Welcome to the conclusion of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart! Our host this week is Lisa of Over the Effing Rainbow, and her questions cover chapters 84 to the end of the book. The whole book is now fair game for spoilers below, so watch out if you haven’t read it yet! I’m glad I finally read Kushiel’s Dart, and I’m planning to carry on with the next novel in a read-along that will be announced soon. Also, I’ll review this one in my usual style soon, probably in a week or two. All in all, I have to say that things ended up happier than I expected!
1. Isidore d'Aiglemort comes back into play for the battle against the Skaldi, and Phedre takes a huge risk to turn him from an enemy back into an ally - to a point, at least. And d'Aiglemort's one demand is to have Waldemar Selig left to himself on the battlefield... What were your thoughts on Terre d'Ange's unlikely hero, when all the dust settled?
I am surprised that I actually predicted this in the last post. I think it makes sense that he would take his only remaining chance to be remembered as a hero instead of a villain. That particular demand, though, put me in the mind of a trope I don't really enjoy, where a battle is decided by dramatic single combat between two heroes. In this case, it does kind of make sense, given that the Skaldi army had no real cohesion outside of their obedience to Selig.
2. After the war, we get a wedding! Ysandre and Drustan survive to unite their people after all. Did you think they'd both get this far, and do you have any thoughts on how this union (political, romantic, or both) might turn out?
They seem to really love each other! I don’t know if their differences might cause a problem, once they’re out of their honeymoon period. At the very least, I think they are both devoted to their homelands, and determined to be the best rulers possible. I think that they will help each other in this, as they have already. My one sadness is that Eamonn wasn't there to celebrate their wedding.
3. Melisande is finally discovered, and brought before the Queen to be punished for her treason. Though, of course it's not as simple as that with her... Were you surprised at all when she escaped? And do you have any ideas about who might have aided her?
I was very surprised and excited that she was caught and sentenced to death. When she escaped it was more of a disappointment to realize that things were going to follow the more expected route, with Melisande as a long-running villain. I don’t think I know enough about the minor characters in the novel to say anything about who might have helped her. For all I know, she’s bedazzled one of Ysandre’s ladies-in-waiting as she did Phèdre, and I don’t even know those characters by name!
4. Ysandre and Drustan aren't the only ones to get their happy ending - well, up to a point, anyway. Phedre and Joscelin try on the quiet country life, and it goes well for a while... Once again Phedre is unable to forget, or be forgotten by, Melisande - wherever she is. Do you think Phedre will return to her old life, as we leave her contemplating? If so, is her choice the right one?
I thought it was kind of surprising to think that Phèdre, with the tastes we know she has, would settle down with a completely vanilla guy. Not to mention, one who is probably going to remain celibate. I think sex is far too important to Phèdre for her to be satisfied in this situation for the long term, even if she does enjoy the peace and the chance to pursue her studies. I think she will make the right choice, to return to the capital and begin again as her own master. The game is going to be much more difficult this time, though, since I doubt she will be underestimated by the court any longer.
—I still don’t completely get Melisande’s hold on Phèdre. I believe it is entirely that she is very beautiful and skilled with S&M. But then, all d’Angeline are very beautiful, and Phèdre didn’t have nearly as big a pull to the Duc de Morbhan, who we’re told was very good.
—I don’t know if Joscelin is going to be able to handle being a chaste companion in love with a Servant of Naamah. He has a really tough position.
—I’m relieved that we didn’t lose as many known characters as I’d feared, in the battle. Even Joscelin’s family were alright. I really didn’t expect things to come out so well, and I’m glad they did!
—I guess now we know the limit of Phèdre’s ability to take joy from pain. I think being tortured in earnest is not something anyone can enjoy. I’m so glad Joscelin came after her.
—Now everything is ready for Hyacinthe to become Master of the Straits… time to open the waters and start having Master-of-the-Straits-Island parties? I hope so :).
—I was really touched that Delaunay had written in Phèdre and Alcuin as his heirs. It shows that he really did love and care for them, far beyond their value as tools for his machinations. I imagine that it must have been something he had set in place shortly before his death, since Phèdre had only just declared that she wanted to remain in his household after earning her marque.