Phèdre is described as having ivory skin, curly "sable" hair, and "bistre" eyes with a distinctive red mote in the iris of her left eye, which marks her as an anguissette—Kushiel's chosen who gets pleasure from pain. Her marque was done by Master Robert Tielhard as a briar rose whose vines resemble the bond and the lash. The rose and vines were done in black, but there are a few teardrops of scarlet, representing a flower petal, a drop of blood, or the mote in Phèdre's eye.
At the beginning of the series as a girl and young woman, Phèdre is shown to be equal parts crafty and defiant, with a strong undertone of stubbornness to boot. Possibly derived from her being Kushiel's chosen, she is very rash; possessing a thrill for danger and the punishments that go along with it, stemming from her time as an acolyte at Cereus House and her discontent there. Unless it goes against protocol or Anafiel Delaunay's wishes, she's not afraid to speak her mind no matter who or what the person is before her. As the series moves on however after her various tribulations within and without, she matures and becomes much more controlled, learning the value of trust and accepting life's hardships, especially after Imriel comes into her life. By the end of the second trilogy, she is a woman of deep perspective that understands the hearts of of others, even more so than they, becoming the Queen's most trusted confidant and Imriel's loving guardian.
Time and time again, Phèdre is shown to be a highly intelligent woman. Thanks in part to Delaunay's training, which she learns quickly even for her age, she has the wits and sharpness of mind to rival both her teacher and Melisande. Throughout the novels her ability to both drink in and discern the situation at hand to make either split-second plans, or more detailed schemes have saved herself and her companions on countless occasions. She also possesses an uncanny gift for tongues and quickly picks up most languages.
Given her childhood and rearing, it's no surprise that Phèdre takes Blessed Elua's precept: Love as thou wilt, to heart. She greatly values those close to her be they friends, family or lovers, and will do anything -even at the cost of her own sanity and life- to keep her loved ones safe. Though Phèdre is a good judge of character, she does grow into this trait, having been betrayed and deceived by some of those close to her in her youth. Her loyalty and love to her nation is also sacrosanct. Though she clearly appreciates the wide variety of cultures and peoples the world offers, Terre d'Ange and the D'Angeline people are superior and always more civilized (especially in terms of romance) in her eyes.
Phèdre was born to Pierre Cantrel, the third son of a merchant, and Liliane de Souverain, an adept of Jasmine House. As soon as she was born, it was obvious that Phèdre was flawed and unfit for service in the Night Court due to the red mote in her left eye. Her father took charge of one of his father's merchant caravans in Caerdicca Unitas and the family spent a couple years traveling. Unfortunately the venture did not go well and Phèdre's parents were out of money. Phèdre's grandfather refused to give them a second chance unless they gave him money as a guarantee. Phèdre's mother then had no choice but to ask for an audience with the Dowayne of Cereus House. At this audience, Phèdre was sold into indenture at the age of four and never saw her parents again.
Growing up in Cereus House, Phèdre felt like an outcast. Even without her red mote, she still did not fit the physical canon of Cereus House and nor could anyone guess at what house she would fit in, were she not "flawed." When she was seven years old, after hearing of Elua's statement to the One God, she stabbed herself in the palm of her hand with a pin. Upon seeing her face clearly flushed with pleasure, the Dowayne of Cereus House initially thought to send for the Dowayne of Valerian House, but instead decided to send for Anafiel Delaunay. On the day she was to meet Delaunay, Phèdre escaped from Cereus House and ran off into the city. There she met Hyacinthe, a street urchin, and the two became friends right away. She was brought back to Cereus House by the guards but continued to run away and be hauled back several times a year.
When she finally met Delaunay, he was initially disinterested in her until he saw the mote in her left eye. He identified her as an anguissette, a person pricked by Kushiel's dart and bound to experience pain and pleasure as one, and buys her bond price for an outrageous sum of money. It was decided that she would join Delaunay's household on her tenth birthday.
After her tenth birthday, Phèdre left Cereus House to formally join Delaunay's household. There she met Alcuin nó Delaunay, Delaunay's other pupil and her foster-brother. Delaunay educated them in a variety of subjects, including languages and the arts of covertcy. When they turned fourteen, Delaunay asked them if they wished to enter Naamah's Service. Both said yes and they were initiated as Servants of Naamah. This had always been Phèdre's desire, and she was more than eager to begin her training in Naamah's arts. Delaunay enlisted Cecilie Laveau-Perrin, a former Cereus adept and the greatest courtesan of her day, to train them in Naamah's arts.
Phèdre kept up her friendship with Hyacinthe, frequently leaving Delaunay's house to visit him. Together they tried to piece together Delaunay's mysterious past, even though Anasztaizia, Hyacinthe's mother, warned Phèdre that she will rue the day she learned the truth.
When Phèdre turned sixteen, she was anxious to begin taking patrons and Delaunay finally allowed her. Her first patron was Childric d'Essoms, a protege of Barquiel L'Envers. Phèdre thoroughly enjoyed her work with the aggressive d'Essoms. During assignations she paid close attention to any important information her patrons revealed and reported it back to Delaunay though d'Essoms took full advantage of her anguisette tendency to find deep pleasure in pain. She discovered that Barquiel was d'Essoms' patron one night after he burned her with a hot poker.
Melisande Shahrizai contracted Phèdre for Prince Baudoin de Trevalion as a "farewell gift," informing Delaunay that she was behind the fall of House Trevalion. Phèdre witnessed their trial. Shortly afterward, Delaunay's manservant Guy was killed as Alcuin was attacked by Vitale Bouvarre and Delaunay got a Cassiline Brother, Joscelin Verreuil, assigned to his household as a replacement. Phèdre proved instrumental in gaining Delaunay the audience he sought with Barquiel. She asked d'Essoms to tell Barquiel that Delaunay knew who killed his sister, Isabel L'Envers. Phèdre attended this audience, for Barquiel insisted that she and Alcuin both come.
A short time later, Melisande contracted Phèdre for the Longest Night. She put a leash on Phèdre and dressed her in a diamond-studded sheer gown for Quincel de Morhban's Midwinter Masque. Afterwards, Melisande succeeded in getting Phèdre to use her signale, or safe word, the only patron to have done so. Phèdre gave away that Delaunay was waiting for word from Quintilius Rousse. Melisande also told Phèdre that Delaunay had been Prince Rolande de la Courcel's consort. The next morning, Melisande gave Phèdre the sheer dress and diamond collar so that she might complete her marque. She sold all the diamonds except the one on the collar.
Phèdre made her final appointment with Master Tielhard and Joscelin accompanied her. While they were there, a messenger from Quintilius Rousse arrived to give them a message and warn them Delaunay's house was being watched. They raced back home, but they were too late. They found Delaunay and the entire household dead. Alcuin hung on just long enough to tell them that Delaunay was Ysandre de la Courcel's oathsworn protector.
Phèdre and Joscelin rushed to the palace, where they sought an audience with Ysandre. When that failed, they sought out Thelesis de Mornay, but were turned away. They had the misfortunate to run into Melisande, who took them to her rooms and drugged them. She proceeded to torture Phèdre for information. After that, she gave both of them, still drugged, to Isidore d'Aiglemort who sold them into slavery among the Skaldi.
Slavery in Skaldia
Phèdre and Joscelin were sold to Gunter Arnolsson's steading, where Phèdre served as Gunter's 'whore'. Joscelin at first was difficult, as he resented being a slave, but Phèdre helped him accept the situation. Later, Joscelin and Phèdre were given to the Skaldi warlord Waldemar Selig as a gift from Gunter. As Selig's whore, Phèdre discovered that Melisande Shahrizai conspired with the Skaldi to conquer Terre D'Ange with the help of D'Aiglemort and his men (who she planned to betray later) by finding a letter from Melisande in Selig's room. Phèdre realised the danger Terre D'Ange is in and secretly planned to escape Skaldia to warn the Dauphine Ysandre. When she could, Phèdre met with Joscelin and they planned their means of escape. Phèdre asked Joscelin to kill the man guarding them, and he agreed reluctantly, since that meant the breaking of another of his vows to the Cassiline Brotherhood. After that, Joscelin disguised himself in the guard's clothes and led Phèdre out of the steading and into the Skaldi wilderness.
Journey to Alba
Phèdre and Joscelin made it out of Skaldia and into Terre D'Ange after a terrifying and dangerous flight through the Skaldi wilderness. They snuck into the City of Elua and hid in the Tsingani quarter and sent a message to Hyacinthe to meet them. Hyacinthe and Phèdre had a tearful reunion, and Hyacinthe helped Phèdre send a message to Thelesis de Mornay, the King's Poet, who helped her get an audience with Ysandre. Phèdre and Joscelin learned that the City of Elua believed that they had murdered Delaunay and Alcuin. During the audience with Ysandre, Phèdre explained their innocence and told Ysandre of the upcoming war. At first Ysandre mistrusted Phèdre, as she believed that she killed Delaunay, who was Ysandre's oathsworn protector, but she grew to believe Phèdre's story. At Phèdre's insistence, Ysandre took her and Joscelin into the custody of the throne. Ysandre then sent Phèdre as an emissary to Alba, along with Joscelin and Hyacinthe, to ask the Cruithne to help Terre D'Ange fight against the Skaldi. Phèdre was also able to finally complete her marque as Ysandre ordered Master Tielhard to finish it.
The three friends travelled to where Rousse's fleet rested in Pointe d'Oeste, using the Tsingani routes to avoid being found by Melisande and her allies. They stopped at the Hippochamp to buy some horses for Quintilius Rousse, and Hyacinthe was reunited with his grandfather Manoj and introduced to a large family. It seemed as if Hyacinthe would stay at the Hippochamp, but when Phèdre saw Melisande at the fair, she was so affected by her that Hyacinthe used the dromonde to bring her back to herself. Thus Hyacinthe was cast out of the kumpania, and he accompanied Phèdre and Joscelin to Quintilius Rousse's fleet.
In Kusheth, they were stopped by the Duc Quincel de Morhban, who demanded to know why they wanted to go to Quintilius Rousse. He bade them turn back to the City of Elua, but Phèdre convinced him to let them pass in exchange for her offering her services to him as a Servant of Naamah.
Once in Pointe d'Oeste, she convinced Quintilius Rousse to cross the Straits to Alba, although he was certain they would fail, as the Master of the Straits had not been letting anyone cross. However, he agreed to try. At sea, they confronted the Master of the Straits, who let them pass for a song. Once they reached the shore of Alba, they found a group of Cruithne and Dalriada waiting for them, among them the exiled Drustan mab Necthana's sister Moiread mab Necthana, who dreamed their coming. Phèdre met with Drustan and the Lords of the Dalriada and told them of Terre D'Ange's predicament, and told Drustan that Ysandre intended on honouring their betrothal if they helped defeat the Skaldi. But first Drustan must reclaim his own throne from Maelcon the Usurper. Lady Grainne mac Conor was eager to go to battle for Drustan, but her twin brother Lord Eamonn mac Conor was less eager and refused. Phèdre now had to try and convince Eamonn to go to war for Drustan, or the Cruithne would be unable to win the battle against Maelcon with their numbers. After much thinking about what to do, and after sleeping with Lady Grainne while drunk after a party, Phèdre appealed to Eamonn's sense of pride by saying that she would never sleep with a man so cowardly. Eamonn then agreed to go to war, and so Phèdre slept with him as well.
The Albans, D'Angelines and Dalriada set out then to reclaim Drustan's throne. At the Battle for Bryn Gorrydum, which was successful, Drustan's youngest sister Moiread was killed. Hyacinthe grieved for her, as he had had a romantic relationship with her for a brief time, and Phèdre used her gifts as a Servant of Naamah to heal Hyacinthe's soul and help him get over it.
Then the Albans, D'Angelines and Dalriada set out to defend Terre D'Ange from the Skaldi. While at sea, the ships came to the Three Sisters, and Phèdre, Joscelin, Hyacinthe, Drustan and Rousse came ashore to meet the Master of the Straits' challenge. He gave them a riddle to solve. Phèdre solved the riddle using her skills, and was willing to accept the price for it. However, Hyacinthe used the dromonde and convinced the Master of the Straits that his answer was the better one. Thus Hyacinthe stayed on as the Apprentice of the Master of the Straits and Phèdre slept with him one more time to comfort him. The Master of the Straits showed them where they would go to once in Terre D'Ange and so the group left with a plan of where to go next.
Battle of Troyes-le-Mont
Once they landed in Terre D'Ange in Azzalle, the group helped Ghislain de Somerville and his army fight against the Skaldi. Ghislain then guided them to Troyes-le-Mont and helped them forge a plan of how to break the seige there. Phèdre enlisted D'Aiglemort's help in defeating Selig by promising him a noble death. Phèdre, realising that the people inside the castle would need to be alerted to D'Aiglemort's changing sides, and so snuck past the Skaldi to shout a warning to Ysandre. Just afterwards, the Skaldi caught Phèdre and brought her to Waldemar Selig, who proceeded to skin her alive. Joscelin interrupted Selig, challenging him to a holmgang. It was a distraction, so that Joscelin could perform the terminus on himself and Phèdre. However, they were both saved by Barquiel L'Envers, whose men attacked the Skaldi and brought Phèdre and Joscelin into safety within the castle walls.
Once inside, Phèdre's wounds were treated by a chirurgeon and herself and Joscelin were looked after and given food and such. The next day, Ysandre, Phèdre and Joscelin watched the battle from the castle battlements. Joscelin saw his brother Luc in danger and leapt into the battle to save him. Phèdre witnessed the deaths of Waldermar Selig and D'Aiglemort on the battlefield.
After the battle, Phèdre went out among the dead to give comfort and water, and saw D'Aiglemort dying. He told her that he feared her lord's retribution, and Phèdre realised he meant Kushiel. Phèdre reassured him, saying that Kushiel does not send a punishment that they are not fit to bear. Then D'Aiglemort died.
Days later, Duc de Morhban brought a captured Melisande to the castle to be convicted for her crimes. Melisande had been betrayed by Persia and Marmion Shahrizai, who told the Duc where she was hiding. During the hearing, Melisande demanded to know what proof they had of her treason, and so Phèdre stepped forward. She threw the diamond that she still wore around her neck at Melisande's feet and said, 'Take it back—this is yours, my lady, but I am not.'
Later, Melisande sent for Phèdre to visit her in her cell. Phèdre went. The meeting left her feeling very unsettled, and so she went out onto the battlements to think. When she returned, Melisande had escaped from her cell and was nowhere to be found. Ysandre questioned Phèdre about it, as Phèdre had been the last known person to see Melisande before her escape. Phèdre convinced her that she knew nothing about it, saying that she would never have given the testimony that convicted Melisande if she was really one of her allies.
Peer of the Realm
After returning to the city, Phèdre had to deal with the fact that she had nothing to live on-- all her belongings had gone to the marquist's payment. Then Ysandre sent for her, and told her that she was the heir to Delaunay's estates and to Montrève, as Montrève's lord, Rufaille de Montrève, died during the battle for Troyes-le-Mont. Phèdre agreed to inherit Montrève, and felt slightly in shock as she realised that she was now a peer of the realm.
Ysandre and Drustan married, and there was a big fete in their honour. Soon, Phèdre got her affairs in order and went to Montrève with Joscelin and her chevaliers, Ti-Philippe Dumont, Fortun and Remy, who chose to stay in her household. Months later, at Montrève, Delaunay's old mentor Gonzago de Escabares paid Phèdre a visit, giving her a parcel. The parcel contained Phèdre's sangoire cloak, which Melisande had taken. Phèdre realised that Melisande was challenging her to play the game, to figure out how she escaped and who had helped her, and began preparing to find Melisande and secure Ysandre's throne once and for all.
Returning to Naamah's Service
Phèdre decided to return to the service of Naamah, as it was the best way to hear news of Melisande. Joscelin did not take the news well, and knelt for hours before Elua's shrine in Montrève. Soon afterwards he asked Phèdre to honour his vow, as he has honoured hers. This broke Phèdre's heart, as she loved Joscelin and wanted a relationship with him. After returning to the City of Elua Phèdre was reinitiated into the Service of Naamah by Bérèngere of Namarre, a Priestess who as an acolyte witnessed Phèdre's first initiation. Phèdre also went to see Ysandre, but did not tell her of her quest to find Melisande's secret ally, as she had no proof yet.
Joscelin arranged for Phèdre to meet Nahum ben Isaac, a Rebbe of the Yeshuite quarter in the City. Though stern and disapproving of Phèdre's beliefs and lifestyle, the Rebbe came to care for her in a way, as she came to listen to him when so many Yeshuites were leaving to go North according to the prophecy. Phèdre began to fear that she was losing Joscelin to the Yeshuites, as she noticed him being courted by several of them, and it seemed like he might leave her. She also notices a young Yeshuite woman's love for Joscelin, and warns her that 'the gods are possessive of their chosen.'
Journey to La Serenissima
Meeting with Prince Benedicte and Imprisonment in La Dolorosa
Escape from La Dolorosa and meeting Kazan Atrabiades
Arrival on Kriti and the Thetalos
Obtaining aid from Phaistos and Illyria
Return to La Serenissima
Reunion with Joscelin
Foiling Melisande's plan
Taking back the City of Elua
List of Phèdre's patrons
Childric d'Essoms—noble; member of Court of Chancery
Solaine Belfours—secretary of the Privy Seal
Pepin Lachet—Member of the Exchequer
Rogier Clavel—noble; member of L'Envers entourage
Melisande Shahrizai—Kusheline noble
Apollonaire de Fhirze and Diànne de Fhirze—brother and sister from Namarre near the border with Kusheth.
Nicola L'Envers y Aragon—cousin of Ysandre de la Courcel, wife to an Aragonian diplomat.
Quotes about Phèdre
"Phèdre yields with a willow's grace and endures with the strength of mountains. Without her, life would be calm; and yet would lack all meaning."—Joscelin Verreuil
"That which yields is not always weak"—Hyacinthe
- Kushiel's Dart, "Chapter 3"
- Kushiel's Dart, "Chapter 23"