Category Archives: Kushiel’s Dart Read-A-Long

Kushiel’s Dart Read-Along, Week 6: Chapters 46 – 54

kushielpinup

I got a bit off track with the read-along for Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart.   I’m not attempting to catch up a bit and picking up where I left off.

These questions for week six come from Grace over at Books Without Any Pictures and cover chapters 46 – 54.

One of the questions from last week dealt with initial impressions of Waldemar Selig’s steading. Now that we’ve finally met him, what are your thoughts about him? Do you think he suspects that Phedre knows anything, and will he continue to play a role in the story?

I feel like Selig was a bit of a legendary figure in the last section, up to and including his introduction.   Here we get to see the man behind the myth and maybe understand why his reputation has been built up as it has.  The notion that he’s the one ruler who can unite the various people against the Scaldi is an interesting one — and one that Phedre tries to nip in the bud, though she loses the opportunity.  I can’t help but feel that while Selig is a larger than life, unifying figure, he’s not quite prepared to play the political game on the same level that Phedre has learned.  He seems to either be too trusting of her or he’s underestimated her abilities.  Either way, I can see this coming back to bite him.

What did you think of the visit to Lodur? Do you think it will impact how Phedre thinks of herself?

For too long, I feel like Phedre has underestimated if and how she can play the political game.  She’s sat back a bit and allowed things to happen to her.  The visit to Lodur may have given her a new perspective on her training and what her role can be.  I find it interesting that while she thinks of escaping before the meeting, it’s only after the meeting with Lodur that she formulates a plan and begins to set it in motion.

Phedre and Joscelin have both gone through some harrowing experiences in the past few chapters. How do you think it will change them going forward?

I have a feeling that we’re going to see Joscelin struggle a bit more with the changes that he’s been forced to undertake in this section.  He’s had to betray his oaths (at least as he sees it), though it could be argued that he had some very good reasons to do so.   I expect guilt and remorse to come into play at some point and that he will take his betrayal of who he believed himself to be a lot harder than Phedre might. I feel like the experiences of being a slave and then escaping may harden Phedre a bit and cause her to up her game a bit when and if she crosses paths with Melisandre again. (And I have a feeling a showdown is coming before we reach the end of the book!)

If you were in Phedre or Joscelin’s place, would you have acted the same way in crafting your mastermind escape plan? What are your thoughts on how it worked out?

I think Phedre is learning to plot her moves several steps in advance, but she’s still not thinking through all the implications of her plans.   It’s a good idea to make the move to escape based on the circumstances presented to her, but I don’t think she thought through the weather conditions or that she and Joscelin wouldn’t exactly have the right gear to survive the brutal conditions.   I think that they are both fortunate that there was pursuit of them and that they were able to defeat the pursuers and take their supplies.  If not, I don’t think the escape attempt might have gone as well.

We’re finally getting to observe a budding romance between Phedre and Joscelin. How do you see this playing out? What do you think of it?

So, Joscelin didn’t think that Phedre could enjoy physical intimacy without pain being involved.  I found that revelation very interesting.   I also wonder how much regret he will have at breaking his vows when and if they get back to the world they were so brutally thrust out of.   I had a feeling these two had an eye for each other but as the old adage from Star Trek goes, “Sometimes having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting.  It is not logical, but it is most often true.”

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Kushiel’s Dart Read-Along Week Three: Chapters 19 – 26

phedre_no_delaunay_by_sharimoon-d6mry7uMoving into the third week of the Kushiel’s Dart read-along and things are starting to get very interesting for Phedre and company.

This week’s questions comes to us courtesy of Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow.

There’s a lot of intrigue to get to this week, so let’s start the conversation.

1) We get a lot of political intrigue to wade through this week, plus a couple of pretty big dramatic revelations, not least of which was the twist of fate for Prince Baudoin and his mother. What did you make of the trial, and what became of these two?

Prince Baudoin’s entire family comes out on the short end of the stick in the trial, don’t they? Two of the family members are exiled and told if they come back they will be killed. And then there’s the prince and his mother who are found guilty and by unanimous vote put to death.

I found it interesting that each of them got to choose how they would die. Their execution can be public or private and I only assume there are a variety of ways for them to go to their end. The mother picks a quick acting poison that puts her to sleep and she never wakes up while the Prince falls on his sword — literally. Reading this section, I couldn’t help but think a bit about George R.R. Martin and his propensity to kill off any character at any time. And while we haven’t yet had a death that is quite as shocking as Ned Stark from Game of Thrones, I find myself wondering if Jacqueline Carey might not be put laying the foundation for a shocking death to come later in the book.

2) On a rather different, much more personal note for the House of Delaunay was the drama that unfolded surrounding Alcuin (poor Guy!). What do you think might become of Alcuin now that he appears to be out of the game?

A couple of weeks ago, one of our discussion topics was about whether or not Phedre and Alcuin were able to fully know the implications of what swearing their lives in service meant.  This section would seem to indicate that while Phedre has taken to this life like a duck to water, Alcuin wasn’t really prepared mentally, physically or emotionally for the implications of the life he chose.  And so he tries to find a way out of it — with dire consequences for everyone involved.

I also think that while Phedre has taken to playing the game of politics, Alcuin never quite got the rules of the game or how to play it.  Phedre gets to experience a bit of that here by knowing what Alcuin is trying to do but not telling him.  I almost got the feeling she was saving this knowledge for some point in the future when it might be useful to her to use it.

3) As we’d suspected last week, Phedre’s refusal to use her signale gets her into some trouble with d’Essoms – but it also gets her the result that Anafiel had hoped for… Do you think she’ll be more careful from here or will this only make that addictive slope more slippery for her?

Phedre’s on a dangerous path and building quite a reputation.  Somehow I think that not only is she becoming addicted to the sexual side of things but she’s also becoming addicted to the political game she’s playing.  It almost seems like she’s playing chicken with herself to see how far she can go to get the information she wants or needs to take back and continue her role in the game.  I can’t help but wonder if the impact of what happened to Alcuin will play out and cause her to take a step back or if she’ll further embrace the political and sexual game she’s playing.  I also wonder if her being the only source of information now for Delaunay might make her more willing to take a risk or two for him because she wants to keep him in the game.

4) Speaking of Phedre and trouble, what do you make of the ‘relationship’ building between her and Melisande?

I see terrible things on the horizon for Phedre when it comes to Melisande.   We see how Melisande is willing to use anyone to get what she wants and then toss them aside.   And I wonder if Phedre might not become a pawn in the game that Melisande is playing that can be sacrificed when her usefulness has come to an end.

I also wonder if Melisande sees a reflection of her younger self in Phedre and that may be part of what the attraction is.   I think that Phedre is drawn to power and it could be interesting to see if and how she gets burned by Melisande.  Or maybe she will find a way to turn the tables on Melisande.

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Kushiel’s Dart Read-A-Long, Week 2: Chapters 9-18

Phedre_by_Jerantino

Fan art of Phedre found at DeviantArt

Welcome to the second week of the Kushiel’s Dart Read-a-long.  This week covers chapters nine through eighteen in the epic story and is hosted by Tethyan Books.   If you want to see what others think about these questions or get their take on the events in Phedre’s life, you should surf on over there and check them out.  I know I will be doing that once I’ve completed my thoughts for the week.

1) In these chapters, Phèdre finally gets to have her own dedication ceremony. Were you surprised by what they did with the dove? Also, do you think it is fair to ask people to make a life decision about serving Naamah at such a young age?

For a little while, I figured the dove in Phedre’s world would used in a similar fashion to the way doves were used in the Old Testament — a pure sacrifice to atone for something.  So, it was intriguing to see that in this world, the dove is seen more as a sacrifice that is chosen and then set free.  In some ways, it felt a bit like the dove could be used to let go of the past, setting it free and then you’re “pure” as you head into the future.

As to whether or not it’s fair to ask someone as young as Phedre to make a life decision about serving Naamah, I’m not sure it’s fair to her in the long run, but it probably is in the short term.  Her decision gives her life some meaning, order and structure — as well as some type of status.   I can’t help but wonder what might have happened to her if she’d chosen not to pursue this life and the devotion. Would she be simply tossed back onto the streets or would Delaunay have found some other use for her — even if it’s just selling her contract to someone else so he can profit by it.

One thing I’ve noticed — or that was reinforced in these chapters — is that Delaunay is playing a long game and training his two young wards to do the same.   He seems to be willing to use anyone and anything to gain some type of advantage over others later.  What that advantage is remains to be seen and I wonder how long Phedre is going to be willing to be a pawn in is game and might not want to start playing her own game.  (Assuming that she is allowed to do so.   It could be interesting to see how her status as a servant and a female comes into play should she choose to act on her aspirations) Continue reading

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Kushiel’s Dart Read-A-Long, Week One: Chapters 1-8

Kushiel's_Dart

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? 

 

kushielsdartFirst 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…

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