I’ve been a blogging wreck this week, but here we are with Kushiel’s Dart Week 9 — the penultimate week of the KUSHIEL’S DART reading challenge!
Week 9: July 5, Chapters 74-83, is hosted by me. So follow below the cut for more spoilers than you can shake a stick at.
1) Hyacinthe being trapped on the isle is a particularly cruel punishment for the people-loving Prince of Travellers. If you had his choice – a cutthroat life back in Night’s Doorstep, surrounded by friends and adventures, or a lonely but safe and privileged life on the island – which would you choose, and why?
Oh man, for me this is pretty much a no-brainer: alone on a cool castle with a bunch of nice people looking after me? Away from all the crazy wars going on? DONE. SIGN ME UP. As long as I can bring my To Be Read bookshelf.
Oh, hey, what do you mean there’s no wifi on the spooky remote island? How am I supposed to tweet?!
2) Phedre remarks that the island people are truly human, and very different from d’Angelines with god blood in the veins. Through the story, the lines between myth and reality have become steadily blurrier: the gods are gone but they’ve left a kind of magic behind, and faces can rise up from the ocean. Is Phedre’s conceit just a form of Terra d’Ange vanity, or do you think there’s really something inhuman about the d’Angelines?
I’ve been wondering about this for a while and I’m *still* wondering it. I had it in my head that the idea of d’Angelines as gods was just folklore — ways to put a positive spin on birth defects like Phedre’s eye dart. It beats burning the kid at the stake for witchcraft, at least, and it gives her a nice confidence.
But the more of the story I read, the more I think there is some semblance of magic in this universe. A very old, very powerful force that shows up with subtlety instead of bombast. It’s a really refreshing change to the usual.
3) Phedre doesn’t share any of the details of her last night with Hyacinthe. After her no-holds-barred descriptions of previous lovers, this scene really standards out as unique. How do you feel about Phedre’s goodbye, and Hyacinthe leaving the spotlight? How do you think Hyacinthe will keep himself occupied in his new life — will he create a network on the island like he did on Night’s Doorstep, spying on the affairs of the world?
Oh man, Phedre withholding any details of her night with Hyacinthe was SO SWEET. Really romantic, and so fitting for our bold-but-most tsingano.
I’d really love to see Hyacinthe alleviate his boredom by becoming something of a spymaster, like Delauney tried to be: watching the affairs of the world, influencing them subtlety by changing the paths of seas and rivers, and using the islanders to do his legwork. It’s already been said that, if the marriage between Alba and Terra d’Ange goes ahead, the seas should calm — but I’d love to see Hyacinthe keep the waters fickle and biased.
4) When Phedre’s addressed as “Delauney’s Whore” by Ghislain de Somerville, everyone around Phedre draws a blade to defend her honour. Was it an over-reaction, or a fitting sign of Phedre’s new rank in society?
I accidentally let some of my thoughts on this slip into the question: back when Phedre was orphaned she often called herself a “whore’s get”, and later she called herself Delauney’s whore quite comfortably. This time, she’s as quick to correct Ghislain as her companions are. I adore how much of a change this shows in Phedre: she’s really got *so much* more confidence, and as much as she doubts her abilities as royal advisor, she knows she’s no whore anymore.
5)We’ve nearing the end of the story, and it’s been a heart-breaking ride this week, so let’s step back and look at the wider world of Terra d’Ange. If you were part of the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, which house which you end up in? Have you changed enough from your childhood self that it would it be different from the House that raised you?
Oh man, oh man, this is a TOUGH question. Why did I set this one. I’m the worst person.
For the house I was raised in, I think it’d be either Eglantine from the start, or Heliotrope. Heliotrope’s all about loyalty and devotion, and being kind to people, making them feel like they matter.
I’d definitely end up in Eglantine house (“To Create is to Live”), the house of artists. They also chose to dress as Tsingani for the Midwinter Masque, which, though kinda racist and appropriative by modern standards, feeds in well to the next question…
6) Moving even further beyond the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, where this all began, and into the wide world: if you could belong anywhere in this world, where would you be? Sunning yourself in exotic Persian-inspired Khebbel-im-Akkad, fighting in rainy Alba, or harsh Skaldia, sleeping in front of crackling fires on a pile of warm furs? Would you be roaming in the Long Roads with the Tsingano, a scion of the Night’s Court, a player in the theatre or a pub landlord on Night’s Doorstep?
Where would you like to be most, out of everywhere, and where would you absolutely *hate* to be stuck in?
MENDIIIICAAANNNTTTT. I WOULD BE A MEDICANT IN A HEARTBEAT. Mendicants are my favourite thing in the entire Kushiel’s Dart universe: travelling storytellers with colourful swirls in their long cloaks, using the long roads to find new cities and stories to tell.
If I were to create a fan-character for this universe, it would be an Eglantine-house raised tsingano lassie (are tsingano accepted in the Night Court, I wonder? I imagine they accept everyone!) who goes off on the long roads after earning her marque, telling stories to all and scraping a living as a Mendicant. And she’d probably end up in Alba, by the end of it. Or… reading books on an island. :P
I think I’d be least comfortable living in Night’s Doorstep: it’s noisy, violent, crowded, and the plague seems to be ever-hovering around. I’d get really jealous there, watching all the rich people swan around on their way to Night’s Court.