Welcome to part 4 of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart. Our host this week is once again Susan of Dab of Darkness, and her questions cover chapters 27-36. Keep in mind, therefore, that there will be spoilers up through chapter 36 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! Quite a lot happened in this weeks section, so I’m looking forward to discussing it with everyone!
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’m wondering if maybe they weren’t too hard on him since he swore to serve Naamah out of love. It wasn’t the exact motivation they had intended, but it’s not like he had some kind of disrespectful ulterior motive. He really just wanted to please the one he loved, and I think the order of Naamah has to be sympathetic to that. I am wondering if they gave him some counseling on the power of communication and making sure you’re true to yourself. Also, he didn’t really have to ask to be let out of his vow of service, since he did earn enough from Bouvarre to make his marque.
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?
I’m sad Guy is gone, but I think Joscelin is a great new addition to the household. He’s been trained since he was a kid (sort of like Phèdre would have been in the Night Court), but he’s young and inexperienced enough to be extremely uptight about his order. I’m wondering if the order sent him, at least in part, because they knew he would mature significantly from having to deal with the Delaunay household.
Of the three, I would say it would be hardest for me to follow Cassiel. I’m really not a very violent person, and I don’t think I would do well in weapons training. They are protectors, not aggressors, so I don’t have any ideological problem with the order. I just have no desire to ever be in a fight. I don’t think I would really enjoy paying homage to Naamah or Kushiel, either, though. Where is the angel of natural philosophy?
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?
Since everything that she has done up to this point was for Delaunay’s schemes (well, and to serve Naamah), I think it wouldn’t have made sense for her to balk from the first meeting. For the second, I don’t think I would have done it, if I were her. I can understand her feelings of having a debt, but she didn’t really betray him. She never even tried to coax information out of him, she just listened and reported back to Delaunay. He had always known she was going to do that. I think at least part of it might come down to her feeling that she used the service of Naamah for an unrelated purpose, and she had to make it right by having a meeting with him that carried no ulterior motive.
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?
Now we know some of Delaunay’s secrets, at least, so I have some maybe-true answers! Delaunay loved Isabel’s husband, and he also publicly accused her of murder. I imagine that’s hard to get over for her family, and I wonder if Barquiel at one point suspected Delaunay of Isabel’s murder. I think this was probably the best method, though it was dangerous. In addition to getting justice, he can start to move towards not being the enemy of the Duc and his family.
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?
There’s too much going on, so I don’t have any real coherent ideas! I guess Isidore’s problem is that soldiers don’t want to follow the one who betrayed their last leader to execution, and that seems pretty reasonable. I wonder if this is going to cause some problems with protecting the border, though. The whole bit with Ysandre has to refer to his promise to Rolande… maybe it was Rolande’s ring? All I got from the exchange right now is that maybe Ysandre is starting to take a more active role in politics.
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?
I’m not sure if that’s true or not for Phèdre. I think that she has some fondness for each of her patrons, though I’m not sure I would call it love. However, I don’t think Phèdre really has a lot of hate in her right now, so I can’t really see her despising them. I think she feels a little condescension towards some of their kinks, but so far she seems too good-natured about it to call it contempt or hatred. I really don’t think that’s true for human relationships, in general. I try my best to understand and accept people, especially the ones I love. The people I love might do things that annoy me sometimes, but I’m sure I have my share of annoying habits as well.
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?
That was an impressive night. Melisande had Phèdre so dazed that she was completely off her training, and didn’t really notice anything. I think the thing that most stood out was her using her safeword— and I’m glad Melisande respected it. I still think it’s weird that Melisande seemed to see that as a triumphant moment, but I’m glad Phèdre seems willing to use it. But on that safe word topic, could it be that Phèdre is developing feelings for Hyacinthe? That would be rough, since they are really not into the same things. Concerning completing her mark, I think Phèdre is pretty happy with her life as it is. I think she hopes to stay with Delaunay doing mostly the same things, but now as a more equal partner in his scheming.
—It was interesting that Phèdre was jealous of Alcuin. I didn’t think she really liked Delaunay in that way. I guess maybe she did, but was aware that their tastes were too different for them to ever work, even if he reciprocated her feelings. I’m wondering if that’s going to start to be a serious problem for Phèdre, that her heart loves people that are incompatible with her particular niche.
—On Delaunay’s past, what else is there? Apparently this part of the puzzle was not what Phèdre does not want to know. Now that she will have her marque, does that mean Alcuin will tell her the rest?
—It’s nice to see Alcuin and Joscelin getting along! He deserves a bit of happiness and peace, and I’m betting this peaceful period won’t last too long.