Sunday, May 10, 2015

Read-Along: Kushiel's Dart, Part 1

Welcome to the my discussion post for the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart! This  post will cover chapters 1-8, so all of that content is fair game for discussion.  I’ve never read Kushiel’s Dart before, so I’m not planning on having any spoilers from later in the book or the series. Our list of participants has been updated since my previous announcement post, and now includes:  

Also, I’ve been on vacation for the past two weeks, which is why my frequency of book reviews suddenly dropped off.  I will be back at home shortly, and my usual regular-ish schedule is expected to resume. And now, for the discussion questions:

1) Here we have the earliest days of Phèdre's life, and we have the story of Elua and his followers. Did you note any similarities between Phèdre'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 Phèdre looking back? 

I was a little more distracted by how the Elua story fit in with Christianity. Now that you mention it, though, they both started life unwanted.  I’m of two minds about the stories.  I find them interesting, but I also feel like they might have been more powerful if they were revealed more gradually as they became relevant to different parts of the story.  As it is, I’ll probably be referring to the wiki entry on the stories to remind myself of details—I’m afraid I was a little more attentive to Phèdre’s story than Elua’s so far.

2) Hyacinthe has become Phèdre's one true friend. Do you think she is the same for him? The dromonde, or fortune telling, fascinates Phèdre. Do you have a fortune telling story? 

I don’t think I really know enough about Hyacinthe yet to say for sure.  It definitely seems like Phèdre is important to him, but I don’t know how much that is just because she is beautiful and unusual (in that she is from a very different environment and upbringing).  Alternatively, Hyacinthe seems important to Phèdre because he is not beautiful (unlike everyone else she’s ever met) and unusual.  I don’t really have any fortune-telling stories. I prefer my life to be a surprise, so I doubt that is something I would ever seek out even if I believed in it!

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? 

It reminded me a bit of the welcoming of Durmstrang and Beauxbatons to the Hogwarts castle, with the way that each faction had their own act and style.  The masks also reminded me a bit of Carnevale di Venezia, though I have never been there while it was happening. I’ve never been to anything like that, but it sounds like it was beautiful! 

4) Anafiel Delaunay has many secrets. How do you think those secrets will shape Alcuin and Phèdre? 

Right now, he seems a little like Petyr Baelish to me, and I really don’t have any clear idea of what he wants to accomplish with Phèdre and Alcuin.  He seems to want to educate them, and to use them as distracting ornaments at drinking parties. Given what he has taught them so far, I don’t yet understand how Phèdre being an anguissette matters.  I feel quite certain that this will be addressed in the future.

5) Delaunay has a saying; All knowledge is worth having. Do you believe this is so? 

Well, yes and no.  In an academic sense, sure, all knowledge is worth having. However, as in my answer to the fortune-telling question, I think knowledge of the future could only make life less happy.  Also, I really don’t want to know everything about everyone.  Perhaps it would be different if I were scheming for advantage against everyone around me (I’m not), but there are things about even the people I love that I probably do not want or need to know.  Everyone should be allowed their secrets.  I suppose I would make a poor politician!

Other notes:

—Since I live in France, it was kind of fun to try to work out which regions of France corresponded to each of the fictional regions.  I suppose I’d be from Camlach, and my husband has ties to Eisande.

—Wrong culture, but I couldn’t help thinking of the Japanese yogurt-drink company whenever someone mentioned the drink ‘joie’:

—It’s nice that Terre d’Ange keeps the French tradition of adding excessive accent marks everywhere :).

—I’m curious about what the Night Court was like in the past, since Phèdre is commenting that the court of her youth was already well past its heyday.  Is it maybe kind of like Oiran, and the Night Court folk are becoming increasingly detached from the current-day culture, so that the pool of people who have the means and interest to be their patrons is becoming more and more constrained?


  1. I love the Harry Potter reference for the masque. Definitely different styles and tempos to the various houses, and later, the other groups that come to join the fun.

    I wouldn't want to know the future either, even if it was possible. I like the unknowns of future life as my choices today would surely be influenced by my knowledge of tomorrow. I would probably become lazier.

    I love studying the maps of Terre D'Ange and seeing what corresponds with the world we know. It will be interesting to read your remarks on such as we progress through the book.

    Haha! What a fun yogurt drink, all Cinderella-y.

    1. Ooh, other groups? Sounds like there's lots of fun ahead!

      I can't imagine fortune-telling giving me anything other than impatience (for good things) or dread (for bad things). Also, it would be awful if there was some great success in the future, but then by knowing it was coming, accidentally doing something to avert it (like being lazier).

  2. I loved your Harry Potter comparison--it summed up their entrances perfectly! :)

    1. I loved that series, so it was the first thing that sprang to mind :).

  3. I'm enjoying the style of writing so far - but, like you, the stories about Elua sort of passed me by a little - perhaps I'll also have to go and check out Wiki.
    I was also reminded of Venice by the masqued ball - and in fact also reminded a little of The Lies of Locke Lamora.
    Nice Harry Potter mention.
    Lynn :D

    1. There's actually a really thorough page on the mythology in Wikipedia. I haven't read too much of it now, because I'm trying to avoid spoilers :). Also, yay for Gentleman Bastards! I have described Lies of Locke Lamora to my husband as "Fantasy Venice", so I get what you mean. I can't wait for the Thorn of Emberlain!

  4. You found real-world Joie! Awesome! :D It looks pretty tasty.

    I got a Petyr Baelish vibe from Delaunay as well, it makes me *really* disinclined to trust him.

    1. I've never had it before, but I agree it looks good. Less alcoholic than Terre d'Ange joie, I think :). I hope we get to learn more about Delauney soon, and that he is not quite as creepy as Petyr.

  5. I like how Carey has woven the backstory into the first few chapters without it necessarily feeling like a huge info-dump. I like the world building and am intrigued by Phedre and those she meets.

    I have a feeling that some people are playing a long game and she may not yet be aware of it or what her specific role is. I look forward to finding out.

    This is Michael from Nashville Book Worm BTW. It won't let me comment under that identity (it's probably something I'm doing wrong).

    1. Hi Michael, thanks for your comment! I think there's a wordpress option in the comments, or maybe OpenID would work?

      I'm also really looking forward to finding out how Phèdre fits into this world, and what kind of a situation she's coming into with Anafiel.