What follows is called the Eluine Cycle and tells the story of Elua:
Elua was conceived through the blood of Yeshua ben Yosef, the son of the One God, where a spear from a soldier of Tiberium (Rome) pierced his side, and the tears of the Magdalene, combined in the womb of Mother Earth herself.
While the One God mourned the loss of his son, Elua travelled the land but was reviled and rejected by most given that he was not the One God's legitimate son and as the enemy's offspring by the people of Tiberium.
In Persis he was arrested for unknown charges, but the tales of his travels had reached Heaven and eight of God's own angels, Azza, Anael, Camael, Cassiel, Eisheth, Kushiel, Naamah and Shemhazai came to free him.
Naamah was the first. She went to the King of Persis and offered one night of pleasure with her in return for Elua's freedom. The King accepted and each of the Thirteen Houses of the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers have a version of that story. After, however, the King of Persis was afraid of the One God's wrath and broke his promise to Naamah. Fearing the Angels, instead of killing Elua, he gave them strong wine to drink and put him on a boat in the middle of the sea with no sails. Elua sang and dolphins brought him to shore.
Elua went to Bhodistan (India), and while the people of Bhodistan did not wish to turn away from their multitude of Gods, they saw the light in Elua and wished him no harm. When Elua was hungry and Mother Earth's creatures could not sustain him, Naamah would lay with strangers in the market. As such, Namaah's Servants (see Court of Night-Blooming Flowers) are near-holy figures and perform an almost sacred act. While wandering in Skaldia (Germany), Elua made friends of ravens and wolves.
They came to Terre d'Ange, a then nameless country, as the armies of Tiberium were retreating from it, during the collapse of their empire. They saw that the land that was fertile and beautiful and the people here welcomed them with open arms. Here Elua and His Companions each founded their own territories except for Cassiel, remaining loyal to the One God, and Elua whose territory was all of Terre D'Ange.
Excerpt: “For many years they dwelled there and abided by blessed Elua's precept, ‘Love as thou wilt.’ And Elua and his Companions lay with women and with men, and many children were begotten, save only unto Cassiel, who kept the One God's commandments. But the other Companions did not, and those secrets which they had brought from Heaven, they did teach to their children, and they grew wise in many arts.”
After "three-score years" the One God turned from his grieving over the death of his son Yeshua and saw what Elua and his Companions had created. "He saw that their offspring would overrun the earth", and so sent the leader of his host to summon them before him. "But blessed Elua smiled upon the leader of the One God's host and gave him the kiss of peace, laying wreathes of flowers about his neck, and the One God's commander returned ashamed and empty-handed." The One God then sent his arch-herald with an offer of forgiveness and a place next to him in heaven. Elua turned to Cassiel and borrowed his dagger. He scored the palm of his own hand and where his blood fell on the earth anemones bloomed. Elua refused saying, "My grandfather's Heaven is bloodless and I am not. Let him offer a better place, where we may love and sing and grow as we are wont, where our children and our children's children may join us, and I will go." He was told there is no such place. Then Mother Earth spoke to her once-husband The One God and said they may create such a place together. "Thus was the creation of the true Terre d'Ange that lies beyond mortal perception, and blessed Elua and his Companions went willingly into it, passing not through the dark gate of death, but straightway through the bright gate. And alone among them, only Cassiel gazed backward in sorrow."
<End of the Eluine Cycle>
Anael gave mankind the gift of husbandry and taught the growing of crops and care of the land. Scions of Anael have the telltale scent of apples, which rises from their skin when feeling strong emotions. His province is L'Agnace, the heartland of Terre d'Ange. His priests and priestesses wear brown robes with a rope belt.
Azza gifted mankind with knowledge of navigation. The Yeshuites (The Jews) name his sin as that of pride. He founded the realm of Azzalle. Priests and priestesses of Azza wear bronze masks of Azza and saffron tunics with crimson chlamys fastened with bronze brooches.
The temple in the city of Elua has a giant copper dome that can be seen from many areas in the city. In the temple the statue of Azza holds one hand open, palm upward, and the other hand holds a sextant. The burning of incense is common in his worship.
Camael is a martial angel, and founded the first armies of D'Angeline troops. His territory is Camlach. His priests wear a dark green surplice and a sword.
Cassiel, alone among the eight, took no province of Terre d'Ange as his own, choosing instead to remain at Elua's side as he traversed the world, a choice for which he believed himself eternally damned. Cassiel has no temples, but the Cassiline Brotherhood was founded for him.
Eisheth was noted for her gentleness and for giving humanity the healing arts, which is why so many of the best healers come from her province, which is Eisande. She is also credited with gifting the D'Angelines with music and story, which is why Eisande gave rise to the Mendacants, or traveling bards. Her priests and priestess wear sea-blue robes.
In order to conceive, a woman of Terre d'Ange must pray and light a candle to Eisheth to open the gates of her womb. Once such a prayer is made, it can never be taken back. Unwanted children still occur, but presumably only to those who had invoked Eisheth in their lives previously.
Kushiel was the Punisher for the One God who delivered torments onto mortal sinners in order that they might repent. Alone among the punishing angels, he understood that chastisement was an act of love; and the sinners in his charge too came to understand and loved him for it. "He gave them pain like balm, and they begged him for it, finding not redemption, but a love that transcended the divine." This displeased the One God, who desired worship above all things. It is said in his province (Kusheth) that when Kushiel's sinners were offered the chance for repentance they refused out of love of their lord. Kushiel saw in Elua a soul that understood what he did, and thus left the service of the One God to follow Elua in his wanderings.
Kusheth is the home of the Shahrizai, one of the Great Houses, who are from his line. One important member of this family is Melisande Shahrizai. According to Melisande, any D'Angeline who kills an anguissette will be tormented in hell for 1000 years but if the D'Angeline is a scion of Kushiel they will be tormented for 10,000 years.
The priests of Kushiel wear black robes and full bronze masks, so that their identities are kept completely secret, including even their gender. Atonement for sins in Kushiel's temple involves a thorough flogging, to purge the guilt from one's soul.
Kushiel's Dart is the name given to a red mote appearing in the eye of one of his chosen mortals, marking the bearer as an anguissette. The heroine of the first trilogy, Phèdre nó Delaunay, bears this mark.
Her domain is that of sexuality. Naamah's province in Terre d'Ange is Namarre. Priests and Priestesses of Naamah wear scarlet robes.
To enter her order, after training that is very similar to those of the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, an acolyte must complete a year of Service. During this time they wander Terre d'Ange and are forbidden to refuse anyone who seeks them out of true longing. This is to help them to better understand the sacrifice of the goddess sleeping with mortals. In return Naamah blesses them with desire for each patron. After this year of service they are free to choose patrons and lovers as they wish.
Servants of Naamah refers to those who engage in prostitution, which is a holy act in Terre d'Ange. They bear marques (tattoos) on their backs as a sign of their trade. The most elite of these are the adepts of the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, also known as the Night Court. Each of these Houses holds to a different explanation of why Naamah lay with the King of Persis, and caters to different preferences accordingly. It is blasphemous for a Servant of Naamah to have an assignation with anyone he or she does not desire, or to be forced to take assignations. For this reason, some Servants of Naamah will complete their marques in other ways (such as clothing design, etc.) and some will simply remain as teachers.
Shemhazai is noted for treasuring knowledge, and is credited with teaching the D'Angelines their written language. His territory is Siovale and his priests and priestesses wear grey robes.
One of his temples in southern Siovale has a mechanical statue of Shemhazai, which moves to turn a placard toward his worshippers. The placard says, "All knowledge is worth having".
Elua's only commandment to his followers was to love as thou wilt. The nation of Terre d'Ange takes it as their guiding philosophy, and as such embrace all forms of love. This makes them a sexually liberated culture, accepting of homosexuality, bisexuality, and BDSM. Rape is not only a crime, because of this precept, it is the highest and most severe heresy. This includes forced intimacy as well as sexual acts with minors (generally considered under age 16 in the series) or animals as neither can make fully thought-out decisions or thereby give true consent.
Temples of Elua have no roof, only four pillars to mark the corners. The centre is unpaved. Everything, from oak trees to flowers and weeds, may grow well tended. There is usually a statue of Elua present, standing with unbound hair and an eternal smile, one hand extended in offering, the other scored with the mark of his mortality. Visitors have to walk barefoot in the temple. Elua's priests wear blue robes, no mask, and always walk barefooted as Elua did on Earth. Anemones or lilies, traditionally associated with Blessed Elua, can be offered to him. The Temple in the City of Elua has one of the oldest works of D'Angeline art and some call the large marble statue crude looking.
There is also the annual celebration of the Longest Night. This is a celebration dating to before the arrival of Elua. It is said that Elua loved the practice so much that it was adopted by Him and His Companions. Followers of Cassiel celebrate this night differently with Elua's Vigil.
The Longest Night is the major holiday of Terre d'Ange. It is celebrated on the winter solstice each year. The holiday centers around celebration of the sun's return, so two people always play the Winter Queen and the Sun Prince at the masque. The Winter Queen appears as an old woman clad in rags, stooped and hobbling with a cane. The Sun Prince, a young man clad all in gold, enters when the horologist calls the hour of the sun's return and all the lights are extinguished. The Sun Prince taps the Winter Queen with his spear and she lifts off her rags, appearing as a young woman (Symbolizing Winters transformation into Spring).
Cassiline Brothers mark the Longest Night by holding Elua's vigil. They spend the entire night meditating in temples of Elua.
The Cassiline Brotherhood is an order of priests loyal to Cassiel. Cassiline Brothers act as bodyguards to a sworn charge. Traditionally, the ruler of Terre d'Ange is guarded by two Cassilines.
Training to become a Cassiline Brother begins at age 10. It is custom for noble families to send their middle son to become a Cassiline Brother.
The Court of Night Blooming Flowers:
Each house is led by a Dowayne, who is assisted by his or her Second. There are about three hundred adepts total between the houses. Mandrake and Valerian have smaller clientele than the other houses.
Children may be born into a house, or they may be sold into one. Adepts may be paired off with the hopes of producing children to fit the house's canon. Any children who do fit the canon are kept, any who don't will have their marques sold to other houses.
Dedication into Naamah's Service happens at age thirteen. The ceremony takes place at each house's own temple of Naamah. A priest or priestess of Naamah performs the ceremony, which involves releasing a dove. Their instruction typically begins with a Showing. A Showing is a performance where an audience watches a pair of adepts have sex. It is always the pairing of a man and a woman for a new initiate, but Showings may vary in content otherwise. Any member of the house is welcome to attend a Showing that is taking place. After viewing this, the initiate begins instruction in the arts of sensuality and seduction while learning the skills necessary for a member of their house. Erotic texts such as the Trois Milles Joies, the Ecstatica, the Journey of Naamah and the Log of Seven Hundred Kisses are studied.
When an adept reaches age sixteen, they are ready to begin taking patrons. They have a debut where prospective patrons come to view them and offer a price for their virginity. Once they start taking patrons, an adept can begin to pay off their debt to the house. Any money for an assignation goes to the house. Any other money received, known as a patron gift, goes toward the adept's marque. Patron gifts are typically placed in a sculpture of two cupped hands, called Naamah's hands.
A marque is an elaborate tattoo limned on the backs of adepts. This is done because it is said Naamah scratched the backs of patrons who pleased her and the marks never faded. Each house has its own specific marque pattern. Any patron gifts an adept earns will go to the marquist for the completion of their marque. Adepts do not display their marques before they are completed. A marque is not complete until it has been seen and acknowledged as such by the adept's Dowayne. Once an adept has made their marque, they are free to either leave the house or stay and give a portion of their earnings to it.
Alyssum House is one of the thirteen houses of the Night Court. Its canon is modesty and its motto is With Eyes Averted.
Alyssum adepts are skilled at creating the illusion of modesty, a rare trait in Terre d'Ange. They believe that Naamah trembled to lay aside her modesty when she slept with the King of Persis.
Balm House is one of the thirteen houses of the Night Court. Its canon is healing and its motto is Rest and Be Soothed.
Balm adepts are trained to soothe their patrons' hurts. They are skilled in massage and other healing techniques. Adepts are often master masseurs. They believe that Naamah went to the King of Persis in compassion, to heal the pain in his soul.
Bryony House is one of the thirteen houses of the Night Court. Its canon is wealth and its motto is Wealth Seeks Company.
Bryony adepts are trained in all forms of gambling and they are famed for never losing bets, even to Tsingani (Gypsies). It is the wealthiest of the thirteen houses. It is also the only house where adepts will wager for their favors. Adepts learn how to manage money and some go on to work in the Royal Treasury after making their marques. They believe that Naamah made a good bargain of it when she slept with the King of Persis.
Camellia House is one of the thirteen houses of the Night Court. Its canon is perfection and its motto is Without Fault or Flaw.
There is no canon other than perfection. Adepts may vary in coloring, but they must be flawless. They believe that when Naamah slept with the King of Persis, her perfection unveiled left him blind for a fortnight.
Cereus House is one of the thirteen houses of the Night Court. Its canon is fragility and its motto is All Loveliness Fades.
Cereus adepts are renowned for their fragility and delicate, pale beauty. They cultivate an appreciation for the fleeting nature of life and beauty. They believe that beauty is at its most poignant just as it's about to fade. Some adepts find true steel within themselves once their beauty fades. The ideal appearance of a Cereus adept is fragile and beautiful, with blond hair.
Dahlia House is one of the thirteen houses of the Night Court. Its canon is dignity and its motto is Upright and Unbending.
Dahlia adepts are known to be haughty, reserved and dignified, keeping with the canon of their house. They say that Naamah bestowed herself like a queen when she slept with the King of Persis.
Eglantine House is one of the thirteen houses of the Night Court. Its canon is creativity and its motto is To Create is to Live.
Eglantine is the house of performance and creativity. Its adepts are all trained to the arts, such as writing, singing, dancing, music, acting or sewing. There is a streak of "madcap genius" in the house and children are encouraged to behave in ways that would be frowned upon in other houses. They say that Naamah charmed the King of Persis with the sweetness of her song.
Gentian House is one of the thirteen houses of the Night Court. Its canon is mysticism and its motto is Truth and Vision.
Gentian adepts are similar to Balm adepts in that they are trained in the healing arts, such as massage. However Gentian adepts learn types of mysticism as well, such as dream interpretation. They believe that when Naamah slept with the King of Persis, she was filled with a mystic purity of spirit.
Heliotrope House is one of the thirteen houses of the Night Court. Its canon is devotion and its motto is Thou, and No Other.
Heliotrope adepts are skilled at creating the illusion of unwavering devotion and loyalty to their patrons. Adepts are said to have the ability to make each patron feel like they are the only one to touch their hearts. Their belief is that Naamah basked in love as if in the sun.
Jasmine House is one of the thirteen houses of the Night Court. Its canon is sensuality and its motto is For Pleasure's Sake.
Jasmine House cultivates an atmosphere of sensuality, pleasure and exoticism. As such, the house has a specific physical canon- dusky skin and dark hair is required. Ivory skin is too pale for their canon. Adepts are renowned for their stamina. They believe that Naamah slept with the King of Persis for pleasure.
Mandrake House is one of the thirteen houses of the Night Court. Its canon is dominance and its motto is Yield All.
Mandrake is one of the houses of pain in the Night Court, along with Valerian House. They revere Kushiel as well as Naamah. Adepts are trained to administer pain to patrons. It is the only house besides Valerian to use a signale, but in this case it is for the patron's benefit. They say that Naamah chose her patrons like victims and whipped them to violent pleasures, leaving them sated and half-dead when it was over.
Orchis House is one of the thirteen houses of the Night Court. Its canon is humor and its motto is Joy in Laughter.
Orchis adepts approach Naamah's Service with joy, laughter and gaiety. They learn how to make patrons laugh and are known for their lighthearted demeanor. They say that Naamah slept with the King of Persis for a lark.
Valerian House is one of the thirteen houses of the Night Court. Its canon is submission and its motto is I Yield.
Valerian is one of the houses of pain in the Night Court, along with Mandrake House. They revere Kushiel as well as Naamah. Adepts are trained to receive pain from patrons. It is the only house besides Mandrake to use a signale, but in this case it is for the adept's benefit. Valerian adepts take pride in what they do and want to have their limits tested.