Weekend Reads #108: Kushiel’s Dart Readalong, Ch. 17-31

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend.

But for this post, I’ll share my thoughts on chapters 17-31 of Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey. Imyril of the Wyrd & Wonder crew is hosting a month-long readalong for this fantasy novel. Each week, a different blogger posts discussion questions for participants to answer. For this week (the second week of the readalong), Susan from Dab of Darkness is our host. Check out my thoughts on these chapters below!

Btw, if you’d like to join in the readalong, you can check out the links above or visit the Goodreads group for the reading schedule or to share your thoughts on the book.

We get a few more hints of magic or the supernatural in this section. Phédre sees Kushiel’s visage after Alcuin is injured; Hyacinthe’s mom & he himself both have things revealed via the dromonde; that moment of deep peace at Elua’s statue. What do you think of magic in this world?

The magic is definitely prickling my curiosity more and more. At first, I didn’t think there was anything special about Phédre having Kushiel’s dart. Characters kept saying she’s special because of it, but I didn’t see how. In these chapters, I think we begin to get hints that she is indeed “god touched” or something. I do wonder what it means when her eye is blotted red and she sees Kushiel. I wonder if it’s something that actually happens to her or if it’s figurative.

I am much more interested in Hyacinthe and his mother’s abilities with the dromonde. I think their predictions are accurate. I wonder in what ways this ability will contribute to the plot moving forward. Will Phédre and Delaunay begin to actually heed what Hyacinthe and his mom say?

More politics! For those new to the series, what do you make of Baudoin and his mother, the Lioness of Azzalle? For those rereading, are you noticing details you missed before?

I brushed it off as “Ah, politics,” actually, lol. It makes sense that someone will make a play for the throne. I found it interesting that the king first asks Ysandre’s opinion on the sentencing before agreeing to it. I assume Ysandre is one to watch too in this game of thrones. I assume Melisande was trying to make a play for the throne with Baudoin. I wonder what caused her to turn on him. I don’t think it was just the Lioness who stood in her way. However, it shows how ruthless Melisande is.

What do you think of Alcuin’s final assignation? Guy’s death? Would Alcuin have been happier, but perhaps less useful, as something other than Naamah’s servant?

I appreciated this perspective on being Naamah’s servant. Since Phédre is the narrator, we get the impression that everyone who is such a servant is satisfied with the role and willing to serve; however, Alcuin didn’t like it. I think it’s dangerous that Alcuin loves Delaunay so much that he’s willing to enter a service he dislikes and not even mention to Delaunay that he doesn’t feel comfortable with it.

The way how Alcuin’s plan worked out (with Guy dying) proves the danger (although they are all playing a dangerous game anyway by being spies). I was actually sad to see Guy go. I liked his quiet, dangerous presence.

I think Alcuin could have been useful if he was positioned at court, in the palace. I don’t know how Delaunay would have been able to pull that off, and maybe Alcuin wouldn’t have been privy to as many secrets, but the time he worked as a scribe while Delaunay was at court shows that Alcuin could have done something along those lines instead. I know it would have been difficult, but I still think Alcuin should have spoken up about his discomfort despite his love of Delaunay and what Delaunay might think.

Phédre has a new bodyguard – a Casseline Brother, Joscelin Verreuil. What do you think his life was like before this posting? Are you surprised that Anafiel didn’t dismiss him after the confrontation with Childric d’Essoms?

Lol, I like Phédre’s attraction to Joscelin. Well, it seems like attraction. I assume Joscelin was steeped in Casseline training and precepts and was probably about to go out into the field to work (if that’s what happens after the training) but didn’t expect to be protecting those who practice something he loathes. I’m interested in seeing how he adjusts to serving as Phédre’s bodyguard.

I’m not surprised. Phédre seemed to have the meeting with d’Essoms under control, despite the rough handling. I think Joscelin did his job when he attacked when it seemed that d’Essoms would kill Phédre.

We finally meet Barquiel L’Envers. How dangerous do you think this man is? What do you make of his history with Anafiel?

Umm… I haven’t formed an opinion yet. I think he’s very dangerous and… that’s about all I think of him. I don’t think we have the full story about his history with Delaunay, so I hope we’ll be told more later.

So far, we keep getting bits of information on everyone, so I don’t think I know anyone well enough yet. I’m holding back on my opinions on most of the characters, especially minor ones, for now until I know more. The exception is Melisande, who’s obviously evil, and Hyacinthe, who I like.

How did you feel about Phedre granting Childric another assignation? Was she right that she owed him a debt?

Well, I don’t think she owes him a debt but at the same time, I don’t know enough about Night Court ethics, so maybe, according to Night Court mores, she owes him because of how she tricked him. Maybe there’s some sort of reverence reserved for the one’s first patron, or maybe it’s unacceptable to use a patron in such a way.

But I think she was willing to take another d’Essom assignation because she needed the release after being pent up for so long and feeling hurt because Delaunay fell for Alcuin’s charms.

Alcuin has completed his marque and displays it to Anafiel. How do you feel about the shift in their relationship? Phédre’s response to it?

I felt sorry for Phédre. I get the impression that she felt deceived. I wonder what this leads to in the upcoming chapters. There’s a hint of regret, sometimes, in the narrator’s tone (well, that’s the impression I get) as if Phédre is reflecting on the good, ol’ days before everything gets fucked up, and I think she helped in fucking it up, probably naively. I mean, we see her disobey Delaunay by leaving the manor without telling him and she was tempted to do so again. I wonder if her jealousy of Alcuin will grow now that he’s entered into a sexual relationship with Delaunay and if that will cause Phédre to act out more rashly and push Delaunay’s restrictions a bit more. Will she push him to sell her and will she then be used against him?

So… Delaunay falling for Alcuin’s charms didn’t sit well with me. Delaunay tries to be a good dude. I got the impression that he tries not to be pervy, but now I wonder if he was actually attracted to Alcuin this entire time. I was hoping he would resist, reassert his role as father/uncle, maintain that barrier… I don’t know. I was disappointed by him. Now I wonder if he’s actually attracted to Phédre but just can’t bother with the pain thing.

Then again, I’m wondering if I’m judging him too harshly since this is probably just a common, acceptable thing in their society. I mean, Alcuin and Phédre are of age now… I don’t know, man. It didn’t sit right with me and now I’m even more suspicious of this Delaunay dude.

And, of course, include anything else that piqued your interest from this section.

Well, all I have is mostly questions about what’s going on, what’s to come next, like

  • What’s up with Hyacinthe? Every time Phédre visits him, he seems to have acquired more wealth/influence. How influential will he become? Will he become some sort of prince of thieves? I highly suspect this. Phédre tells him a lot of the stuff she learns, almost as much as she tells Delaunay, will/does Hyacinthe use this information?
  • Delaunay and the other noble peeps be saying secretive stuff in front of random people, like the servants. Aren’t they concerned that a servant might snitch on them?
  • I’m looking forward to when Joscelin breaks out his fight moves. I suspect he’s secretly attracted to Phédre.
  • Why isn’t Delaunay paying more attention to the Skaldi movements? It all seems suspicious.
  • I assume Delaunay is dead in the present. There’s just too much regret in Phédre’s tone.

WHAT I’M CURRENTLY READING:

I’m actively reading these three:

Forest Mage by Robin Hobb

This book two of the Soldier Son trilogy. I liked the first novel a lot, but this one… man, sometimes I don’t like it because of all the protagonist is going through. I feel so bad for the dude.

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

So many details, so much going on, not at all what I expected.

The Golden Fool by Robin Hobb, narr. by James Langton

I’m rereading it by audiobook and am loving it. It’s now probably my favorite Robin Hobb book. There are so many moments in it I love.

WHAT ARE YOU READING THIS WEEKEND?

18 thoughts on “Weekend Reads #108: Kushiel’s Dart Readalong, Ch. 17-31

  1. I’m going to be super cautious what I say because I’ve already messed up with inadvertent spoilers once today! So mostly just to say I’m loving reading your take, which is perceptive and sometimes hilarious 🙂

    Picking up on your comments specifically about how Phèdre should maybe worry more about what she tells Hyacinthe and how nobody seems worried about what they say in front of the servants… yeeeeeeeees, quite. Sure, Hyacinthe is Phèdre’s one true friend and she trusts him implicitly, but he’s quite clearly making a really good living fleecing the nobility, gambling and thieving. I love it when such a rogueish character is also the truest friend though, so I hope she’s not wrong.

    But I put that together with talking in front of the servants and I get a sudden sharp whiff of classism too. I just don’t think it _occurs_ to any of them that a commoner will listen to / understand these details of court politics and act against their interests. It makes me wonder how many of the servants are indentured (so can’t bring down their masters without ruining their own lives) – but Phèdre makes a comment in passing at some point about how she barely even knows Delaunay’s servants which was a WTAF moment for me!

    So here’s to Hyacinthe. You go get ’em, lad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ok, I’m SO eager to find out what Hyacinthe is up to/what becomes of him now because he’s my dude. Him and badass Joscelin.
      Same here on Phédre’s reflection on the servants. I thought to myself ‘How can you live at Delaunay’s house for so long and not know the servants?’
      The way this story is narrated tempts me about what’s to come next. Can’t wait.

      Like

  2. I think so many people, including Delaunay, don’t take the Skaldi seriously because, in part, of this D’Angeline superiority complex. But there’s a lot of history to back that up too. The Skaldi have never been successful on their little raids at doing more than making off with a few slaves and goods.
    As for Hyacinthe, he’s a self-made man, isn’t he? I love that he’s very motivated to make a comfortable life for his mom, who kept him fed and clothed as a kid. Since I’ve read the book a few times, let me just say I think you will be surprised by Hyacinthe’s story arc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! So true. I began wondering if the D’Angelines are really that great because since the story is narrated by Phedre, I think she’s a little biased. But I liked seeing the Skaldi seeming to make an effort now with Waldemar Selig.
      Oh man! I can’t wait to see what becomes of Hyacinthe. He’s one of my favs so far.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So much to unpack here. I have a lot of FEELINGS about Delaunay, especially when I reread this a couple of years ago as a read-along and had to examine everything more objectively. Mostly that I don’t really like Delaunay that much because even though it’s clear he did care very much for but Alcuin and Phedre there’s also this complicated thing with him basically owning them and raising them to be spies…. Like everything with this book, things are complicated and I have complicated feelings!
    Also, you finally met Joscelin, he’s my absolute fave, I love him so much. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea, lots of grey areas in this book. Delaunay does try not to be a creep though. Still, I wonder why he decided it’s best to make Alcuin a servant of Naamah to serve as a spy. He was supposed to take care of Alcuin (I don’t know the particulars of the agreement yet about that with Alcuin… I don’t remember if it was mentioned). That doesn’t mean that he owns Alcuin and can make him a servant. That’s how I’m seeing it.

      I’m really liking Joscelin, or rather Phedre’s observations of him and his uptight ways, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I felt really angry and uncomfortable with Delaunay in this one. He is in a position of power and raised Alcuin from a child… but now they’re lovers?! It gives me such creepy vibes! Not to mention that he’s supposedly a master of intrigue and deduction but somehow doesn’t fathom that Alcuin would be better suited to a different role! Gah. I am not a Delaunay fan at all right now.

    I am really interested in finding out what happens with Joscelin now. I love the contrast between his and Phèdre’s characters!

    Liked by 2 people

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