Read As Thou Wilt: Kushiel’s Dart Read Along (Pt. 6)

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.

Posts for parts  onetwo three , four, and five can be found at the links. I’m glad that I had the read along spurring me to finish, because I might not have made it through otherwise, and I’m glad I did. I had some criticisms of the book. It was definitely overlong, and I had some issues connecting to Phedre as a heroine. But I did enjoy the story and the experience of discussing it with other readers. So without further ado, here is my final set of questions:

Phèdre risks everything yet again on a chance to finish what she started, and keep her word to Ysandre. Joscelin does the same trying to thwart Selig, if not stop him. What were your thoughts about their last confrontation with the Skaldi warlord, and what it means for their relationship?

I was actually a bit underwhelmed by that whole scene. When Phedre and Joscelin confronted Selig again, I expected something dramatic. Instead we get a bit of Selig torturing Phedre, Joscelin doing Casseline stuff, and then a quick rescue. The scene didn’t seem to bring the resolution I wanted with Selig as a villain, and it also didn’t seem that important to Phedre’s relationship with Joscelin. Maybe I missed something, but after Phedre’s decision to go, and all the fuss of sneaking into the Skadi camp, I expected more from the confrontation itself.

Isidore d’Aiglemort turns out to be the hero that Terre D’Ange needs, if not the one they want. Do you think Phèdre made the right call, making him that offer? What do you think of his final act, and the reasons that drive him to it? Is he a hero, or was he ultimately still only a tool in the hands of others?

I do think that she made the right call. She needed his help and was able to offer him something he valued. I think in choosing to help Terre d’Ange, he stops being a tool for others (Selig, Melissande, etc), but I suppose you might argue that he starts being a D’Angeline tool. I wouldn’t call him a hero by any means, but he’s not quite a villain at the end either. I suppose he’s a good example of why we can’t easily classify all these characters easily in to “heroes and villains.”

Melisande faces the consequences of her actions, though it seems her ‘deep game’ is not over. Do you think she was prepared for her plan to fail, or was she seizing any opportunity to save herself with that escape? What are your thoughts on her after her last conversation with Phèdre?

I don’t know if she had a specific plan in place for just this event, but I also think that she probably did have someone loyal to her in place to help her escape, should she need ever need to. She strikes me as someone who has numerous contingencies. I think in her final conversation with Phedre was about laying the groundwork for her. She was attempting to get under Phedre’s skin, so that she could draw her back into the game (whatever if may be) at a later point. I was a little disappointed in Phedre for falling for it (but I also suspect that we wouldn’t have a sequel if Phedre didn’t!)

Finally, everyone gets a chance to rest and recover, and Phèdre is richly rewarded for her deeds – in a few senses. How do you feel about her (double-edged) Happily Ever After with Joscelin? And do you think she’s doing the right thing, choosing to find the traitor who freed Melisande in her own way?

As I said, I think that by trying to find the traitor, Phadre is playing right into Melissande’s hands, so I was a little disappointed in her for that. I think the “right” thing to do, would be to let it go and move on. By engaging in this way, she’s giving Melissande an opening for the future. Which I suspect is exactly what Melissande wants. It may also be exactly what Phedre wants on some level.

I was confused by the logic that Phedre and Joscelin had for not getting married. I mean, I’m OK with it. If they don’t want to get married then don’t! But Phedre says that Joscelin is betraying his vow every day that he’s with her, and they’re OK with that. So why would marriage be different?

I do kind of want to know the parameters of their future relationship. Will Joscelin be OK with Phedre indulging her anguisette needs elsewhere? How will he respond to her upcoming plans to uncover the traitor?

Thanks to Imyril @ There’s Always Room For One More  for hosting this read along and finally getting me to read this book. In spite of some of my complaints about the book, I did enjoy discussing it and reading everyone’s responses each week. Having this weekly post also kept me accountable for getting through the book, and reading attentively. Thanks to everyone who participated!

6 thoughts on “Read As Thou Wilt: Kushiel’s Dart Read Along (Pt. 6)

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

  2. Pingback: I’ve Been (2020 Hellscape Edition) | Fran Laniado- Author

  3. I’m with you on not entirely understanding Phèdre’s logic for why it’s better to break vows daily than acknowledge you plan to do so for the rest of your life (although as a deliberately unmarried person in a 20-year committed relationship, I do love fictional glimpses of other people choosing to remain not-wed).

    Thank you for joining us – it’s been quite a journey, and all the better for good company!

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  4. It’s interesting to read your thoughts on Phedre’s final confrontation with Selig. To me, who has read this book many times, this scene always holds a lot of tension and drama for me. I love it. There’s so much going on there. Selig’s cruelty really shows through because he once had Phedre in his bed as a pleasant play thing and now he can skin her alive in front of an audience. Joscelin can tell Phedre with a glance that he plans to kill them both rather than leave her alive to the torturous whims of Selig. Then Barquiel bursts out of the gates on horseback with his most skilled horse warriors, risking much to save Phedre (who he doesn’t like because he has a long-held grudge with Anafiel). Turns out Barquiel holds bravery & loyalty in higher regard than his grudge with Anafiel’s household. So, yeah, for me, it really worked.
    Thanks for joining the readalong. It’s been fun to see this book through new eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

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