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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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The Republic of Thieves Read-Along: Weeks 1 and 2

thievesThanks to the Amazon Vine program, I received an ARC copy of Scott Lynch’s third entry in the Gentlemen Bastards series The Republic of Thieves.

So, I’m participating in the Read-Along for the novel, but I’m a couple of weeks behind.  This is my first post to try and catch-up a bit.  It covers week one and two of the read-along.

Week One

1) We get to reminisce with several old friends in this section – Carlo, Galdo, Chains. How did you like this? Bitter sweet or happy dance?

Chains and the stories about Locke growing up were one of my favorite parts from The Lies of Locke Lamorra, so a chance to visit with these characters again was a welcome, but bitter sweet treat.   Early on, I think I tried too hard to see if Lynch was dropping any foreshadowing hints about the fates of various characters, but I eventually decided to just enjoy the flashback and to see what kind of treats are being set up for this book.

2) Finally, the infamous Sabetha makes a physical appearance, albeit in Locke’s reminisces. What are your impressions? How do you think the romance, if there is to be one, will play out?

After two books of hints, it was interesting to finally have Sabetha enter the novel.   She’s such a significant figure in Locke’s life that I was a bit worried that the anticipation of her debut would overwhelm the character when and if she finally appeared.  I like that Lynch is willing to pull the wool over our eyes about her early on (I will admit I didn’t make the connection of Beth equalling Sabetha until Lynch told us).  I also like that we’re seeing the usually calm, self-assured, planning out twenty moves in advance Locke is completely flummoxed by Sabetha.  Watching him try to just be near her to catch a glimpse of her is a nice touch as is the way Locke tries to apply the way his mind works to her thoughts and motives.

3) After trying absolutely everything to save Locke, Jean still won’t give up. What did you think of that little pep talk he gave Locke concerning Patience’s offer of healing?

I’m reminded of a line of Babylon Five, “It’s easy to find something worth dying for.  Do you have anything worth living for?”  I took the pep talk as a bit of “let’s find a way out of this situation and then start thinking of the consequences of it.”

4) Locke has a few caveats to working for the Bondsmage. Wise or just Locke grasping for some control over his life? What would you ask Patience?

I think it’s Locke’s attempt to assert some control in the situation — what little control he has left.  He can’t stop the bleeding and he’s clearly in a great deal of pain.  Also, I think we’re seeing that while Locke may be physically hurting, mentally he’s still sharp enough to know that the Bondsmage aren’t going to do something for him out of the kindness of their hearts.  And like Locke, I’d want to know why Patience is willing to save me if I’d burned her as much as Locke and Jean have.

5) At the end of this section, we see that all is not as Patience laid it out. How much do you think Patience knows of the plot to off Locke and Jean? Do you see it interfering in the rigged election?

I think Patience not only knows about the plot, but is counting on it.  She’s planning to use Locke and Jean for their skills in this area and the plot to take them out can help get one final double cross on them once the job is done.    And I don’t think her name is a coincidence.  I have a feeling she is willing to be patient to get her revenge on Locke and Jean.

Week Two

1) Blood And Breath And Water: Patience tells Locke that the ritual to save him is serious business. She wasn’t kidding… What did you make of this scene, and do you think any of it might (perhaps literally) come back to haunt Locke?

It almost sounds like a case of the cure is worse than the disease.   OK, so maybe not really but it sounds like a very painful process.  One aspect I found interesting was that Jean could observe but he couldn’t leave the room if he felt queasy about what was going on with Locke.  In the short term, I think Locke will be recovering from the procedure.  Long term, it could take him some time to build back up his stamina and fully recovery physically.  Mentally, I can’t help but wonder if going through this will make him more ruthless in the long run.

2) Orphan’s Moon: Back to the childhood of the Gentlemen Bastards, and here we get another ritual, this one in service to the Nameless Thirteenth. It looks as though it might be Locke vs. Sabetha, round two – but this time Locke seems to be a little slow on that uptake… Who do you think deserves to be given the final oath? Locke or Sabetha?

I’ll admit that once again Lynch pulled me with the test.  At first, I thought the real point of the test was to make Locke confront his feelings for Sabetha and see how they can be a strength and a weakness.  Certainly, it’s no secret but I get the impression that Locke thought he was hiding it well (as most of us felt like we were hiding our feelings from our first crush and those around us).  Chains certainly doesn’t want a distraction like this getting in the way of the crew’s attempts to make money, so I wondered if part of the motive here was to force Locke to either take action or get over his feelings.  As for the final oath, I think both parties need to take it.  As we find out later, Sabetha also likes Locke, but Locke is clueless.

3) Across The Amathel: This chapter takes a breather for quite a bit of Eldren history, while Locke starts recovering. What do you think of the history lesson, and Patience’s ominous speculation regarding the Eldren? Is this something you’d like to know more about?

I don’t think Lynch would include this unless it’s going to pay off later in the book.   On the one hand, it’s world-building, but on the other hand world-building needs a purpose (unless it’s Tolkien and you describe every leaf on every tree just because you can).

4) Striking Sparks: The gang’s off to Espara, after a bad summer and a pretty thorough dressing-down from Chains, and we finally get to the source of the book’s title – they’re bound for the stage! What are your thoughts on this latest ‘challenge’ and the reasons for it?

For some reason, I found myself reminded of The Brady Bunch in the later seasons when the family would face an issue and put on a show or on act to resolve it.   I’m sure Lynch didn’t intend for this to happen, but that’s just the way my crazy mind works.   I think part of the reason for this challenge is to build up the G.B.’s skills a showmen.  We’ve seen throughout the novels that part of each scam or caper is selling yourself in the role.  What better way to learn that then by acting and committing to the character you are playing.  It should be interesting to see how the crowds react to the performances.

5) The Five-Year Game: Starting Position: The election gets underway with a party (as you do) and before it’s even over, the Deep Roots party has problems – and not just thanks to Sabetha. What do you make of Nikoros and his unfortunate habit?

I’m going to speculate that Nikroros could be a weakness that Locke exploits into a strength.

And it wouldn’t be any fun if the chips weren’t stacked against our heroes just a little bit.

6) Bastards Abroad: The gang arrives in Espara, and already they’ve got problems (nicely mirroring the Five Year Game!)… This aside, we’ve also seen some more of what seems to be eating at Sabetha. Do you sympathize with her, or is Locke right to be frustrated with her?

I can see both sides in the story.  And I think going forward it will make the story and the interplay between these two a lot more interesting.

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