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.

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, readalong week No.4

Today is the fourth week in our readalong of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart.  Week four is being hosted by the lovely Susan at Dab of Darkness  The questions and answers for week No.4 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 27-36

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 like to think that Naamah knew that this wasn’t truly Alcuin’s real calling in life and that Alcuin would be forgiven.  After all people change their minds frequently during the course of their life so you can’t really hold it against Alcuin – plus, he chose this way because of love didn’t he?? So, it’s like he chose the wrong way but for what he thought of as the right reasons.

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? 

First impressions of Josceline – well, I like him, but this is a reread so I’m not totally sure those are my ‘real’ first impressions.  As to who I would serve – well, that’s a tough one in some respects.  Definitely not, for me, Kushiel, nope, no sirree – I’m just too much of a softie. In some ways I think Cassiel and in others Naamah – in some respects they’re very similar, in that they seem to have no choice over whom they serve?  I quite like the idea of serving Cassiel but maybe that’s because I want to be all badass and be all awesome with swords and such like!

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? 

Yes.  This is what Phedre does so I had no doubt she would go the first time.  Plus she wants to help Delauney.  The second time, well, again, this is what she is?  She went to him in order that he could punish her.  I don’t think she owes him a debt personally, if he can’t control his own mouth from giving away secrets then that’s his own fault, he knew that Phedre was Delauney’s ears and eyes so frankly it’s his own mistake.  But, Phedre is what she is.  Plus she was in a bit of a dark place at the time and needed the release.

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? 

To be honest I’m not sure I still grip all the nuances perfectly.  I think L’Enver is very dangerous and definitely not to be under estimated.  Bouvarre – well, he was definitely a bit of a so and so when you think about it. Even with his dealings with Alcuin – he wanted what he wanted and made promises but was a bit of turncoat resulting in Guy’s death and Alcuin’s injury.

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? 

A bit convenient and also difficult to say too much about as this is a reread. Whilst reading I did enjoy that Phedre ducked out of one tricky situation straight into another.  Frying pan : fire.

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 think it’s true for Phedre – she enjoys certain aspects – even when she’s not enjoying them they ultimately bring her pleasure.  I think all relationships are different – in some there is an equal balance and in others not.  That’s just the way it is.  But I wouldn’t say all human relationships are made up of love/despise elements.  I can see why Phedre would maybe think like that though because she finds pleasure and pain mixed together.

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? 

The thing that really stood out was that Melisande seemed to have contracted Phedre to show her off and make sure that everyone knew she wasn’t available! to anyone else including the Duc.  I clearly remembered the sheer gown and the gems and the fact that it was a factor in choosing the attire – not only for the aspect of it’s see-through nature but also the pain it would inflict when kneeling!  The other thing that came across was that although the pair spent an enjoyable time together Phedre ultimately awoke in a room by herself.  I don’t know why but that gave me pause for thought.  For me it shows the imbalance between the two.

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, readalong week No.3

Today is the third week in our readalong of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart.  Week three is being hosted by the lovely Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow.  The questions and answers for week No.3 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 me a comment – the details are here.

Chapters 19 – 26

1)  We get a lot of political intrigue to wade through this week, plus a couple of pretty big dramatic revelations, not least of which was the twist of fate for Prince Baudoin and his mother. What did you make of the trial, and what became of these two?

What really surprised me with the trial was the speed and ruthlessness.  No messing about at all.  You’re guilty, sentence: death: you have three days to choose!  Woah.  Plus father and daughter exiled too!  I confess, and this being on a reread, that I still don’t completely grasp all the political intrigue other than that where there are crowns and kingdoms political intrigue and court backstabbing seem to follow.

2)  On a rather different, much more personal note for the House of Delaunay was the drama that unfolded surrounding Alcuin (poor Guy!). What do you think might become of Alcuin now that he appears to be out of the game?

We all pretty much knew that Alcuin was unhappy with his lot and so this wasn’t a surprise.  I guess this frees him up to do more spy type work – he clearly expressed an interest in learning the sword and riding, etc, so he wants to be of further use to Delauney’s cause.  He’s a sad sort of character though isn’t he.  He makes me feel sorry for him with his strange brand of quiet sadness.

3)  As we’d suspected last week, Phedre’s refusal to use her signale gets her into some trouble with d’Essoms – but it also gets her the result that Anafiel had hoped for… Do you think she’ll be more careful from here or will this only make that addictive slope more slippery for her?

I don’t think she will be more careful because she seems to have met with success.  Therefore she’s going to be even more determined now to not use her signale.  I don’t really think that Phedre really understands at this stage that she is walking into trouble quite often.

4)  Speaking of Phedre and trouble, what do you make of the ‘relationship’ building between her and Melisande?

This is an unusual relationship – definitely not equal.  Melisande seems to play with people, in fact it almost feels like everyone she knows is being courted for a purpose.  She seems to know how she affects Phedre which is a little bit worrying because she always has the long game in mind.

I confess I read a little further this week than intended – quite by accident but also a happy accident as it means i’ve now become reacquainted with the Cassiline Brother!

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, readalong week No.2

Today is the second week in our readalong of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart – again, apologies for being late, this weekend was a bit hectic and on top of that I feel really miserably ill! Seriously, I won’t be late every week. Week two is being hosted by the lovely Allie at Tethyan Books The questions and answers for week No.2 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 me a comment – the details are here.

Chapters 9 – 18

1) In these chapters, Phèdre finally gets to have her own dedication ceremony.  Were you surprised by what they did with the dove? Also, do you think it is fair to ask people to make a life decision about serving Naamah at such a young age?  

Yes and no, put bluntly!  Well, I’ve read this before but I still had the horrible feeling that the dove was going to be sacrificed and was shocked again when it was released.  I can’t help think that it’s the opposite to what Phedre is actually doing – she’s giving the bird it’s freedom whilst tying herself to this way of life, of course, I don’t suppose she really has that much option in the matter.  The whole issue of being raised into this sort of life from such a young age sort of rankled with me a little bit and certainly to make that choice at the tender age of 16 is harsh.  Reading about it here it’s sort of painted over a little and you don’t really have the sense that it’s a bad life but in this day and age you would probably throw Delauney in prison for grooming young children for sex!  I don’t dislike Delauney at all, in fact quite the opposite, and I’m also conscious that Phedre’s life could have been very different and also a lot worse without his intervention, but, in spite of all his best intentions he has the care of two beautiful children and has brought them up to glean secrets from people who think they are little more than sexual objects.  Plus, they both adore Delauney and see him as their own personal hero so there’s very little chance that they would refuse his wishes.  They both know (or at least think they do) what Delauney is expecting of them and there’s always the threat that he could simply sell them elsewhere into something far worse – which does rather make them want to be pleasing.

2) Sex ed is definitely different in Terre d’Ange.  Do you think the Showing was useful for the teenagers? Do you think, at their age, you would have appreciated something like the book-learning they received in the art? 

Oh, I would have been mortified with embarrassment if I’d seen that ‘showing’ at their age – but I actually think it was useful for them – if only to show them that sex is enjoyable!  Not sure how much help it was to Aluin for that matter though.  At the end of the day – I love reading books but some things you can only read so much about before you really need to put into practice what you’ve been theorising over.  You can learn as much as you like but you’ll never know what it actually feels like, I suppose it’s a bit like cooking, you could read about how to cook a dish, even watch how to prepare it – but you wouldn’t know what it tasted like.

3) Hyacinthe has some neat theories about Delauney’s past.  What is your favorite theory? 

I definitely liked the theory that Delauney was in love. The whole story so far lends itself to that for me.

4) Phèdre seems to be making a name for herself as an anguissette, known for never giving the signale. Do you think she would ever actually choose to use the signale, even if she were in real danger? Do you think her inability to do so might get her into trouble?

She is very stubborn for sure!  If it was me I would just give in before the pain even started!  I’m just such a wimp and so it’s difficult, to an extent, for me to understand the whole mixing pain and pleasure – I think the most pain and pleasure I have ever suffered is being tickled, which i’m so ticklish that I hate, and yet it just makes me laugh out loud regardless.  I think Phedre definitely needs to think about where she draws the line though.  It kind of makes me thing that soon enough, someone down the line, is going to want to make her give in – like a battle of the wills.

5) Do you think Alcuin is enjoying his career as much as Phèdre, or do you think he has a different focus? Do you think their differing appeals and tastes will drive them apart?  

Somehow, no.  I think Phedre is much more of a natural in the life she has chosen.  She has an abundance of curiosity that will undoubtedly get her into trouble and yet she seems perfect in this role.  Alcuin seems more vulnerable somehow.  He clearly massively adores Delauney and it definitely feels like he would do anything for him – I just wonder though if this is the right choice for him – he would make a really good spy perhaps. I don’t really think their tastes will drive them apart.  I think they would suffer more in that respect if they were vying for the same sort of attention.  This way Delauney has two options and more coverage.

Extras:

I particularly liked the scene where Phedre chose Hyacinthe has her signale.  Not only because it came so naturally to her mind but also because for once she managed to get the shock element on Delauney which doesn’t really happen often.

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, readalong week No.1

Today is the start of a readalong of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart – sorry I’m a bit late but life conspired against me this weekend and I haven’t been near a book or a laptop until now.  Week one is being hosted by Susan at Dab of Darkness.  The questions and answers for week No.1 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 me a comment – the details are here.

Chapters 1-8

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

I must say that I didn’t really pick up on the similarities, which isn’t to say they weren’t there but I just didn’t pick up on them.

I really enjoy this sort of story style where we get a narrative looking back at the childhood years and in fact I much prefer it to having flashbacks.  This way just feels more natural.

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

Fortunately, even though I’ve read this book before, my memory is dreadful.  At this stage I’m going to say that Hyacinthe enjoys Phedre’s friendship and it’s as simple as that.  Of course he’s an astute little boy but I think he enjoys being with somebody who is not from his particular neck of the woods.  Somebody a bit different.

I don’t have a fortune telling story but now I really feel like I want one!  Oh well, I’ll just have to satisfy myself with everyone else’s’ stories.

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? 

I haven’t been to a masqued ball although I would love to.  I loved this part of the story so far, it puts me in mind of reading about such balls in historical novels set in Venice.  I loved all the themes and the way people were dressed.  I suppose what stood out for me were Phedre’s excitement to be a part of it all, Delaunay being in attendance and actually approaching her and the strange hints at political/royal maneouvering.

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

This is an interesting question – I think Delaunay’s secretive nature will possibly make Alcuin and Phedre even more desperate to find out what really went on in the past.  I think it will help to shape them into two incredibly inquisitive people.

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

Well, yes, I do think so although I think it could be a bit much trying to have the depth of knowledge that Phedre and Alcuin are being crammed with – that being said, they’re young and their minds are like sponges.  It does make you wonder though about how it might set them apart – if you’re always looking at a thing through different eyes trying to read into everything then surely you’re not as open to simple enjoyment.  It seems like the two are a little bit isolated in a way.

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