Kushiel’s Dart – Part III

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, Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow 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.

Sorry I am a little late posting today. I had commitments yesterday all day and was dead tired when I got home.

Chapters 19-26 are covered below. If you haven’t read the book, there will be spoilers for these chapters.

1)  We get a lot of political intrigue to wade through this week, plus a couple of pretty big dramatic revelations, not least of which was the twist of fate for Prince Baudoin and his mother. What did you make of the trial, and what became of these two?

Yep, plenty of intrigue! Honestly, it wasn’t until my 3rd or 4th read that I understood most of the politics. Still, there are some big things I recall from my first read – like Melisande borrowing Phedre for a night as a goodbye present to Baudoin. Obviously, there is something going on behind the scenes there.

So at the end of the trial, Baudoin and his mother, the Lioness of Azalle, have been sentenced to death. Meanwhile the husband and daughter have been exiled. This really made me think of that poem that has been referenced several times – the Exile’s Lament? First, I grew up moving around the country and when I first read this the longest I have ever stayed in one place was 6 years. So I didn’t really get it. Now that I have been in one place, a most beloved place, for over a decade, I have an idea of what it would be like to exiled from a home that has seeped into your bones and blood.

2)  On a rather different, much more personal note for the House of Delaunay was the drama that unfolded surrounding Alcuin (poor Guy!). What do you think might become of Alcuin now that he appears to be out of the game?

Ah! He risked so much for just a piece of the puzzle. Since I have read this many times, I know where this goes. However this book left such an impression with me the first time I read it. I remember thinking that he would probably sit through a long tattooing session and have his marque completed. Since he is so scholarly and has a knack for genealogy and languages, he could go one to be be a scholar in Delaunay’s household. Perhaps he could strike out on his own in the future serving as a translator at the palace.

3)  As we’d suspected last week, Phedre’s refusal to use her signale gets her into some trouble with d’Essoms – but it also gets her the result that Anafiel had hoped for… Do you think she’ll be more careful from here or will this only make that addictive slope more slippery for her?

A bit of both. She has learned not to underestimate how far a patron will go. But she has also learned that she can and will heal from such a thing. Right now Phedre is young and a little cocky. She can read people well, but not totally. I think that is one of the most important things she learned here – not to be cocky.

4)  Speaking of Phedre and trouble, what do you make of the ‘relationship’ building between her and Melisande?

Sexy!

OK, it will be more than that but I love the mix of brains and sex appeal and political intrigue surrounding Melisande. Even Delaunay doesn’t know what her game is. Phedre doesn’t seem particularly interested in Melisande’s politics though. ;)

Other Tidbits

3 whole days to choose your method of execution! Ugh! I think I would pick something and then want it done and to not have to wait 3 days.

While the Lioness and Baudoin Trevalion were traitors to the crown, I liked how the country was allowed to quietly mourn the fall of House Trevalion.

So glad Phedre and Alcuin got horse riding lessons, and not just because it was practical. Horses are fun in and of themselves.

I like how Phedre reflects back about how young she was then and how some of her actions were petty, like her treatment towards Guy. Sigh…. I really liked Guy.

Participating Bloggers:

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

Kushiel’s Dart – Part II

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:

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

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

Kushiel’s Dart Read Along – The Schedule

Heldig and a very good book

Heldig and a very good book

It’s time. This has been kicking around in the back of my head for some time. I love doing read alongs and discussing the minutiae of a good book. The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Dart is Book 1) is one of my all time favorite series. In particular, I am forever enamored of Kushiel’s Dart. My man and I have read this book so many times, the covers have fallen off more than one copy.

Here is the current schedule.

Week 1: May 10, Chapters 1-8, Hosted by Dab of Darkness
Week 2: May 17, Chapters 9-18, Hosted by Tethyan Books
Week 3: May 24, Chapters 19-26, Hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow
Week 4: May 31, Chapters 27-36, Hosted by FaeStruck’s Reviews & More
Week 5: June 7, Chapters 37-45, Hosted by Igret’s Corner
Week 6: June 14, Chapters 46-54, Hosted by Books Without Any Pictures
Week 7: June 21, Chapters 55-63, Host job OPEN
Week 8: June 28, Chapters 64-73, Hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog
Week 9: July 5, Chapters 74-83, Hosted by EmmaMaree.com
Week 10: July 12, Chapter 84-END, Hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow

Nancy Heath has volunteered to be a back up host through the read along, should the need arise. Thank you Nancy!

And here is the current list of participators:

Plus:
Cara at @Chickowits will be a lurker

As always, folks are welcome to jump in and join us. You don’t have to be a host or a blogger. You can always choose the easy route and tackle the weekly discussion in the comments of the hosting blog. We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S DART in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

I am VERY excited be reading this book with a group and such a fine group we have!

The Merchant Adventurer by Patrick E. McLean

McLeanTheMerchantAdventurerWhere I Got It: Review copy from the author (thanks!)

Narrator: Patrick E. McLean

Publisher: Self-published (2014)

Length: 6 hours 17 minutes

Author’s Page

This book is part epic adventure fantasy and part tongue in cheek pointed humor at the often overdone fantasy tropes. Our main hero, Boltac the Merchant, is, indeed, a very reluctant hero. However, eventually, against his better nature, he is forced to join the adventure, outwit the bad guy, rescue his lady love, and bring prosperity to his home town. Or something along those lines. Really, Boltac is just focused on one thing: not letting his lady love know he actually has a soft spot for her.

One day a would be hero, Relan, strolls in to a shop wanting to purchase a sword so he can gallivant off to rescue his lady love. However, he doesn’t have the coin for it. So he asks to lease out a sword. Boltac rolls his eyes and eventually clouts Relan over the head and drags his unconscious body outside. But then the minions of an evil wizard (Dimsbury) and his side kick (Raddick). The owner of the local tavern, and secret sweetheart of Boltac, is stolen away. Now Boltac must make some tough choices.

The humor permeates this novel and is often of the skeptical variety. Boltac questions nearly everything, even if it is just in his head. He’s always weighing the choices, adding the coins, calculating what’s in his best interest. Relan is great sidekick for him, being so idealistic, so naive, so honorable. Boltac is constantly having to rein the young man in, and not always teaching him the ways of adventuring. The back and forth between these two is most amusing!

There are a few ladies in this book. I can think of two off the top of my head. There might have been a third. One is a supposed damsel in distress that is working with a group of folks running scams. The second is Boltac’s secret love, the tavern owner. She’s smart in her own right, taking charge of her actions and formulating a plan to escape from the first moment. However, we spend little time with her. The author shows he can write female characters, and yet he had so few in this book and gave them small, tiny roles. I hope his other books make better use of the female gender, as I fully intend to seek out more of his work.

Then we have the bad guys. They come in two flavors: ruthless and deserving of death and then we have the orc servants (like Samga the orc leader) who would probably have fairly quiet lives if left to their own devices. Raddick is vicious and enjoys killing for the sport. Dimsbury is the brains behind the evil duo and is quite ruthless in his own way. These potent villains make great adversaries for the shrewd Boltac and the idiotically heroic Relan.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. It strongly reminded me of the days when my man played Dungeons & Dragons weekly and he come home in the early dawn hours, smelling of stale pizza, one too many energy drinks, and cigarette smoke, babbling about his exploits in a some dungeon or medieval forest. This book was like that, but far better since it was a coherent story and not just disconnected ramblings by a man who was obviously dead tired but too wired on caffeine to sleep.

Narration: Patrick McLean narrated his own book, and I always have a few worries when I see an author narrating his own work. But have no fears here! McLean does an awesome job of narrating this book. He has a perfectly shrewd and skeptical voice for Boltac, a wonderfully dense and optimistic voice for Relan, and a serpent’s treacherous sneer for Raddick. I also enjoyed his ‘I’m way too smart to deign to chat with you’ voice for Dimsbury. And don’t forget his toothy voice for the orc Samga. It was a most excellent performance.

What I Liked:  Plenty of humor; the characters play off each other well; excellent narration; reminiscent of D&D adventures; worthy villains.

What I Disliked:  The ladies’ roles are few and limited.

What Others Think:

Amie’s Book Review Blog

Now Very Bad

Dan Absalonson

Around the Blogosphere March 2015

JordanNewSpringFirst, remember that big long read along on The Wheel of Time series that I kept posting about for just over 2 years? Yeah, that one. So us participators got together and made one big wrap up post that SF Signal was kind enough to host. So make sure to swing by over there to catch all our thoughts on the series, but also on the experience of such a long read along.

Next I want to tell you all about Audiobook Blast because I think it is really, really cool. If you enjoy listening to and reviewing audiobooks, this is one more place to get your fix. There is a Facebook Page and a Newsletter. There is a little overlap between the two, so I say check out both and enjoy the variety of books on offer!

BannerOnceUponATimeIXStainless Steel Droppings is hosting the yearly awesome reading event Once Upon A Time IX. This reading event is for fun (no pressure!) and anyone can join. It focuses on the fantasy genre, or anything that can be construed as even a kissing cousin to the fantasy genre. I have participated in the past few years. This year, I plan to pop in and out of the event.

And now I leave you with a rhino who thinks it is a goat.

 

Kushiel’s Dart Read Along – Who’s Interested?

Heldig and a very good book

Heldig and a very good book

It’s time. This has been kicking around in the back of my head for some time. I love doing read alongs and discussing the minutiae of a good book. The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Dart is Book 1) is one of my all time favorite series. In particular, I am forever enamored of Kushiel’s Dart. My man and I have read this book so many times, the covers have fallen off more than one copy.

UPDATE: You can find the schedule over HERE. 1st post goes up May 10th. Folks are welcome to jump in any time.

So why haven’t I done a read along of this book before? Well, in short, it is near and dear to my heart. As such, it is with great pleasure and with a little trepidation, I put it out there for a group read (aka group dissection).

This series is full of political intrigue, spies, betrayal, sword fights, escapes, captures, and no small amount of romance. The characters aren’t static, grabbing the readers hearts as they grow throughout the series. The world is rich in deities, queens & kings, many cultures, and excellent food.

And then there is the sex. It’s one of the reasons I love it. The main character of Kushiel’s Dart, Phedre, is a prostitute, though this term doesn’t fully cover her position in society. In an alternate history, Terre D’Ange (France) is a place of multiple deities and many of those deities have houses of worship that recognize sex as a beautiful and sometimes transcendent activity. If you have ever read Gilgamesh, then you might recognize the concept of temple prostitutes.

But it goes a bit further than that. I first picked up a copy of Kushiel’s Dart when I was 23. I definitely didn’t think I was a prude at the time and yet when I read the spicy scenes I found that I was not as well versed in bedroom antics as I thought I was. Throughout the series, I expect there are intimate scenes that will push nearly every reader’s boundaries. There’s BDSM, and not the non-consensual kind that has made the big screen lately. There are bisexual and homosexual relationships, which I would like to think wouldn’t even raise the eyebrows of my readers. There are some non-consensual scenes in the series, but the author does a great job of showing what a transgression such actions are. These scenes are described in as great a detail as the rest of the book – which means great detail.

So who’s with me? I would like to start with Kushiel’s Dart and if enough folks want to continue with the next book, I am more than happy to do so. In total, there are 9 books in the Terre D’Ange Cycle, comprising 3 trilogies that are related to each other. My little heart would do a happy dance if folks wanted to do a group read of all 9 books.

So what does this read along entail? This read along is for the new-to-the-series read as well as though familiar with Jacqueline Carey’s works. Once we have a group of folks, we set a 1st post date and start reading. At ~100 pages per week (paperback version), Kushiel’s Dart will take 10 weeks. Weekly discussion questions are emailed out to the participators a few days before the post date. Folks can post on a blog, live journal, book likes, or even just comment on the host blog’s site with their discussion answers. Whatever works for you. Some folks like to simply be silent stalkers, which is fine too.

Of course I’ll host, but if anyone else would like to host as well, just let me know. Hosting consists of providing that week’s discussion questions and then folks flock to your blog (or wherever) to comment and leave a link to their post.

If you’re interested in participating in any fashion, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email: nrlymrtl@gmail.com

Once I have enough people interested, I will send out a group email to organize the schedule. Once we have a schedule, I will post here.