Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, readalong week No.9

Today is the ninth week in our readalong of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart.  This week Emma at Emmamaree.com is hosting.  The questions and answers for week No.9 are below.  If you haven’t read this book already be aware of spoilers in the following text.  If you have read and want to jump in with your own answers then please do so.  If you want to join in with the readalong then leave a comment – the details are here.

This week chapters 74 – 83 are covered below:

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?

Firstly – I must say that I was so sad for Hyacinthe with this week’s chapters – and almost a little bit angry!  Why does everything happen to him??  Anyway, yes, my emotions aside. I’d choose the cutthroat life on Night’s Doorstep.  I can’t deny that the powers and ‘almost’ immortality of the island seem appealing – but the strange lonely and almost claustrophobic life there seem to outweigh any benefits in my mind.  I would go crazy.  I would sooner have a life of ups and downs, shorter life span and no powers but filled with variety and all manner of people.

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 must admit that I had a moment whilst reading these chapters where I actually felt annoyed with Phedre and felt she came across not only as a little vain but frankly fickle.  At the end of the day, beauty is skin deep and yet Phedre is so proud of it and not just proud of it but remarking upon other people and the fact that it’s obvious that they have no blood of the Gods running through their veins.  It is the only time I’ve felt like that about her and it was only a fleeting moment.  I guess having divine blood in your veins makes you feel a little superior at the end of the day.  Still, I would have preferred Phedre to not come across as so judgemental at that point.  It’s not a character trait I enjoyed.  But, maybe I’m being a bit harsh on her there.  She’s a young woman and I guess beauty does draw the attention after all.

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 stands 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?

It was unique – she made her own choice freely and I thought that was really significant – the only thing that does make me wonder sometimes, and perhaps this goes back to Phedre having a certain measure of arrogance – what if Hyacinthe didn’t want to spend the night with her!!  What if he just thought of her as a friend?? Anyway, that aside – it was all very emotional.  Like I said above.  I felt so badly for Hyachine – it’s like he’s been put in prison for 800 years!  But, I think he’s going to completely reinvent this role to be honest.  At first I was really gutted for him – then I remembered who it was and thought – within a couple of months he’ll probably have people flocking to him!  Plus, he did make reference to using his time to find out how he can be released from this role so I kind of feel hopeful for the future.

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? 

I felt like it was a significant moment – both in the way others see Phedre and the way she sees herself.  Clearly everyone is starting to think differently about her and clearly she has much more to offer than she or anybody else originally envisaged.  It was a good moment because it shows that people think highly enough of her to defend her.  The one thing that has always puzzled me about the story is the way that certain characters bandy about the word ‘whore’ in a clearly derogatory fashion – and yet the whole ethos of the people is to love how they will?  If they really believe in their own way of life and the freedom to love where they will then surely the idea of calling people whore is a bit odd.  I suppose it’s an easy insult to throw around.

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 Terra d’Ange. If you were part of the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, which house would 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.)

I would have undoubtedly been brought up in Alyssum – eyes averted and all about the modesty.  Thinking of the way I am now I would say that I would fall into House Orchis which is all about humour and finding the joy in things.  That definitely sums up the way I feel and my personality.

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?

This is a tough question.  One thing I know for sure – I probably wouldn’t want to be somewhere too hot so the Persion inspired world would not be for me.  I’m used to a cooler (and damper) climate after all.  Part of me thinks I could live the Skaldi way of life (it’s cold) – but then I think not, this would be just too harsh and tough and also a little bit in the dark ages in terms of women and the way they’re treated.  Alba kind of appeals in the way that it’s similar to where I am now – although I wouldn’t mind something with a slightly better climate, you have to hand it to them in that the women are treated and respected as equals and also the Tsingano way of life appeals in terms of a life on the road, travelling and seeing things –  but, again, some of their ways and traditions really don’t appeal to me.  I guess I’m going to go with Terra D’Ange – which has a French feel to it.  They have a good way of life really – what’s not to like?

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Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, readalong week No.8

Today is the eighth week in our readalong of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart.  This week I am hosting.  A lot took part this week and there were uplifting and bittersweet moments. The questions and answers for week No.8 are below.  If you haven’t read this book already be aware of spoilers in the following text.  If you have read and want to jump in with your own answers then please do so.  If you want to join in with the readalong then leave a comment – the details are here.

This week chapters 64-73 are covered below:

1.  We finally go sailing and everything seems to be going so well that we were lulled temporarily into a false sense of security!  Sailors are a superstitious bunch, throwing coins to the Lord of the Deep, for example.  What did you make of the Master of the Straits?  Any similarity to other myths or legends?

I loved this part of the journey and I admit that the part with the Master of the Straits made my jaw drop.  This is a reread for me but I had forgotten that part completely.  The Master of the Straits is a bit scary and he certainly knows how to drum up a storm.  He puts me in mind of Poseidon to be honest, controlling the waves like that.  It was strange the way he was calmed by music – music to calm the raging beast eh? I suppose the God of the Straits doesn’t get to see much so he presumably welcomes anything new!  I do wonder though why the MofS is so adamant about people not crossing his waters?

2. Hyacinthe plays a much larger role in this instalment and has come into his own, plus given a new title – ‘Waking Dreamer’.  His travels so far have been very bitter sweet and you really do feel for him.  Bearing that in mind what did you make of the strange dream that Breidaia had where she saw Hyachinthe on an island – this was skimmed over a little but did it give you pause for thought.  Do you have any ideas of what’s in store for our Waking Dreamer?

I can remember some of what happens next to be honest so I won’t elaborate too much on that.  You kind of feel for Hyachinthe, he doesn’t seem to have a smooth run of it.  In the last few chapters he was briefly accepted by his people only then to be rejected again and to leave them.  In this instalment he finally meets a woman, with a similar gift – and look what happens!  Phedre is supposed to be the one with the unlucky name, with bad luck following her around – I begin to wonder what Hyachinthe’s name must mean then!  His strange ability with the Dromonde is certainly coming into it’s own isn’t it?  It’s interesting that Breidaia had a vision for him – it made me wonder whether he can actually have visions that relate to himself?  I also thought it was interesting to learn that his mother taught him the Dromonde because she had a vision of him and realised he would need it!

3. You have to hand it to Ysandre for choosing Phedre as Ambassador.  It seems her strange talents come in very useful indeed.  What did you make of her tactics and powers of persuasion? 

It’s intriguing that a large portion of this section seems to rely on Phedre’s sexual prowess – whether that is to gain the access beyond a border or persuade twin rulers to go to war for a cause that isn’t really theirs.  I liked that she sung them out of trouble when the Master of the Straits appeared and it certainly gives meaning to the phrase about all knowledge being power.  If she hadn’t taken the time to learn the Skaldi women’s songs who knows what would have happened.  I also thought it was amusing watching the twins bicker over her!  Although it did kind of stop me momentarily in that – well, what would’ve happened if she hadn’t wanted either of them??

4. We finally meet Drustan he at first seems like an unlikely match for Ysandre and yet they both seem to have a shared vision.  Can they make it work do you think?  They have so many differences even if they do succeed in battle?

I like to think that they will make it work – of course they have a massive confrontation to overcome first.  It was interesting to see Drustan’s feelings, even though he tried to hide them, about Ysandre.  He also seems to have a romantic vision in that respect much like she does herself.  It must be so strange to be the subjects of a prophecy – or to think you are!  It’s almost as though it makes the two of them even more romantically inclined or opens up their eyes to the possibility of something that they may not have otherwise ever thought of.

5. Can we discuss the Dalriada and the Cruithne – do they put you in mind of any particular races?  What do you make of them??  

Both are great additions to the book.  I’m thinking that the Dalriada and Cruithne are based on the Irish and Scottish – or at least that’s what I’m taking from this and that the language is Gaelic or that it’s similar to.  I love their recklessness and passion, they seem to fight with a wild abandon.  Just before the fighting where Drustan was riding up and down talking to everyone, great leadership and motivation.  I was  also intrigued by the Dalraida going into battle on chariots.

6. I’m puzzled about Joscelin – he’s always so severe on himself, particularly after the battle and Moiread’s death.  I wonder why he blames himself so much – and I also wonder how he’s coping with watching Phedre’s actions – in particular her closeness to Hyacinthe.

In these chapters it felt like Joscelin had been relegated to a lesser role for a spell and we were having more of a focus on Hyachinthe.  I was surprised by how severe he was on himself at Moiread’s death, of course it was really bad but she was out there fighting, I don’t think anybody was really expecting him to protect everybody, some people will defend themselves after all.  I do feel kind of sorry for him watching Phedre, she’s being herself after all, but it must be difficult to watch!

7. Finally, we’re working ourselves up for the grand finale – do you have any predictions as to how this will all pan out?

I sort of threw this in as a teaser because I’ve already read this – what we do know is that there is going to be lots of action and suspense!

I love that Phedre had to knight the crew and they’ve become known as Phedre’s Boys.

 Other participants:

Allie at Tethyan Books
Lauren at Violin in a Void
Celine at Nyx Book Reviews
Jenn at Morrison Girl
Igret at Igret’s Corner
Michael at Nashville Book Worm
Kheya at Not Food Porn
Emma at EmmaMaree.com
Nancy at FaeStruck’s Reviews & More
Kelly at Orange Pekoe Reviews
James at James T. Witherspoon
Susan at Dab of Darkness

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, readalong week No.7

Today is the seventh week in our readalong of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart.  Week seven is being hosted by Susan at Dab of Darkness.  The questions and answers for week No.7 are below.  If you haven’t read this book already be aware of spoilers in the following text.  If you have read and want to jump in with your own answers then please do so.  If you want to join in with the readalong then leave a comment – the details are here.

Chapters 55-63 are covered below:

1) What do you think of the over all connection between the Casseline Brotherhood and the Yeshuites? Are you happy with where the shaggy pony ended up?

Mmm, I must admit that I hadn’t really picked up on this when I read – other than the family were great for helping Phedre and Joscelin.  I liked the family, the way they interacted and the way they wanted to do even more than they already had.  Clearly the connection is strong and respectful and, yes, I loved that the pony found a good home.  It made me smile.

2) Phedre & Hyacinthe have a happy reunion. What do you make of Joscelin’s reaction? Do you miss Hyacinthe’s mother?

Well, I think Joscelin still doesn’t know what to think about everything if I’m being honest.  He clearly wants to be with Phedre and I suppose as a reader it looks obvious the way they feel but you can’t blame them both for feeling conflicted.  There is bound to be a bit of jealousy don’t you think?  I do miss Hyacinthe’s mum – she only had a small role but she always made an impact.

3) Yet another happy reunion occurs with Thelesis de Mornay, the King’s Poet, who gets them in to see the Dauphine, Ysandre.  Do you think there was another way to seek her audience? Such an intense meeting! What stood out the most for you?

No, I think that the way they sought the audience was effective to be honest.  They were in a very precarious position and getting about, and, more to the point given what they’ve been through, trusting people, wasn’t easy. The thing that struck me the most with the meeting was that Ysandre really didn’t want to believe them – not because she ‘didn’t want to believe them’ but because she really didn’t want it to be true.  I think that really brought home the full impact of what is really going to happen – and it also underlined how young she is to have such a weight placed on her shoulders and yet she’s stepping up to it admirably.

4) Phedre makes a trip to the temple of Kushiel to make atonement. Do you agree that she had things to atone for?

To be honest – no, I don’t think she had anything to atone for.  I can understand that she almost feels guilt in a sense – but she is what she is.  Maybe she still hasn’t completely come to terms with her true self yet?  I think that the way she behaved in captivity helped to save both her and Joscelin.  she never posed a threat.  She appeared meek and subservient and in that way she was allowed much more freedom.

5) After King Ganelon’s death, at the hunting lodge we learn some more politics. What stood out for you? We learned more about the Picti and the prophesy. Should the fate of Terre D’Ange be resting, even partially, on the validity of a prophesy of love and union?

Maybe I’m a bit soft but i actually liked this aspect of the story a lot. it has a feeling of hope somehow.  Whether it will pan out remains to be seen, and, yes, it feels a little like skating on thin ice, but it’s one of those feel good elements to a story.

6) The Casseline Prefect forbids Joscelin from serving Phedre as protector as she travels to the Pictish lands. Joscelin had to make a hard choice: did he make the right one?

Yes, he made the right choice.  He undertook to protect Phedre and they’ve been through so much together that I just can’t see him giving her up to somebody else’s protection now.  The only thing that did occur to me reading that scene was that to an extent I wished that Phedre had spoken up for Joscelin – by which I mean I wish that she had said he was important to her, or, if she was going to take the mission she would want him to accompany her.

7) Hyacinthe comes up with the plan to get them to the coast and meet with Royal Admiral Quintilius Rousse. Do you like the fake IDs? Do you think they will make it unscathed?

I love this part of the story with Hyacinthe becoming more involved.  I think he’s come up with a great idea, it’s something I absolutely didn’t see coming at all and so hopefully nobody else will!  I think they will encounter trouble along the way but that’s to be expected in a way.

8) Hyacinthe meets his grandfather, Manoj, for the first time. Happy? Sad? How do you feel about how his mother was cast out?

I felt so sorry for Hyacinthe’s mum for what happened – and also for Hyacinthe because let’s not forget that he was also affected and separated from his own people.  I really enjoyed seeing Hyacinthe being accepted during these scenes, but at the end of the day even though these are his people he’s never been a part of their lives and he has other loyalties now.  It did make me feel sad for her and had a bitter sweet feeling.

That’s it for me this week – looking forward to picking it back up tbh.  Sorry for the lateness and if this is a bit brief – I’ve been away all weekend but wanted to get this up.

Other participants:

Allie at Tethyan Books
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures (our host this week_
Lauren at Violin in a Void
Celine at Nyx Book Reviews
Jenn at Morrison Girl
Igret at Igret’s Corner
Michael at Nashville Book Worm
Kheya at Not Food Porn
Emma at EmmaMaree.com
Nancy at FaeStruck’s Reviews & More
Kelly at Orange Pekoe Reviews
James at James T. Witherspoon
Susan at Dab of Darkness

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, readalong week No.6

Today is the sixth week in our readalong of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart.  Week five is being hosted by Grace at Books Without Any Pictures.  The questions and answers for week No.6 are below.  If you haven’t read this book already be aware of spoilers in the following text.  If you have read and want to jump in with your own answers then please do so.  If you want to join in with the readalong then leave a comment – the details are here.

Chapters 46-54 are covered below:

One of the questions from last week dealt with initial impressions of Waldemar Selig’s steading.  Now that we’ve finally met him, what are your thoughts about him?  Do you think he suspects that Phedre knows anything, and will he continue to play a role in the story?

I think he will definitely continue to play a role.  My thoughts about Waldemar – well, I think he’s nobody’s fool, I don’t think Pherdre will be entrancing him with her wiles, or, more to the point, I think he would have no hesitation in killing her or anybody else who gets in his way, In fact, although he might not be as polished and sophisticated he’s very much like Melisande – both ruthlessly ambitious and won’t hesitate to do whatever they need to do in pursuit of their own goals.

What did you think of the visit to Lodur?  Do you think it will impact how Phedre thinks of herself?

This was really interesting in fact I was totally intrigued by that visit and Lodur himself. Really quite fascinating.  His comment about Phedre being a weapon was insightful – a dart can be a weapon after all and if you think about the dart as a weapon is something where you have to be a bit more cunning and also be a little bit closer to your target – which kind of describes Phedre.  Maybe she doesn’t see herself as a weapon but she’s been trained by Delauney after all and he always had a game plan.

Phedre and Joscelin have both gone through some harrowing experiences in the past few chapters.  How do you think it will change them going forward?

They’ve spent a lot of time together and been through thick and thin – I think this will give them a very strong bond moving forward.  Their experiences are not something you can shrug off after all.  On top of that they’ve got a little bit past their ‘pride and prejudice’ to see each other in a better light.

If you were in Phedre or Joscelin’s place, would you have acted the same way in crafting your mastermind escape plan?  What are your thoughts on how it worked out?

I thought it was a good plan, especially considering the short notice Phedre had to come up with it.  It was definitely risky and I was tense reading it but it was good.  Hiding Joscelin in plain sight dressed as one of the Skaldic, nobody would be looking for it or expecting it – and the timing, I don’t think they would have found escape so easy with a full camp and especially under the close scrutiny of Waldemar.  So, yeah, I have to hand it to Phedre, it was risky but it paid off and even though making a get away during winter isn’t ideal it’s also tough on anybody trying to catch up with you.

We’re finally getting to observe a budding romance between Phedre and Joscelin.  How do you see this playing out?  What do you think of it?

Well, it was really very touching wasn’t it.  And then they sort of blew it off, or at least Joscelin did – I think it will take a little bit more time before either of them would be comfortable with any more.  Even Phedre admits it was more akin to a dream.

Other participants:

Allie at Tethyan Books
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures (our host this week_
Lauren at Violin in a Void
Celine at Nyx Book Reviews
Jenn at Morrison Girl
Igret at Igret’s Corner
Michael at Nashville Book Worm
Kheya at Not Food Porn
Emma at EmmaMaree.com
Nancy at FaeStruck’s Reviews & More
Kelly at Orange Pekoe Reviews
James at James T. Witherspoon
Susan at Dab of Darkness

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, readalong week No.5

Today is the fifth week in our readalong of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart.  Week five is being hosted by Igret’s Corner.  The questions and answers for week No.5 are below.  If you haven’t read this book already be aware of spoilers in the following text.  If you have read and want to jump in with your own answers then please do so.  If you want to join in with the readalong then leave a comment – the details are here.

Chapters 37 – 45

1) In this section we see Melisande betraying Delaunay and Phedre. Did you see this coming? Why or why not? Also, what do you think Melisande’s highest loyalty is to?

Well, I never really trusted Melisande to be honest although I think her betrayal was still a shock.  More shocking for me was Delaunay and Alcuin’s deaths – in fact I still on a reread am shocked by that particular scene and I knew it was coming.  The first time I read this I was gobsmacked by their deaths – I really didn’t see it coming.  As to who Melisande is most loyal to – I can really say only herself!  I don’t think she’s a character that you could ever really trust because at the end of the day she’ll do exactly what she needs to do to suit her own needs first.  She’s a great character though – you have to admit.

2) We see Phedre sold into slavery by Melisande and D’Anglemort. How is slavery different than being a bond servant, how is it the same?

I’m struggling to find the best answer for this as the two do seem to be so similar. I think the biggest difference that I can come up with is that a bond servant does seem to be something more of a contract that a person can work towards becoming free of.  Okay, it might take a long time but there is a light at the end of the tunnel?  A slave – well, I suppose a slave could try and seek freedom or even try and accumulate money to try and buy their freedom but there’s no obligation on the person who owns the slave to let them do so?

3) Hedwig’s treatment of Phedre is not what Phedre expected. What does her behavior tell us about Skaldi women? 

I liked Hedwig and the way she treated Phedre.  I think the Skaldi women live in a harsh world and frankly a man’s world where they don’t really have a great deal of choice about a number of things but they do stand up for themselves and I like that.  Hedwig was determined that Phedre would be treated well and set the example for everyone else.  It’s not like anything was going to change the fact that Phedre had become Gunter’s property, or his actions, but at least she was treated with some decency.

4) Joslin initially hates Phedre for not attempting to run, yet ultimately chooses to stay with her. What does this say about Joscelin and his views of Cassiel? 

I was a bit surprised at the strength of feeling that Joscelin had for Phedre because frankly I think she was the more sensible of the two in the way she was behaving.  It’s not like they had a real chance of escaping at the time.  I think his views of Cassiel were solid at this point though as I think he was still doing what he thought was right.

5) Phedre says that Guntersville raid reminded her that she was with the enemy. Do you think that prior to the raid she had developed stokholm syndrom? What about life in the stedding made her complacent?

I don’t think Phedre developed Stokholm syndrome because I wouldn’t say she really liked Gunter – more she put up with what was going on, in fact she deeply resented the fact that she didn’t have a choice in becoming his sex slave and that really highlighted for me the difference with her former situation where she at least felt, in spite of being a bond servant, that she had a good measure of control.  She, and Joscelin, did become a little complacent, but I guess they had an end plan in sight and in the meantime they weren’t being mistreated.

6) Joscelin breaks his vows during the holmgang.  Do you think he should have or not? What do you think the repercussions will be?

I think it was something he needed to do in order to survive as I think his situation was becoming worse and the other warriors were starting to lower their opinion of him.  Plus, he was already in a bit of a tenuous situation because of all the female attention he was getting.  This way, he stood up for himself and in the bargain seemed to get rid of a member of the clan who didn’t seem to be very well liked.  It was a bit revealing that after the challenge everyone started drinking and laughing while the body of the other warrior was still growing cold on the ground – clearly no love lost there.

7) We see Waldemar Selig’s steading for the first time, what are your impressions of it?

It seems to be well organised and well controlled which does seem out of character for the Skaldic people.  It tells you something of this new leader that he’s able to control such a rowdy bunch of characters – not to mention keeping all the different clans together in one place and still maintaining some semblance of order.

Apologies for the late post everyone.

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