Read As Thou Wilt: Kushiel’s Dart Read Along (Pt. 2)

Imyril @ There’s Always Room For One More is hosting a read along of Jacqueline Carey’s epic fantasy Kushiel’s Dart. This has been on my TBR for ages. I’ve had a copy sitting on my shelf staring at me for about 5 years. But I haven’t wanted to dive into a new fantasy series without finishing some of the ones I have in progress. Also, the size of the book is a bit intimidating. It’s a doorstop. So I’ve put it off. But when I heard about the read along, I decided to go for it.

If you’re interested in my thoughts on the first part of the book, check out my post here. I’ve now read through Chapter 32 of the book, and I’m starting to get more interested in Phedre’s life with Delaunay and Alcuin. I was invested in Alcuin’s completion of his marque and the complication with poor Guy. But so much of the politics is still over my head. With so much time and space being give to that, I feel that I’m missing out on a lot. I try to follow it, but the weird names all blend together, and I’ll be like “who is that?” and of course they all have complicated backstories… So I haven’t formed an opinion of the book overall just yet. I’m definitely intrigued, but I’m not hooked. Here are my answers for the questions about part 2.

We get a few more hints of magic or the supernatural in this section. Phedre 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 actually didn’t regard this as magic/supernatural per se. Rather, I see it as the characters and their religion. Often people will speak of a feeling of deep peace at prayer. People can sometimes think they see religious figures in times of high stress and trauma. We don’t usually think of that as magic really. As for the dromonde, I see it as the a psychic kind of thing. When people go to see psychics we don’t think of it as doing magic. Again its about the power of belief.

I suppose you can argue that faith and magic are the same thing ultimately. But I don’t think that the characters would regard these things as a belief in magic/supernatural.

Q2) 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 think that I followed the broad outlines of this case, but I probably missed a lot of subtleties. I don’t know what I think of the Lioness of Azzalle. But I definitely wasn’t sorry to see Baudoin go. He always struck me as a spoiled brat!

Q3) 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?

I think this was the storyline I was the most invested in, because it was exactly the kind of situation I thought had the potential to emerge from the system of indentured servitude that exists in this world. Yes, Alcuin was asked if he wanted to become a servant of Naamah, but it’s not like he was ever given an alternative. He was in a position where he owed a debt to Delaunay, and this was the only way people seem to have of repaying that debt. I don’t blame him for taking the only way out that he saw. It was unfortunate that it ended in tragedy for Guy.

Q4) Phedre 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?

I really wanted to know more about Casseline Brothers and what all that’s about. All Phedre really gives us is a brief aside, that tells us that they have contempt for her profession. Most of the other things we learn about them have been little bits and pieces from Joscelin. I do hope we learn more because I think this has potential for interesting conflict.

Q5) We finally meet Barquiel L’Envers. How dangerous do you think this man is? What do you make of his history with Anafiel?

Again this was a situation that confused me, because I don’t understand the background. I’m hoping that a lot of this will be clarified as I continue reading. Actually I feel like a great deal of my confusion is due to the fact that I don’t understand what Delaunay’s goal ultimately is. I don’t understand where he’s coming from or what he wants.

Q6) How did you feel about Phedre granting Childric another assignation? Was she right that she owed him a debt?

I think a lot of the time, I don’t follow Phedre’s logic. This is one example. I understand that from a religious perspective, Phedre is betraying her service to Namaah by going into the assignation with an ulterior motive. But isn’t that true of all of her assignations? I don’t understand why she felt the need to repay Childric rather than any of her other patrons.

Q7) Alcuin has completed his marque and displays it to Anafiel. How do you feel about the shift in their relationship? Phedre’s response to it?

I was little surprised by the shift in their relationship because I saw Delaunay as a father figure. It was surprising to see it shift to romantic/sexual with Alcuin. I’m also uncomfortable with the fact that Delaunay also in a position power over Alcuin. You can argue that’s no longer the case, now that Alcuin has made he marque, but he grew up with Delaunay having significant power over his life. That doesn’t just go away overnight.

I was also a bit puzzled by Phedre’s reaction. She doesn’t seem to have any kind of romantic/sexual attraction to either Alcuin (who seems more like a brother) or Delaunay (who seems more like a father). So why would it bother her if they’re together? Is it just the fact that there’s something between them that doesn’t include her? She’s often jealous of the attention that Alcuin gets….

Information for anyone who wants to join in:

THE SCHEDULE

Discussions will begin from Thursday 3rd September

  • Week One | Beginning through end Chapter Sixteen hosted at There’s Always Room For One More
  • Week Two | Chapter Seventeen – Thirty-one hosted by Susan at Dab of Darkness
  • Week Three | Chapter Thirty-two – Forty-seven hosted by Zezee with Books
  • Week Four | Chapter Forty-eight – Sixty-one hosted by Mayri at Book Forager
  • Week Five | Chapter Sixty-two – Seventy-nine hosted by Peat Long
  • Week Six |Chapter Eighty through the end hosted by Lisa at Dear Geek Place

If you feel like joining in, you can comment/discuss along with us via each host’s blog post; in the Goodreads group with a link to your own post; or on Twitter, tagging @wyrdandwonder and using the hashtag #ReadAsThouWilt.

You can read at your own pace, but please bear in mind that some participants are first-time readers, and be mindful of any spoilers beyond each week’s chapters. Likewise, if you don’t keep up with the schedule but still want to read and discuss, we’ll be ready when you are! More guidelines than rules, as the piratical saying goes…

18 thoughts on “Read As Thou Wilt: Kushiel’s Dart Read Along (Pt. 2)

  1. Pingback: Read-along: Kushiel’s Dart – week two

  2. I completely agree with your points regarding magic. I feel like it almost a mirror of how ‘magic’ and the supernatural appear in our own world – religious fervour, psychics etc.

    I am also extremely uncomfortable with the relationship between Delaunay and Alcuin. I too saw them as strictly father and son and that power and responsibility doesn’t just shift over night… I agree with your thoughts about Phèdre too. She is clearly prone to a little jealously and it is quite apparent here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m actually a bit puzzled by Phedre’s jealousy of Alcuin in general. It comes out just about any time that he gets some sort of positive attention. I suppose it could be something similar to sibling rivalry, but Alcuin doesn’t really do anything to provoke it. As far as I can see, he’s very kind to Phedre. She strikes me as someone who thrives on being the center of attention. So I suppose seeing someone else get attention is somewhat threatening to her.

      I like what you said about magic in the book acting as a mirror for how we regard the supernatural in our own world!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I always read her jealousy as sibling rivalry. It is quite clear she loves Alcuin but seems envious of his quiet intelligence. It may just come down to her wanting to feel just as loved or as wanted as him I suppose!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think you are right about Phedre’s initial reaction to Anafiel and Alcuin getting together. She’s jealous because it doesn’t include her. But she also recognizes that her jealousy is not fair and works to move past it. I sometimes have to remind myself that she’s still young, perhaps 18 at this point. She’s got a fair amount of book learning, but not much real life experience yet. She’s going to make mistakes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • True. I think that Phedre’s youth comes out in these moments. I think her sexuality sometime tricks me into thinking that she’s more mature than she is. Which it shouldn’t because there’s really no connection between sex and maturity! But then we get these little reminders that she’s really still a kid in many ways.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so with you on your assessment of Prince Baudoin: spoiled brat from start to finish. I still can’t decide whether he recognised the extent to which he was being manipulated by his mother and his lover, or whether he saw it, found it amusing and went with it because he thought it would put him on the throne. I don’t even think he’d necessarily thought about what him taking the throne would mean for the Dauphine – when she asks what his plan for her was and he had no response, Phèdre (and I think Ysandre) take it to mean he would have killed her; but it seems just as likely to me that he hadn’t even considered it.

    For what it’s worth, the whole subplot with Barquiel L’Envers doesn’t entirely hang together for me either except as an illustration of ‘ehmagerd D’Angeline politics are all so personal/i>’\

    Liked by 1 person

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