The wonderful hosts of Wyrd and Wonder decided to host a read-along of Kushiel’s Dart, the first installment of the Kushiel universe. I have read all the books set in this world and I love this series. I read Kushiel’s Dart 6 or 7 years ago when I was in high school so, when I saw that this read-along was a thing, I wanted to join to refresh my memories and revisit this wonderful world of Terre d’Ange.
I was probably around 16 years old when I first read Kushiel’s Dart. I vividly remember reading the synopsis of this book in a bookshop and putting it down because it sounded more erotica than fantasy and that I was sure I wasn’t going to enjoy it. However, at the time I was a part of a SFF book forum and a lot of people whose opinions I trusted loved the series so I decided to give a try. And I loved it: I flew through Kushiel’s Dart in 2 or 3 days, I couldn’t get enough of Phèdre and her adventures. I read the entire Phèdre trilogy in a summer and I remember being very frustrated because the other books weren’t translated in French at the time. I have very fond memories of this trilogy so I’m very curious to see if I’m going to love Kushiel’s Dart as much the second time around! 😀
Enough rambles, let’s start answering some questions.
You know it’s an epic fantasy when it starts with not only a map but a list of Dramatis Personae. How do you feel about this approach to beginning a new story? Do you read the character list or use it for reference along the way?
I do love maps even if I never look at them while I read. I admit that the first time I looked at this map, I was surprised to see that Terre d’Ange was a fictional version of France. I’m French so I’m always curious when I read stories set in my country. I know Terre d’Ange is not strictly France but it is heavily inspired by it and it’s pretty rare to see this kind of setting in fantasy books.
As for Dramatis Personae, I don’t read them or use them as reference when I read. I don’t know why; it would probably help me to follow along but I always forget about them.
What are your first impressions of Elua and his Companions, and of D’Angeline culture? Are you comfortable with the way in which Jacqueline Carey has reimagined the world?
The whole mythology is fascinating and the re-read made me appreciate it even more. Now that I know how much the story of Elua is important to the series, I’m trying to pay more attention to all the details and hints Carey drops.
As for D’Angeline culture, I have mixed feelings about it. Since Terre d’Ange is based on France, I don’t know how I feel about the shallowness of D’Angeline people. 🤔 Is it based on French people or is it completely fictional? I know we French people have a reputation of being assholes (and that’s pretty much correct haha) but, I didn’t know we cared so much about beauty! 😂
Anyway, D’Angelines value beauty above everything else and, I am not finding this quite as charming as the first time I read the book. I know they are all supposed to be born beautiful but, what does it even mean? Beauty is so subjective, it varies from culture to culture so, if you only describe something or someone as beautiful, I can’t picture it. And for me, the most beautiful people have something that put them apart from other people. If everyone is beautiful, who is?
Phèdre’s story begins in the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers. What are your thoughts on the Court, its adepts, the service of Naamah and the earning of marques? What House would you patronise – or belong to?
I love Phèdre and she is obviously devoted to Naamah’s service but, I can’t see a House that would be for me. None of them really appeal to me and, I don’t like the fact that the adepts are groomed to become sex workers from early childhood. It makes me uncomfortable.
Guy, Alcuin and Phèdre are all devoted to the mysterious Anafiel Delaunay. Do you think he deserves their love?
Delaunay is so mysterious. I like this aspect of him, it makes the story more interesting but, he’s also very flawed and I’m seeing even more with the re-read. I do think he deserves Alcuin and Phèdre’s love since he cares for them in his peculiar way. I also don’t think he’s a bad person but, he’s still playing with their feelings. He’s their master, he hides a lot from them yet, he demands their outmost loyalty.
What do you make of Phèdre’s choice of signale?
I love it. Hyacinthe is her best friend and I like the fact that she knows she can count on him to make her safe, always. I would have been disappointed if she chose anything else. I have a fondness for Hyacinthe, he’s great.
Last but not least, the big week one check-in: now that you have seen a Showing and witnessed Phèdre’s first assignation, are you still in?
Yep, definitely in! I love this universe and Phèdre is such an interesting character. I will try to catch-up to post my updates in a timelier manner! 🙂