During the readalong, I’m going to try to feature a different piece of Kushiel’s Dart fan art each week. Excuse any messiness in formatting there; I’m trying to do the right thing with copyright, and as far as I understand, that means using DeviantArt’s built-in sharing features, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to center those…
Here we have the earliest days of Phedre’s life, and we have the story of Elua and his followers. Did you note any similarities between Phedre’s beginning and Elua’s stories? Do you enjoy having these stories upfront or would you rather have had the stories shuffled in later with an adult Phedre looking back?
The parallels between Phedre’s story (and the stories of all of the books in the series, actually) and the story of Elua were quite striking. The first time I read the Kushiel series, I didn’t pay nearly enough attention to the lore about the fallen angels and their travels, because it felt like too much of an infodump. I was pulled into Phedre’s own story, and wanted to get on with it. This time around, I appreciate the stories much more. I think it makes sense to include the stories as a part of Phedre’s childhood, because I think that she makes sense of her own experiences of being abandoned and having to make her own way in the world by reflecting on the stories of Elua. If we were hearing an adult Phedre explaining it, I don’t think it would have been nearly as compelling.
Hyacinthe has become Phedre’s one true friend. Do you think she is the same for him? The dromonde, or fortune telling, fascinates Phedre. Do you have a fortune telling story?
I imagine that Hyacinth considers Phedre to be a special friend because she sees him for who he is and not his race. She doesn’t have the same cultural baggage that others in his neighborhood might, because her time in the Night Court has sheltered her from it, and it wouldn’t even cross her mind to treat him differently because of it. Instead, she’s drawn to his adventurousness, his kindness, his tenacity, which I expect would mean a lot to him. At the same time, at this point in the story, Hyacinthe seems to be developing his own network of underground contacts and messengers, which leads me to believe that he has more of a social life than Phedre. Whether he considers those people to be close enough to confide in is a different story.
And fortune telling is always fun, although a bit suspect. A few years ago I was at a Beatles-themed music festival, and I decided to have my fortune told. The fortune teller told me that she saw a car in my future, and that perhaps I would buy a new car in the upcoming months. Several years later, I still do not own a car–as a young person living in an urban area with relatively decent public transportation, having one would be much more trouble than it’s worth.
The Midwinter Masque on the Longest Night is a long held tradition in Terre D’Ange. What stood out for you? Have you been to such a fete?
When I read the book for the first time, my biggest takeaway was seeing Phedre’s first introduction to the politics of Terre D’Ange. Before this, she’s been relatively naive, which is understandable given both her age and position. But here, we see some of the tensions that exist in Terre D’Ange finally intersecting with the entirely separate politics of the Night Court.
This is also really the first time you get to see people from all of the houses in one place and get a feeling for what differentiates them from one another, and that stood out to me much more in my second reading of the book. It intrigued me that the title of Dowayne isn’t tied to gender. I originally envisioned them as old matriarchs, but service to Namaah is much more inclusive, and in Terre D’Ange, you can’t make the assumption that sex workers are women. I was also amused by Phedre crushing on the sadists from Mandrake House.
My mental picture of what the masquerade looks like comes largely from my experience volunteering at a fancy masquerade ball in DC. After setting up and working for an hour or two, we were able to trade off and participate in the revelries. A big part of the fun for me was seeing everyone’s gowns and costumes–they were so creative, and quite beautiful. And the wine flowed, creating an atmosphere of joy and revelry. I attended this for several years in a row, and it was always a great time.
Anafiel Delaunay has many secrets. How do you think those secrets will shape Alcuin and Phedre?
Anafiel Delaunay motto is “All knowledge is worth having.” I’d add a corollary. “All knowledge has a price.”
Delaunay has a saying; All knowledge is worth having. Do you believe this is so?
See my answer to the previous question. Knowledge can be dangerous, especially in the wrong hands. Is it worth the price? It depends. There’s a difference between a scholarly motivation of seeking knowledge for its own sake, and between using that knowledge to try to shape your nation’s politics from behind the scenes. The latter is much more likely to get you into trouble. And alluring though knowledge can be, sometimes it’s better to wait. Case in point: spoilers, where knowing what’s going to happen next can ruin the fun.