[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kushiel_1203.jpg]]

-->''"Love as thou wilt."''

Jacqueline Carey's ''Kushiel's Legacy'' series encompasses three trilogies, told from first-person perspective by one character in each. It lies somewhere between AlternateHistory and fantasy, using recognizable names for real-world places, events, and occasionally people.

The first trilogy, beginning with ''Kushiel's Dart'', continuing with ''Kushiel's Chosen'', and ending with ''Kushiel's Avatar'', follows the exploits of Phèdre, a woman with a red mote in her eye which marks her as an ''anguissette'', one who experiences pain as pleasure. This talent means she draws a high price, as prostitution is a highly valued and respected profession in her home country. Added to this, she is trained in espionage, escape, and other things by her bondholder, with intent to use her as a weapon to stabilize the realm. Over the span of three books, Phèdre goes from girl to adult, and winds up deeply involved in the politics of the realm and the divine, thanks in part to her... unique talents, both as courtesan and spy.

The second trilogy begins with ''Kushiel's Scion'', continues with ''Kushiel's Justice'', and ends with ''Kushiel's Mercy''. It follows Phèdre's adopted son, Imriel: who happens to be the [[LateArrivalSpoiler biological son of one of the realm's most infamous traitors]]. The books follow his coming of age, and his struggle to live up to his adoptive parents while putting aside the reputation in his blood.

The third trilogy takes place a century after the second trilogy ends, and follows the adventures of the druid Moirin from the land of Alba. A descendant of the Maghuin Dhonn from the second trilogy, Moirin must learn to deal with the consequences her ancestor's actions foisted on her people, master her magical powers, and learn about her half-D'Angeline heritage. The first book, ''Naamah's Kiss'', came out in 2009, ''Naamah's Curse'' in 2010, and ''Naamah's Blessing'' in June 2011.

All nine books are interesting stories without the sex. ''Kushiel's Legacy'' is widely lauded by reviewers for having complex societies, likable characters, and a continuous onslaught of politics and intrigue which blend seamlessly with the sex.

In 2010, the short story "You, and You Alone," part of the ''Songs of Love and Death'' anthology, told Phèdre's mentor Anafiel's backstory.

Now has a [[Characters/KushielsLegacy Character Sheet]]!
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!! ''Kushiel's Legacy'' provides examples of:
* AffablyEvil: Melisande may be the villainess, but she's also exceedingly beautiful, charming, and clever, and might have gotten away with a lot more if she wasn't half in love with Phèdre. Melisande is arguably more of a WellIntentionedExtremist than truly evil--she's still following the prime D'Angeline tenet of "Love as thou wilt." It's just that she happens to love manipulation, [[MagnificentBastard magnificent bastardry]]. There's also a subtext that strongly implies that [[spoiler: it was all part of the plans of the Gods to prevent the destruction of the world]].
* AffectionateGestureToTheHead: Delaunay often shows his affection towards Alcuin and Phèdre by stroking their hair.
** Subverted with Waldemar Selig: he does this to Phedre quite often, though for him it's a means to show off his ownership of a d'Angeline slave.
* TheAlcatraz: The prison island of La Dolorosa in ''Chosen''. With shades of [[Literature/HarryPotter Azkaban]] as well, given the endless, wailing, soul-rending winds.
* AllMythsAreTrue.
* AloofBigBrother: Ganelon de la Courcel to his much younger siblings Lyonette and Benedicte.
* AlwaysSomeoneBetter: The ancient Hellenes are this to D'Angelines. In the second half of ''Chosen'', Phèdre travels to the island of Kriti and gushes about everything she sees there. This is interesting because-this one exception aside-she (and most D'Angelines) tend to look down on non-D'Angelines.
* AncientTradition: The Midwinter Masque has its origins in a celebration that long predates the coming of Elua. Elua liked it so much he insisted the tradition be maintained.
* AnguishedDeclarationOfLove: Joscelin has a hard time admitting his love for Phèdre. It takes him two full books to finally decide he'll put up with her no matter what.
* ArrangedMarriage: Most marriages in the series, as the major characters are nobility. Played with in that marriages cannot be carried out without the consent of the betrothed, as this is against the teachings of Elua. Still, politics plays a part. Children of House Courcel in particular can expect to be married for political reasons.
* ArsGoetia: The spirits summoned in Naamah's Kiss all come from here.
* AsYouWish: In ''Kushiel's Mercy'', [[spoiler:even though Sidonie's under the influence of FakeMemories wiping out the memory of her boyfriend Imriel, and Imriel himself is a ManchurianAgent, the use of the word "always" when it comes up in conversation always (har) triggers something for them, which they eventually figure out.]]
* AssholeVictim: The Mahrkagir.
* AuthorAppeal: Terre d'Ange is a society who worships love and believes that prostitution is a sacred calling. [[EveryoneisBi Everyone is Bi]] and the books feature a lot of BDSM. Oddly, this seems to be the only real fetish as such that anyone practises: there's vanilla sex and bondage, but no foot fetishism or cross-dressing. Of course since the book is told from the perspective of Phèdre, she might not encounter too many fetishes outside of BDSM, since that's her specialty.
* AuthorityEqualsAsskicking: How things work in Skaldia. If you want to keep your position of authority, you'd better be an asskicker.
* AwLookTheyReallyDoLoveEachOther: "You will stand at the crossroads, time and time again, and make the choice."
* BabiesEverAfter: Eventually, after Imriel and Moirin [[EarnYourHappyEnding earn their happy endings.]]
** Subverted, however, with Phèdre and Joscelin, who never do have biological children, although they raise Imriel.
* BadAss: Joscelin to the freaking max.
** And, in the newest series, Bao.
** Barquiel L'Envers, Isidore d'Aiglemort and Waldemar Selig qualify as well.
* BadIsGoodAndGoodIsBad: the Mahrkagir.
* BandOfBrothels:The Court of Night Blooming Flowers, which is composed of the different pleasure houses at which the Servants of Naamah work.
* BatheHerAndBringHerToMe: In ''Chosen'', every time [[spoiler: Melisande comes to visit her cell on [[TheAlcatraz La Dolorosa]],]] Phèdre is forced to wash and don clean clothes.
* BatmanGambit: It's heavily implied that the first 2/3rds of ''Kushiel's Avatar'' is part of Kushiel's plan to [[spoiler: punish Melisande]] and [[spoiler: kill the Mahrkagir]]. The former Punisher of God does not putz around.
** It is also implied that everything in the two previous books were purely to prepare Phèdre for the events of the third. This starts with her ''birth'' [[spoiler: which may coincide with the ascent of the Mahrkagir]].
* BawdySong: "Phèdre's Boys" have made up a few songs about her. An example? "Man or Women/We don't care/Give us Twins/We'll take the pair!"
* TheBeard: Allegra Stregazza for her husband Ricciardo
* BearsAreBadNews: The shapeshifting Maghuin Dhonn bear-witches. Which leads, in fairly short order, to [[spoiler: the removal of said shape-shifting powers.]]
* TheBeautifulElite: Almost everyone in Terre d'Ange is supposed to be beautiful, though some are exceptionally so. This is somewhat justified as the people of Terre d'Ange are distantly descended from fallen angels who intermarried with humans.
* BerserkButton: Joscelin's is Phèdre, and later Imriel.
* BetterToDieThanBeKilled: A Cassiline technique called ''Terminus'' is built around this trope. If things are looking particularly grim for a Cassiline and their charge the Cassiline will use their daggers to kill both of them.
** Supposedly, this has never actually been done, although Joscelin was preparing to do it near then end of the first book [[spoiler: when Phèdre was being skinned alive]].
* BettyAndVeronica: Imriel is torn between his dutiful love for gentle brunette wife Dorelei, and his socially inappropriate and fairly kinky attachment to glamorous, feisty blonde heiress Sidonie, a DefrostingIceQueen.
* BigDamnHeroes: The biggest BigDamnHeroes moment in the series is when [[spoiler:Barquiel L'Envers charges out of Troyes-le-Mont to rescue Phèdre and Joscelin, just as Joscelin is about to perform a MercyKill on himself and Phèdre to save them from Waldemar Selig.]]
** [[spoiler:Also, the Albans arriving along with Isidore d'Aiglemort's armies to break the siege of Troyes-le-Mont & defeat the Skaldi.]]
* BigScrewedUpFamily: The Courcel, Stregazza, L'Envers, Trevalion, Shahrizai family tree. Lampshaded when Phèdre takes Imriel to meet Severio Stregezza and reflects that he is one of the few people in Imriel's family who isn't guilty of some version of murder or treason.
* BilingualBonus: ''Languisement'', the poetic word in D'Angeline for fellatio (and typically the start of a sex scene), is one letter away from ''languissement'', meaning "yearning" in French. Make of it what you will...
** La Dolorosa means "The Painful" in Italian (and Spanish). It's an island prison in a FantasyCounterpartCulture of Venice, Italy.
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler: The first trilogy ends with Phèdre freeing Hyacinthe, but he's decided he wants to go to Alba to be with Sibeal. Phèdre responds by throwing the biggest going away party that the City of Elua has ever seen.]]
* BlackWidow: Averted. Melisande is rumored to have killed the men she married, but really, she just made a habit of marrying very old men so she just had to wait and then take their money when they died.
* BlessedWithSuck[=/=]CursedWithAwesome: Kushiel's Dart itself, depending on the situation. Phèdre has very conflicting feelings about being an ''anguissette''. It makes her experience pain as pleasure, which sounds convenient on the surface, but can actually be very complicated. On the one hand, it means she's almost impossible to torture. On the other hand, Phèdre is sometimes frightened by her own needs and desires and doesn't like that she takes pleasure from pain, cruelty, and humiliation.
* BlondesAreEvil: Isabel L'Envers arranged the death of her rival.
* BodyguardBetrayal: [[spoiler:Nearly gets Queen Ysandre killed during the climax of ''Kushiel's Chosen.'']]
* BodyguardCrush: Joscelin is originally hired on as a bodyguard to protect Phèdre during her assignations.
* BoisterousBruiser: Quintilius Rouse and later his son Eamonn.
* BoringReturnJourney: Subverted in this series: it still takes a pretty long time to get home from every journey, and things still happen.
* BornLucky: Phèdre alleges that this is averted with her because her parents gave her a cursed name.
* BrainsAndBondage: The entire series runs on this trope.
* BringNewsBack: Happens in ''Dart'' when Phèdre and Joscelin [[spoiler:flee Skaldia in the dead of winter in order to warn Ysandre of the impending invasion.]] Also, Phèdre spends the entire second half of ''Chosen'' [[spoiler:trying to warn Terre d'Ange of Melisande's plan.]]
* BrownNote: When Phèdre learns the [[spoiler: "Name of God", a powerful word that contains within it the secrets of the nature of the entire world and uses it to compel an Angel to break a curse over Hyacinthe. Carey cheats in order to avoid printing the Name. Whenever it is spoken, it appears as "____________".]].
* BuryYourGays: Despite the series taking place in a society where homosexual love is celebrated alongside heterosexual love, gay characters either die, [[spoiler: like Alcuin, Roland, and Delaunay]] or live in the closet/straight marriages of convinence [[spoiler: like Lucius and Ricchardo, though neither are from Terre d'Ange and would be disinherited/slandered for being gay.]] The one gay relationship that lasts happens in the OffstageWaitingRoom [[spoiler: with Ti-Phillipe and Hughes]]. This tends to spark off a lot of debate in the fanbase.
* CampFollower: It's mentioned in ''Kiss'' that there are plenty of women on board the great ship the Ch'in Emperor sent to fetch Master Lo Feng. Who are only along to keep the sailors and soldiers from being too lonely.
* CantStandThemCantLiveWithoutThem: Joscelin towards Phèdre. Really, what do you expect from a celibate warrior-priest paired with a courtesan who enjoys her job?
* CastFromHitPoints: What Moirin does if she uses her powers for something other than their original purpose.
* CelibateHero: Joscelin is a WarriorMonk, raised from age ten to be the "perfect companion." Part of their final vows is indeed a vow of celibacy. [[spoiler:Breaks his vow later in the books, is outcast, but still gets his respect.]]
* ChekhovsGun: The Companion's Star Ysandre gives to Phèdre at the end of ''Chosen'', which entitles her to one boon. It finally pays off in ''Avatar'' when [[spoiler: Phèdre uses it to force Ysandre to let her and Joscelin adopt Imriel]]
** Also, the password of House L'Envers.
* ChekhovsSkill: Surprisingly enough Joscelin's ability to ''fish'' becomes important in ''Avatar''.
** There's also Phèdre's Cruithne and Skaldic language lessons, which come in handy in ''Dart.''
** In the Naamah trilogy, ''the language of ants.'' Oh dear god.
* TheChessmaster: Melisande and, to a lesser extent, Anafiel. Phèdre inherits this from the both of them, and is incredibly clever when ''god-ordained'' lust isn't turning her brain to mush around Melisande.
* ChildByRape: Bao. Also Kamala, daughter of the bodhisattva Laysa by the Falconer Tarik Khaga, a warlord who kidnapped her and many other women to join his harem.
** Hyacinthe. His mother was raped by a patron of Bryony House.
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: Melisande betrays everyone she partners with, and people keep teaming up with her anyway because she's that beautiful, that smart, and her plans are that good.
* CinderellaCircumstances: Phèdre starts as a whore's unwanted get and ends up Comtesse de Montrève.
* CityOfCanals: La Serenissima.
* ConspicuouslyPublicAssassination: Justified [[spoiler: The traitors hire mercenaries to start a riot in a crowded temple during the largest celebration of the year. That way, the assassination would just look like an accident amidst the pandemonium.]] Really, what do you expect of a plan backed by Melisande?
* CoolUncle: Joscelin is this to his siblings' children, who think that having a hero of the realm for an uncle is pretty much the neatest thing ever.
* CouldHaveAvoidedThisPlot: Almost as soon as he sets foot on Alba in ''Justice'' Imriel is stalked and harassed by the Maghuin Dhonn. They keep mentioning they are trying to prevent a future disaster, but instead of just talking to Imriel they stalk and bind him with magic. When they eventually reveal that the disaster would be [[spoiler: Imriel's son killing off the Mahguin Dhonn and becoming a conqueror due to his and his father's hatred for them]]. Imriel was understandably not impressed and immediately called them out as idiots for not just ''talking'' to him.
* CultureClash: Most notable between Terre d'Ange and Alba, which are politically united by Ysandre and Drustan's marriage, but completely different culturally.
** There is lesser, but still significant culture clash between Terre d'Ange and Caerdicca Unitas. Both recognize the other as civilized, but odd.
* CunningLinguist: Phèdre. [[IncrediblyLamePun Both]] meanings.
* [[SonOfAWhore Daughter of a Whore]]: Played with in Phèdre, who is indeed the child of a sex worker and one of her customers, raised in a brothel, and called "a whore's unwanted get," who then became a prostitute. Only her parents married before having her and they left her to foster in a brothel, which wasn't their original intention.
* DeadlyDecadentCourt
* DeadpanSnarker: Barquiel L'Envers.
* DeathByChildbirth: [[spoiler: Poor Queen Jehanne...]]
* DeathByOriginStory: Edmée de Rocaille and Prince Rolande for Delaunay.
* DeathWorld: Drujan.
* DeclarationOfProtection: Several examples, the most notable being Joscelin's vow to protect Phèdre, but also:
** [[spoiler: Delaunay swearing an oath to protect Ysandre.]]
** [[spoiler: Barquiel becoming the oath-sworn protector of Imriel and Sidonie's firstborn.]]
* DefrostingIceQueen: Sidonie.
** In ''Naamah's Kiss'', Jehanne, sort of.
* DemonicPossession: Almost(?) happens to [[spoiler: Raphael]]. What everyone thinks happened to Snow Tiger.
** It did happen to Imriel's friend Lucius, when his [[spoiler: jerkass ancestor, Gallus]] took over his body.
* DepravedBisexual: Melisande to the extreme. Then again, everyone in Terre d'Ange is bi, so there were bound to be some evil people thrown in the mix. Aversions: Phèdre, Alcuin, and Delaunay.
* DespairEventHorizon: The Mahrkagir is an expert at pushing people over it. Many women in his zenana have crossed it, and some starve themselves to death as a result. [[spoiler:Phèdre and Joscelin come close to hitting it during their time in Darsanga, but never actually do.]]
** In ''Naamah's Blessing'', [[spoiler: Jehanne's death, followed by ([[LegallyDead overly hasty]]) news of his son's death, push King Daniel over this. He drowns himself in the river.]]
* {{Determinator}}: Several. Joscelin and Phèdre both have this in spades, and Moirin shows tons of it when chasing Bao. Jacqueline Carey likes her women strong-willed.
* DisappearedDad: Imriel's father died when he was just a baby.
** Hyacinthe never knew his father.
* DoubleStandardRapeDivineOnMortal: Along with irresistible angelic gifts, there is the matter of Moirin, Snow Tiger, and the dragon. Not perceived as ''okay'' exactly, but certainly not held up as a terrible evil.
** Although the Master of the Straits is the product of precisely this form of rape. When nobody will seek pardon for him, he places a curse on his own son and refuses to lift it until he is himself pardoned.
* DoubleStandardRapeFemaleOnFemale: Averted, mostly. Phèdre informs the reader that rape is an unforgivable act of treason in her culture. Yet when [[spoiler: Melisande drugs her and commits sex acts that could arguably be rape before selling her into slavery]] this act is never considered rape despite a cultural understanding that both men and women can be sexually dominant and powerful. It becomes gray since Phèdre is a professional submissive, and was under contract to Melisande. Melisande did honor the letter of the contract, including the safe word, and knew damn well Phèdre was a trained spy, working for her enemy, and Phèdre does obviously views what happened as a violation despite no using her safeword, but she also doesn't brush it off because of Melisande's gender.
* DoubleStandardRapeFemaleOnMale: Both played straight and averted depending on who the protagonist is. In ''Naamah's Kiss'', Moirin more than once jumps on a man ''who is saying no'' (both times because she's a bit under the influence herself, but still) and compels him to go along with it. However, when Imriel is assaulted by a woman (ironically, of the same people as Moirin) who tries to compel him to respond to her desire, this ''is'' held up as an abomination.
** Moirin comes from Alba-the culture is different in Terre d'Ange, which views rape as ''heresy.''
* DramatisPersonae: Each book in the series has LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters and therefore have a dramatis personae that can go on for pages and pages. Averted most recently in the soft cover edition of ''Namaah's Kiss'', a few pages of praise for the past books, the usual title pages, and the ever present map, then it jumps straight into chapter one with no preamble.
* DreamingOfThingsToCome: Women of Necthana's line are particularly talented in this. Drustan's mother and sisters all receive true dreams, and bear woad tattoos denoting this.
** Alais can receive dreams of the future. But she doesn't always interpret them correctly.
** Moirin gets this, in a way, when she [[spoiler: talks to the spirit of Jehanne in her dreams.]]
** Hyacinthe and his mother both speak the ''dromonde'' which is a similar talent to true dreaming.
* DrowningOurRomanticSorrows: Imriel does this with Maslin in [[FantasyCounterpartCulture fantasy-counterpart Russia]] in the dead of winter over Sidonie. Apparently no one told them that alcohol can expedite hypothermia.
* DungeonBypass: In ''Scion'' the Duke of Valpetra eventually got fed up trying to siege Lucca the traditional way that he [[spoiler: dammed a river and diverted it to knock down a wall and flood the city]].
* EarnYourHappyEnding: Pretty much every main character in the series has a long, hard journey to get to the end with the major conflicts resolved.
* EarthDrift: ''Dart'' has little more than divine lineage to elevate itself above historical fiction. ''Naamah's'' Trilogy, in contrast, begins with a character who can turn herself invisible, and takes a pit stop at summoning demons from the ArsGoetia before running off to Chinese dragons.
* EpicFlail: Tahmuras, The Dragon in Kushiel's Avatar wields one. [[spoiler:He comes closest out of anyone in the entire six-book series to besting Joscelin.]]
* EroticLiterature: Ohhh so much. With a heaping dose of [[AlternateHistoryLiterature alternate history]], [[SpyLiterature espionage]] and [[FantasyLiterature fantasy]] thrown in.
* EternalSexualFreedom: The motto of Elua is "Love as thou wilt", and most D'Angelines are more than happy to follow it. Educated and successful [[BandOfBrothels Servants of Naamah]] often have political power and are treated with as much respect as a Companion in ''Series/{{Firefly}}''--if not more. However, Terre d'Ange also has age of consent laws and extremely harsh punishments against rape (It's not just a crime; it's ''heresy''), while one of the gifts the women were given by their fertility goddess Eisheth [[FantasyContraception is that they will only become pregnant after requesting it from her]], though issues of sexually-transmitted infections are not touched on. It's also noted that having sexual freedom doesn't necessarily make choices of the heart ''easier.'' In some cases, they're actually harder. Definitely one of the more intelligent examples of this trope.
** Also inverted. Most of the countries around Terre d'Ange aren't [[DeathBySex half as free about sex]].
* EvenEvilHasStandards: It would seem logical that such an intelligent woman as Melisande would just kill Phèdre instead of letting her live to cause trouble. However, for her to kill Phèdre would be blasphemous, and she won't do it.
* EvenTheGirlsWantHer: Many of the women in the series count. Melisande, Phèdre, Moirin, Snow Tiger, Nicola L'Envers y Aragon, and Queen Jehanne to name some.
* EvenTheGuysWantHim: Alcuin and Delaunay are both bisexual YaoiGuys with more notable male lovers than female ones. Averted with Joscelin [[spoiler: when he and Phèdre are sold into slavery. The Skaldi women find him, um, ''desirable'', but the Skaldi men thinks he's a pretty-boy with no beard. At least, they acknowledge his "manliness" when he kills one of their own in a sanctioned duel.]]
* EverybodyHasLotsOfSex: It's the norm of D'Angeline society. It's considered rather strange if you don't, which is part of why the Cassiline Brotherhood is seen as overly strict and austere.
* EveryoneIsBi: In Terre d'Ange? Yes. Yes, they are, apparently. But also averted in places like Caerdicca Unitas, where the inhabitants are quite prudish about sex and such.
* EveryoneLooksSexierIfFrench: The D'Angelines.
* EvilMatriarch: Lyonette de Trevalion is the mastermind behind her family's attempt at treason.
* EvilUncle: Subverted and played straight in the royal family.
** [[spoiler:Barquiel L'Envers appears to be this. Phèdre is very suspicious of him in ''Chosen'', and easily believes the real traitors' attempts to frame him for Melisande's escape. However, he is in fact staunchly loyal to his niece Ysandre and works to secure her throne, making him a subversion.]]
** [[spoiler:Played straight with Benedicte de la Courcel, Ysandre's great-uncle.]]
* ExtremeDoormat: Phèdre isn't this, but she acts like it when working in her professional capacity to satisfy the unique tastes of her clients. More than one enemy, up to and including a GodOfEvil, has failed to recognize the difference until it was too late.
* TheFairFolk: The second trilogy introduces a human tribe of the {{Fantasy Counterpart Culture}}s Alba and Eire, who are described ''very'' like the Fair Folk: an old people who live in the wild, untamed areas, powerfully magical, and not malicious but adhering to a different moral standard. Some characters fear them and refuse to [[WordPower speak of them]], while others welcome bargaining with them. Their VoluntaryShapeshifting and sympathetic magic play a vital role in the plot.
* FallenAngel: Elua's Companions, Rahab from the first trilogy, and the spirits in Naamah's Kiss.
* FamedInStory: Pretty much every major character.
* FantasticFightingStyle: Joscelin's "two daggers and vambraces" fighting style probably qualifies.
* FantasyContraception: The gift of the fertility goddess Eisheth to D'Angeline women-they can only become pregnant if they light a candle and pray to her for it. She may or may not then grant this request.
* FantasyCounterpartCulture: Basically every single location is some version of this. Terre d'Ange is France down to the language, and various other parallels; in one particularly egregious example, the Venice-counterpart is named "La Serenissima", a nickname by which the real city is sometimes called.
* FantasyWorldMap: Each book in the series has them, even though they're renamed versions of Europe, North Africa and Asia with names that make the FantasyCounterpartCulture even more obvious.
* FateWorseThanDeath: [[spoiler: Hyacinthe]], poor guy.
* FertileFeet: Blessed Elua according to legends. This is similar to the RealLife story of Buddha.
* FlowerMotifs: Each of the houses/themes of the Night Court are inspired by flowers and all adepts have to earn a flower tattoo in order to finish their indentured servitude.
* FieryRedhead: Favrielle no Eglantine who is also a bit of an InsufferableGenius when it comes to designing clothes.
* FeudingFamilies
* FounderOfTheKingdom: Elua for Terre d'Ange. House Courcel can trace their lineage back to him.
* GirlsLove: Amarante, the daughter of the head priestess of the goddess of prostitutes, was hired to teach Sidonie, the crown princess, of the realm the "arts of the bedchamber."
** Phèdre winds up in this position, occasionally. Her relationship with Nicola L'Envers is pretty much friends with benefits. And her relationship with Melisande is... complicated.
** Moirin has a number of female lovers. [[spoiler: Including Jehanne, Snow Tiger, and the Rani Amitra.]]
* GirlOnGirlIsHot: Perhaps an explanation for the lengthy sections between [[spoiler: Moirin and Jehanne and Moirin and Snow Tiger. Also the celestial Dragon in Snow Tiger is either of this opinion or a YuriFan. His comment when Snow Tiger decides that she's not too different from D'Angelines.]]
* GondorCallsForAid: Phèdre journeys to Alba to enlist the Albans' aid against the Skaldi in ''Dart.''
* GoodParents: Actually more than the [[AbusiveParents other kind]] for a fantasy of this nature. In paricular, Ysandre and Drustan are wonderful with their children.
* GoodPeopleHaveGoodSex: But S&M is subsumed under this umbrella and Imriel needs to accept and explore his sadistic side in order to accept his sexuality. Basically, especially in Terre d'Ange, the only "bad sex" is rape. If it's consensual and nobody dies and everyone has fun, it's good for D'Angelines!
* GovernmentInExile: Drustan and his mother and sisters are hiding out with the Dalriada, due to his cousin, the old Cruarch's son, seizing power.
* GracefulLoser: When Phèdre appears to testify against Melisande, Melisande quickly gives in, knowing she is beaten... and then subverted when she breaks out of prison that night.
* GreenThumb: Moirin's power through Anael's line let's her [[TalkingToPlants talk]] to plants and make them grow.
* GreenEyes: Moirin's eyes are often mentioned to be jade-green and she is regularly called a bear-witch. Her ability to talk to plants fits in the nature aspect nicely.
* HappilyAdopted: Imriel by Phèdre and Joscelin.
* HarmfulToMinors: Everything that happens to Imriel in Darsanga. The trauma stays with him well into adulthood.
* HealingHands: Raphael and Master Lo Feng from Naamah's Kiss.
* HeirClubForMen: After Rolande dies, there is some of this problem in Terre d'Ange. Ysandre can inherit, and is next in line for the throne, but some people prefer to support her cousin Baudoin de Trevalion simply because he's a man.
* HeroOfAnotherStory: A few examples, but most prominently Micah Ben Ximon and the Yeshuite pilgrims from ''Kushiel's Chosen'', who later reappear in ''Kushiel's Justice.'' Not to mention the result in ''Naamah's Curse''...
* HeroesWantRedheads: Imriel carries on an affair with red-haired Claudia in ''Scion''.
* HeroicBastard: All of Grainne's children, but particularly Eamonn mac Grainne who becomes a good friend of Imriel's and fights at the siege of Lucca.
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler: Isidore d'Aiglemort's death after dueling and killing Selig.]]
* HeroicSeductress: A lot of problems in the first trilogy are solved by having Phèdre find the right person to sleep with. This ranges from seducing an on-the-fence admiral to infiltrating the harem of a horrific dictator.
* HiddenDepths: The first time Phèdre really gets to see Ysandre, she notices that while the Dauphine is very young, she is also the perfect example of Cereus House's beauty with inner steel.
* HiddenInPlainSight: Melisande's plan to escape into La Serenissima in ''Kushiel's Chosen'' relied on this trope. Her looks were too striking that any body looking for her would have an easy time spotting her. She decided to walk out in the open [[spoiler: as Prince Benedicte's new D'Angeline wife who wore a veil because of her faith in the goddess Asherat.]]
* HighClassCallGirl: Phèdre definitely qualifies at this through the first book and first half of the second book.
* HonorBeforeReason: Joscelin does this a lot, especially where his Cassiline vows are concerned--however, Phèdre knocks this out of him eventually.
** Phèdre has shades of this as well, given that she's willing to give herself up to a madman's seraglio because of an oath she gave her greatest enemy and her devotion to her gods.
* HuntingAccident: Happens in the backstory of ''Kushiel's Dart'', albeit not with a weapon - before a hunt, the saddle on the horse Dauphin's fiancée, Edmée de Rocaille, was to ride was tampered with, and she had a fatal fall.
* IDidntMeanToTurnYouOn: Phèdre is an ''anguissette'' and cursed to feel pain and pleasure as one. Any bit of pain will register as pleasure for her. So when she had to get her marque worked on in ''Dart'' she was reduced to an orgasm laden mess. The guy doing the job even complains about how annoying it is to work on someone who is constantly writhing in ecstasy while he's trying to apply the tattoo, just like his grandfather (who did the last ''anguissette'''s marque) told him.
** This happens again in ''Chosen'' when Favrielle accidentally sticks Phèdre with a pin, causing Phèdre to have quite the reaction that actually renders Favrielle of all people speechless.
* IGaveMyWord: Comes up a lot, but Melisande takes it to {{catchphrase}} levels with "I keep my promises."
** Moirin gets this a lot too, given that [[spoiler: she's descended from TheFairFolk that killed Imriel's pregnant wife.]]
* IHaveNoSon: Two instances in ''Dart''.
** Phèdre's mother sells her to Cereus House, and is forced to basically deny that Phèdre is her child. Liliane doesn't say these words, but she does push Phèdre at the Dowayne in a way that says she's disowning her.
** Hyacinthe finally finds his people, and meets his grandfather. However, when he speaks the ''dromonde'' which is strictly taboo for Tsingani men, his grandfather declares him and his mother dead and everyone begins to mourn with Hyacinthe still ''standing right there.''
* IKEAErotica: Becomes a characterization point. Imriel is ''not'' comfortable with his sexuality. Phèdre is very comfortable with hers.
* ImprovisedWeapon: Most notably, the hairpin that Phèdre uses to [[spoiler: kill the Mahrkagir.]]
* IncestIsRelative: A mild example that's only mentioned directly once, but Sidonie is Imriel's cousin (twice removed: since his father was the Queen's great-uncle (the brother of the Queen's grandfather), then Imriel is first cousins to the dead Prince Rolande, first cousins once removed to Queen Ysandre, and first cousins twice removed to Sidonie. They are "first cousins", albeit with a couple of "removes" tossed in.) They're close in age, but his father was her mother the Queen's great-uncle [[spoiler: who sired him to have a "pure"-blooded heir to the throne because Sidonie's father is the Cruarch of Alba, a dirty barbarian foreigner in his view, and thus made her unfit to rule]]. The objection to their relationship isn't based on them being related, though, but fear that Imriel will [[InTheBlood be like his parents, both duplicitous traitors]].
* IndenturedServitude: The Houses in the City of Elua, and some private parties in Terre d'Ange take in children, training them and then having them [[SexSlave serve for sex]] until their servitude is completed (signified by the completion of a tattoo that runs the length of their backs). Both Phèdre and Alcuin are bonded as this, and Phèdre once buys out the indenture of a girl who suffered a facial injury before she could complete her term of service and couldn't get any more customers because of the scar.
* InhumanlyBeautifulRace: The D'Angelines, who impress every other people with their beauty. It's because they're [[OurAngelsAreDifferent descended from rogue angels]].
* InTheBlood: Imriel is the son of the biggest traitors to his country, and despite him being a goodhearted person (and raised by other goodhearted people), many people suspect that someday he might take after his mother. [[spoiler: Later on, a group of TheFairFolk have a psychic prediction that Imriel's son would take after his mother and destroy their nation, and so they kill his pregnant wife to make sure this doesn't happen.]]
** Almost every character has a significant level of their personality determined by their ancestry. This is justified, though, since the progenitors of the D'Angelines were angelic embodiments of various traits. It's not as explicit with other nationalities, but by and large every deity is assumed to be (or was once) a physical presence in the world, so their people could have their traits written literally into their genome.
* InsufferableGenius: Favrielle nó Eglantine is a brilliant seamstress, but she has a caustic and impatient personality.
* IstanbulNotConstantinople: All of the country, and more than a few ethnic names are older and/or foreign words for easily recognizable places.
* InUniverseCatharsis: In ''Kushiel's Dart'', Phèdre goes to the temple of Kushiel to atone for her role in the death of her master and the things she had to do when a captive of the Skaldi. Kushiel himself is said to be the patron of a very harsh mercy, attended by masked priests and priestesses who inflict painful rituals on those who come seeking atonement.
* ItsNotYouItsMe: Imriel pulls this on Sidonie in ''Justice''. Joscelin and Phèdre exchanged this occasionally.
* ItsNotYouItsMyEnemies: Sidonie and Imriel do this to each other in ''Justice'' as well. Then again, given her position, and his mother's, possibly reasonable.
* IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy: Joscelin with Phèdre at points (and Phèdre right back at times). Imriel and Sidonie, as well.
* JediTruth: A few times, but especially with Melisande.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Joscelin and Bao both. However, once Phèdre takes the stick out of Joscelin's ass, and Moirin smoothes off Bao's rough edges, this disappears.
* KarmaHoudini: Melisande Shahrizai for the most part; she's just too good at XanatosSpeedChess for karma to catch up to her. She escapes punishment, but she doesn't get her son.
* KissingCousins: Sidonie and Imriel, with a good bit more than kissing going on. They are a bit more distantly related than first cousins, though. Close enough that their families expected them to view each other in a [[LikeBrotherAndSister more familial way]] and were caught off guard by what developed.
* LadyInRed: Phèdre sometimes does this on assignations to play up her unique role as an ''anguissette''. Even when she wears other colors, at least in ''Dart'' she also wears a cloak a color D'Angelines call "sangoire" a red so deep it is almost black (indeed, the word is a portmanteau of the French words for "blood" and "black.")
** During her very first assignation with Childric d'Essoms, Phèdre dresses in a red gown.
** The Midwinter Masque in ''Kushiel's Chosen'', which she plays up by wearing a gown that exposes her entire back, letting all the peerage of Terre d'Ange know that she is returning to Naamah's Service.
* LetsGetDangerous: The Cassiline Brotherhood are sworn only to get their swords out to kill (normally, they use daggers and vambraces). You'd better believe that when they do, things are going to get VERY dangerous. Especially if it's Joscelin, and doubly especially if Phèdre is in peril.
* LibationForTheDead: Traditional in Alba. Drustan does the honors most of the time.
* LikeBrotherAndSister:
** Anafiel Delaunay and Edmée de Rocaille, despite some people's suspicions otherwise.
** Phèdre and Hyacinthe start off like this as kids, though their feelings don't stay entirely platonic.
** Imriel and Alais: but in this case it really is like that, no romantic undertones at all. (Well, as far as this series goes, anyway.)
* LineageComesFromTheFather: Played with; Terre d'Ange's monarchy passes patrilineally, but the king only has one granddaughter, who proceeds to have two daughters of her own. Meanwhile, in Alba, inheritance passes from uncle to nephew, although this is later revealed to be motivated by the male rulers not trusting that their wives' sons are actually theirs, and preserving the lineage through their sisters. Meanwhile Imriel's significant lineage comes from both sides of his family.
* LongHairIsFeminine: Averted. D'Angeline men typically have long hair and it isn't considered feminine. Played straight in other countries where Joscelin is considered girly for having long hair.
* LongHairedPrettyBoy: Nearly every D'Angeline man qualifies.
* LoopholeAbuse: The spirits in ''Naamah's Kiss'' do this to avoid giving usable answers to their summoners, as they ''really'' dislike being under any human's control.
** Moirin does this as well to [[spoiler: let Jehanne know about her promise to Raphael and get help to get out of it.]]
* LoveAtFirstPunch: Well, she never actually hits him, but Sidonie's snarkiness is one of the first things that attracts Imriel to her.
** The verbal version of this is also a big factor in Moirin and Bao's attraction.
* LoveHurts: The later half of ''Scion'', and most of Justice, deal with Imriel and this. Not to mention Phèdre and Joscelin's rocky start in ''Dart'' and ''Chosen''.
** Also shows up in the ''Naamah'' series. Could be considered an underlying theme of the universe.
* LoveRuinsTheRealm: One of the prime arguments against Imriel and Sidonie's relationship in the second trilogy. (No one is really bothered about them being relatives: Terre d'Ange is that kind of place. They aren't ''that'' closely related, anyway... [[spoiler: Sidonie is his grand-niece; it's a complicated family.]])
** Comes roaring into play in the ''Naamah'' trilogy. If [[spoiler: Daniel and Jehanne]] didn't love each other quite so much, [[spoiler: Jehanne's death]] probably wouldn't have crushed her husband's spirit so much--which ends up causing many of the conflicts in ''Naamah's Blessing.''
** Averted in ''Dart'': [[spoiler: Queen Ysandre of Terre d'Ange and Cruarch (King) Drustan of Alba fall in love. Their alliance crushes the invading Skaldi and brings peace to both countries.]]
* TheMagnificent: Alais is known as Alais the Wise in the third trilogy. Many Skaldi have one after their name. There's a {{lampshade hanging}} when Phèdre wonders what Harald the Beardless would be called when he's old enough to grow a beard.
* MamaBear: Phèdre becomes one to Imriel after she finds him, to the point that she strong-arms the queen into letting her adopt him.
** [[spoiler: While Imriel very much has his doubts, Melisande would do anything for him.]]
* ManInWhite: Imriel, attending the Midwinter Masquerade as Baldur, the Skaldic god of light. This unfortunately makes people ask questions since it both echoes the role of the Sun Prince and because of his mother's role in the Skaldi invasion twenty years previous.
* AManIsNotAVirgin: Averted, we get to see Imriel's first time.
** Also, Phèdre and Joscelin's first time is an inversion. Phèdre's not a virgin, but Joscelin ''is.''
* TheMasochismTango: Phèdre and Joscelin's relationship to a T at first. However, it tones down eventually, once Joscelin loosens up, and Phèdre stops getting yanked around by Melisande every three seconds.
* MasqueradeBall: Terre d'Ange celebrates the winter solstice by having masked balls and celebrations. Typically Phèdre attends in a PimpedOutDress of some sort.
* MasterSwordsman: Several, most notably Joscelin. It's noted in ''Kushiel's Chosen'' that he's better than even the most practiced of the [[WarriorMonk Cassiline Brothers]] for a very good reason--he's fought for his life many more times than they have.
* MayDecemberRomance: As above, Delaunay and Alcuin.
* MeaningfulEcho: Kinda. After the second book Melisande's reply to Phèdre's accusation of treason gets said in one form or another at least once per book. It's usually mentioned that Melisande said it first.
** Original quote
-->'''Melisande''': Elua cared naught for mortal politics, nor did Kushiel.
** Notable one in ''Scion''
-->'''Sidonie''': It's not that simple!
-->'''Imriel''': No, it's not. Mayhap if we obeyed Blessed Elua's precept, it would be. Elua cared naught for thrones or mortal politics.
** Even the third trilogy continues the trend
-->'''Jehanne''': Elua bids us to love as we will. And I do. Why isn't that enough? Why does it have to be so damned complicated.
-->'''Moirin''': We're the ones who make it that way. Blessed Elua cared naught for crowns or thrones.
* MentorOccupationalHazard: Damn you, Jaqueline Carey! Why does such a MagnificentBastard like [[spoiler: Delaunay have to die?]]
** Also, [[spoiler: Lo Feng]]
** And [[spoiler: Jehanne, in a way, given that she's Moirin's sexual mentor.]]
* MiddleChildSyndrome: Joscelin admits that this is the case of noble families who end up pledging a son to the Cassilines. The eldest stay because they are the heir to the domain. The youngest stay to comfort their mothers. It's then a middle son who ends up being pledged to the order.
* MillionToOneChance: Phèdre nó Delaunay is very frequently told (or admits herself) that her plans are madness and suicide. Yet, with the exception of a few UnwittingPawn moments, they always work.
* MoeCouplet: Imriel and Alais.
* MrFanservice: Nearly every darn male in the series.
* MultiMeleeMaster: Joscelin, and by exension, all Cassilines. They dual-wield daggers when they're not trying to kill you--and a two-handed sword for when they absolutely, positively ''must'' send someone back to their maker. Preferably in pieces.
* MundaneMadeAwesome: Just [[spoiler:learning the Name of God]] causes the room to rumble and make you feel like your head's going to explode. Phèdre fainted when [[spoiler:first hearing it.]] [[spoiler: Calling on the power of the Maghuin Dhonn to drive out a fallen angel from a room almost causes earthquakes.]]
* MyGreatestFailure: Backstory that transformed [[spoiler: Delaunay from being a Crown Prince's consort to the man known as Whoremaster of Spies.]]
* MysteriousProtector: Canis for Imriel in ''Scion''. Turns out [[spoiler: Melisande]] sent him.
** This also applies to [[spoiler: Lo Feng, his failure to raise his biological son right is what later allows Snow Tiger to be possessed by the celestial Dragon and the creation of Divine Thunder (cannons)]]
* NatureAdoresAVirgin: Ysandre is rare among D'Angelines in that she was not allowed to have sex before marriage in case she married a foreigner, and pretty much all other countries around Terre d'Ange require the bride to be a virgin.
* NoAccountingForTaste: This is stated to be the realm at large's opinion of Phèdre's relationship with Joscelin.
** Then, later, their reaction to Moirin and Jehanne.
* NoPeriodsPeriod: In Terre d'Ange women can only become pregnant if they [[FantasyContraception pray to Eisheth, a fertility goddess to open their wombs]], and then the Goddess may or may not grant this wish. So essentially no one has a menstrual cycle until then, and no one has to worry about unwanted pregnancy unless they change their mind. BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor.
* NoodleIncident: In ''Dart'' when Phèdre first meets Melisande, Delaunay keeps Melisande silent about his second pupil by reminding her "Do you want Cousin Ogier to know why his son cancelled his wedding at the last moment?" This is never spoken of again. We don't even get to find out who this Cousin Ogier is.
* NotHyperbole: The Mahrkagir's iron rod is, in fact, just that. It's iron and ''spiked'' and covered with the dried blood of the women he's raped with it.
* NotIfTheyEnjoyedItRationalization: Subverted. Several times, Phèdre has been placed in situations where she has been forced into sex with another person. She mentions the worst part of the experience is always the humiliation of enjoying it.
* NotWorthKilling: Inverted. Instead of killing Phèdre, Melisande continuously deals her more merciful punishments, [[spoiler: like selling her to slavery, trapping her in the worst prison in the world, etc.]] because legend has it that a descendent of Kushiel who kills a bearer of Kushiel's Dart suffers [[AndIMustScream ten-thousand years of torment]] in the afterlife. This is a smart decision in a world where gods and angels are proven to exist. Rather than not being worth killing, Phèdre is ''too valuable'' to kill. That, and the fact that Melisande just finds her [[BrutalHonesty too much fun as a sex slave.]]
* {{Omniglot}}: Phèdre picks up 13 languages over the first three books, most of which she learned while traveling. Imriel can speak almost that many. Justified in that once you've picked up three or four languages, the rest become somewhat easier--especially if you're dealing with "Romance languages" that have similar pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar.
* OlderSidekick: Imriel seems to get a new one in every book to help him out.
* OneHitKill: The main power of the Aka Magi, who can kill with a glance. Because of how [[GameBreaker ridiculously powerful]] that is it only took a small number of them to kill Khebbel-im-Akkad's entire invading army.
* OracularUrchin: Hyacinthe, sorta.
* OrphanageOfLove: Imriel grows up in the Temple of Elua, living a very simple and happy existence.
* OurAngelsAreDifferent: Blessed Elua and his Companions. It is outright stated that the companions were angels of God. They are treated as gods by some of the mortals of the books, though.
* OurDragonsAreDifferent: ''Naamah's Kiss'' has a traditional Chinese dragon.
* ParentalAbandonment: This is particularly common in the Delaunay household. Delaunay, Alcuin, Phèdre, and Guy are all without parents.
** Ysandre's parents die when she is a child.
* ParentalFavoritism: Lyonette openly and obviously prefers her son Baudoin to her daughter Bernadette.
* ParentalMarriageVeto: The entire second trilogy pretty much revolves around getting over this for Sidonie and Imriel.
* ParentalSubstitute: Delaunay acts as a father of sorts for Phèdre and Alcuin, as well as teacher and pimp (and, for Alcuin, lover).
* APartyAlsoKnownAsAnOrgy: In ''Dart'' Melisande hires Cereus House as the setting for her lover Prince Baudoin's birthday party. Longest Night parties, for courtesans, are similar.
* {{Patricide}}: In ''Dart'', though Drustan is the Cruarch's heir he is forced to flee when the Cruarch's son kills his father and takes his title.
* PerfectlyArrangedMarriage: Ysandre and Drustan. Also Nicola and her husband.
* PetTheDog: The Mahrkagir literally has a dog statue which he gives to Phèdre because he loves her. Also Melisande's love for Imriel.
* PimpedOutDress[=/=]CostumePorn: Phèdre spends a while waxing lyrical about her dress before every fete, ball, masque or other special occasion. The red and black dress for her first assignation comes to mind. When she anounces that her return to being a servant of Naamah she wears a gown with a low back that shows her tattoo, to show she means business. [[spoiler:Phèdre gets really dressed up on the night she plans to kill the Mahrkagir with her hair-pin.]]
** Other characters get to wear these as well, especially in the books that don't have Phèdre as a main character.
* PlotTailoredToTheParty: Phèdre is able to solve a lot of problems by having sex with people, but equally, if not more important, are her skills as a clever spy, linguist, and diplomat.
* PolarOppositeTwins: Eamonn and Grainne mac Conor. The brother digs in his heels and plays it safe while the sister runs headlong at challenges.
* ThePowerOfLove: Might as well be a physical force equal to gravity in this series.
** It does get twisted from time to time. For example the source of the Aka Magi's powers over death comes from them [[spoiler: [[PoweredByAForsakenChild sacrificing and eating the heart of a person they truly love]].]] This is also the key to why the Mahrkagir is vulnerable to Phèdre. [[spoiler: He loves her, and if he performs the ritual sacrifice, he will unleash the full fury of his God. The fact he wants to do this is the only thing that allows Phèdre to get him alone long enough to kill him.]]
* PregnantBadass: Grainne rode into battle against the Skaldi while pregnant with her son Eamonn. Ysandre in particular finds this fascinating and horrifying.
* ProudWarriorRace: This defines no less than three of the nations that are not Terre d'Ange: The Eiran, the Albans, and the Skaldi.
** In Terre d'Ange, the Camaelines are credited with only being to think with their swords [[spoiler: before one of their leaders turns out to be Melisande's traitor]]. The Skaldi, meanwhile, are ''never'' credited with thinking, swords or otherwise. [[spoiler: Then, their leader also turns out to be working with Melisande.]] Hmm, notice a pattern here?
* ProudWarriorRaceGuy: Drustan and Eamonn fit this trope although both are very clever and thoughful men. It's more about how other people preceive them as being couth or uncultured.
** Waldemar Selig tries to avert this. He dreams of ruling over a sophisticated empire, but the Skaldi care too much for fighting and drinking to pose a threat to Terre d'Ange, [[spoiler: until he unites them under one kingdom. But even he loses his head in the heat of battle at Troyes-le-Mont...]]
* PsychoSerum: Imriel gets a surprise dose of this in ''Kushiel's Mercy''. Ironically, being flat out of his head for a month turns out to be the best thing for him, given the situation that he's in. [[spoiler:Being mad for a month was part of his mother's plan to make him immune to the spell being cast on everyone else in the city.]]
* PsychologicalTormentZone: Darsanga.
* PurpleEyes: Ysandre, Alais and those from House L'Envers.
* PurpleProse: Justified. Phèdre's an active courtesan-spy trained to observe details and appreciate beauty, so it makes sense that her inner dialogue would contain lots of description. Fortunately, Carey's prose style, while detailed, is rarely unintelligible, and anyone who's above an 8th-grade reading level should be able to undertstand it. Imriel uses his infiltration skills less, and so his POV is less detailed. And Moirin, who spends the first 15 years of her life in the wilderness and finds the D'Angeline pre-occupation with looks silly has even less description than Imriel's.
* TheQuest: Even though the first trilogy is mostly political in nature, each book centers around one or more quests that require the protagonists to travel far from home.
* RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil: Especially when Terre d'Ange regards it as not just a crime, but ''blasphemy''.
* RavenHairIvorySkin: Phèdre nó Delaunay and Melisande Shahrizai. Phèdre describes her skin as being "a perfectly acceptable shade of ivory" and her hair as "sable-in-shadows." Melisande is described as having alabaster skin and hair so black that it gleams blue under light. Being D'Angeline they are automatically beautiful, but even among D'Angelines Phèdre is a highly desired courtesan and Melisande is regarded as being one of the most beautiful women alive. The kind of beautiful that inspires people to write poetry about her.
* RedLightDistrict: Night's Doorstep is where you go when you want some company but can't possibly afford the Night Court.
* RedemptionEqualsDeath: In ''Kushiel's Dart'', [[spoiler:Isidore d'Aiglemort]] goes on a suicide mission to avoid being remembered as a traitor (and foil the plans of ChessMaster, [[spoiler:Melisande]]).
* RescueRomance: Subverted. Imriel attempts to save Sidonie from a boar, but it turns out to be just a deer.
** Reversed both ways with Joscelin and Phèdre. Joscelin's one of the best fighters in the series and saves Phèdre countless times, but his Cassiline arrogance and idealism couldn't mentally prepare him for [[spoiler: the harsh realities of Skaldic slavery. He would have starved himself out of humiliation if Phèdre [[GetAHoldOfYourselfMan hadn't snapped him out of it]].]] And while Joscelin's not dumb, he's not [[MagnificentBastard Delaunay-trained]] either. Phèdre's observation and subterfuge skills are key to many of their plans.
* RomanticizedAbuse: Melisande and Phèdre's relationship certainly qualifies.
* RopeBridge: In ''Kushiel's Chosen'', island prison [[TheAlcatraz La Dolorosa]] is connected to the mainland only by a rope bridge, which has two guards on the island side armed with axes, who can cut the bridge long before anybody gets across. Joscelin's solution? [[BadAss Climb along the underside of the bridge]].
* RoyalBlood: Very important, to the point that those of the royal line are called Princes and Princesses of the Blood.
* RoyalBrat: Mostly averted with Imriel--who was raised in an orphanage for most of his life--and played mostly straight Jehanne's daughter. In the latter case, she mostly just needs people who know how to handle her.
* RoyalInbreeding: Imriel de la Courcel falls in love with and ''eventually'' marries Princess Sidonie de la Courcel. Imriel is the son of Sidonie's great-uncle, making them first cousins once removed.
* SacredScripture: As the worshippers of Namaah consider sex an act of worship, the ''Trois Milles Joies'' (an in-universe version of the ''Kama Sutra'') may be considered one.
* SacrificialLion: [[spoiler:Dorelei, Alcuin, and Delaunay.]]
* SafeWord: Known as a ''signale.'' Not heeding it is considered heresy.
* SchoolOfSeduction: The Court of Night-Blooming Flowers.
* ScrewDestiny: Phèdre's reaction to Hyacinthe's fate in the first trilogy. [[spoiler:Succeeds, of course.]] Joscelin after deciding he can't live without Phèdre in ''Chosen''.
* ScreamDiscretionShot: ''Kushiel's Dart'' has a scene where Phèdre is drugged and then tortured by Melisande Shahrizai. Described by Phèdre as not being rape because Melisande would have heeded the signale. We only hear Phèdre's very short and non-explicit summary of it.
* SecretRelationship: Sidonie and Imriel are like this when they actually hook up. It doesn't last long though.
* SelfFulfillingProphecy: Zigzags in the case of Imriel and the Maghuin Dhonn. They foresee the possibility of a terrible future, and at first all their attempts to avert it make it ''more'' likely and ''worse''. However, in the end, they do manage to change the course of fate... but at a terrible price.
* SemiDivine: The D'Angeline people are like this; descended from God's son and his angelic companions.
* SexAsRiteOfPassage: Patrons pay extra to take the virginity of a new courtesan. And it's typically part of an aristocrat's 16th birthday celebration for them to visit the Night Court for the first time.
* SexGod: Any of Terre d'Ange's courtesan, due to the glorification of prostitution as sacred. Special mention goes to Phèdre.
** Taken very literally in the case of Naamah, though she's more of a Sex Angel than a SexGod.
* SexSlave-The woman of the Mahrkagir's harem, who come from a variety of nations and whom Phedre is briefly [[MadeASlave part of]] before they are liberated.
* SexyBacklessOutfit: Phèdre wears such a gown in ''Chosen''. All courtesans from the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers must earn their marque, a tattoo covering the entire back, in order to complete their debt of servitude towards their House. It's considered unseemly for an adept to bare her back in public before her marque is complete. After the marque is completed, baring it is considered a declaration that he or she is taking offers.
* ShelteredAristocrat: This is played with in the series. Phèdre and the aristocrats she contends with tend to be intelligent, well-educated, and extremely cunning in high society and politics. Very few people are as naive as this trope. However when faced with people who are not as well off, they genuinely don't understand what daily life is like for the masses.
** This is averted with Imriel, who grew up as a goat-herd orphan (and was then ''horribly'' abused), and thus tends to have a balanced view of upper and lower-class life, not to mention a deeper understanding than most of how dangerous the world is.
** Alban and Skaldi aristocrats also tend to avert this, due to life generally being harder and closer to the earth in these countries.
* SiblingYinYang: Sidonie and Alais. Sidonie resembles their D'Angeline mother, she is blonde, fair-skinned, cool to the point of being perceived as an IceQueen. Alais resembles their Cruithne father, she is brown-skinned, dark-haired, spirited, and considered to be not as well-mannered.
* SiegeEngines: The Skaldi build siege towers for use during the siege of Troyes-le-Mont.
** Most recently the [[spoiler: 'Divine Thunder' (cannons) seen]] in ''Kiss''.
* SilkHidingSteel: This is the canon of Cereus House, pale, fragile beauty with inner steel. Phèdre notes that this also perfectly describes Ysandre de la Courcel.
* SilverFox: Cecilie Laveau-Perrin, a former Cereus adept. She is in her fifties when Phèdre meets her, and is commonly believed to be just as lovely as she was in her youth, partly because her pale Cereus-canon hair has gone platinum.
* SlapSlapKiss: Moirin and Bao bicker with each other right up until the point where they start having incredible sex.
* TheSleepless: Lucius when he was being possessed by [[spoiler: Gallus]]. Imriel eventually challenged him to a duel just so his friend could rest for a night.
* SoHappyTogether: Melisande and Phèdre towards the middle of ''Dart''.
* SomedayThisWillComeInHandy: Or as Delaunay and Phèdre like to say, "All knowledge is worth having."
* SomeoneToRememberHimBy: Maslin is this to his mother, who was pregnant with him when his father Isidore d'Aiglemort died.
* SorkinRelationshipMoment: Imriel's relationship with Dorelei contains a number of these.
* StalkerWithATestTube: Imriel gets stalked/harassed in various ways by a Maghuin Dhonn witch, who at one point thinks she can ScrewDestiny by getting pregnant with Imriel's child. Boy, does he not want to.
* StarCrossedLovers: Joscelin and Phèdre are presented as this at first, as are Sidonie and Imriel. [[spoiler: Moirin and Bao seem to be setting up for this as well]]
** Anafiel Delaunay and [[spoiler: Prince Rolande]]; it's the theme of the anthology where the short story was published.
* STDImmunity: No one ever gets a venereal disease, nor are any mentioned, despite [[EternalSexualFreedom having unprotected sex whenever they wish]].
* StraightForTheCommander: At the climax of ''Kushiel's Dart'' [[spoiler:Isidore d'Aiglemort]] leads his army on a cavalry charge against the Skaldi, aiming to get to Waldemar Selig and kill him. [[spoiler:They end up in a MutualKill.]]
* TakingYouWithMe: [[spoiler: Gallus]], not to another person but to a ''flood'' when he returns to the underworld after protecting Lucca.
* ThrowingYourSwordAlwaysWorks: It's a dagger, but in ''Kushiel's Chosen'', Joscelin makes a dagger throw that disrupts the aim of an enemy on the other end of a large temple filled with fighting men. Phèdre comments that she thought the throw was impossible.
* TimeSkip: The books mainly continue where the last one left off, but there's a ten year jump between Chosen and Avatar and a hundred year jump before the third trilogy. There's also little time skips during the books when the characters are traveling or nothing important is happening.
* TomboyAndGirlyGirl: Alais and Sidonie respectively.
* TooKinkyToTorture: Phèdre. Early on in ''Dart'' she is burned with a red hot poker. She states that "There was no pleasure in it, at least not one who was not an anguissette would understand." Of course, there are lines even for ''that'': she derives no pleasure from being skinned, for example. Still, she says late in the first book that she cannot be forced to tell secrets through torture. This appears to be true. However, she pretty much hits her limit in Darsanga with "the rod."
* TroubledButCute: Imriel, according to others in the book. Sometimes when reading, it's far too easy to imagine him in a James Dean type get up.
* TrustPassword: Used during the siege in Scion.
* TwinThreesomeFantasy: Well, not so much a ''fantasy'', but actually played out in ''Chosen'' with Apollonaire and Diànne.
** Though the trope is played with, worth mention in ''Dart''. Phèdre sleeps with the twin lords of the Dalriada, but separately.
* TykeBomb: Joscelin and Cassiline brothers in general. Sadly for Joscelin being hyper competent at combat didn't prepare him for much of life outside of being a bodyguard.
* UnproblematicProstitution: In Terre d'Ange, at least.
* UnresolvedSexualTension: Joscelin and Phèdre in ''Dart''. (It gets resolved.)
* UnusualEuphemism: "I/you should catch a fish" between Joscelin and Phèdre.
* VestigialEmpire: Caerdicca Unitas, which contains Rome's fantasy counterpart Tiberium.
* WanderingTheEarth: Elua and his Companions, back in the day. Even when they found Terre d'Ange, Elua insisted on wandering everywhere.
* WarriorMonk: Joscelin and the other Cassiline brothers--complete with vow of chastity. Which one do you think Joscelin breaks first?
* WelcomeToTheBigCity: Moirin has lived on the fringe of society all her life, so her introduction to the City of Elua is, in a word, rough. It starts with getting hit by a carriage.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: Melisande is arguably simply following the precept of "Love as thou wilt" as concerns her passion for intrigue and backstabbery.
* WhatKindOfLamePowerisHeartAnyway: The ability to speak the language of ants was originally given as a prank by an irritated spirit. In Terre d'Ange, it's this. In the Amazon Rain forest, [[LethalHarmlessPowers it's]] [[HeartIsAnAwesomePower a little]] different.
* WhenThePlanetsAlign: used by the Carthaginians in ''Mercy'' to put a spell on the entire city.
* WhiteHairBlackHeart: Averted with Alcuin, who is one of the gentlest people in the series.
** [[spoiler: Played straight with Isidore d'Aiglemort, also known as Kilberhaar (silver hair).]]
* WifeHusbandry: Variation. Delaunay adopts Phèdre and Alcuin with the plan that he wants them to work as spies/courtesans and believes that the kids see him as a mentor/boss figure. Instead both of them fall in love with him. Alcuin waits until he's free and legal to make his move.
* WindsOfDestinyChange: How the Aka Magi explain their power to kill with a glance. Everybody is just a step a death at any moment, they could have a heart attack, they could trip and break their neck, a clot could form in their brain or any other hundreds of other accidents. All the Aka Magi do is give fate that little push.
* WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity: Snow Tiger is strong enough to casually bend steel bars, but if she sees her own reflection, even in someone else's eyes, she goes on a [[UnstoppableRage killing spree]]. Though, technically, it's not her. It's the [[spoiler: dragon bound up inside her head, which can't stand to see itself in the wrong body.]]
* WomanInBlack: Melisande at the Midwinter Masque for the peerage of Kusheth. She wears rich black velvet as a stark contrast to Phèdre's sheer white gauze.
* WomanInWhite: Phèdre does this at least three times over the series at Midwinter Masques.
** At Cereus House's celebration when she is ten years old, she and the other Cereus fosterlings are dressed in white as part of the winter theme that Cereus House always has. Prince Baudoin singles her out as joy-bearer and kisses her for luck.
** At the masque for the peerage of Kusheth, Phèdre is dressed in nothing but white gauze and diamonds and put on a leash. It causes quite the stir at the party that she's showed up practically naked.
** One masque that she attends with Imriel has the whole Montrève household dressed in white as Skaldic gods. Because everyone else is dressed in bright colors, they definitely stand out.
* TheWomanWearingTheQueenlyMask: Ysandre, as well as with Drustan, her husband. Both find themselves in this position during ''Dart'' and ''Chosen''.
* WomensMysteries: The rite of fertility that women undergo to get pregnant is closed off to men. It's actually pretty simple-they just pray for the goddess Eisheth to let them conceive while lighting a candle (though she doesn't always grant it).
* WouldHurtAChild: The Mahrkagir, full stop, which leads to some nasty nightmares for Imriel. [[spoiler: It's implied he raped Imriel, as the women in his zenana, including Phèdre, ''definitely'' were. ]].
* XanatosGambit: Melisande always has backup plans, and even when she loses her bids for power she comes away with at least some degree of victory. However the game plays out, she gets something out of the results.
* XanatosSpeedChess: Phèdre working to uncover Melisande's {{Evil Plan}}s.
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