It’s time for another week of the KUSHIEL’S DART read-along, and today, we’re actually on time! Week 5 brings us nicely to the middle of this book, where things are changing in major ways.
Week 5: June 7, Chapters 37-45, is hosted by Igret at Igret’s Corner. You can find the read-along schedule HERE, and anyone and everyone is welcome to join in. There’s also a Goodreads group for SF/F read alongs.
This is a really pivotal point in the book — in most normal series, I think this would be the cliffhanger ending before book 2 – so BUCKLE-UP FOR SPOILERS BELOW THE CUT.
Whew, what a week it’s been. I did NOT expect even half of what just transpired. Oh man. Just…. oh maaaannnn.
That was RUTHLESS. So many authorial decisions I would *never* be brave enough to make. This series is mad in the best way.
1) In this section we see Melisande betraying Delaunay and Phedre. Did you see this coming? Why or why not? Also, what do you think Melisande’s highest loyalty is to?
HOLY HELL I SAW *NONE* OF THIS COMING. NONE OF IT.
When we were at the tattooist and things were getting sinister, I thought for sure it would be Delaunay who’d be the victim. And it was… but I never expected Alcuin, too. Poor adorable Alcuin. Beautiful cinnamon roll, too good for this world, too pure.
This honestly was an utterly heart-breaking part of the story, and it really did come out of nowhere for me, but it worked brilliantly because of it.
As for Melisandre’s highest loyalty? That one seems obvious to me: herself. Her own whims rule above all, which is at this point the only reason why Phedre and Joscelin are still alive.
2) We see Phedre sold into slavery by Melisande and D’Anglemort. How is slavery different than being a bond servant, how is it the same?
This was quite interesting, because the bond servant thing seemed a *lot* like slavery in the first half of the book… then you hit this part of the tale, and realise just how good Phedre had it. But then again, I also loved how we saw Skaldic attitudes towards bond servants, and how they also detested the way D’Angelines have to simper and serve as basically sex slaves.
3) Hedwig’s treatment of Phedre is not what Phedre expected. What does her behavior tell us about Skaldi women?
Skaldic culture definitely has its own issues, but Hedwig shows that there’s a strong current of change amongst its people, and over time I could see them becoming far more humane and anti-slavery than set-in-its-ways Terra D’Ange (which has made itself quite reliant on bond slaves to function).
I love that Skaldi women are edging close to being equal to men, as well. They don’t have quite the same gender equality as Terra D’Ange, which has women in power across all areas of society, but you can tell they’re getting close with the dynamic between Gunther and Hedgwig.
(And I *REALLY* loved how we got to see the Skaldi women working their butts off while the men are constantly sitting around idle and bored. It’s a part of history that’s often overlooked, I think.)
4) Joscelin initially hates Phedre for not attempting to run, yet ultimately chooses to stay with her. What does this say about Joscelin and his views of Cassiel?
This really sums up so much about Joscelin: he’s proud to the point of being utterly stupid, and a hot mess when angry, but he’s loyal. Loyalty really is his core, both to Cassiel and to Phedre, and it’s summed up nicely when we see caged up with the dogs, bonding with them and even weathering being attacked by them.
(The symbolism really is excellent in this story.)
I love Joscelin because he’s so *driven* — he’s made a promise to escape, and you know full well that no matter what happens, he’s going to stick to that promise.
5) Phedre says that Guntersville raid reminded her that she was with the enemy. Do you think that prior to the raid she had developed Stockholm Syndrome? What about life in the steadiness made her complacent?
Phedre’s always got a strong inclination towards fitting in and finding her comfort zone. Kushiel’s Dart definitely helps here, making her inclined to adapt to even the harshest situations, but I think a lot of it also comes from her childhood in the Night Court. She was raised to keep her head down, to fit in, to make no waves — and as much as she boasts about her confidence and tendency to be bold and risk trouble, most of her day-to-day life is spent being unobtrusive, as she was raised.
If it wasn’t for Joscelin’s presence, I think she’d be very much inclined to just go with the flow and take whatever life throws at her. She’d trust in Elua’s will to guide her, and avoid taking too much action herself. But Joscelin keeps her rebellious streak alive in a situation where it would likely be stamped out.
6) Joscelin brakes his vows during the holmgang. Do you think he should have or not? What do you think the repercussions will be?
I don’t think Joscelin broke his vows, really. Phedre made it clear he would die if he failed in the holmgang, and a dead Brother of Cassiel can’t protect his ward. He did what was necessary to protect Phedre, even if it was by an indirect route.
7) We see Waldemar Selig’s steading for the first time, what are your impressions of it?
I enjoyed seeing the contrast between Gunter’s tribe and the wider tribes, and seeing how lucky Phedre actually was to have Hedwig looking after her.
Plus, we got to see Joscelin being a fiery little wolf-pup — I love how his time with the Skaldi has helped Joscelin grow up and find his cunning and his confidence.
I can’t *wait* to see how everyone else reacts to this section! If you’d like to hear other answers to these questions, the other participating blogs are below.
Week 1: May 10, Chapters 1-8, Hosted by DAB OF DARKNESS.
Week 2: May 17, Chapters 9-18, Hosted by Allie at Tethyan Books
Week 3: May 24, Chapters 19-26, Hosted by Lisa at OVER THE EFFING RAINBOW
Week 4: May 31, Chapters 27-36, Hosted by Susan at DAB OF DARKNESS.
Week 5: June 7, Chapters 37-45, Hosted by Igret at Igret’s Corner
Week 6: June 14, Chapters 46-54, Hosted by Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Week 7: June 21, Chapters 55-63, Hosted by Dolce Bellezza at Dolce Bellezza
Week 8: June 28, Chapters 64-73, Hosted by Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Week 9: July 5, Chapters 74-83, Hosted by meeeeeeee!
Week 10: July 12, Chapter 84-END, Hosted by Lisa at OVER THE EFFING RAINBOW