It’s time for another week of the KUSHIEL’S DART read-along! Week 7 has us hitting the road with Tsingano travellers.
Week 7: June 21, Chapters 55-63, is hosted by Dolce Bellezza at Dolce Bellezza. 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.
Follow below the cut for a spoiler-y discussion of our adventures along the long road ahead.
IT’S PONY WEEK. So saddle up and keep reading!
1) What do you think of the over all connection between the Casseline Brotherhood and the Yeshuites? Are you happy with where the shaggy pony ended up?
I am SO HAPPY about the shaggy pony. SO HAPPY. And there’s something wonderfully optimistic about the shaggy pony — after all the horror of the previous scenes, we were all waiting for the pony to meet a sad fate. BUT IT DIDN’T.
I find myself wondering if this was always Ms Carey’s plan, a nice bit of goodness after all the sorrow, or if an intrepid beta reader convinced her to save the poor shaggy pony’s life.
Seeing the connection between the Casseline Brotherhood and the Yeshuites was lovely as well — we don’t see much of the Casseline’s world beyond Joscelin, or the Yeshuite world, and in this scene we got a good taste of both.
I really like how well Jacequeline foreshadows things: we had a vague sense of the Yeshuite people thanks to Phedre’s frequent doctor visits, which made this scene feel very natural and fitting.
2) Phedre & Hyacinthe have a happy reunion. What do you make of Joscelin’s reaction? Do you miss Hyacinthe’s mother?
I really, really miss Hyacinthe’s mum. Off-screen deaths, as realistic as they are, always make me kinda sad — it added a nice level of depth to the fever though, killing off someone we were attached to.
I’m really happy to see Hyacinthe back, and the accepting way Joscelin takes to his company is fantastic to see. It really showcases how much Joscelin has evolved as a character, moving from a really prejudiced, judgemental dude to someone who just seems to genuinely like people. If you’re not actively trying to kill him, Joscelin’s happy to be your friend these days. It’s so cute to see.
3) Yet another happy reunion occurs with Thelesis de Mornay, the King’s Poet, who gets them in to see the Dauphine, Ysandre. Do you think there was another way to seek her audience? Such an intense meeting! What stood out the most for you?
As intense as this meeting was, it didn’t stick in my head as much as some of the other scenes in this section. It was great to see Ysandre taking control, and Phedre reunited with some old faces, but for me the most exciting bit was when Joscelin renounced his vows.
Regarding whether there was another way to seek out her audience: apart from going to the Casseline Brotherhood head, I don’t think they had many other routes! They chose well, trusting Phedre’s coded message. It’s always lovely to see Thelesis, too. I really hope she recovers well from that fever cough.
4) Phedre makes a trip to the temple of Kushiel to make atonement. Do you agree that she had things to atone for?
I think it was her way of grieving and dealing with her lingering emotions about everything that happened to her. It was a good way to do it — it’s refreshing to see a side of her service to Kushiel beyond the sex.
In terms of realism, though… the penance kind of bothered me, because I can’t see it working at all. They’re seeking penance and forgiveness for wrongs done in Kushiel’s service… so you punish them in a way Kushiel would consider pleasure?
I feel like treating her kindly and just talking to her would be better penance for someone in Kushiel’s house, or just chilling out and reading, since we know Phedre’s easily bored by her own company alone and seems to dislike too much time in her own head. But that wouldn’t be as exciting reading, I suppose.
5) After King Ganelon’s death, at the hunting lodge we learn some more politics. What stood out for you? We learned more about the Picti and the prophesy. Should the fate of Terre D’Ange be resting, even partially, on the validity of a prophesy of love and union?
I enjoyed how much d’Angelines rely on prophecy and hope in their war tactics — it shows how their strong religious beliefs colour every aspect of them, even in war.
In the real world this would be an incredibly dangerous thing to do, but the world of Kushiel’s Dart seems to ride an odd line between historical fiction and fantasy — God blessings, prophecies and mythology all seem to have a very tangible strength in this world.
So given all the other strangeness going on in Terra d’Ange, their war preparations end up making perfect sense.
HECK YEAH HE DID. Not only did he get to stay in the centre of the story, thank goodness, but that jammy git get out of serving any punishment for breaking his vows! Clever sausage, that one.
7) Hyacinthe comes up with the plan to get them to the coast and meet with Royal Admiral Quintilius Rousse. Do you like the fake IDs? Do you think they will make it unscathed?
I *LOVE* the fake identities so much! Mendacant Joscelin is a gift I never expected, and am so happy to experience. It’s really had such a strong impact on his personality. He’s become such a well-rounded person through his travels with Phedre. And he’s HAPPY. After all his angst and suffering these past few chapters, Elua’s balls, is it good to see him happy.
8) Hyacinthe meets his grandfather, Manoj, for the first time. Happy? Sad? How do you feel about how his mother was cast out?
This really saddened me. The Tsingino seem like a really fun tribe on the surface, really clever and creative, but compared to the d’Angelines and even the Skaldi they do a LOT of skeevy shit. They steal from everyone who isn’t their own race, they obsess about virginity and purity, and they keep super strict gender roles (ladies are allowed to flirt with cute guys, yay, but no way in hell are they having sex for fun or teaching men their magic). They let one of their own whore out a young Tsingino woman because of a bet made out of some random dude’s pride. He treated her like property, and he wasn’t even her husband or her father.
I really wanted to love the Tsingino culture because the Mendacant role is the COOLEST thing, but of all the cultures we’ve seen they’re definitely the worst to be born into. You’re not only hated by all the other cultures around you, if you put a foot wrong you’ll be outcast from the “family” you’ve been taught should be the world to you.
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