Often when I do readalongs, I choose to showcase fan art that I find from the books. This selection shows different conceptualizations of Phedre’s marque, which I thought was a good reflection of what we’ve read over the past week. What do you think of Phedre’s marque? Is this how you envisioned it? If you were to have something like a marque, what would it look like?
Onward to the questions!
In these chapters, Phèdre finally gets to have her own dedication ceremony. Were you surprised by what they did with the dove? Also, do you think it is fair to ask people to make a life decision about serving Naamah at such a young age?
I was glad that the dove was released and not killed. I saw the decision to release the sacrifice rather than kill it as highlighting the distinction between Christianity and worship of Elua–Elua isn’t about austerity, but rather appreciating the sheer joy of life, and that permeates all forms of worship.
I’m not surprised by children being asked to make major life decisions at an early age. If you think about it, Catholics get confirmed as young teenagers, and in their view it’s a similar commitment. And serving Naamah doesn’t seem to have to be a lifetime commitment–I mean, on one hand, religiously, it is, but you can still get married later or choose to take your life in other directions. I’m more surprised by the fact that the young people are given a choice at all. I mean, they’re pretty much indentured servants, yet they’re given the freedom to freely accept this path or to choose a different one. I’m not sure that in other times, cultures, or worlds that that would have been the case. Then again, having read this series before, I find that there’s a very strong thematic emphasis on consent, and that the people of Terra D’Ange take it very seriously. More on that in other answers.
Sex ed is definitely different in Terre d’Ange. Do you think the Showing was useful for the teenagers? Do you think, at their age, you would have appreciated something like the book-learning they received in the art?
I would have a appreciated getting the sex talk in general. My family was uptight about it and never actually told me what sex was. I had heard the word in hushed conversations, and gathered from context that it was something bad and sinful that grown-ups sometimes did. I had no idea what the actual act involved though, and thought it had something to do with women’s breasts, because people always freaked out about bare breasts so much. I tried to look up the word “sex” in a dictionary, but the definition was the vague word “intercourse,” and when I looked up “intercourse,” the definition was “sex.” Circular definitions are not useful! Eventually when I was 14 or 15 I was camping with my family and had read all of the books that I had with me, and so I ended up picking up one of my mother’s romance novels, which contained some explicit scenes. It was certainly eye-opening! Probably not the best way to learn the mechanics, though.
The Showing is certainly different, but I like the idea, because the focus is on showing consent and respect, unlike what I assume that curious Western teenagers would be exposed to when searching for porn on the internet. It’s treated as a form of art rather than a taboo.
Hyacinthe has some neat theories about Delauney’s past. What is your favorite theory?
I know Delauney’s backstory, so I’m gonna skip this one.
Phèdre seems to be making a name for herself as an anguissette, known for never giving the signale. Do you think she would ever actually choose to use the signale, even if she were in real danger? Do you think her inability to do so might get her into trouble?
I think that the danger in Phedre’s role is that she doesn’t know what danger is real and/or how far her patrons would go (versus, for instance, threatening worse than they’d ever actually do in order to build up a scene, cause begging and pleading, etc.). She would be safer if she discussed limits and boundaries beforehand. Communication is key.
This question brings up another point that I found strange. What’s up with renaming common sex acts/terms? It’s something that happens a lot in any kind of novel that has explicit content, and I find it hilarious and strange. Using the word “safeword” won’t ruin the story, and the first time I read the book, the word “languisment” sent me into fits of giggles. Presumably, anyone reading this book is an adult. Call it what it is.
Do you think Alcuin is enjoying his career as much as Phèdre, or do you think he has a different focus? Do you think their differing appeals and tastes will drive them apart?
Alcuin is madly in love with Delanay, and doesn’t enjoy his career for its own sake. He knows that Delanay cares about him enough that if he said something about how much he hates it, Delanay would never ask him to take a patron ever again, and then Alcuin would feel like he was letting Delanay down. I don’t envy his position.
Phedre’s the more empowered of the two, both despite and because of the fact that she’s in a more submissive position. If something happens that’s too much for her, she can always use her safeword. Alcuin doesn’t have that option, and because his tastes run vanilla, I think people assume that he’s okay with things rather than communicating with him.