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Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Trilogy, #1)
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Group Reads > July 2016 - Kushiel's Dart

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message 1: by Yoly (new)

Yoly (macaruchi) | 795 comments Remember to use the spoiler tags! :)


Brenda ╰☆╮    (brnda) | 39 comments Something won, that I voted for?
Yay....whoooo....rah...
now where did I put that book......
***Looking around***


message 3: by Yoly (new)

Yoly (macaruchi) | 795 comments Brenda ╰☆╮ wrote: "Something won, that I voted for?
Yay....whoooo....rah...
now where did I put that book......
***Looking around***"


Hahaha, I know the feeling.
This one seems like it's going to make discussions interesting :)


message 4: by Gary (last edited Jul 05, 2016 01:05PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Gary | 1472 comments Heh. I think I was the only one who didn't vote for it. But that was really for the same reason I haven't read it yet. "1015 pages? I was kind of thinking I'd read 2-3 other books this month. Maybe next month...." It's been on my "to read" list for ages.

It looked like the poll was going this way, though, so I started in on it a couple of days ago to get a head start.

First impressions:

1. The prose is very florid, and that can be something of a shock to the system. She's used that style for a purpose, of course, but upon occasion it does cross the line between effective and affectation, particularly in the first few chapters. She uses a lot of weird, clausal and prepositional language of the type with which we, simple readers that we are, are not accustomed with which to deal.... Sometimes she goes a little overboard with that stylistic choice. I went through the first chapter again after reading a couple of later chapters and she does seem to do it more in that early section. Getting the audience ready to the style? Getting herself used to it? Hard to say.

2. Overall, I get a kind of weird assocation/mash-up out of this thing so far. It's kind of like a latter book in the Dune series (houses) meets Memoirs of a Geisha spiced with a little of The French Lieutenant's Woman meets the book whose name shall not be mentioned (::whisper:: 50SoG) as told by a female version of David Copperfield. The eponymous book narrator, not the magician. Though the magician did get Claudia Schiffer to marry him, so there might be some sort of connection there.

3. The world building seems elaborate, but I'm not so sure it is, really. She's tweaked a lot of real world dynamics, sometimes changed the names a bit, sometimes not so much, and mashed them up together. That's world building, but it's more mashup than build up, as it were. I couldn't make it through The Lions of Al-Rassan because the world building in that novel so closely mirrored that of real world history with a few name changes as to make it read in my mind like a historical novel written by "Weird Al" Yankovic. This one looks like it is, at least, a much more broadly created piece of work. It looks like she draws from a wider range of sources from which to base her world. There's lots of medieval France and Renaissance Venice in there, but she plays around with a lot of other content as well, so it doesn't quite raise the same objection in my mind. She comes up with her own version of religions, for example, that differ enough from anything extant to be legit original ideas. However, she uses a naming scheme that sometimes evokes that issue. "Yeshuites" for her version of Messianic Jews, for instance, did give me a "Weird Al?" moment, and that's happened a few times so far. (I'm only 5-10% in at the moment.)


Mark | 55 comments I read this when it first came out in paperback I found it in my local library. When I took to the counter to check it out, the lady librarian was over the moon that someone had chosen it, especially a man.

Seemed she had put in a special request for it and had got abit of stick for it from her colleagues about it. They were snobbish about fantasy a lot more back then.

I read it and enjoyed, found the writing style very different and refreshing to the other fantasy books of the time.


Gary | 1472 comments OK, the sex scenes. I'm perfectly happy reading Henry Miller or Anaïs Nin. I've read Nabokov's Lolita eight, maybe ten times, and as a younger man I perused at least my share of "Letters to Penthouse" and that kind of stuff.

However, I'm running into a bit of a... maturity problem, let's say, with this one.

That is, I'm finding sex scenes very funny. It's mostly a matter of vocabulary. In this case, the term "pearl of Naamah" to describe a woman's clitoris just about made me cough up a latte with laughter. (I am TOTALLY going to use that one in real life. I am. From now on I'm going to call it "pearl diving" and if anyone asks why I'll just say "Jacqueline Carey!" and leave it at that.)

In general, I'm finding the flowery prose of the narrative combining with the "earthier" nature of the eroticism inadvertently hilarious. I was raising an eyebrow from time to time at the verbiage before, but if you can read "...she reclined slowly on the cushions, opening her legs to him to share her wealth" without sniggering then you're a better juvenile delinquent than I am. The faux-French "languisement" for oral sex (or maybe just fellatio since there's no reciprocation in that scene...) also struck me as more than a little amusing.

Since that kind of stuff appears to be an important aspect of this book, I don't know how seriously I'm going to be able to take it.


message 7: by Cameron (new)

Cameron Blackwell | 6 comments I find Gary's comment... Well I will just say that Casey's work is consistent in setting a tone using a language set that encompasses the series in whole, not just in sex scenes. Does Gary laugh at the language in the non-verbal scenes? If yes then that makes me wonder what his expectations of fantasy fiction or historical fiction are. How does an author create a sense of the world? Archaic language can be critical.

In the Kushiel series Carey is xreating a world not quite so different from the past here, but still different. This is a difficult task, especially with a story long and epic in scope. I think her effort was rather spectacular. I enjoyed the sex scenes even though I felt them a bit short in explicit essential. Always wonder if the publisher toned her down.


Mark | 55 comments Cameron wrote: "I find Gary's comment... Well I will just say that Casey's work is consistent in setting a tone using a language set that encompasses the series in whole, not just in sex scenes. Does Gary laugh at..."

Read something years ago which says they did tone it down.


message 9: by Gary (last edited Jul 08, 2016 12:29PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Gary | 1472 comments Cameron wrote: Does Gary laugh at the language in the non-verbal scenes? If yes then that makes me wonder what his expectations of fantasy fiction or historical fiction are. How does an author create a sense of the world? Archaic language can be critical."

In my own defense, her use of language in the narrative was my first point in my first post regarding this book (post #4 above) so I'd say I'm being pretty consistent here. Bearing that in mind, I'd suggest that use of language is even more obvious in the erotic scenes for a range of reasons, but mostly having to do with the way it pushes the purple prose from purpose and profundity to pointless and parody. (Sorry, couldn't resist the alliteration there.)

But since you used the word, I wouldn't describe the language as archaic. Rather, I think what she's going for is a kind of foppish, overly-courtly late Renaissance toff sort of thing, which isn't a bad idea in and of itself. However, having read more than my share of French lit/philosophy, it's coming off as affectation rather than authenticity. That is, it's the way a late 20th century writer thinks a 15th (or so) century person would speak rather than a convincing representation, and it reads to me like she's variously throwing in some Jane Austin, Victor Hugo and maybe a little Anne Rice in there, making for a kind of oddly mixed up, mannered style.

Mark wrote: "Read something years ago which says they did tone it down."

Now, that's interesting. I just did a little googling and couldn't turn up anything. If you can find a reference I'd love to check it out.

Since I'm struggling with it as it is, I wonder what it was like before they toned it down.... The mind boggles.


message 10: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark | 55 comments Sorry Gary been trying to think where I saw it, not sure if it was a chat I had with someone in fact when I was picking up the others in series.


message 11: by Gary (new) - rated it 2 stars

Gary | 1472 comments Mark wrote: "Sorry Gary been trying to think where I saw it, not sure if it was a chat I had with someone in fact when I was picking up the others in series."

I'll keep poking around. It does seem like a strong possibility. I wonder how much of it would be editing versus a writer making changes between drafts....


message 12: by Amber (new)

Amber Martingale | 659 comments Gary wrote: "Heh. I think I was the only one who didn't vote for it. But that was really for the same reason I haven't read it yet. "1015 pages? I was kind of thinking I'd read 2-3 other books this month. Maybe..."

Loved the reference to "Weird Al"!

You're right about the term "Yeshuites", Gary. It IS indeed a stand-in for Messianic Jews because "Yeshua" is the actual Hebrew spelling of the name "Joshua," the Greek equivalent of which is...(drum roll, please!)...JESUS!

Anne Rice used the name "Yeshua" in the first book of her Christ the Lord trilogy about Jesus after she came back to the Catholic Church.

In the Anne Rice context, the name was called to Him by a four or five year old female cousin named Salome when Salome was terrified of something on the way BACK to Israel from Alexandria, Egypt's Jewish community where the whole clan had been in hiding since King Herod ordered the murder of all the male children 2 years old and younger in Bethlehem.

And this scene ties in perfectly with a scene in the actual Gospels when the people of the Nazareth synagogue speak of Salome as His sister since a little while after the scene I just described, His aunt Mary dies in childbirth and His mother adopts the children, including little Salome, because their father is her BROTHER...which under the Hebrew legal system of time makes them His brothers and sisters.

In re: "In general, I'm finding the flowery prose of the narrative combining with the "earthier" nature of the eroticism inadvertently hilarious. I was raising an eyebrow from time to time at the verbiage before, but if you can read "...she reclined slowly on the cushions, opening her legs to him to share her wealth" without sniggering then you're a better juvenile delinquent than I am," I too, can't read that sentence w/o a little sniggering of my own! And I also like the reference the what you almost did to your latte.

Since I didn't vote for any of the books, this is probably going to be the only time I volunteer to post on this topic. If any replies want me to elaborate, I will do that.


Brenda ╰☆╮    (brnda) | 39 comments Gary wrote: "Heh. I think I was the only one who didn't vote for it. But that was really for the same reason I haven't read it yet. "1015 pages? I was kind of thinking I'd read 2-3 other books this month. Maybe..."

I started to read this book a while back.....A very while back, and didn't remember her writing style.
Maybe it one of the reasons I didn't finish.
It's kind of on my nerves now.... very slow going.


Brenda ╰☆╮    (brnda) | 39 comments Gary wrote: "OK, the sex scenes. I'm perfectly happy reading Henry Miller or Anaïs Nin. I've read Nabokov's Lolita eight, maybe ten times, and as a younger man I perused at least my share of "Letters to Penthou..."

Ha!!!
Pearl of Naamah...
Well... oysters are an aphrodisiac... ehem.... so they say.


message 15: by Gary (last edited Jul 10, 2016 08:07AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Gary | 1472 comments Brenda ╰☆╮ wrote: "It's kind of on my nerves now.... very slow going."

I'm finding it slow going too. Lots of very detailed descriptions of clothing and furnishing and such-like. Jane Austen is my "go to" comparison for that kind of thing, though that's not really fair since I don't think Austen was any more a practitioner of the technique than any number of other 18/19th century writers. I just pick on Austen because she really went for those long, run-on sentences and all.

That said, there is a kind of scheme to that sort of stuff when you read it in something like Austen. That is, if she lists off the flowers in the room that's because there is a symbolic meaning to those flowers that are standards in Society (upper case S there) in which the characters are interacting, and we as readers are expected to be in on that. When a character was wearing a crepe damask of blue then she had some sort of message she was conveying by that seemingly extraneous information. Carey may very well too, but if so I'm having more trouble discerning it--in part, I'm sure, because it's an alt history novel, which means if that association is there it may have a comparably alt meaning.


message 16: by Amber (last edited Jul 11, 2016 12:52PM) (new)

Amber Martingale | 659 comments From what I'm hearing there's too much description in this book, not enough "action." Sounds sort like the info dumps in the Jean M. Auel series Earth's Children, which began with The Clan of the Cave Bear and concluded with The Land of Painted Caves: one description per book of how glaciers form is ENOUGH, DAMMIT!


message 17: by Mimi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mimi (1stavenue) There definitely is a lot of description, but I find that's necessary for world-building. It's not getting in the way of my reading, though I do agree that the writing tends to be too flowery sometimes, esp during Phedre's youth.

What I'm (currently) having trouble with is:
1) (view spoiler)
2) (view spoiler)


message 18: by Amber (new)

Amber Martingale | 659 comments Description may be necessary for world building, Mimi, but as mentioned above, you do NOT need to describe a glacier's formation multiple times in each book of the series, continuing with my example from Mrs. Auel's work. In other words, there IS a limit to how much world building a reader can stand.


message 19: by Mimi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mimi (1stavenue) Depends on the reader and how interesting s/he finds the writing. I have not read Auel, so can't comment on how she deals with glaciers, but I rather like Carey's descriptive writing. It gives the story a unique feel.


message 20: by Gary (new) - rated it 2 stars

Gary | 1472 comments For me, the jury's still out on the detail in this one, but I can't say if I think her prose is too much or not yet. At the very least, she's referencing the aforementioned 18-19th century Romances. The question then become how much of that is her intentionally doing that and how much is it an affectation, and whether it is anachronistic. That is, from what I can tell Kushiel's Dart is set in the equivalent of around the 13-14th century. I could very well be wrong in my 18-19th century Romance assessment there. Maybe she's going for something more along the lines of the Troubadours--which would be the right timeframe--though I have to say that it doesn't really read that way to me so far.

Here's a paragraph from Austen that I sometimes used to illustrate/exemplify her work:
Supported by the conviction of having done nothing to merit her present unhappiness, and consoled by the belief that Edward had done nothing to forfeit her esteem, she thought she could even now, under the first smart of the heavy blow, command herself enough to guard every suspicion of the truth from her mother and sisters. And so well was she able to answer her own expectations, that when she joined them at dinner only two hours after she had first suffered the extinction of all her dearest hopes, no one would have supposed from the appearance of the sisters, that Elinor was mourning in secret over obstacles which must divide her for ever from the object of her love, and that Marianne was internally dwelling on the perfections of a man, of whose whole heart she felt thoroughly possessed, and whom she expected to see in every carriage which drove near their house.
One friggin' period in that paragraph, man! And she started the next sentence with a conjunction....

Of course, Austen knew very well what she was doing, and Carey doesn't really go that far (at least, not that I've read so far) but it does seem to be the narrative style she's going for. So, the question to me is whether she's doing it artfully or artificially, and I'm starting to lean towards the latter.


message 21: by Gary (last edited Jul 15, 2016 08:27PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Gary | 1472 comments Hokay... I'm out.

Sorry, folks, I just can't take any more of this one. I made it about 1/3 or so of the way in--and that's about the point at which I think the book should have ended. Not because it had reached a conclusion of the plot, mind you, but because the long, repetitive, clausal and prepositional sentences used to "paint a scene" could easily have been replaced with language that would have wrapped it up by then. At a certain point I found that verbiage to turned into a slow-drip of adjectives and adverbs not unlike a Chinese water torture. Maybe I'll work up the gumption to go through the text to pull up some examples of what I'm talking about later, but right now I'm up to my gills with the affectation of it all.

Overall, I never really bought the premise. Replacing Christianity with a kind of orgiastic sex cult--well, OK, but why draw so much of the rest of the world from the real one if you're going to do that kind of thing? The funhouse mirror aspect of the story started getting more and more awkward as I read. What's worse, however, were that as characters get introduced they turn into pretty much bog-standard Romance novel cutouts. I don't mind those elements in and of themselves, but in combination with the Rococo prose and the world-building, my reading seemed to turn into an awful lot of effort for very little payoff.

Maybe I'll give this one another shot later, but I'm going to need a little time to gird my defenses as it were.


message 22: by Gary (new) - rated it 2 stars

Gary | 1472 comments I'm going to just refer folks to Zen Cho's review of KD: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

I have other objections, but she sums up the problem with the language pretty well.


Brenda ╰☆╮    (brnda) | 39 comments I love that review!

Interesting thing is, I think I got bored in about the same place she did, the first time I tried to read it.


message 24: by Amber (new)

Amber Martingale | 659 comments Gary wrote: "Hokay... I'm out.

Sorry, folks, I just can't take any more of this one. I made it about 1/3 or so of the way in--and that's about the point at which I think the book should have ended. Not because..."


You made it farther in than I did, Gary, the one time I read it. I barely made it 1/3 of the way through the first two pages!


message 25: by Gary (new) - rated it 2 stars

Gary | 1472 comments I went ahead and wrote up a review of this one. It draws heavily from some of the ideas expressed in this thread, and in a few other GR discussions, but I've extended them more or less.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 26: by Laz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Laz the Sailor (laz7) See my review (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...)...

Knowing that it was going to be slow going, I forged ahead and finished it. I appreciated the beautiful language, but the first half was just too slow.

I liked it, but I won't be reading book 2, or the second trilogy, unless someone tells me that it's better than the first.


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