Read-Along – Kushiel’s Dart – Part 10

Kushiel's_DartHello everybody. Sorry I’m a day late – I just didn’t have time to read much last week! This is the final post for the Kushiel’s Dart Read-along – MY first read-along.

I loved reading this with all the other bloggers. This made me read a book that I might have never read on my own. It made me finish the book (in a somewhat timely manner), when I probably would have given the book up after the first hundred pages or so had I been reading alone. I also loved seeing everybody’s ideas about the subjects that the story deals with. What I’m trying to say here is that I had a blast with this read-along and I can’t wait to do another one.

This week Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow is hosting. Head on over there to join in the conversation.

I’ll be discussing events from chapter 84 – the end of the book below.

THERE WILL BE SPOILERS

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?

Well, in a big way, d’Aiglemort caused all this destruction to begin with, so his redemption here feels like a drop in the bucket to me. However, Phedre’s description of the scene with d’Aiglemort’s army crashing into the Skaldi, and d’Aiglemort taking 17 wounds before downing Selig is just so fricking awesome that I almost want to forgive the guy.

In the end, he’s just helping to clean up his own mess – something he wouldn’t have ever done if he hadn’t been caught and forced to. So, despite his valiant final days, he’s still scum to me.

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?

I feel like their union is going to turn out just fine. They seem to truly love eachother. However their two nations may not work out as well together. There could be some strife there, which Ysandre and Drustan both being partial to their own people and culture.

Honestly, no, I didn’t think the marriage would ever happen. I thought something would occur to stop it. I love how it was used as kind of a breath of relief after all this war.

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 completely surprised that she escaped. I thought that she was going to be put to death, and I wondered what form of execution she would choose. I have no idea who might have aided her – I still can’t keep track of most of the names in the book.

Part of me thinks that the three Phedre’s Boys who follow her at the end of the book might be up to something. Maybe not all of them, but at least one. It’s strange to me that they are so loyal to her. Joscelin laughs it off saying he knows why – I’m guessing he thinks that they are in love with her. This seems to be trouble to me. Unrequited love can easily create a monster.

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 think she will return to some form of her old life. I think she will return to serving Nammah by sleeping with clients again – of her own choosing this time. I don’t think I can judge whether it’s the right choice or not. I mean, if it was me, I’d say just be happy with your little kingdom, your perfect boyfriend, and you easy life.

But she’s an anguisette. She desires suffering. So she’s not going to be happy in that life. When you’re only pleased when you’re in pain, how can you ever truly be happy? It’s a weird conundrum.

Final Thoughts

Phedre sneaking away from Joscelin and through the Skaldi camp was one of my favorite parts of the whole story. I love seeing Phedre putting other skills to use beside her abilities in the bedroom. I wish there had been more of this type of stuff throughout the book.

The terminus move that Joscelin almost performs – where he would have killed Phedre and himself simultaneously – is interesting, but it almost seems a little blasphemous. Like the Cassiel brother just gives up protecting his target and kills her instead. It seems contrary to many of their other beliefs. I guess that’s why it’s so rarely performed.

Selig tortures Phedre by stripping the flesh from her back. I wonder how that effected her marque. It seems like it would have distorted the image in some way, unless Selig intentionally avoided the tattoo.

The side story about Joscelin’s father and brother feels a bit forced to me, and out of place. It is one part of the story that is not fleshed out very well, and when they spot him during the combat I don’t feel the emotion I think I’m intended to, because it doesn’t feel like it’s been earned.

We see the Skaldi pony again! I’m glad his story is resolved here. I feel like that’s the only reason the Yeshuites appear at the end – so Carey wouldn’t have to listen to people asking “What happened to the pony!?”

Short Review

There’s so many good things to say about this book. It has some truly amazing sequences that will be ingrained in my memory forever (Joscelin’s fight in the snow, Phedre watching the battle from the arrow slit, everything with the Master of Straits). The world-building is fantastic. I envy Carey’s ability to tie everything together so well. The plot is such an epic story that seems to completely change every few chapters. It’s just incredible writing.

There’s a few problems I have with the book – It’s a little overly long, with some boring sequences needlessly stretched, there’s too many similar names without much to identify the characters, and the plot gets very convoluted at times.

However, overall I enjoyed the book much more than I ever expected to, and cant wait to read the next in the series.

(More) Final Thoughts

The SF/F Readalong group is reading Full Fathom Five next. Since I have not read the previous two books in the series, I wont be able to participate in this one. Instead, I’m going to take the time to finish up a couple other books that I’ve left hanging. I still haven’t quite finished The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, and Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer.

There’s already discussion about doing the next Kushiel book (Kushiel’s Chosen) soon. I will definitely participate in that.

Thanks again, everybody, for reading!

Other Bloggers:

Allie at Tethyan Books

Read-Along – Kushiel’s Dart – Part 9

Kushiel's_Dart

Hello everybody. I hope everybody had a great weekend. It’s American Independence Day this weekend, so I was out of town, enjoying time with family – cookouts, swimming pools, fireworks, and Terminator Genisys. It was a fun weekend, but hey let’s get on with this portion of Kushiel’s Dart.

Welcome back to the Read-Along! HERE is the schedule, if you’d like to keep up and read along with everybody else.

For this section, Emma at EmmaMaree.com is hosting, so be sure to head over there and join in the conversation.

For this section, we’ll be covering Chapters 73- 84. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.

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?

Oh, I would definitely not choose to stay and be isolated my whole life. I would go crazy in a week not having that social interaction, and I’m not really a very social person overall – definitely not like Hyacinthe. I imagine it must be torture for him.

I do understand his sacrifice however. He felt like this was their only way out of the situation. So, I was wrong when I said that Hyacinthe would die, last week. Instead, this is how Carey is removing him from the story. It’s interesting, because I’m sure that Phedre will see him again in some way, maybe in the sequels to this book.

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 don’t know. I start typing one response, then change my mind. I could definitely see it both ways. Aside from the Master of Straits, there really hasn’t been much actual fantasy in the story. Then they sort of show that the Master of Straits is just a man. I believe they said that the image of the face in the water was just in the viewers mind. He has some sort of psychic power where he can speak into each of their minds, where they’re all hearing their own language coming from his mouth.

It’s interesting to me, because it is magic, but it’s not inhuman magic. It’s not Godly magic.

Back to the God blood in the veins – I’m not convinced that the Gods are real, and not human inventions, but I could be easily convinced by a bit more evidence. I haven’t made up my mind on the subject.

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?

Well, she didn’t really describe her first encounter with him, or her night with Joscelin all that much either. This is something that has me confused about this book – I’m really not sure who it’s target is. It doesn’t feel like an erotica book to me, because there are sometimes hundreds of pages between sexual encounters, and much of the sex is not detailed at all. Then you look at the first two-hundred pages or so, and it is very detailed sex – which tends to turn off a big chunk of fantasy readers.

It kind of makes me think of Magic Mike. I haven’t seen the movie, or it’s sequels, but I’ve heard discussions about it saying that men tend to like the movie more than women. Women go to see it expecting a stripper movie where they’re going to see lots of dancing and naked bodies, but while there are some scenes like that, a big majority of the movie is about the camaraderie between the guys and their personal lives.

I’m not saying anything bad about the book or the movie, but it does feel a little misleading. Almost as if the entire story was written, then afterwards the author (or maybe the publisher) was like “This book is about sex, we should really add some detailed sexual encounters in it.”  Just my scrambled thoughts.

Oh, back to the question. How do I feel about Hyacinthe. I’m glad that this happened instead of him dying, like I expected. I think he will spend much of his time watching other people through that scrying pool. I think that next time we see him (and I do think we’ll see him again, in one of the sequels), he will be a much different person. I think the solitude could drive him mad.

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 think it’s a fitting sign. She’s not a whore, and none of her followers view her in this way at all. I actually had that reaction when I read that line as well. I was all “Oh no you didn’t!” That word has a lot of power and instills an immediate gut-reaction, especially when said about somebody you love.

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 think I’d fit in with the Eglantine house or the Orchis house. Eglantine, because I am always doing something creative – either writing, painting, or building something. “The house itself is repository of obscure lore and learning” – that’s me. I’m always researching some bit of pointless trivia. Last week I spent days researching glow-worms.

I would also fit in Orchis however, because I tend to not take things very seriously. Nothing makes me feel better than to make somebody laugh.

I’ve thought a lot over the past few days about how much I’ve changed since I was younger. I look back at many of my actions with a huge amount of guilt and shame. I’m not sure what house I would have fit in then – maybe Jasmine, or even Mandrake, but I’ve definitely changed since then.

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?

I don’t think I would truly fit in anywhere in this world. Maybe as the owner of a small shop, possibly a bookstore, on the Night’s Doorstep. I would probably be a hermit of sorts, writing reams of stories that wouldn’t be found until after my death, then I would gain a great notoriety among the d’Angelines.

Where would you like to be most, out of everywhere, and where would you absolutely *hate* to be stuck in?

Anywhere where I would have to fight to survive. I’d say Skaldia, but a piece of me actually likes the idea of living in the tents with a small camp in the wilds. However, I couldn’t kill anybody else to survive and I would hate living in fear for my life.

Final Thoughts

I love “Phedre’s Boys”. The entire concept behind them is just great. They sing about how they, like the anguisette, enjoy getting beat and punished and it just fits so perfectly. I love it. I completely believe these guys would follow Phedre to the ends of the Earth.

To me, Phedre was a bit annoying in the chapters at the island with the Master of Straits. She says things like “it’s beautiful – and I know beautiful because I grew up in the Night’s Court.” It’s just so conceited. Then AGAIN talking about how ugly everybody else is compared to d’Angelines. And finally with the “I’ve figured out the secret riddle and I’m not telling you” stuff. Makes me want to slap her, but she’d like it.

Next week is the final section of this story. I’m looking forward to seeing how it’s going to end. I hope that most of these threads get wrapped up here and not carried over to the next book, because I don’t know when I would be able to read the sequels.

Hope you’ll join me next week!

Other Bloggers:

Allie at Tethyan Books

Read-Along – Kushiel’s Dart – Part 8

Kushiel's_DartSo, I’m a day late. Blame Batman: Arkham Knight. 

Welcome back to the Read-Along! HERE is the schedule, if you’d like to keep up and read along with everybody else.

For this section, Lynn from Lynn’s Book Blog is hosting, so be sure to head over there and join in the conversation.

For this section, we’ll be covering Chapters 64 – 73. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.

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?

Well it reminded me of Poseidon the most I guess.  I’m sure there’s other myths that he bears similarities to, but I can’t think of any offhand. I had mixed feelings on this encounter. On one hand, I thought it felt a little out of place with the rest of the story. It’s really the only point, thus far, that we have seen something so clearly magical. It made what felt like a low-fantasy story up to that point, change to a high-fantasy story, at least for that scene.

On the other hand, I thought the scene was so well-written, intense, and just cool that I accepted it.

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 didn’t pay much attention to that dream while I was reading, but now it seems to symbolize that he will always be alone. We see that he’s not accepted by the Tsingano now, and he’s never truly felt at home in d’Angeline. I’m guessing that is where the dream is going, that he will never really fit in anywhere, but instead be by himself throughout his life.

However, from a writer’s perspective, Hyacinthe’s arc seems to have peaked. We’ve resolved all of his conflicts introduced thus far (that I can think of), it’s an opportune time to kill him and propel Phedre’s storyline forward.

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?

I thought some of this was pretty strange, but maybe that’s just my own personal conservatism. She seems to solve every problem by sleeping with somebody. It almost feels a little demeaning, like she has no other strengths. She gets them past the blockade by sleeping with what’s-his-name. She solves the problem with the twins by sleeping with both of them. She makes Hyacinthe feel a bit better about Moiread’s death by sleeping with him. I know that sex is a huge focus of this story, but sometimes it feels a little forced almost. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about it.

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?

Sure I think they can make it work. They are both focused on helping their nations succeed, and both seem like good people. I think they’ll get along well. Whether they get a chance to do so may be a different story, because there’s so much standing in their way. I’m guessing that either way, that will probably be a story for another book.

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??

I think they are pretty obviously associated with Scotland and Gaelic culture. They call themselves the Cullach Gorrym, which sounds very Gaelic to me, and paint their faces with blue paint. They seem like an interesting people. I love how they treat a warmarch like a big party. I love how Drustan seems to know everybody’s name and has words for each of them before the battle starts. It all feels very Braveheart.

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.

I feel bad for him because he’s obviously in love with Phedre, but has to endure her sleeping with every other guy (and some girls) in the book. It’s got to be tough. I think his self-blame is based around the Casseline order. They are perfectionists who make so many impossible oaths that I think they can’t help but put these huge pressures on themselves. I’ve known people like that personally who consider every thing that goes bad with anybody around them as a personal failure. It’s both because of their huge amount of compassion for everybody, plus maybe a bit of ego in the idea that they alone can prevent the suffering of everybody, ever.

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

Big war, Hyacinthe dies, Phedre kills Melisande, good guys win.

I honestly have no idea what is going to happen. Every chapter seems to divert my expectations in some way or another. Naamah could come down at this point and put a stop to the entire war by having sex with everybody and I wouldn’t question it.

Final Thoughts

There is a point where Hyacinthe mentions that he has seen a vision that he is not sharing. I’m thinking that he has seen his own death. He tells Phedre and Quintilus that they will one day return to the sea, but doesn’t mention his own path. There’s a lot of foreshadowing in this section to the idea that Hyacinthe is going to die.

One note that I thought of while reading is how Phedre repeatedly refers to d’Angelines as the most beautiful of all the races. I wonder if the other races share that viewpoint? It sounds very condescending and mildly racist at times.

The battle scene here is again, just amazing. Everything feels very intense, without getting bogged down in the minute blow-by-blow. Just very well done. I’ve read books by R.A. Salvatore and Joe Abercrombie, who are both known for writing great combat scenes, and while I love them both I honestly think Carey may have them beat here. Maybe because they are few and far between, but each one of her fight scenes feels extremely powerful and just beautiful.

There’s also a scene where Phedre knights twenty or so sailors and we see how much these men revere Phedre, as Ysandre’s ambassador. It’s interesting that she has this kind of political power now, considering where she comes from. I wonder where that will eventually lead.

Thanks for joining me! Leave me some comments and I’ll see you next week! Just two weeks left of this book, holy crap!

Other Bloggers:

Allie at Tethyan Books

Read-Along – Kushiel’s Dart – Part 7

Kushiel's_Dart

Hi everybody! Welcome back to the Read-along and the first time I’ve made the post on the day I’m supposed to YAY!

HERE is the schedule, if you’d like to keep up and read along with everybody else.

For this section, Susan over at Dab of Darkness is hosting, so head over there and join in the discussion.

For this section, we’ll be covering chapters 55-63. There will be SPOILERS.

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?

I don’t think I fully understood this connection. The Yeshuites reminded me of Hacidic Jews, because of the description of their hair. If I’m correct, then they have similar beliefs to the Casseline, but differ on a few things. I don’t recall enough about this scene to really discuss the differences. The shaggy pony stayed with them. I’m glad he’s going to have a nice home now. No more wild treks through the snow for Mr. Pony. Time to retire to the life of Yeshuite luxury. I’m still sad that he’s no longer in the story. At least he fared better than Bill in Fellowship of the Ring.

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

Joscelin didn’t react as strongly as I would have thought. I’m sure he has some pretty strong emotions through this, as I think that he loves Phedre more than he cares to admit, and is probably a bit jealous of her relationship to Hyacinthe.

I didn’t really miss Hyacinthe’s mother until we got a bit further in this section and read more about his mother’s history. Then I missed her. I felt so bad for her after learning what she struggled through.

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?

When this reunion happened, I honestly couldn’t remember who Thelesis de Mornay was. I still don’t recall what part she played in the earlier story. I’m sure if there was another way to seek the Dauphine’s audience, they would have done so. They put a lot of trust in Thelesis here. I was hoping that trust would not be betrayed, and fortunately it wasn’t.

I think what stood out for me the most was how reasonable the Dauphine was about the whole thing. She actually listened to reason and listened to facts. Sure she didn’t want to believe at first because she was scared of the truth, but she did eventually believe everything. I was super happy about this, because I feel like the alternative would have been very cliche.

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

Well she did kill a guy. I’m guessing that is what she’s atoning for. I can’t think of any other reason that she would have to atone. I’m sure she feels very bad about having to kill the Beardless however. Sure she was put in that position where she had to kill or be killed, but yes I think that she did need to atone for that, if only for her own mindset.

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?

Oh my God, I don’t remember any of this political stuff at all. I was so bored through this section. I’ll use this space to talk about this section and how I feel that it dragged to a screeching halt after the high-speed action of the last section. I was not a fan of it at all. After racing through the extremely interesting bit with the Skaldi, I feel like Carey spends an inordinate amount of time discussing very uninteresting things here. Obviously that opinion is my own, and some people may find this section extremely informative and thought-provoking, but I was just waiting for the story to move on again.

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?

I think so. He’s already given up most of his Casseline vows at this point, and I think that he sees that keeping those vows are not always the right thing to do. He’s developing his own personal philosophy instead of blindly following the Casseline’s.

He feels like Phedre is his to protect, with or without the Prefects approval. That vow is one he has never betrayed, and he refuses to do so now. Plus he’s like totally in love with 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 zoned out through the plan a bit. I don’t really remember their fake IDs. No, I don’t think they’ll make it unscathed. I hope not anyways. I’m ready for some action.

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

I loved this reunion. I loved how accepting the Tjingano were of Hyacinthe, and I love his grandfather’s reaction when he finds out that Hyacinthe is his grandson. I thought this reunion was very happy and it was my favorite part of this week’s entire section.

The story about Hyacinthe’s mother, on the other hand, was  extremely sad. I feel bad, because we are just learning about these hardships she faced and the unfair circumstances thrown upon her after she has died. I think Phedre probably feels much the same way. I’m sure she looks back at Hyacinthe’s mother in a completely new light. I know I do. The way she was cast out was completely unfair. I don’t fully understand all the Tsingano laws, but it seems that a woman’s virginity is a prized possession and without it, she is almost worthless in this society. It’s really weird to me.

Final Thoughts

I’m sure you can tell that I wasn’t completely enamored with this section of the story. While the previous section seemed to change the entire story every chapter, moving very quickly from one danger to the next, this section was extremely slow, deliberating over every issue.

There was a line that where Phedre tells us that “I will not detail the conversation that followed, for it was lengthy and complicated.”  – I laughed out loud because that’s how I felt about the previous three chapters!

After Phedre and the rest leave the city, the story picks up again, with the travelling and the Tsingano and then Melisande shows up! When I saw that, I was chanting in my head “Shank her! SHANK HER IN THE FACE!” Phedre doesn’t, unfortunately, and instead has sexy feelings about her. Hrm.

Anyways, I’m looking forward to the next section, which should be pretty interesting. Join me then, and leave me some feedback! I love feedback!

Other bloggers:

Allie at Tethyan Books
Kheya at Not Food Porn

Read-Along – Kushiel’s Dart – Part 6

Kushiel's_Dart

My opinion of this book has changed so much over the last couple sections. At first I wasn’t very into it. The political machinations were going over my head and I was comparing it to Game of Thrones and Fifty Shades of Grey.

But now I’m saying – This book is brilliant. The writing here is amazing. Every single chapter seems to flip the entire story upside down. Let’s get to the questions, or I’ll just sit here and gush over this story all day.

HERE is the schedule, if you’d like to keep up and read along with everybody else.

For this section, Grace at Books Without Any Pictures is hosting, so head over there and join in the discussion.

Chapters 46-54 are covered below. There will be SPOILERS.

1) 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?

Waldemar is not what I initially expected at all. I thought he was going to be a bit of a blowhard and a manipulator. I didn’t think that he would actually possess all the ability that he was thought to.

At the beginning of this section, he kind of reminded me of the Orangutan in The Jungle Book – wanting to rise above his brethren and be a real man, a learned man. I don’t think he suspects that Phedre knows anything. After the initial scouting party that Joscelin takes care of, we don’t see any more of his men hunting for her. I think he has accepted that she has escaped and he probably assumes that she will die in the cold wilderness.

I think he will have a continuing role in the story. I’m assuming he will continue his attack as planned, and we will see him again when he raids the city.

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

Lodur is such a strange man. He’s part wizened grandfather, and part creepy uncle. I’m not sure what to think of him. Phedre mentions that she doesn’t ever see him again after this scene, so I guess we wont get any more information about him.

Yeah I guess it will change how Phedre thinks of herself. Seeing herself as a weapon of Kushiel. I’m not sure what difference that will make, but I’m sure it had an impact.

3) 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?

Phedre has become more accustomed to violence and killing. She asks Joscelin to kill a man, she almost assassinates Waldemar, then she kills the Beardless Skaldi with her dagger. She’s been driven to this violence, and as she moves forward it is going to come easier to her.

Joscelin in much the same way has broken vow after vow to the point where he doesn’t have much that holds him to Casseline at all. Each vow he breaks makes it easier to break the next one. I’m not sure what this is going to mean for this character, but I’m interested to find out.

4) 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’m SHOCKED that it worked as well as it did. I don’t think I would have acted the same way, no. For one, I thought that the Skaldi were significantly bigger, so having Joscelin dress like a Skaldi would have never occurred to me. Second, when did Joscelin get these amazing acting skills? It seems to come rather naturally to him – this lying and deception. I would not have expected that at all, and it actually makes me mistrust him a bit.

Then they are able to travel through the wild without getting caught or dying from the environment. I seriously thought that Joscelin might die in that fight with the Skaldi hunters. That section was just so tense because I just knew that their plan wouldn’t work… but then it somehow did.

5) 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?

I was surprised how easily Joscelin gave up his celibacy in that cave, and how little Carey actually describes the scene. It just happens, with no real elaboration, giving it that almost dreamlike quality that Phedre describes, where you can almost convince yourself that it didn’t happen at all.

I think that Joscelin will become more and more possessive over Phedre as the story goes forward. He is obviously falling hard for her. I assume that Phedre will not go along with that, however and this will cause some conflict between them. I’m also getting this itching feeling that Joscelin will not survive this book.

More thoughts

Oh my god I can’t believe how much story is in this book. It’s crazy how many big scenes are just summed up with a couple sentences. With many other writers, this section alone would have been an ENTIRE book. I feel like I’ve read a whole series at this point and I’m only halfway through a single book. I am blown away by how much the story and my expectations change from chapter to chapter.

And holy crap that fight scene. When this book began, I never expected that I would be reading something like that. It was amazing – seriously one of the most tense, descriptive, and well-written battles that I have ever read. Joscelin fighting off the Skaldi in the snowy wind, while Phedre comes to terms with killing a man, then following that up by blocking a spear and just holy crap it was good.

I was surprised at how much Norse mythology is here as well, what with Odhinn and Freyja. I wasn’t expecting real-world pantheons as I’ve never heard of Elua or Kushiel or any of the others mentioned.

It’s amazing how much Carey can make me care for a pony who doesn’t even warrant a name, but I’m telling you that if that pony dies I’m going to be SAD.

And with this, I am pretty much caught up with the read-along. I should have the following sections posted on time according to the schedule. YAY!

Allie at Tethyan Books
Kheya at Not Food Porn

Read-Along – Kushiel’s Dart – Part 5

This wKushiel's_Dartas easily my favorite section of this story so far. It’s really picking up and there’s so much tension in these chapters that I’m seriously worried about both of these characters. Let’s get into the discussion.

HERE is the schedule, if you’d like to keep up and read along with everybody else.

For this section, Igret’s Corner is hosting.

Chapters 27-36 are covered below. There will be SPOILERS.

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?

I did see it coming, but not to this extent. I didn’t imagine how much things would change in this section of the book. It’s actually strange to look back that 50 pages ago and think that it’s only been THAT long since Delaunay was alive and Phedre was working for him. This section with her living among the Skaldi feels like such a long time. Delaunay is a lifetime ago.

I did think that Melisande was going to betray them. She’s been the closest thing to a villain in the story up to this point, so it wasn’t a surprise that she turned on them. I think her highest loyalty is to herself, of course. I’m not sure what exactly her ultimate goals are, but she’s obviously a very motivated, ambitious, person who is willing to do anything to achieve those goals.

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?

The big difference is the lack of consent. When she was a bond servant she always had a say in who her clients were and what they would be doing together. She had the signale. Now she can scream “Hyacinthe!” all she wants, but it will do no good, save provide a chuckle from the Skaldi. It’s definitely a much worse position to be in.

Luckily, Gunther isn’t an entirely heartless person and treats her well for the most part.

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

Well, we see that Skaldi women don’t really have any official power in the steading, but they wield a bit of control over the men. They are strong and self-reliant, though they are ultimately below the men. Maybe this gives the women a sort of empathy to the slaves, as they can see themselves in that position as well. So Hedwig tries to protect Phedre as much as possible.

4) Joscelin 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?

Hrm. I’m not really sure what this says about him. He felt that Phedre was a traitor, because she chose to go along with the Skaldi without a fight. He felt like they could have escaped had she done her part and given him his sword. I’m not sure I completely disagree with her. Had I been in her position, I think I would have taken the chance and given Joscelin his sword, as he possesses almost super-heroic abilities in combat.

His views are very black and white. You are either a good guy or a bad guy. When Phedre chose to work with the bad guys, she became one of them as well. Phedre has to talk him down and explain the grays to him. I guess that tells us something about Cassiel. That he sees a strict line in the sand separating him from the enemies.

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 Stockholm syndrome? What about life in the stedding made her complacent?

I think she definitely has a bit of Stockholm syndrome. Honestly, while I was reading, I was going through the same thought process she was. I was like, “Hey this Gunther guy is not that bad really. He treats her well. He is protective of her. He seems to actually care about her comfort, always trying to make sure she stays warm.” Then when the raid happens, I’m reminded that these people are bandits, barbarians, and killers.

I think that comfort made her complacent. She felt protected by Gunther, despite her imprisonment by him. He’s this big figure that shields her from the rest of the steading. He’s almost become a replacement for Delaunay in her mind. Or maybe just another client that she both loves and despises.

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

Did he break his vows? He says that his vows say he should not pull his sword unless he means to kill. After Gunther’s talk, I think he does mean to kill Evard. I definitely think that he should have killed Evard. This chapter was probably my favorite of the book so far. It cemented my love for Joscelin. How he can be so noble, so classy, and still be a complete badass. If he hadn’t killed Evard, the bully would have been shamed in front of the entire steading and he would have sought revenge in some way. It could have been very bad. Yet Joscelin still gave him the opportunity to back down.

I don’t think there will be any repercussions for this, honestly, especially since it seems Joscelin will soon leave this steading. If anything, I think the fight brought him some respect from the rest of the thanes, and showed that he deserved to be treated better than he had been.

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

Waldemar seems to be a bit of a false prophet of sorts. He has all these ridiculous stories surrounding him, tall tales to make him more of a God than a man. All this ceremony surrounds him to rise him above the other Skaldi. I think that the actual man will fall far short of these tales.

I’m thinking that bad things are in store for Phedre and Joscelin. This whole ceremony of cleaning Phedre up and dressing her in fine garments feels like preparation for a sacrifice. I’m not sure what’s going to happen in the next chapter, but I can’t imagine it’s going to be pleasant for our main characters. I think she will look back on Gunther’s steading with fond memories.

My thoughts

The whole bit with Phedre among the Skaldi reminded me a lot of Dany among the Dothroki in Game of Thrones. For a while I was wondering if Phedre might somehow gain power over Gunther and gain some measure of control over the Skaldi. It doesn’t seem like that will happen now.

I am very scared for both Phedre and Joscelin right now. I know something bad is coming. I’m so drawn in by this part of the story that I just want to read more now.

Thanks for reading and leaving comments!

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Allie at Tethyan Books
Kheya at Not Food Porn