Sunday, May 31, 2015

Read-Along: Kushiel's Dart Part 4

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.

Other Things:
—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.


  1. 1. - my thoughts also. He had the right motivations after all.
    2. - I would like Joscelin's training! Not because I'm violent or aggressive or anything - I just like the sound of it and after all it's all for protection :D
    3. - He only has himself to blame really - he ran off at the mouth after all.
    6. - I think you're right about Phedre, she does seem to have a certain amount of fondness for her patrons. In fact she has an amazing attitude to the way of life overall.
    7. - I think it was really interesting that the only time Phedre used her safe word was when she was with Melisande (who seemed to be determined to make her use it!) We debated previously about how stubborn Phedre was about not using her word but it makes you wonder just how far Melisande would have gone to ensure that she did!
    Lynn :D

    1. 2 - It's for protection-- but that means people will be trying to kill you and your charges!
      1,3 - I agree completely.
      6 - Yeah, she really seems suited to the life she's chosen. I think despise is a strong word, and I don't really think Phèdre has it in her just yet.
      7 - Yeah, would she have actually used the flechette there? It seems like that would be physically dangerous! In general, though, I think that if the goal of your partner is to force you to safeword-- that's kind of a red flag that they're not a very good partner.

  2. I'm not sure Joscelin's order was particularly focused on giving Joscelin an assignment that matured him. Delaunay seems to think they were giving him an inexperienced warder as a bit of an insult.

    I wonder if Ysandre's grandfather, the king, had a bit of the wind knocked out of his sails by the treason committed by Lyonnette and her son Baudoin. Since they are family and he had to execute them, he might be ready for the next generation (Ysandre) to step up.

    Phedre has some feelings for Hyacinthe, since they have been friends for so long. At this point in the book, I don't think she is serious for anyone other than perhaps Delaunay, if he were willing.

    I'm with Phedre - why would Delaunay keep the poetry a secret when everyone Delaunay's age and older knows all about it (and probably a quarter of them have a secret copy)? There's another piece of the puzzle. Plus we have the little fortune telling by Hyacinthe's mom to think on - about how Phedre will rue the day she figures it all out.

    1. I can see that side of it. I would hope that the Cassiline brotherhood cares more for its members than it does for snubbing minor politicians. Maybe I'm just being naïve :).

      I hadn't thought of it that way, but it makes sense. It must hurt to have to execute your family.

      Phedre doesn't seem too upset now, so I was thinking that there had to be something else!