Kushiel's Dart – Part II

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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, Allie from Tethyan Books is your host. Pop over there and leave a link to your post 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 9-18 are covered below. If you haven’t read the book, there will be spoilers for these chapters.

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?

The first time I read this book, I was a little worried for the dove. After all, animal sacrifice has been around for a long time and is not unheard of in epic fantasy fiction. So I was quite pleased when it was more of a catch and release situation.

Many cultures and religions require children to make such a life long decision at an early age. As an example, consider the Catholic religion and how early a child can have their dedication ceremony. Most folks who go through such a ceremony still turn out to be OK people.

With that said, I still think it is unfair to ask a kid or teen to make such a sincere, life-long dedication (to the Catholic church, or Naamah, or some other religion/philosophy) at such a young age. After all, few of us know much about life at such an age, even if we believed differently then. For this book, the dedication ceremony is supported by the culture and religion and is not out of place.

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?

I love the sex ed in this book. I really wish our society, or at least my parents, had been as open minded and educated when I was a teenager. I especially like the Showing as it shows sex to be an act of joy, beauty, love, and respect. Honesty, I got most of my sex ed as a teen from the Benny Hill show(which my parents found quite amusing and now I wonder why), which is none of those things.

I definitely would have appreciated 2 years of book learning on the subject. Sex ed in the US public school systems is mostly pictures of diseased genitals and abstinence as the only form of birth control. There was no instruction on the mechanics of the act, and definitely no conversation on what a beautiful, joyful thing it can be.

Luckily, today’s kids have a plethora of sex ed available, like Laci Green.

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

Well, with Delaunay, I always lean towards the romantic theories. He strikes me as a man who loves deeply, even if he has to hide those feelings. In this book and later in the series, we learn a bit more about Delaunay’s past. But for Delaunay’s back story, you may have to check out the anthology Unfettered in which a short story by Jacqueline Carey is included.

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?

When I first read this book, I had never heard of a signale, or safe word. So I totally expected her to use it on her first assignation. However, she didn’t, nor did she use it with the pincer fanatic, nor with the riding crop lady. This speaks to Phedre’s stubbornness. Later in the book, we learn that which yields is not weak.

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?

Ah. Alcuin! In many ways, even though he is slightly older than Phedre, he is so much younger in the ways of love. As Phedre noted, he did not grow up in one of the Houses and so was ignorant of so much that Phedre took for granted. Also, I think he feels he has a great debt towards Delaunay for rescuing him as a boy. At first, I don’t think he enjoyed the assignations as much. However, his sex ed instructor Cecile did borrow him for a night and introduce him to an experienced lady that left him dreamy eyed and dopey for a day or two.

Phedre is super special, being Kushiel’s chosen. She is almost always going to be in a class of her own when it comes to bedroom play. So I don’t think this will drive Alcuin and Phedre apart. After all, Alcuin and much of Terre D’Ange are totally accepting of her sexual preferences.

Other Tidbits

The old marquiste always gives me a laugh! How can he do quality work with Phedre squirming on the tattoo table?

It does not surprise me that Phedre abhors cleaning. 😉

The first few encounters with Melisandre still give me shivers – such beauty and intelligence rolled together!

Just because I am curious, where is everyone from? I believe we have quite the international crowd for this read along. I hale from the sticks of northern New Mexico, USA.

Participating Bloggers:

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
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

14 thoughts on “Kushiel's Dart – Part II”

  1. #1, I agree it’s not out of place, but that sort of thing also always seemed unfair to me! I was thinking of it specifically in reference to real-world purity-ring vows, since that also involves a young person making a long term vow for what they’re going to do about sex before they might really understand what they want to do.

    #5, yes, he did seem to really enjoy his time with Cecile :). I wondered at the time if they’d arranged that because he didn’t seem super happy with his first round of assignments. I think Delaunay seems to care a lot about their happiness.

    I’m writing from France, near the Swiss border.

    1. Yeah, I don’t like parents, etc. forcing the young into making life decisions at a young age. However, where do you draw the line? Purity vows? Religious indoctrination? College choice? I think Delaunay does his best to ensure his charges are well educated before they go off on their first assignations. He does try to protect them from his reasons for the espionage, but I think he doesn’t see the subtle pressure both are under, both in gratitude and in simply wanting to chase after knowledge.

      I can’t tell on the Terre D’Ange map if what we know as switzerland is part of Skaldia or part of Caerdicca Unitas. Either way, you sit at the juncture of 3 cultures. 🙂

      1. My current theory is that French-Switzerland was part of Camlach, German-Switzerland was part of Skaldia, and Italian-Switzerland was part of Caerdicca Unitas :).

  2. I worry about Alcuin far more than about Phedre. She’s got her safeword and if things are too much for her, it’s in her power to end it, whereas I think with Alcuin it’s assumed that because his tastes run more vanilla that anything relatively normal is okay. There’s not the same kind of open communication channel, and I don’t know that Delanay realizes how uncomfortable he is with it.

    I’m in the US, currently living in the DC/Virginia area, so I’m not really on the map in the Kushiel series. 😛

  3. I take your point about the current state of sex ed. I think there has to be a better middle ground than what we currently have and what we see here. Speaking as a once-upon-a-time hormonally imbalanced teenage boy, I think that the demonstration used here would only make young people even more hormonally imbalanced than before. I do like that Phedre and Alcuin are tempted but realize they can’t give in to those temptations.

    1. I like that the story showed us how Phedre sought out solo ways to balance her hormones until she came of an age to couple. Sex ed in the US really ignores masturbation as a solution to raging hormones.

  4. Haha, the sound of sex ed doesn’t sound too good with the diseased genitals – although it probably put some people off for a while (which was the idea after all!)
    I sort of have a problem with the whole choosing the life style at the age of 16 – but that’s because I’m applying it to the here and now, with my thoughts, living in this civilisation. When you read the whole book and get this into context it’s a different story so it’s a really good – and yet difficult – question to answer.
    I feel sad for Alcuin – he never actually seems to be happy, that being said we’re not really seeing the story from his pov so it’s easy to misunderstand. For me, he simply seems besotted with Delauney and everything he does seems to stem from his desire to please.
    Lynn 😀

    1. I can recall seeing the horrid slide show of diseased genitals. It was a boys & girls class. Can you imagine the first time you see someone else’s genitals and it has to be close up shots of diseased genitals? Ugh! That just isn’t right.

      I agree with you about Alcuin’s motivations. He has a debt to Delaunay, coupled with a growing crush.

  5. Ah, I remember sex-ed in my high school. The teacher was a coach close to retirement. He was in his 70s and was the same teacher that my mom and dad both had nearly twenty years earlier.

    Some specifics I remember was him talking about that he didn’t understand how two girls have sex with each other. “They just mush their crotches together?” He also mentioned that “Sex isn’t that great. I’d much rather have a good steak.”

    And yes it was 90% pictures of diseased genitalia and talk about how the only prevention is abstinence. Oh, sex-ed in the Bible Belt.

    I am from North Texas by the way, walking distance from Oklahoma.

    My full write-up for this section is on my blog here: It seems you and I are in agreement on most of these points. I’m wondering if the book is just overlooking Phedre’s forced indoctrination, or if it will examine that later. I don’t think she’s ever really had a choice put before her that wasn’t already made. When you are told at a young age that you have to do this certain thing to please your God, how can you later refuse? It’s not really a choice at that point.

    I’m also having a hard time following all these names. Phedre, Alcuin, Delaunay, and to a lesser extent Hyacinth, are the only characters I really care about. All these backstories and political machinations are just flying over my head.

    My write-up for this section is on my blog:
    https://jameswitherspoon.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/read-along-kushiels-dart-part-2/

    1. Most of my public school sex ed happened in NM. So pathetic.

      Sounds like your sex-ed teacher had not watched any lesbian porn, otherwise he might have felt different about that steak. 😉

      Later in this book, and in the series as a whole, we learn more about the deities and their role in human affairs. Once you finish the book, you might see Phedre’s choices (or lack thereof) in a different light.

      1. I just realized that I accidentally copied and pasted my post from another blog into that comment at the end. All that stuff about the indoctrination was in response to a different bloggers comments. Oops lol.

        I can’t imagine that my sex-ed teacher had ever watched any modern porn. I can picture him sitting around with a projector watching an old stag film that resembled Benny Hill in its fast forward, jerky motions.

        I’m looking forward to learning what you’re talking about. I figured that the author would address these concerns at some point in some way. She’s obviously very good at her craft.

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