We’re truly out on the Long Road this week as we travel with Phèdre, Joscelin and Hyacinthe to Alba, and the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been. Guiding us through this week’s dramas is our host Peat, of Peat Long’s Blog.
As always, information about this read-along, each week’s questions and links to most participants’ responses can be found on this Goodreads page here.
And, Blessed Elua, watch out! There are SPOILERS galore now that we’re this far in!
We’re back on the road again with Phèdre and Joscelin, and this time they’re with Hyacinthe as he finally comes face to face with his heritage. What were your first impressions of the Tsingani? What did you make of Hyacinthe’s reaction to his reception, and Phèdre’s reaction to that reaction? How did you feel finding out about Anasztaizia’s past? Finally – Hyacinthe’s choice. Could you have done what he did there? Give up finding you family just after finding them for your friend?
Answering the last part of the question first, I don’t think Hyacinthe could just stop using the dromonde, even if he wanted to. It seems to have become very much a part of who he is. And for all that he wanted to be accepted by the Tsingani, he has grown up knowing that his mother was rejected by them. Yes, I could have done what he did. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be difficult, choosing between a friend I have known and loved for so long and a family that will possibly turn their backs on me when they know everything about me, but I’d do it. Because love where thou wilt, dagnabbit!
That said, poor Hyacinthe! To belong, no matter how briefly, to his mother’s people, to have his dream come true and then have to step away from it – sheesh. I feel for him. But he also feels the weight and movements of fate, and I felt like that was the case at that moment. He saved Phèdre.
And Anaztaizia’s past was awful – that she was considered tainted by her own people for something she was not to blame for is too much for me! She was used as a bargaining chip. Do. Not. Like. And something like that must make Hyacinthe feel very ambiguous about his family – so happy to see him, weeping and a-wailing, and yet … and yet … the very people to blame for his being ‘lost’ to them in the first place. Yes, I see that it is a culture very tied up with family pride and honour, but the judgement of Hyacinthe’s mother didn’t allow for the shades of grey in the situation.
Phèdre being Phèdre, she jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire – a handsome, sadistic fire. Does Phèdre’s pleasure at being able to resume her craft, even in these circumstances, and the description of that sense of release make sense to you? Did the Duc de Morbhan’s gift surprise you?
This aspect of Phèdre’s gift and life continue to puzzle me. While Carey writes really well about Phèdre’s calling, I cannot stretch my mind to understand it fully. I understand pain as release, but only as an expression of self-hatred, not as an expression of pleasure or devotion.
I was kind of intrigued by the whole Duc de Morbhan episode, though. I am fascinated every time a character appreciates that Phèdre is the real deal, truly Kushiel’s Dart. His gift seemed in keeping with that appreciation. Honestly, I just go with Phèdre on these things – she seemed OK with his gift, so I’m OK with it.
The Long Road keeps getting longer but Phèdre seems equal to every task and soon they are in Alba’s green and pleasant land. What were your first impressions of the Dalriada and the Cruithne, and their respective rulers? Who do you agree with on the decision to go to war – Eamonn or Grainne?
I like the Dalriada and the Cruithne in the same way that I liked the Skaldi – I am appreciating every other culture we meet in this world and how their beliefs and customs are different to the D’Angelline way of life. It’s like having the map carefully coloured in as I read.
I like Drustan a lot, and while I can’t quite help seeing him as a young love-lorn lad (just as I see Ysandre as a young love-lorn lass) I can still see, too, that he has the makings of a good ruler (as does Ysandre, I think). I really want their dream to come true (even if it is pie-in-the-sky romantic flimflam) because these two will make a good couple and a great Queen and King.
Eamonn and Grainne made me think of Ruffnut and Tuffnut from the first How To Train Your Dragon movie with all their squabbling – which kind of spoiled the effect I think Carey was going for and definitely ruined my ability to answer the question of which one I agree with on the issue of war. From the moment we met them I was 95% certain they were going to fight alongside Drustan. I couldn’t see how the story could go another way.
We’ve seen blood and death before in this book, but this is the first mass bloodletting. What was your reaction? Will any moments stick with you? Were you surprised by Phèdre and Hyacinthe’s moment together?
Because of the nature of Phèdre’s calling I didn’t expect to find myself in the middle of any battles while reading this, so I was mildly surprised. That said, we see what Phèdre sees, so I should’ve figured it out sooner …
I got a proper shiver when the black boar appeared and essentially saved them from slaughter – that was cool!
As for Phèdre and Hyacinthe’s ‘moment’ – no, not surprised at all. I feel like it was bound to happen sooner or later.
Were you expecting Elder Brother to take a hand again after everything – and if so, were you expecting to be this? What did you make of his history and Hyacinthe’s choice?
So, I’d gotten the impression Elder Brother would be showing up again from a comment made a couple of weeks ago. His history is fascinating – another expansion of the world, specifically it’s religious history. I am totally digging all the layers and branchings of creation myths that we’re learning. I’ll admit now that I was a bit sceptical of this book at first because piggy-backing the Christian story seemed … lazy? Uninspired? … but the more we discover, the more I’m into it. I am particularly interested in some of the people of Alba being of the oldest bloodlines and the people on the isles bearing no mark of angelic intermingling – seriously, I want so much more of this.
It’s been a hell of a ride and as we near the end, what with Hyacinthe and Phèdre saying goodbye and Hyacinthe telling her that Joscelin has feelings for her, it seems a good time to ask how you feel about Phèdre, Joscelin and Hyacinthe – have they grown in your eyes? Has your opinion changed of any of them?
My opinions about them have changed moment to moment sometimes, and yes I think they’ve grown, how could they not? They’ve been thrown into all manner of situations that none of them could have imagined. Of the three of them, we’ve had to take Hyacinthe’s growth on faith the most, but everything he’s gone through in this portion of the story has more than made up for all the episodes in his life that we’ve not witnessed. But sheesh, way to pull the heartstrings with Phèdre and Hyancinth’s farewell! I didn’t expect to be so cut up about it. I had decided privately that I’d be most happy to see the three of them reach a ménage-à-trois understanding by the end of the book and am a bit upset that my little dream’s been spoiled. I hope this isn’t the last we see of Hyacinthe? Whether here, or in the following books, I feel he’s too interesting a character to be ignored, especially considering his new position.
And finally – any other thoughts you may have about this section!
Only one thought: I still don’t see how Drustan’s contribution can make a difference to the coming war against the Skaldi. We know there are thousands of Skaldi and Alba is geographically so small that Drustan, Eamonn and Grainne’s forces combined still can’t be that many, can’t be enough. Are they all just heading to Terre D’Ange to be slaughtered? I don’t doubt that they’ll all be incredible on the battlefield, but I am afraid!
Now excuse me while I go try and piece my heart back together again.