Read-along: Kushiel’s Dart – week four

Kushiel's Dart: a #WyrdAndWonder Read-along

Epic adventure, acute peril, looming disaster, reputational damage and… is that a sniff of romance? It’s week four of Kushiel’s Dart and everybody needs a hug. Everybody. Okay, okay, maybe not Waldemar Selig.

It’s time to return to Terre d’Ange for this week’s discussion of Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey. Our host this week is Mayri of The BookForager. The full list of questions can be checked out on Goodreads – as usual, I’ve picked a subset to discuss. Be warned, we’re deep in spoiler territory now!

Waldemar’s old teacher Lodur calls Phèdre “a weapon thrown by a D’Angeline god” and this changes how Phèdre sees herself to some extent. How does this change the way you’ve thought about Phèdre so far?

…I must admit, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to see her this way on my first read up until this point. It’s a helluva empowering way to be described though, isn’t it? I’m generally more conscious of the religious/mystical aspects of Kushiel’s Dart on this read – while I want to give Phèdre the full credit for being an amazing person, there are many hints that it certainly helps having a divine patron… whether you appreciate their gifts or not.

Joscelin has broken all but one of his vows during the time he and Phèdre have been in Skaldia. How do you feel about everything they have gone through? And the Prefect of the Cassiline Brotherhood’s opinion on these matters?

WHICH ONE HASN’T HE BROKEN THO? He sure SKIPPED one when he listed out his sins to the Prefect and WE ALL KNOW HE BROKE IT. Ahem. But seriously, I’ve lost track: I genuinely have no idea which vow is still intact.

Peak Joscelin: not explicitly acknowledging that he has FEELINGS or anything, oh no, he has unfulfilled DUTY sir (you can’t let her go off ALONE what sort of dried up stick of a Cassiline elder ARE you anyway). Just throw in some swelling music and tell us about Cassiel’s Choice (after all his anguish in Skaldia) and AAAAAH ahem sorry, I’m not okay. Totally my star-crossed jam, pass the toast.

Discuss: All gifts in this story, god-given or otherwise, are double-edged swords.

I was going to come in all smart-arsed and blazing with ‘except the gift of friendship, yo’, but… well, I think that has sharp edges too. My heart was warmed by Hyacinthe’s welcome and immediate support of his beloved friend, but there’s no denying that being Phèdre’s friend is an emotional rollercoaster. He’s had months of thinking her dead or a convicted murderess (and his loyalty is a delight; he is the prince of thieves with a heart of gold), and here she comes waltzing back with a fallen Cassiline.

What do you make of Ysandre de la Courcel now that we’ve finally met her? And what of her intention to honour her betrothal to Drustan mab Necthana?

I love Ysandre. She’s so self-possessed and steely and commanding, whilst also managing to betray her youth and uncertainty from time to time. She doesn’t rush to decisions or actions, she keeps an open mind and takes counsel from those she trusts (and I am intrigued and on balance convinced by who she trusts; I’d keep Uncle Barquiel close too).

…and then she talks about Drustan and we get a whole new view of her as a passionate D’Angeline devoted to a socially more or less unsuitable man she has given her heart to and AAAAAAAH I’m back to sobbing onto the page for the pure romance of Ysandre and her blue boy. Yes, me.

Now that we know the whole of Delaunay’s story, has your opinion of him changed at all?

…not really? I like that we get this back story; it rounds him out and casts him back in a light where he makes sense: he is led by his (broken) heart and he is blinded by his own passions, especially when it comes to those he loves. I still find it absurd that his parentage / family / relationship with Rolande was a Big Secret. I feel like half of the City must have known and could have told Hyacinthe all this, and he would have told Phèdre.

All this history gives us nuance into who Delaunay was and why, but it doesn’t change what he was willing to do – and what / whose coin he’s willing to spend in service to his oaths. He make sense in context; I don’t have to approve of him or his context – and I can and do judge his inability to turn his perceptive gaze on those he loves (although I’m still amused and half-convinced by Peat’s wry comment that perhaps Delaunay just wasn’t as brilliant as ever-adoring Phèdre would have us believe).

All that said: I’d love to read a novella or short story told from her perspective. He is a fascinating character – flawed, but I like flaws even if I call them out and stomp around them disapprovingly – and I’d quite like to get inside his head.

Finally, Phèdre’s marque is finally complete. Do you think she is free?


She just adopted Delaunay’s oaths and still has that mote in her eye. Melisande was curious to know to what Phèdre would do given her freedom; seduce a Cassiline, apparently, but after that she’s still walking the paths Delaunay set her on (if reluctantly, unable to turn her back on Joscelin when he has just turned his back on everything for her). Does she make her choice freely? Arguably not.

The Salon

But wait, this is a read-along – what did everybody else have to say?

Links will be added as they go live.

Discussion Schedule

A Wyrd and Wonder read-along is a buddy read with weekly discussions via blog posts and/or chat in the comments. Read at your own pace – zoom ahead and we’ll catch you up; fall behind, and you can be sure we’ll still be happy to chat later. The full discussion schedule can be found on Goodreads.

If you fancy joining us, just drop a comment on the host’s post and/or on the Goodreads group each week if you write a blog post; jump into the comments to share your views; or tag us on Twitter @wyrdandwonder #ReadAsThouWilt

Please be mindful of our reading schedule – no spoilers for future weeks (or books!)

We’ll be back next week to discuss Chapters 62-79, hosted by Peat Long.