I got a bit behind on my reading and posting for the Kushiel’s Dart read-along. So, this week I’m catching up and doing two weeks of the read-along in one!
Week Four: Chapters 27-36 (Questions courtesy of Dab of Darkness)
1) Alcuin finally talked with Delaunay about being uncomfortable serving Naamah. He spent 3 days in the sanctuary of Naamah and came out with a lighter heart. What do you think occurred there?
I get the feeling that Acluin had a come to Naamah moment or event. As we discussed earlier in the read-along, it seems like Alcuin and Phedre were both very young when they took the vows to serve Naamah. And I have a feeling that they didn’t fully understand what they were taking on or vowing to do. Phedre has taken to the life and seems to be enjoying it — you might even say enjoying it a bit too much. But Alcuin didn’t necessarily take to it as well and I think there a process of his coming to terms with his choices and trying to find a new path for himself in life. The three days game him time for some reflection and to possibly consider that it’s OK to choose a different path for himself.
2) We are introduced to the new protector of the Delaunay household, Joscelin Verreuil. What were your first impressions? Would would you find it harder to pay homage to: Naamah or Kushiel or Cassiel?
My first impression of Joscelin was that he seemed very much like the character of Ned Stark in Game of Thrones — namely that he’s a man who is trying to “play the game” but the rules in a world where the rules change or people break them on a consistent basis is they play their game. He seems to have certain expectations of how things work and how the world works and I can see this becoming an issue as he tries to protect Phedre as the book goes forward.
And I think it would probably be harder to pay homage to Naamah based on the things that we’ve seen Phedre take on to pay homage.
3) Phedre visits Childric D’Essoms two more times; once to beg a boon for Delaunay and again because she feels she owes him a debt. Do you think she was right to go on either of these occasions?
I think to her worldview, she was doing what was right. Whether or not I think it was right, I’m going to have to wait and see. Seems to me like Phedre is making some choices that will come back to haunt her later. And I can’t help but think that while she thinks she’s learned how to play the game from Delauney, that she’s playing the game on the “easy” settings while there are others who are playing the game on “expert” settings.
4) We meet the Duc Barquiel L’Enver, who has spent much time in Akkad. What do you think lies in the past between him and Delaunay? What do you think of his methods to dealing with Vitale Bouvarre?
I get the feeling that Delaunay has a lot of irons in the fire and that we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the games he’s playing and his history. I also get the feeling that Phedre’s curiosity is eventually going to get her into a lot of trouble. I imagine that Delaunay kept his poetry locked up for a reason — not just to keep it from her but because of the negative reaction and consequences we’ve heard about throughout the book so far. Whether these are actual or exagerrated remains to be seen.
5) At the palace, after a meeting with Clavel, Phedre sneaks off. In the hall, she overhears Isidore d’Aiglemort talking about the Glory Seekers along the Skaldi border. Then she finds herself hiding under some furniture when she witnesses a secret meeting between Delaunay and Ysandre de la Courcel. What do you make of this latest political intrigue?
My first thought was — boy, she sure knows how to pick the right hiding spot to get information! I couldn’t help but wonder in the meeting between Delaunay and Ysandre is Delaunay didn’t know or suspect she’s there and was trying to give her the information. Of course, I could be reading too much into the story here. As for the latest political intrigue, I found myself wondering if there was a flow chart somewhere to help me make sense of all the intrigues that are out there. I’m paying attention but I’ll admit I find them a bit confusing at times — and I have a feeling that is exactly what Carey wants us (and Phedre) to feel.
6) Melisande Shahrizai points out to Phedre that she both despises and loves each of her patrons, if only a little. Do you think this is true for Phedre? For most human relationships?
There’s the old saying that there is a fine line between love and hate. I can’t help but think that Malisandre has had a bit more time to become more bitter and cynical in her worldview. But I can see that Phedre is on a path that she could share that with Melisandre. I think Phedre is still so caught up in the world and the excitement of it all that she may not necessarily hate anyone just yet but she’s definitely on the way to it. I also believe that she may at some point learn that certain people are taking advantage of her enthusiasm and her lack of willingness to use her safe word.
7) Phedre is contracted for the Longest Night by Melisande to be shown off to the Duc de Morhban. What stood out for you the most this night? Now that Phedre can complete her mark, what do you think she will do?
It seems like Melisandre contracts Phedre for the evening so she can say to everyone — you can look, but not touch. The gown of sheer material with diamonds sewn into it underscores this and I couldn’t help but think that Phedre was being shown off as the largest jewel. I feel like whenever Melisandre steps onto the scene that she’s playing the game a couple of steps ahead of everyone else and that Phedre is struggling to catch up or not fully understanding the implications of things. She’s so happy to get a new contract and to be in service that I think she’s missing some of the nuances of things happening.
And since I read onward, I will only say that Phedre’s freedom by completing her mark is very, very short lived.
Week Five: Chapters 37-45 (Questions courtesy of Igret’s Corner)
Or as I called this section — “Oh my goodness, they killed Delaunay!”
1) In this section we see Melisande betraying Delaunay and Phedre. Did you see this coming? Why or why not? Also, what do you think Melisande’s highest loyalty is to?
Melisandre is ultimately loyal to herself — and she’s willing to use people until they no longer have value to her and then discard them. She was willing to use Phedre to show off to everyone in the last section but here Phedre has outlived her usefulness and so she’s discarded. At least it’s better than what happens to poor Delaunay. And yet I feel like his influence on events and Phredre is going to continue to come into play as we move forward.
2) We see Phedre sold into slavery by Melisande and D’Anglemort. How is slavery different than being a bond servant, how is it the same?
As with her being a bond servant, Phedre has little choice on how she serves or who she serves. If she’d stayed with Delaunay has part of his household, she may have had more of a choice on which assignments she took. But now she is forced to share the bed with Hedwig as a spoil of war. But being a slave, I feel like that if she makes a mistake or goes against what Hedwig wants she will face a harsher punishment that he would at the hands of Delaunay.
I do find it interesting that she takes on the role of a teacher. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Drago and Dany storyline in A Game of Thrones.
3) Hedwig’s treatment of Phedre is not what Phedre expected. What does her behavior tell us about Skaldi women?
I get the feeling the Skaldi women are the tougher of the sexes. Yes, the men go out and conquer everything in sight, but it’s the women who hold their world and society together. As for Hedwig and her willingness to learn, I wonder if she will be the exception to the rule.
4) Joscelin initially hates Phedre for not attempting to run, yet ultimately chooses to stay with her. What does this say about Joscelin and his views of Cassiel?
I think Joscelin has a loyalty to Phedre that runs deeper than we originally thought or expected. He disapproved of some of her actions with Delaunay but it’s clear he’s developed some type of bond with her. I get the feeling he’s like a big brother and wants to protect her.
5) Phedre says that Guntersville raid reminded her that she was with the enemy. Do you think that prior to the raid she had developed stalkholm syndrom? What about life in the steadiness made her complacent?
While she’s a slave and she’s not living the life that she had with Delaunay, I can’t help but think Phedre doesn’t have it nearly as bad as other slaves. Don’t get me wrong — her life isn’t all roses and she’s forced to be the consort of the ruler against her will. But she has people around her who are willing to embrace some of her world view and allow her to do things like translate songs into their language. And I think that she did get a bit comfortable — especially when she sees how Joscelin has been treated. I do think that raid made her wake up and realize that while she’s got it better than many slaves, she is still a slave to the enemy. And at some point if she gets back to the other world, she could be seen as a traitor.
6) Joscelin brakes his vows during the holmgang. Do you think he should have or not? What do you think the reprocussions will be?
I think Joscelin (and Phedre) have had to do things to survive while being held as slaves. And while I think some will understand what Phedre did, the rules governing Joscelin’s life and vows may not allow as much understanding and forgiveness.
7) we see Waldemar Selig’s steading for the first time, what are your impressions of it?
Well, I will say that he makes a strong entrance and it really left me curious to keep on reading!