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, Grace at Books Without Any Pictures 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 46-54 are covered below. If you haven’t read the book, there will be spoilers for these chapters.
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 Selig is a man who can walk with one boot in his native homeland and one wandering. He understands his people and yet has some understanding of the bigger world and deep hunger to explore it. I also think he is a bit ruthless and willing to sacrifice what he must to obtain his goal. Phedre may entertain him in bed and look pretty kneeling in the corner, but I don’t doubt that he would hesitate to kill her if he felt she was a threat.
I don’t think he suspects her of knowing anything specific, not unless Melisande has somehow cautioned him about her wit and training. He was definitely peeved when she escaped (as witnessed by all the men he spared to fetch her back or kill her), and that alone with the basic info he knows she witnessed (like all the Thanes in one place for a war meeting) would be enough to wish her dead.
Since this is a reread for me I will say that Waldemar’s machinations are not over.
2) What did you think of the visit to Lodur? Do you think it will impact how Phedre thinks of herself?
Lodur is an interesting shaman or healer. I loved his little bit in this book, especially his story about his eye and how the gods can’t be bribed! Ha!
In such a short amount of time he gives Phedre much to think about. Along with his little insight into the gods and bribery, he also called her a weapon of the gods due to her Kushiel’s Dart. I don’t think anyone other than Delaunay perhaps has thought of Phedre as a weapon or as a dangerous person. In a later conversation with Joscelin, she says she should show Melisande which throws truer – Kushiel’s Dart of Kushiel’s scion. Definitely the Dart.
Then Lodur gives her wicked grin practically asks for a kiss, and then chuckles at Phedre’s blush. I did enjoy the old man and I hope he survives the forthcoming battles/war.
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?
The one that stood out for me was Phedre nearly being raped while heading to Gunter’s camp to say her farewells. This wasn’t a private session in Gunter’s or Waldermar’s bedchamber. No, it was bare bottom’s up in the middle of the camp! Phedre does a really good job of imparting to the reader that in Terre D’Ange rape is not just illegal but sacrilege. That takes consent to a whole new level. I expect Phedre will add more caution to her life in the future.
Then of course Joscelin wades in to save her where Knut (or Harald?) and Waldemar have already done so and gets his head knocked senseless. Once again he ends up in chains, locked in a tiny hut. He bemoans the fact that he killed once again. And again, Phedre has to shame him into seeing the reality of the situation. I loved her line about writing his Prefect and telling him that the gods were better served by a whore of the Night Court. And she was right. Joscelin is really having to reassess everything he has been taught about right and wrong.
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?
Of course, I would have wanted a bit more time. But Phedre and Joscelin felt they didn’t have it. I really liked how the author reflected this in Phedre’s lack of getting a tent.
If I were masterminding an escape, I would wait until I could find some poisonous plants. In the meantime, I would work my way around to having kitchen duty a few times a week, so that when I do have my poisonous plants I could, with little trouble, administer my brew to the whole bunch at once. Even if it just made half the warriors ill, I would have a better chance of escape.
Alas, Phedre and Joscelin may not have had until spring. Waldemar was already looking a little slant-eyed at Phedre after Lodur’s comments about her being a weapon. Joscelin was in trouble with no real sign he would be out of it any time soon. So I think they did the best with what they had.
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?
This being a reread, I know where this goes. So let me just say that Phedre and Joscelin are one of my favorite hero couples exactly because they are so complicated, individually and together.
That scene, in the cave of Elua, was breath taking.
Waldemar and his Troi Milles Joies. I really like how the author leaves much up to the readers imaginations here. Phedre doesn’t really describe any of the positions or acts, other than a little with the Rutting Stag, but I like how she makes comments along the lines of everything except those acts a Skaldi man deems unmanly. Of course, I m very curious as to what those acts would be!
Joscelin had to kill a White Brother, unprovoked. Essentially murder. I felt for him, but I also noted the need. Same with Phedre when she had to kill Harald, though I did feel a bit more for her since she was never trained in the how (mentally, emotionally, or physically) of killing.
Did anyone else ache for the lost horses during Phedre’s and Joscelin’s flight?