It’s been a while since I participated in a read-a-thon but when I saw rumblings about one for Jaqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart, I was in. I’ve had the book for a long time now, sitting on my to-be-read shelf. And the read-a-thon was just the push in the right direction I needed to finally get it off the shelf and start reading it.
This week’s installment covers the first eight chapters of the novel and is hosted by Dab of Darkness. If you’d like to see what others are thinking about this week’s questions, head over to DoD and you will find links to everyone else participating.
Here’s this week questions and discussions:
1) Here we have the earliest days of Phedre’s life, and we have the story of Elua and his followers. Did you note any similarities between Phedre’s beginning and Elua’s stories? Do you enjoy having these stories upfront or would you rather have had the stories shuffled in later with an adult Phedre looking back?
First of all, I have to say that I love the opening line of the book. “Lest anyone should suppose that I am a cuckoo’s child, got on the wrong side of the blanket by a lusty peasant stock and sold into indenture in a shortfallen season, I may say that I am House-born and reared in the Night Court proper, for all the good it did me.”
Early on, Phedre and Elua’s stories are those of people who must be comfortable in two worlds. And they’re also characters who seem to have little or no control over their destiny. Elua is only saved on the whim of one of the gods while Phedre has little or no control over where which court or noble that she is indentured to. She seems to have been fortunate (for now) to have landed in Delaunay’s court because he encourages her to learn — not only “book” learning but also about the world of politics. He’s also willing to give her freedom to continue her exploration of the city and her friendship with Hycanithe. But I can’t help but wonder if it at some point this may come back to bite Phedre or if she will find herself in the court of another who isn’t quite as open minded and be forced to try and escape.
So far, I’ve enjoyed the stories that Jaqueline Carey has sprinkled in about the myths and stories from this world. It’s doing a nice job of world-building and (I hope) setting up some things for later in the book (and possibly the series).
2) Hyacinthe has become Phedre’s one true friend. Do you think she is the same for him? The dromonde, or fortune telling, fascinates Phedre. Do you have a fortune telling story?
I had to keep reminding myself that both characters are fairly young and that a forbidden romance isn’t likely brewing between these two (at least not yet). I think that Hyacinthe is fascinated by Phedre’s views and his access to the noble courts that he might not necessarily get in the life he has. I can’t help but wonder if at some point, as he gets older, he might not see his friendship with Phedre as a way out of that. But for now, I think the two are just friends and a case of opposites attracting. Or in the case of Phedre as someone she can talk to without worrying about if and how it might play out in the world of political intrigue that takes place in the court.
And, alas, I don’t have a fortune telling story. Never been to one. The closest I’ve been in seeing how they’re portrayed in various forms of popular media.
3) The Midwinter Masque on the Longest Night is a long held tradition in Terre D’Ange. What stood out for you? Have you been to such a fete?
One thing that struck me was the smashing of the glasses after the drink had been consumed. It seemed like it would create a lot debris to clear up as well as a shortage of glasses at some point. (I believe Phedre comments on the glasses beginning to run low toward the end of the night at one point). I was also struck by the elaborate costumes that revelers wore and how you couldn’t be sure who was who.
4) Anafiel Delaunay has many secrets. How do you think those secrets will shape Alcuin and Phedre?
Delaunay strikes me as a person who is very good at playing politics — and part of that is by knowing which secrets to keep and which ones to use to his advantage. I have a feeling what he knows — and who he know it about — will come into play as things continue to unfold. I also can’t help but get the feeling that his ability to keep secrets and mask his true feelings will come into play in the relationship he has with Alcuin and Phedre and the one they have with each other. I can see them become rivals for his affections and approval and that his ability to withhold those may something that motivates them as their training and education continue.
5) Delaunay has a saying; All knowledge is worth having. Do you believe this is so?
I get the feeling that Delaunay feels that “knowledge if power” and that every scrap that you can have is something that can give you a step up on others. I think it ties in a bit to his being adept at playing politics. I can’t quite see yet why he’s willing to encourage Phedre to have a friendship with Hyacinthe or why he’s willing to let her wander outside the gates, but I can’t help but think that he’s not being entirely magnanimous here. I keep wondering what his motive is and what how he sees this bit of knowledge or favor paying off for him in the long run. I get the feeling he’s playing a long game that will eventually lead to some kind of move to gain power for himself or to use Phedre to gain some advantage. What exactly that is, I’m not quite sure yet but I hope to find out as I keep reading…