Kushiel's Dart – Part IX

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, Emma at EmmaMaree.com is your host this week. 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.

Sorry for posting late. I was out of state over the weekend and returned really late last night.

Chapters 74-83 are covered below. If you haven’t read the book, there will be spoilers for these chapters.

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?

I would go with the island life. After all, there are other people. I wouldn’t treat them as slavish servants, as the current Master of the Straights does. Think of all the book reading time I would have! And I bet I could learn to do some ocean archaeology with my new powers. And, if the D’Angelines win their war and Drustan & Ysandre wed, then the curse will be lifted and the waters clear. That means Hyacinthe, or myself if I was stuck out there, could have visitors, right? I would ask them to bring goats as they would provide companionship, milk, and meat.

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?

This line stays somewhat blurry for most of the series. I  believe there is gods’ blood in the veins of the D’Angelines. Some of Phedre’s deeds, especially later in the series, really testifies to that.

Yet, again, here we see that she prizes D’Angeline beauty and finds the people of the isles to be more crudely made. Later in the series, we see how events cause her to see this cultural, in-born conceit and what she does about it.

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?

This is one of the things I really like about Carey’s  writing. She doesn’t toss in sex scenes just for the sake of sex and Phedre & Hyacinthe on the Island is a prime example. I think it was very sweet for these two friends who might have become more to have a tender goodbye.

While I have always liked Hyacinthe, I never really felt the book was about him. Quite frankly, I have always been OK with him leaving the spotlight. For this book, his character arc feels complete to me. He gave Phedre a safety net with his undemanding friendship, used his gifts to save Terre D’Ange, felt heartbreak of his own, and knew before Phedre did that he would be spending the rest of his foreseeable life on an island. It’s harsh, but it serves a deep purpose for the plot.

And, yes, I totally expect him to learn to use the big water bowl to spy on things back home.

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? How much has Phedre’s self-confidence evolved through the story: back to when she was an orphaned she often called herself a “whore’s get”, and later she called herself Delauney’s whore quite comfortably. This time, she’s as quick to correct Ghislain as her companions are.

I think it is awesome to see how Phedre’s station in life changes as she takes on more and more responsibilities and tasks. The D’Angelines as a whole don’t seem to judge a person by their past so much as what they are doing right now. De Somerville hasn’t seen Phedre in action until now and anything he heard about her deeds he could have easily chalked up to rumors or exaggerations.

I love how Phedre herself is finally comfortable with thinking of herself as something more than a whore or even a whore’s unwanted get. This is probably because she is no longer whoring ( to put it crudely) but rather has larger goals in mind. She isn’t simply trading her services to earn a marque or for a  night’s lustful pleasure. She is trying to safe a country, perhaps even two.

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 which 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.)

This is an awesome question! I think Dahlia House (Upright and Unbending; dignity) might have been my childhood house. I was pretty demanding on myself even as a kid, always wanting to take on things my way. Some refer to me as a once very bossy kid. Now I would choose Orchis (Joy in Laughter; humor) as I seem to find humor in most things, even if it is a little twisted. My husband use to be alarmed at how much I laugh in bed, but quite frankly, a great orgasm is a breathtakingly awesome thing that makes me laugh in pure joy. Ever since I explained this to him, he strives to make me laugh all the more often! 😉

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

Another awesome question. We don’t really venture into Khebbel-im-Akkad in this series, though I am always intrigued by it. I think I would most like to be at Perrinwolde, where Phedre learned how to ride. It’s out in the country, but still close enough to visit the big city and get more books. Later in the series, there is one other place I might want to call home but I will save that for future discussions.

I think I would hate being on the Long Road with the Tsingani. I need roots. We moved all the time as a kid and I really hated it and I feel it left a void in my life. I don’t have a home town nor childhood friends as we never lived anywhere longer than 4 years. So, I need a place to call home. I wouldn’t mind a few weeks travel with the Tsingani, but I would not like to travel all the time.

Other Tidbits

I like how Phedre’s Boys teach the warriors of Alba and Eire the new marching tune!

I like Phedre’s take on makeup – a little goes a long way.

Rousse has a pair of big brass balls! He called the Master of the Straights on his harsh BS more than once in this section.

Graine’s condolences over loosing Hyacinthe to the island were quite simple and nice. Sometimes when I struggle to think of what to say over someone’s loss, this scene springs to mind and I find words easier to come by

My question for everyone: Who would like to do a readalong of Book 2?

Participating Bloggers:

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

9 thoughts on “Kushiel's Dart – Part IX”

  1. You know, for No.1 I put that I couldn’t choose the island, then I was reflecting on it (in a comment with James) and thinking, hang on, I live for 800 years, nobody says I can’t have any visitors – and think of all the books I could read. Mmm, that’s a bit more tempting now isn’t it.
    I also go for the house of joy – I’m all about the fun.
    I’m always kind of surprised that they use the word ‘whore’ in this book – it seems to go against the whole laid back, relaxed, love wherever you will type of ethos. It puzzles me.
    I definitely couldn’t choose to be somewhere too hot – I just couldn’t cope! Also, I don’t think I could choose the Skaldi or Tsingano people – just because certain elements of their lifestyle just plain grates on me.
    Last few chapters!!! 😀 😀

    1. I also think it would be hard to live among the Skaldi or Tsingani as a woman because of certain cultural expectations. The Dalraida and Cruithne sound a lot more fun for the ladies!

  2. I would like to see Phedre confront her cultural conceitedness :).

    Also, I think that is a good point on the whole ‘whore’ situation–that she is still using the same tools, but for a much larger purpose. My gut reaction to that was mostly that I didn’t think the word should be an insult in Terre d’Ange (though it seems to be). If she saves two countries by ‘whoring’ as the Queen’s Ambassador, people should respect her for both things.

    Also, I would like to join for book two!

    1. I think that Terre D’Ange, as enlightened as it is towards sex, still has this hierarchy – something of a caste system for the citizens and nobility, and then apparently also for the sex workers. Or, at least, the use of the word ‘whore’ seems to suggest that. For instance, we haven’t seen anyone call a dowayne (head of one of the houses of the Night Blooming Court) a whore, perhaps because they have seniority, money, and influence.

  3. Yay, a Kushiel read along…that I found after you guys finished the book…

    I think regarding the term “whore,” it’s not the work that’s disrespected but the term. Maybe like how we call lawyers ambulance chasers, for a very bad example. I guess I considered Phedre’s use of the word to be more tongue in cheek. Or like she’s disparaging herself so others won’t.

    1. If you own it, it makes it harder for others to disrespect it….. and still look cool doing so. Like calling Tyrion a dwarf or John Snow a bastard.

    1. Hooray! After the questions go out for the final section of the book, I will send out an email asking who is interested and give a suggested start date for feedback.

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