She is the protagonist of the first Kushiel trilogy (Kushiel's Dart, Kushiel's Chosen, & Kushiel's Avatar) and is the foster mother of the protagonist in the second Kushiel trilogy (Kushiel's Scion, Kushiel's Justice, & Kushiel's Mercy)
Phèdre is born to Liliane de Souverain and Pierre Cantrel, fair-skinned, black-haired, with a cursed Hellene name. She is distinguished most by a red mote in her left eye, marking her as an anguissette, chosen by the angel Kushiel to feel pain as pleasure. Phèdre is sold by her mother to Cereus House of the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers.
At the age of seven, Phèdre pricks herself with a pin and feels for the first time the pleasure associated with pain. As a result of this, the Dowayne of Cereus House calls on Anafiel Delaunay, who recognizes her as an anguissette. He then seeks to make an elite spy out of her. He buys her marque, fetching the highest price set in Cereus in her years. To make her fit for his service, Phèdre begins learning the Caerdicci tongue at age eight, and at age ten, begins her apprenticeship with Delaunay.
Under Delaunay's guidance, Phèdre learns further Caerdicci, along with Cruithne and the Skaldic tongue, and also receives physical training in gymnastics and tumbling. She meets and eventually befriends Alcuin nó Delaunay, Anafiel's first pupil.
At fourteen, Phèdre officially dedicates herself as a Servant of Naamah. She thus begins her apprenticeship a year later than she would have had she remained in the Night Court and begins work on her marque, which Delaunay commissions from Robert Tielhard. The description of her marque is:
When her bodyguard Guy is killed in an incident involving Alcuin nó Delaunay and the political intrigues of the Stregazza family, Delaunay contracts the Cassiline Joscelin Verreuil to protect his charges; an immediate discord strikes up between Joscelin and Phèdre. Joscelin does not approve of Phèdre's line of work or her nature as an anguissette, and Phèdre finds him dour and too imposing.
In reward for acts of extraordinary gallantry, Phèdre has been decorated by Ysandre de la Courcel with the highest honor in the land, the royal order known as the Companionship of Elua. Anyone bearing the jeweled brooch representing that order is considered socially equal to royalty. Therefore, Phèdre needs bow to no one in the realm, not even the Queen.
The book begins with Imriel reflecting on his childhood. He lives with Phèdre and Joscelin as a son and visits his royal cousins often. He does not like Sidonie but Alais is as a sister to him. He lives with Phèdre and Joscelin in Montrève in the summer and they live in the City of Elua in the winter. Joscelin teaches Imriel the Cassiline fighting style and Phèdre teaches him the arts of covertsy as well as languages.
At the age of fourteen we learn that Imriel's mother, Melisande Shahrizai, has vanished from the Temple of the Asherat-of-the-Sea in La Serenissima. Instead of spending summer at Montrève, Phèdre, Joscelin, and Imriel are summoned to court. At court, Imriel meets his Shahrizai kin, who will foster with him come the following summer. The Queen is convinced that Imriel has not been told or given any information from his mother as to where she is. Imriel asks Phèdre to read the letters his mother sent him in case there are any clues in them. Phèdre finds none.
Despite Phèdre and Joscelin's discomfort, the Shahrizai kin stay with them in Montrève for a month. During this time Phèdre is of course always courteous but the Shahrizai have a rather intense interest in her due to her nature as an anguissette. Imriel seems to make a good friendship with his cousin Mavros. Mavros later reflects on Phèdre that she encourages someone to be the best they can be, the bright mirror, and that Melisande is the dark mirror of oneself.
When Imriel turns sixteen, Eamonn mac Grainne, son of Grainne and Quintilus Rousse, comes to foster at the Montrève residence, where Imriel and Eamonn become good friends. Joscelin and Phèdre like Eamonn and see him as a good influence on Imriel. Phèdre, however, does take him to her factor when she learns that he is not taking as good of care of his money as he should. When Eamonn leaves, he makes Imri promise to come visit him in Tiberium, where he will be studying at the university.
Imriel is thinking about marrying Princess Dorelei of Alba, as a good thing for the D'Angeline throne and the kingdom of Terre d'Ange but he does not love her. Imriel begins to feel lost and confused so Mavros and his cousins decide to braid Imri's hair and take him to Valerian House, where he finally releases his long-held and feared desires for kinky pleasures. This throws him all into turmoil and he ends up using a safe-word to end the scene.
Upon returning home though, Phèdre sees the change in him and reaches up to touch him. He grabs her wrist hard and tells her no but he can feel her pulse jump with pleasure at the pain he has caused her. This sends him over the edge. He can no longer look at Phèdre and leaves the house to drink himself into a stupor. Joscelin goes with him as more of a protector than a comfort. This lasts for at least a couple of days and Joscelin pulls him out of more than one fight.
Imriel then decides he needs some distance and decides to follow in Eamonn's footsteps by studying at the University of Tiberium. After packing lightly, Imri and Gilot, his man at arms, travel to Tiberium to seek knowledge and learning. There are few letters from him but all seems to be well. Imriel goes to a friend, Lucius', wedding in Lucca. Upon reaching Lucca, however, disaster had struck. The bride-to-be had been kidnapped and her lover, who is not Lucius, has been killed. Imriel manages to rescue the bride but cuts off the assailant's hand in the process.
While all of Imriel's friends manage to leave Lucca on the grounds of non-combatants and foreign citizens, Imriel can not. The leader of the attackers insists that if Imriel wants to leave he must pay the same price, the loss of his hand. The D'Angeline host that is negotiating on his behalf refuses and Imriel himself refuses. So Lucca comes under siege with Imriel trapped inside. Phèdre and Joscelin, while not there, hear this news from the D'Angeline hosts and worry.
He tells Joscelin and Phèdre all that happened to him, which turned out to be a lot more than he said in his letters. He also tells Phèdre all about the Unseen Guild, which makes her very concerned. She proceeds to tell the Queen and King herself, at which Imriel is surprised, but no one else. Imriel also says that he will agree to wed Dorelei. Finally, Imriel asks Phèdre for the letters that Melisande has written him so that he may read them. She is overjoyed at this and gladly takes them out for him, leaving him in the study to read them.
Phèdre does not make many appearances in this novel as it is primarily about Imriel's personal journeys and internal quests. She mainly features as Imriel's adoptive mother and therefore is in the background of many scenes early in the book.
Phèdre and Joscelin disappear for a long time in the novel because they are on a quest to hide the book of Rahab so that no other can control the waters as the Master of the Straits. No details about this are mentioned, however.
Phèdre and Joscelin, when they come back from this trip, learn of what has happened to Imriel and that he has gone to hunt down Berlik. This eventually takes them to Vralia and they seem to be hot on his trail. They eventually meet up with him in a small town where the locals are convinced he is a Tartar and has escaped the law. Phèdre negotiates with them, proving Imriel's story, and they leave for the capital.
After returning from Alba with Imriel and Sidonie, Phedre and Joscelin parts ways in the City of Elua. Phèdre and Joscelin offered Imriel to stay with them but he declined in favor of confronting Queen Ysandre.
Phedre and Joscelin remain in the side-lines for much of the occurences in the City, though presumably Phedre is still petitioning the Queen to accept Imriel's love for Sidonie as genuine.
During the events of the novel, Imriel and Sidonie's love is recognized as being within Elua's precept. There is extreme division in the kingdom concerning Imriel's affair with the Dauphine, however. So, before a packed Hall of Audience, Ysandre asks both Sidonie and Imriel if it is still their wish to be united and acknowledged in the eyes of the realm and the throne. Upon their consent, Ysandre declares that she will not forbid their relationship because the priests declare their love to be genuine and she must abide by Elua's precept, "love as thou wilt". BUT, their relationship is causing much turmoil in the kingdom and verging on civil disrest. So, if Sidonie declares Imriel her consort, Ysandre says she will not acknowledge it and thereby give it no legal binding. If Sidonie marries Imriel, Ysandre states she will disinherit her and her title to the thrown will go to Alais. The only way around this vow, unofficially understood, is for Imriel to find and bring his mother to justice - the execution she managed to escape from twenty-one years ago.
Phedre and Joscelin attend the 'spectacle' in Elua's Square, hosted by the Carthaginian visitors, and fall under its spell. They also care for Imriel during his month of madness, becoming severely haggard and saddened. Imriel, during his madness, even insults Phedre about her being the Mahrkagir's whore. When Imriel awakes, he remembers what he said to her and begs her forgiveness, which she gives quickly, knowing it was only because of the madness. He then asks about Sidonie and Phedre and Joscelin are confused as to why he thinks she should have visited him during his madness. After a few moments he begins to realize that, even though he has overcome his madness, they all seem to be clearly mad and confused. They do not remember his relationship with Sidonie and, during his trying to remind them, it reaches the point where Phèdre and Joscelin begin to think Imriel is still insane, even though he is quite himself. They tell him that Carthage is a very close friend of Terre d'Ange and that Sidonie has happily gone off to marry Astegal, the leader of Carthage, nearly a month ago!
Imriel escapes the City without Phedre or Joscelin's knowledge and is sad that he will make them worry. We hear nothing more of them until he returns to the City of Elua with Sidonie. When he returns to the City, he travels with Sidonie and 'her loyal man', Kratos. Sidonie says that he is still mad but that he has come to some sort of understanding in Carthage. Though he is still in love with Sidonie, all welcome back "poor mad Imriel". He stays with Phedre and Joscelin, who try to limit Imriel's time with the Princess, assuming he would be in her way and a nuisance. Still, as a member of the Royal family, he attends some events and dinners with House Courcel. Phedre and Joscelin are still clearly not themselves. When Imriel asks where their maid/chef is, Phedre replies that she is in the kitchen where she should be. Phedre keeps a distance now between her servants and herself! As well, Joscelin has agreed to perform the terminus for the Queen should the City of Elua be captured by the traitor Alais and her followers. Imriel is very uncomfortable staying with them but sees no other options; the more one fights the spell, the more beligerant those persons under it become.
It is also clear that Imriel is obsessed with the green jewel that was given to Terre d'Ange by Astegal. This green gem is supposed to protect Terre d'Ange from invasion and that inhabitants of the City have torn it apart looking for the gem. Imriel's obsession with it causes a bit of a rift between him and the Queen and King as well as Phedre and Joscelin. Phedre and Joscelin decide to humour him though and help him search, nearly daily, for gem despite their belief that it is hopeless for him to find it.
Within a month, Queen Ysandre readies to declare war on her traitorous daughter and uncle, Barquiel L'Envers. Phedre, Joscelin, and Imriel are in attendance at the Palace announcement in the Hall of Audience. Just after the Queen's speech, Imriel walks up to the front of the Hall, filled with a divine presence. He gives an empathetic speech, "Your majesties, you must not do this thing. The gods themselves forbid it." Joscelin, protecing the Queen, however, comes from behind and knocks him unconscious. Phedre follows her Queen and fellow nobles entourage to the general public announcement of war in Elua's Square. When Imriel and Kratos appear, running, Phedre appeals to Imriel to stop what he is doing. She is clearly furious and yells to Joscelin, who is running after them, and the Queen's guard, to get Imriel out of the tree in the center of Elua' Square.
When the spell is cleared, however, Phedre almost drops to her knees in sorrow at what she had become and said. Imriel fogives her as easily as she did for what he said during his madness. Eventually, all is healed. The following year, Phedre and Joscelin help Imriel prepare for his royal wedding. Phedre fusses over him a little and is brought to tears with happiness. She and Joscelin escort him and enjoy the wedding thoroughly.
In order of occurrence.
Please note that many of the person's listed, primarily foreigners, took her against her will; in violation of Elua's precept.
Childric d'Essoms buys her virgin-price and subjects her to a whipping post. He also gives Phèdre the first patron-gift towards her marque.
Pepin Lachet is Phèdre's second patron, who makes use of pincers on her.
Solaine Belfours contracts Phèdre for a two-day assignment, setting her impossible tasks and then punishing her for not completing them. It is during this assignment that Phèdre learns Lyonette de Trevalion was attempting to enlist Solaine's aid in her plots.
Jean-Louis is an adept of Cereus House who sleeps with Phèdre at the behest of Melisande; he disappoints Phèdre by being gentle with her.
Waldemar Selig, the self-made King of the Skaldic, surprises Phèdre with his sexual education.
Joscelin Verreuil becomes Phèdre's long-term lover; they first have sex in a cave while on the journey back from Skaldia to Terre d'Ange.
Grainne mac Conor is one of the Twins, the leaders of the Dalriada, who sleeps with Phèdre during her first night in Innisclan. She gifts Phèdre with a gold bracelet.
Eamonn mac Conor is one of the Twins, the leaders of the Dalriada, who is goaded to go into war by Phèdre in exchange for a night with her.
Severio Stregazza is a half-D'Angeline lord from La Serenissima who is angry with being only half D'Angeline. Phèdre likes his anger and agrees to an assignation with him where he has her role-play a Roman scene.
Apollonaire & Diànne are the joint holders of the Marquisate de Fhirze, often referred to as twins though they are not actually twins. They get her to role-play a Roman scene as well and Phèdre actually manages to tire out Apollonaire.
Nicola L'Envers y Aragon is of House L'Envers, cousin to the Queen, and married to the brother of the King of Aragonia. Phèdre gives her the Lover's Token and Nicola gives her the word of house L'Envers, a command that goes above all others and must be followed without question by all persons of House L'Envers. Has great skills in rope bondage.
Raphael Murain nó Gentian is an adept of Gentian House who helps Phèdre discern her dreams
the Mahrkagir ("Conqueror of Death") is the evil King of Drujan.