Read-along: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey (Week 4)

Wow! It’s week four and things just keep getting bigger and going deeper in this book. Phèdre and Joscelin may have escaped Skaldia, but they’re by no means out of danger and court politics are looming large. As always details for this read-along can be found here and imyril’s also the one linking to all other participants’ contributions in her read-along posts, so all eyes on her, please. Questions are being posted each week on the Goodreads page.

And this week I’m hosting! Hi Everybody! *waves*

Don’t trip over the SPOILERS!


Week 4 Chapters 32 to 47 inclusive

Waldemar’s old teacher Lodur calls Phèdre “a weapon thrown by a D’Angeline god” and this changes how Phèdre sees herself to some extent. How does this change the way you’ve thought about Phèdre so far?

When Lodur said this I did actually sit, not reading, for a while going back over the story in my head to see if I could reframe Phèdre’s life so far in light of his comment. Because, yeah, up until now I’ve assumed that the mote in her eye meant that Phèdre had been struck by Kushiel’s dart. There’s a lovely symmetry to her being Kushiel’s dart however, taken for pleasure but dealing out pain … maybe?

Then again Delaunay has been using her as a sort of weapon, so how is this different? What might a god hope to accomplish with Phèdre as their weapon? I’ll be interested to see if we ever find out.



Joscelin has broken all but one of his vows during the time he and Phèdre have been in Skaldia. How do you feel about everything he has gone through? Everything Phèdre has gone through? And the Prefect of the Cassiline Brotherhood’s opinion on these matters?

Joscelin may have broken his vows, but he hasn’t changed in spirit, he is still as much a Cassiline Brother as he was before – arguably more so now, having gained insight through adversity. His decision to go against the Prefect’s wishes and to continue to protect and serve Phèdre in their new aim to get to Alba was both wonderful and awful. Wonderful, because he’s standing up for what (and who) he believes in (all the hearts!); awful, because it obviously cost him to do it and I wish the poor boy would stop punishing himself.

I’ve had so many feelings about everything that both he and Phèdre have gone through in Skaldia – if I was in any doubt that these two weren’t really hero material, I’m certainly not anymore, they’re as badass as they come. I’ve been there for their discussions about and struggles over what it means to be chosen by their deities, for their encouragement of one another and … *sad-happy-hurting sigh* … for their comforting one another.

The Prefect can shove it. He wasn’t there and his judgement lacks humanity. Asshat.



A whimsical question: Phèdre doesn’t seem to be able to lose or give away Melisande’s diamond. What do you think this stone’s eventual fate might be?

It’s like the dratted thing is cursed, isn’t it?! I hope Phèdre gets the opportunity to give it back to Melisande. I think the only acceptable fate for it is to be returned. Forcibly, if necessary.



And a follow-on to that: all gifts in this story, god-given or otherwise, are double-edged swords. Discuss.

Sorry for the exam paper tone! I’m hoping that the rest of you will have insights here, because I’ve got nothing!

I’ve yet to read of a gift being given with no strings attached in this book. But I am particularly fascinated by Phèdre’s god-given gift and how she beats herself up over for having fallen for Melisande. Kushiel’s gift is a torturous knot of a thing and it continues to puzzle me.



What do you make of Ysandre de la Courcel now that we’ve finally met her? And what of her intention to honour her betrothal to Drustan mab Necthana?

Am I going to regret saying this?: I really like her. I don’t envy the position she finds herself in, but I like the way she’s handled herself so far. I’m as intrigued by her relationship with her late grandfather now as I was back when they decided the fates of Baudoin and his mother.

As for her plans to marry Drustan mab Necthana, I think they’re honourable, if hopelessly romantic. However, she spoke of the two of them ruling their kingdoms “in tandem” and I question how that would work in reality. I’d very much like her dream to come true because she seems pretty level-headed and I think she’s going to make an impressive queen. I’m concerned though, that this intention to marry the rightful heir to Alba will be her mistake.



Now that we know the whole of Delaunay’s story, has your opinion of him changed at all?

Not really. So, he was in love with Rolande (called it!) and is actually the son of the Comte de Montrève, whoever he is, or was. There was nothing about this that needed to be kept secret, except perhaps that he was working to help Ysandre accomplish her alliance with Drustan. I think he was one of those annoying people who just enjoy keeping secrets.



Finally, Phèdre’s marque is finally complete. Do you think she is free?

Nope, (because if you have to ask the question …).

I think she’s even more entangled than she was before. Sure, she doesn’t have to use her arts for money any longer, but her name and innocence of Delaunay’s murder are now in Ysandre’s hands and she has further work ahead of her to earn her freedom.


The next post for this read-along can be found here:

Week 5 – Chapters 62 to 79 inclusive



  1. Oh man, I hope we don’t regret liking Ysandre and I hope her marriage to Drustan works out well. I’m hoping for a happy ending for her.
    My reaction was about the same when Lodur said Phedre is a weapon. I had to pause and rethink everything.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Why yes, it’s taken me nearly a month to get space to start catching up on the second half of the read-along (oops). I guess at least this means I can be less spoiler conscious 😉

    Phèdre being Kushiel’s Dart rather than struck by it… I think you’re going to enjoy the series arc (although book three is _brutal_ and I’m honestly nervous about rereading it; I’ve only ever read it once).

    …but Phèdre!Joscelin give me life. Their relationship is such a knotty balance of support and heroism and disapproval and frustration; while I’m not big on romance, I can’t resist the way they come together over the course of this book even as my brain screams HOW WILL YOU MAKE THIS WORK LONG TERM KIDS.

    I think you’re right about Delaunay too. He strikes me as someone who valued secrets so highly he made everything a secret whether it needed to be or not. I bet he never told anyone what his favourite colour was either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank goodness I’m not the only one worrying about the future of their relationship!
      Oh boy, slightly (read: massively) nervous about book three now! 😬😁


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