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, Igret’s Corner is your host. Head on over there & 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 37-45 are covered below. If you haven’t read the book, there will be spoilers for these chapters.
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 remember being thoroughly surprised by this betrayal the first time I read this. I knew Melisande was dangerous, but I could also see she had some deep fondness for Delaunay. During that first reading, I thought that if she were to ever betray Delaunay, it would be giving up one of his secrets from his past, maybe publicly humiliating him, or taking something from him that he valued (like Phedre). So when he and Alcuin end up dead, I was in shock, right alongside Phedre and Joscelin.
After several readings, that scene still is like a punch to the gut.
At the time, I couldn’t tell if her loyalty was to whoever/whatever could give her power or perhaps money, which is a form of in dependency.
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?
This is a really good question and I think Jacqueline Carey does a really good job of showing us the differences and similarities.
Slave: Property to be cared for, or not, sold, or not, fed, or not, killed, or not. There may or may not be a way out of slavery that is recognized by the society.
Bond Servant: Essentially under a really long contract here certain behaviors and actions are not allowed unless there is mutual consent. You can work off your mark and earn true freedom with a place in society.
We see with both Phedre and Joscelin that they maintain their pride in their work whether at Delaunay’s or Gunter’s stedding. The theme of consent is strong throughout this entire series. And here for the first time, Phedre has to lie with a man without her consent. Even though her body responds with an orgasm, and she is not physically hurt by the encounter, she still has to work through the psychological side to being raped. I think she did quite well. Also, since she has this larger problem (staying alive and escaping somehow), I think that helped to come to terms with the situation quickly.
3) Hedwig’s treatment of Phedre is not what Phedre expected. What does her behavior tell us about Skaldi women?
I really like Hedwig. She doesn’t sugar-coat the facts, but she does give Phedre what kindness her station and culture allow. Once Phedre goes to Wldemar’s All-Thing, she notices that not all Skaldi women run as tight a ship as Hedwig.
And I wish Hedwig had slapped Elsa a lot sooner! Alas, even Hedwig can’t control all the idiots in her stedding.
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?
Even when Phedre begs Joscelin to escape (with her help) he refuses, stating that Cassiel did not care for kings and countries, but for Elua himself. So, he stays. I would give Joscelin a 50/50 chance of making it to the Skaldi/Terre D’Ange border, for certainly Gunter would send some of his men after him, on horseback as a point of pride. While it would still be a sound decision for Joscelin to make the attempt, we would have less excitement as the reader.
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?
Perhaps. I am not sure it is an exact fit as Phedre’s abductor was Melisande, and perhaps D’Anglemort. Then she was sold to the Skaldi, and specifically Gunter. I am sure there is a psychological term somewhere for bonding with, or becoming sympathetic with, your owner.
First, I think she became complacent because she has been raised to serve, and they asked her to serve. This was a comfortable role to take on. Even though she never consented to be Gunter’s bedwarmer, that too is a known role to her. Plus, no one did her physical harm and the ladies treated her with respect and care. Add to that, Phedre and Joscelin want to be seen as a zero threat and a zero flight risk. So, they need to adapt and blend in as slaves as much as possible for their plans of escape to ever work.
6) Joscelin brakes his vows during the holmgang. Do you think he should have or not? What do you think the repercussions will be?
I thinks it’s a grey area on whether or not he broke his vow. As Phedre points out, if he didn’t do this thing, then he wouldn’t be alive to keep Phedre safe. Knowing Joscelin, I doubt he will believe that 100% and will probably kick himself the rest of his life over it.
I think Joscelin was maneuvered into a confrontation by Dumb Ass Skaldi (what was his name again?) and then Gunter saw the opportunity for three things: 1) Entertainment for the stedding; 2) To see what Joscelin is capable of; and 3) To possibly get rid of an obnoxious warrior. With all that in mind, I don’t think Joscelin would have done much differently. I am totally fine with his choice.
Joscelin, like Phedre, was raised in strict service. But in Joscelin’s case, he was raised by an order and kept isolated from the larger society. Phedre was raised in a big, bustling city, with several cultures and viewpoints. So Joscelin is having major growing pains as he tries to hold onto these rather strict life rules, ones he could easily practice among the order in isolation, and apply them to the real world. I expect to see more of Joscelin’s boundaries pushed.
7) We see Waldemar Selig’s stedding for the first time, what are your impressions of it?
Waldemar can sure gather the flock in! I noticed Gunter was a bit sad to be assigned one of the smaller meeting houses for the All Thing. I like that there are bathing houses! Hooray! It makes it easier to picture the sex scenes if I know everyone is clean. 😉
So we also see that some of the other Skaldic ladies aren’t as nice towards Phedre as Hedwig and her ladies have been. Perhaps Joscelin will come across the same behavior with other Skaldic men.
Phedre describing, after the fact, her torture at the hands of Melisande makes me want to smack something. Also, it shows that Phedre isn’t just fluff.
After her first bedding by Gunter, she returns to the main hall and the fireplace and has a good sob over Delaunay’s and Alcuin’s death. I found this scene very poignant especially since she refuses to say in Skaldi why she is crying. I am sure the Skaldi had several ideas as to why she was so upset.
When Joscelin got in Gunter’s face when Gunter was about to head out to the raid and he wanted a kiss from Phedre, I was so tense! But Joscelin handled it well with a quiet word, and asking instead of demanding. This book taught me how those two things can work to get you what you need/want way more than a loud bluster or a stomping foot, and maintain cordial relations.
Gunter actually asked for sex lessons! I thought that was a very nice touch.