It’s the second week of the Kushiel’s Dart read-along and things are starting to get (more) interesting. Details for this read-along can be found in imyril’s post here, and each week’s prompts are posted on Goodreads here. This week’s host and poser-of-questions is Susan over at Dab of Darkness.
Oh, yeah, also … SPOILERS alert!
Week 2 (Chapters 17-31 inclusive)
We get a few more hints of magic or the supernatural in this section. Phèdre 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?
I like its subtlety. This is magic seen out of the corner of the eye that Carey is (so far) leaving us to make our own minds up about and I enjoy being given hints of it and no more at this stage. I hope it comes to something though. I’m really interested in Hyacinthe and his mother’s dromonde and would happily read a whole book about that (especially as he’s a forbidden male practitioner).
I’m super curious about Phèdre’s visions of Kushiel (there’ve been two, no? One right after Alcuin is injured, and one when talking with Anafiel a little later?). Are these divine beings still at work in this world? Is Kushiel taking a hand in Phèdre’s life? And if yes to both of the above, then why? What do they want?
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 felt sure that these two were going to be our primary agents of chaos and am so confused that they’ve both just been … dealt with. I was all like “Wait! … What the…?!”
And, OK, Melisande appears to be the architect of their downfall, but again, WHY? I don’t yet understand enough about all these connections between various royals and nobles to see why she’d want these two brought down – unless she did it because she could. I’m guessing she’s going to be the villainess of the piece and is just working up to something bigger … although I have no idea what that might be!
I’m really enjoying the politics side of things and the way we’re learning along with Phèdre; as her world view expands, so too does ours. I want to know how significant all the mentions of Alba and its Cruarch and Skaldia and the warlord Waldemar Selig are, and if they are significant, then in what way and when will we find out?? All these shadowy little hints are very tantalising!
What do you think of Alciun’s final assignation? Guy’s death? Would Alcuin have been happier, but perhaps less useful, as something other than Naamah’s servant?
Oh Alcuin! I felt for him! That he’s been doing this work for love of Delaunay and for no other reason is just … it’s too much. I’m no longer sure Delaunay deserves any love at all. He didn’t even realise that Alcuin hated assignations? He’s clearly so absorbed with his own plots and plans that he can’t really care about Alcuin and Phèdre. Even though his reaction to Guy’s death is obviously heartfelt, now I just feel like he’s using them all. Sure, he loves them in his way … but that’s not good enough for what they’re all prepared to do for him.
Yes, Alcuin would have been happier doing … anything else, I suspect. And I don’t see that he’d necessarily have been any less useful – he’s so smart and able even to fool Delaunay (who didn’t know Alcuin hated assignations, for goodness’ sake!). I mean, heck, he managed to wheedle the money for his marque and the information Delaunay wanted out of Vitale Bouvarre, so the boy has obviously got serious skills!
Phèdre 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?
Oh, this pairing is just killing me! I almost feel sorry for Joscelin. He is there to serve and protect Phèdre from harm, but her work involves extreme harm, they are the most contradictory pair imaginable and I love it! Joscelin has a very steep learning curve ahead of him, I think.
I don’t know what his life might have been like before this job. He’s said he hasn’t ever been in a real fight before, and I get the impression he hasn’t really ever had to deal with mockery from those who don’t share his beliefs (from his behaviour when the nobles and tumblers were taunting him – which, for the record, I didn’t like at all), so I guess his life has previously been a fairly cloistered one. I hope we find out more about him. While his disapproval of Phèdre is annoying and amusing in equal measure, I still think he could be a very interesting character, so I hope he sticks around.
And no, I’m not surprised that Anafiel didn’t dismiss him.
We finally meet Barquiel L’Envers. How dangerous do you think this man is? What do you make of his history with Anafiel?
Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!
I don’t feel like I have enough information yet to decide what to make of Barquiel, but I’m very wary of him. And all the hints that he and Anafiel had history were so tantalisingly vague! If I’m completely honest, I’m still not sure who is important and who isn’t and I don’t know if Barquiel is going to be or not either. There is some seriously tricksy storytelling going on here.
How did you feel about Phèdre granting Childric another assignation? Was she right that she owed him a debt?
I found it interesting when she said that she loved each of her patrons a little bit. I feel like that’s come through already and was glad to have her acknowledge it. I didn’t really feel one way or the other about her granting Childric another session (I don’t really feel like he’s all that dangerous anymore), and I understood her reasoning that she owed him a debt. I don’t really know if I agree with her or not.
Alcuin has completed his marque and displays it to Anafiel. How do you feel about the shift in their relationship? Phèdre’s response to it?
I’ve been wondering if Delaunay was in love with Rolande, and his response to Anafiel just makes me wonder all the more. I feel very conflicted about this development though. I’m happy for Alcuin, deeply distrustful of Anafiel’s motives and I feel sorry for Phèdre. I am sure she’ll get over it, but it was a reminder that she is still very young and those very first hurts are always the worst. (This, in turn, made me realise how fond I’ve become of her; up until now I felt I’d been reading this at a slight remove, but this week I’ve just been a bag of feelings, back and forth – exhausting!)