Sunday, July 5, 2015

Read-Along: Kushiel's Dart, Part 9

Welcome to part 9 of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart.  Our host this week is Emma Maree, and her questions cover chapters 74-83.  Keep in mind, therefore, that there will be spoilers up through chapter 83 in the questions and answers below!  Also, remember to visit all the participants blogs to see what they have to say about this week’s section!  Next week is going to be the final section of the book, and I am really hoping all my favorite characters make it through the repelling (I hope!) of the Skaldi invasion.

1) Hyacinthe being trapped on the isle is a particularly cruel punishment for the people-loving Prince of Travellers. If you had his choice – a cutthroat life back in Night’s Doorstep, surrounded by friends and adventures, or a lonely but safe and privileged life on the island – which would you choose, and why?

I would probably choose the island, but that’s mostly because I have a very different personality than Hyacinthe.  I enjoyed reading about his cutthroat life in Night’s Doorstep, but actually living it sounds like a nightmare!  For Hyacinthe, the one silver lining in the situation is that now he is in a place where he belongs, is wanted and is valued.  I’m really hoping, also, that once he becomes the Master of the Straits, he can open up the waters to travelers.  Then, maybe he can get lots of visitors on his little island.  

2) Phedre remarks that the island people are truly human, and very different from d’Angelines with god blood in the veins. Through the story, the lines between myth and reality have become steadily blurrier: the gods are gone but they’ve left a kind of magic behind, and faces can rise up from the ocean. Is Phedre’s conceit just a form of Terra d’Ange vanity, or do you think there’s really something inhuman about the d’Angelines?

I think that they are meant to literally have a tiny bit of God’s blood in their lineage. I think they are pretty vain, on top of that, though. I roll my eyes a little, every time someone talks about how inhumanly beautiful d’Angelines are.  Actually, given the Christian idea that beauty does not always correspond to goodness, it’s a little weird that their conception of God seems to be of a supernaturally handsome man. 

The water face though, is now reminding me more of Wizard of Oz than Poseidon, now that we know it was just something the guy on the island made to communicate impressively.

3) Phedre doesn’t share any of the details of her last night with Hyacinthe. After her no-holds-barred descriptions of previous lovers, this scene really standards out as unique. How do you feel about Phedre’s goodbye, and Hyacinthe leaving the spotlight? How do you think Hyacinthe will keep himself occupied in his new life -- will he create a network on the island like he did on Night’s Doorstep, spying on the affairs of the world?

I’m starting to think that Phedre really needs to cultivate her other skills.  I know she is a servant of Naamah, but surely that’s not the only thing she can do.  In this case, I can kind of see why it was a nice goodbye, and a way of making sure he didn’t just remember her from his time grieving for Moiread.  However, I think it would have been just as fitting if they had spent the night talking about the times they had spent together and remembering happier times.

I can see him using his Master of the Straits powers to learn a lot about the affairs of the world.  I suppose he would not really need a network anymore, because he’ll have his scrying bowl!  I’m really hoping people will come to visit him a lot.  It seems like he could make the passage smooth and safe for them.

4) When Phedre's addressed as “Delauney’s Whore” by Ghislain de Somerville, everyone around Phedre draws a blade to defend her honour. Was it an over-reaction, or a fitting sign of Phedre’s new rank in society? How much has Phedre’s self-confidence evolved through the story: back to when she was an orphaned she often called herself a “whore’s get”, and later she called herself Delauney’s whore quite comfortably. This time, she’s as quick to correct Ghislain as her companions are.

I kind of think it was an overreaction.  It seems like this was one of those cases where it wasn’t exactly what Ghislain said, but that he said it with a lack of respect.  In every situation we’ve seen, even in her position as the queen’s emissary, she has relied primarily on her bedroom abilities to make things work.  At the same time, she has accomplished more than pretty much anyone in Terre d’Ange, and I think she is certainly worthy of respect.  I would say the problem is not with the definition of the word ‘whore’, but with the unfair and disrespectful connotation. Also, she does have an official title now (the queen’s emissary), so it is more proper to address her as such in formal company. 

5) We’ve nearing the end of the story, and it’s been a heart-breaking ride this week, so let’s step back and look at the wider world of Terre d’Ange. If you were part of the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, which house which you end up in? Have you changed enough from your childhood self that it would it be different from the House that raised you? (A quick list of the houses, their motto and values can be found here.)

This is a difficult question.  I think I am most attracted to House Eglantine, which values creativity and has the motto “To Create is to Live”.  I guess I was a bit of a perfectionist as a child, so maybe I would have started in Camellia House.

6) Moving even further beyond the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, where this all began, and into the wide world: if you could belong anywhere in this world, where would you be? Sunning yourself in exotic Persian-inspired Khebbel-im-Akkad, fighting in rainy Alba, or harsh Skaldia, sleeping in front of crackling fires on a pile of warm furs? Would you be roaming in the Long Roads with the Tsingano, a scion of the Night’s Court, a player in the theatre or a pub landlord on Night’s Doorstep? Where would you like to be most, out of everywhere, and where would you absolutely *hate* to be stuck in?

To be honest, while I really enjoy reading about this world, I don’t think it has enough safety and stability for me to want to be in it.  I think I would be most comfortable in rural Terre d’Ange (kind of like where I am in the real world), but it’s currently being invaded by Skaldi.  I don’t think it would be very nice to be a woman in Khebbel-im-Akkad, Skaldia, or with the Tsingano, and I don’t think I have the temperament to enjoy living in the Night’s Court.  Maybe I wouldn’t mind Night’s Doorstep, as long as it isn’t too highly populated.  I guess I’m an odd person, but I really enjoy living in small, peaceful towns in areas with an overall warm climate and four distinct seasons. …Considering that, maybe what I would really want is to live in a southern, relatively isolated city-state of Caerdicca Unitas.

Other things:

--Do you think the Master of the Straits would have come up with some other reason to kidnap them, even if they hadn't killed an eel?  It seems like he was really just looking for an excuse to grab Hyacinthe for his replacement.

--I really hope Drustan doesn't die before he gets to Ysandre.  That would be a horrible end to their romance, and would also pretty much ruin the rest of the story.

--I respect Phedre for trying to rescue as many of her 'boys' from the battle as possible, by sending them with her message.  I suspect it is a hard thing to know that people are going to risk death in your name.

--What a cliffhanger at the end!  I'm hoping that, given the circumstances, the other d'Angeline army can be an ally instead of a new enemy.  Even if it is d'Aiglemort, surely he'd have to turn against the Skaldi at this point!


  1. I love your Wizard of Oz thoughts in relation to Master of the Straits - I think it's spot on and now you've mentioned it I think it was actually floating around at the back of my head. It's perfect - I'm thinking of the disembodied head floating in the green smoke?? Too funny.
    I think I would probably like to live in Terra D'Ange - just because I like France and this sounds similar.
    Lynn :D

    1. I was imagining the water face saying, "Uh... pay no attention to that man on the island! I am the great and mighty Elder Brother!" :D!

      Really, the only thing that ruled out Terre d'Ange for me right now is the invasion! If they successfully fight them off, I think I agree.

  2. I think this swallowed my comment. It was a lovely, lengthy, very thoughtful comment.

    In short:

    I love the idea of Hyacinthe as some sort of Water Wizard of Oz.
    Ghisain was a dumbass to insult the queen's emissary.
    I definitely believe the Master of the Straights was looking for any excuse to snatch a replacement. I just hope the sailors got to eat that eel.

    1. I'm sorry your comment got eaten :(. I don't know what happened to it, I don't see it in my spam filter or anything.

      Aside from all my wandering around the idea that 'whore' should not be an insult since it's a reference to her extensively developed skill set, I do agree that he was a dumbass to insult her.

      I guess we never heard what happened to the eel. I hope it was tasty.