Kushiel's Dart – Part I

Heldig and a very good book
Heldig and a very good book

Hello everyone! Welcome to the read along of Jacqueline Carey‘s Kushiel’s Dart. You can find the schedule HERE. Anyone and everyone is welcome to join in. We also have a Goodreads group for SF/F read alongs. Folks are always welcome to join us.

This week, I am your host. If you post, leave a link in the comments so we can all visit you. Folks are also most welcome to answer any and all questions in the comments and join in the conversation.

Chapters 1-8 are covered below. If you haven’t read the book, there will be spoilers for these chapters.

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?

The few similarities between Elua’s stories and Phedre are not something I had thought on until I had read the book a few times. As with all great persons of history or religion, I think most people can relate to some of the stories or situations surrounding that person. Phedre’s parents gave her up and she has to find her own way. She is already gathering friends and useful acquaintances.

I really like starting with Phedre’s childhood. Here we have this alternative France and I found this an excellent way to get steeped in the mystery and culture of Terre D’ange without feeling like we have a big info dump.

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?

Ah, Hyacinthe. He’s such an interesting and colorful character. When I first read this, I felt that their friendship started off on an equal basis. Two kids stealing pies in the market for a laugh and a treat. Later, in this section, I can see how Hyacinthe might gain more from the relationship than Phedre. She has eyes and ears in the Court of Night Blooming Flowers. Some of that info might be useful for him. I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil how things go for these two. He is one of the most interesting characters and I look forward to reading what others think of him.

Alas, I don’t have a particular fortune telling story. I grew up with a mix of Christian Science and ouija boards, dream readings, palm readings, crystal healings, and tarot cards. Today, I can’t say I believe in any of it, but it makes for fun fiction reading.

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?

Well, I would love to try a glass of joie. Mead will have to suffice. I love masques and how they can have a freeing effect on the wearer and those around the person. Amongst all that beauty and frivolity, we had Delaunay looking a bit serious here and there. So man connections can be made at such an event.

Alas, I have never been to such a party. Though I have many a midwinter’s eve curled up with this book to vicariously experience such a fete.

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

I think if things had gone as we have seen them so far, that Alcuin and Phedre would have rich, full lives that also happen to include collecting info for Delaunay. Eventually, the two might grow bored with sitting on the side lines, so Delaunay could take on more pupils for Alcuin and Phedre to train. While I thought all this was a possibility the first time I read it, alas, such was just a pretty fantasy.

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

Ah, such a tough question! I am inquisitive by nature and often feel that secrets do more damage than good. I am also a scientist, so I love digging into the minutiae. But all knowledge? Well, that means you would have to to know everyone’s dirty secrets and that might make it very hard to have friends. If you pursue the knowledge, there is a cost, and occasionally a great prize to be had.

Other Tidbits

Ever since I read this book, I can’t help but check people’s eyes for Kushiel’s Dart.

I absolutely love the language of this book the lush descriptions, and the not quite courtly manner of Phedre, even in her inner most thoughts.

Just for fun, does anyone have a Terre D’Ange related tattoo? I’m pretty tempted to get one.

I am listening to the audio version of this book and it is excellent.

Participating Bloggers:

Celine at Nyx Book Reviews
Jenn at Morrison Girl
Kheya at Not Food Porn
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

33 thoughts on “Kushiel's Dart – Part I”

  1. I like world building that works within the story or is done creatively. So far, Carey has impressed with the ability to world-build without it feeling like everything is coming to a halt for an info-dump. And I really like how we’re following Phedre’s story and seeing how she’ll eventually become in this book and the trilogy (I assume because this is my first time reading this one!)

    1. Yes, the world building in these books is excellent. I love watching this world come into view as Phedre explores it. We know things as she does.

  2. I have a friend who has a Kushiel’s Dart tattoo. She went with me to the masquerade that I mentioned in my post one year. 🙂

    The first time I read the book, I felt like there was actually a lot of info dumping, between getting the history of Terra D’Ange and learning about each of the different houses, etc. This time around it felt much more natural, and I was able to start connecting the dots between Phedre’s story (and all of the books in general) and the story of Elua.

    My post is up at http://bookswithoutanypictures.com/2015/05/10/kushiels-dart-readalong-week-1/

    1. No,, I haven’t met anyone with a Kushiel’s Dart. And I would also first consider an eye injury or perhaps a simple blown blood vessel that could be the result of a bad shaking or high blood pressure. Still if those were ruled out I wouldn’t hesitate to ask them if they know about anguisettes. 😉

  3. (1) Even though this is my second time through, I did not notice similarities between Phedre’s and Elua’s stories. Although, I may consider that Elua was a wanderer with really no place to be and Phedre also does not appear to fit in anywhere.
    I also liked starting off with Phedre’s childhood. Learning about her this way (rather than in parts throughout the book) allows me to fully imagine her and connect with her as a character.
    (2) Phedre does appear to become Hyacinthe’s one true friend as well. She is one of the few, if not only, person he does not have to pay to get information from and appears to miss her when she is not around (he references that Deluanay took her away from him). I also find the dromonde to be fascinating, but I do not have a fortune telling story myself.
    (3) I enjoyed hearing about each of the houses chosen attire. It added imagery to earch house for me, which I thouroughly enjoy. I have never been at such a fete but I would absolutely love to. After I first read this book, I dreamed of hosting my own Midwinter Masque.
    (4) I will refrain from answering this question as I have already read this book once and do not wish to accidentally spoil anything!
    (5) Only if you use it right and can accept the consequences. For me, I would say no… Knowledge can lead to pain.

    Since it’s Mother’s Day, I just wanted to discuss Phedre’s mother. I had mixed feelings about her and was wondering what other’s thought of her as a mother figure.

    1. On Phedre’s mother – on one hand I felt for her, but on the other, it seemed rather selfish to sell her child like that. Though maybe she thought that Phedre was better off without her… The character is rather ambiguous because we never get her point of view

      1. I would have loved her point of view. She seemed at once both glad and fearful/loathe to give her up. I’m also curious if she thinks that her new child won’t be “flawed”.

    2. The Midwinter Masque really added character to each of the Houses, like you say. I would love to attend your masque, should you ever hold one!

      Phedre’s parents in general give me much to think about. Much later in the series, we learn a key point about birth control in Terre D’Ange. So, at some point Phedre’s mother did wish for a child. However, it’s clear from Phedre’s recollections that her parents were more into their own pleasures, then being a family. With that said, Phedre’s mom does pick a dowayne and House she is familiar with and could be reasonably certain that Phedre would be safe, if not loved.

      1. I think it is interesting. Her mother did realize in some way she could not care for her and left her with people who could provide her with an education and a future, if not a loving family. You only really get it from Phedre’s perspective so it is hard to tell how difficult the decision was for her parents. Parents often try to keep that struggle from children so Phedre’s older self may not have had a good idea of what actually went through her mother’s mind. I think that it has to be such a difficult decision to give up a child upon realizing that for whatever reason you cannot be the parent the child needs.

  4. Fantastic questions this week, Susan. Your answer to question four makes me a bit scared – I too kind of imagined the three of them living happily together. Now I’m waiting for tragedy to strike…

    Thank you for hosting, and here are my answers: Readalong Week One

  5. I actually have several tattoos inspired by the Kushiel series including my own briar rose marque and the phrase “Love as thou wilt”. I plan on adding “all knowledge is worth having” soon.

  6. I’m really enjoying the writing style to be honest – I think because this is a second reading I’m a little more chilled and not racing to finish every chapter so feel I can actually appreciate the style.
    All that knowledge would definitely be a burden – it’s difficult keeping all those little secrets!
    Lynn 😀

    1. I love the lush language of this book. I studied several languages in highschool and college and that is am aspect I have enjoyed through the entire series.

    1. There’s eye tattoos for the white part of the eyeball, but not for the iris. However once it becomes possible, I am sure we will see a few Kushiel Darts.

  7. I’ll answer 1 and 5.

    I think that this is a great opening. There is sooooo much information when you get to the meat of the story that an opening that is less driven by mass amounts of information you need to remember to understand the plot and more by understanding the emotions and history of the main character is very important. Also, it gives a strong understanding of the Universe of the book and Carey’s writing style upfront which is important for understanding and reading the rest of the books. I love the Universe she creates. And I love the continual nods to history and religion.

    As for all knowledge is worth having, I’m going to have to agree. I don’t think this quote is someone seeking to be omniscient as much as the understanding that all information effects everyone at all times and knowing information means you are more likely to be able to predict and/or influence the course of events in your own life or in the case of the book the course of nations. Obviously there is a burden and some major downsides to having that information and I think the entire first book if not the entire first trilogy explores this. I’d like everyone maybe to come back at the end and see it again from how having knowledge or not having it plays out over the course of the book.

    1. Exactly! The opening to this book is not only important for understanding Phedre later, but also sets the stage for later books in the series.

      That would be fun to see how people’s answers to Q5 shift by the end of the book. Since this is a reread for me, I had to think back to my young days before I read this book and how I pursued knowledge, versus what I know today, both about this story and also my personal life.

  8. I’ve been wanting to participate in these read-alongs for some time. I’m a week behind, but I posted my thoughts on my blog here: (https://jameswitherspoon.wordpress.com/2015/05/23/kushiels-dart-read-along-part-1/)

    I think my opinion differs from most of the other readers. I’m not a big fan of this opening. It feels like an info-dump to me, and I felt my eyes glazing over when reading about the histories and geography of this place. I do like the actual story so far, and got much more into the story once Phedre is taken to live with Delaunay.

    I’m trying to get caught up as quick as I can so I’ll be able to join in these conversations.

    1. Welcome! And you are not alone in feeling that the opening is a little heavy in info dumps. Personally, I love it, but if you check out the other blogs, you will see there was some variety in the response to the first 100 pages.

      I’ll get you on the weekly email list. Glad to have you on board!

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