This week we begin to explore a new part of Phèdre’s world as she arrives in La Serenissima. But our cocksure courtesan (*snorts laughter* sorry! couldn’t resist!) is only just getting into the swing of things – this is a place with its own gods, politics and drama – when she finds herself in a whole new heap of trouble and comes face to face with the dastardly Melisande once again …
This weeks prompts are posed by the marvellous Zeezee of Zeezee with Books (who’s my go-to blogger for awesome book tags, just FYI). Each week’s prompts, links to other readers’ responses and the reading schedule can all be found on this Goodreads page here.
I shouldn’t have to add that there will be SPOILERS ALL THE WAY!! You have been warned!
Week 3: Chapters 31 to 44 inclusive
Phèdre, her boys, and Joscelin arrive safely in La Serenissima. What’s your impression of the city, its culture, and its ruler, the Doge? What do you think of its goddess, Asherat? Do you agree with the Doge that Asherat-of-the-Sea reached out to Phèdre about the Oracle being tampered with?
Ooooo, I like La Serenissima. Or, to be more particular, I like how La Serenissima is different to Terre d’Ange: Phèdre will not practice her art here where it is not recognised as a religious service, and I was fascinated by her quick trip into the courtesan quarter and her feelings about it. That, more than anything else so far, has clarified for me how different the Service of Naamah really is from prostitution. I’m a bit disappointed in myself that I’ve struggled with this – my ideas about sex must be pretty stilted.
I really like Asherat-of-the-Sea, La Serenissima’s mourning goddess. I’m interested in how she fits into the story of Terre d’Ange’s gods too. In fact, I really love how Carey deals with her gods generally. They’re not just stories, but they’re not throwing their weight around in people’s lives in a heavy-handed fashion either. We just see hints and glimpses of divine activity.
I’m not sure I quite understand the significance of the Oracle having been tampered with. Am I being dense here? I mean, I see that it has happened and that this effects the upcoming elections, but I was confused by the Doge’s comment “the immortal bride does not set her mortal beloved free to live a few more doddering years” – does he mean he’s been told to step down by the Oracle (the untrustworthy stand-in for the Oracle)? Which goes against tradition? He’s supposed to die in post, as it were?
I think I must be being a bit stupid to not see this as clearly as I’m supposed to.
What do you think of Severio’s Immortali when you first met them? Do you think it a coincidence that Phèdre is finally invited to meet with Benedicte de la Courcel after turning down Severio’s proposal? Do you think Severio will make problems for Phèdre or will he get over Phèdre turning down his marriage proposal?
The Immortali were amusing enough – they made me think of Shakespearean side characters inserted into scenes for laughs – but all the clubbing people in the streets made me look down my nose at them a bit. I must have caught a touch of Phèdre’s belief in D’Angeline civilisation.
Hmm, I don’t think it was a coincidence that Phèdre turned down Severio and then got invited to meet Benedicte and his *spit* wife. Our heroine’s every move clearly seems to have been watched (she’s starting to leave a trail of bodies, isn’t she?!) and this timing was just too neat to have been an accident.
As for Severio, I reckon he’ll get over it. He was being a bit dramatic, and I feel that his ‘love’ for Phèdre is actually no more than gratitude and infatuation. She has helped him accept a part of himself that he thought was flawed, so she looms large for him right now, but he’s young, he’ll bounce back soon enough.
Joscelin is teaching the Yeshuites to fight like a Cassiline. Do you think he is the Cassiline leader prophesied to help the Yeshuites? What do you think about him abandoning his post, especially considering what happens to Phèdre and her boys by the end of this week’s chapters?
I’m annoyed by all of this. Whether he’s the prophesied leader or not (and I’m guessing he is) he swore to protect and serve and then didn’t. Instead, he disappears for days on end and comes back at the wrong times. He’s either in or out for goodness’ sake. However conflicted he may feel, as soon as it became clear that he couldn’t keep his promise to protect Phèdre he should have gone away. He clings to the remains of his Casseline vows out of cowardice, I think (I’m really sore at him at the moment, does it show?).
Melisande is unveiled! Were you expecting her to pop up as we received more hints about Benedicte’s mysterious wife and new-born D’Angeline son? We learn that in addition to Benedicte, Melisande has also roped Percy de Somerville (who already had plans for treason) into her plots, do you suspect anyone else of siding with Melisande?
When Felicity d’Arbos said she and Phèdre could catch a glimpse of Benedicte’s wife in the gardens I was expecting to see Melisande. When we didn’t I thought I must have been barking up the wrong tree, so I was both surprised and not surprised when Melisande was finally revealed to be his wife after all. And of course, it’s so perfectly Melisande to be in control of her own unveiling (I keep thinking back to Peat’s comments about Melisande and Criminal Minds – an absolutely spot-on observation).
And so, yeah, Percy de Somerville is one of the traitors from Troyes-le-Mont. OK. Now I’m just hoping that Ghislain wasn’t in on it too. Don’t let all the Somervilles be in on it. They smell like apples!
Now that we see what happened to the missing guards from Troyes-le-Mont, do you still agree with Phèdre that the Cassiline Brotherhood, or one of their members, is guilty of being involved in sneaking Melisande out of Troyes-le-Mont?
Yes. Yes. Yes. A Cassiline Brother was seen by too many witnesses not to have been involved, and only Melisande (or Phèdre *ahem*) could turn a Brother from the path. It’s too perfect not to be true. Also, it means there’s another traitor very close to the Queen which is something I can imagine Melisande wanting to have. It’s becoming more and more obvious that she works on multiple people at a time so give herself as many advantages and avenues as possible.
I admit it hadn’t occurred to me that the whole Brotherhood might be corrupt. Sheesh, I hope not!
Phèdre is imprisoned and two-thirds of her boys are confirmed dead, what did you think of this sequence as events. Did you see it coming or were you shocked?
I did not see any of this coming!! Shocked! Horrified! Dismayed!
Firstly, seeing Remy and Fortun die was heart-breaking. Especially Fortun, whom I’d become very fond of in this last section, with his serious watchfulness and his smarts. I think this is why I’m so mad at Joscelin at the moment. If he’d been there things might have turned out differently. And he should have been there. Protect and serve, he said.
Secondly, Phèdre is now on La Dolorosa. After all the sumptuous parties and clothes, her imprisonment is something of a jolt. She’s sweaty and dirty and bored-bordering-on-mad and oh so human.
Thirdly, Melisande has said she can’t kill Phèdre. Not only because she’s be cursed with ten thousand years’ torment, but because I think we’ve just seen just how much she cares for Phèdre (in the scene where Phèdre bashes her head against the wall). This is a revelation (to me at least) – we knew there was a connection between these two women, but the power dynamic was always tipped in Melisande’s favour. Suddenly we see a chink … and I’m very interested to see how Phèdre might use it.
The next post for this read-along can be found here: