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Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Trilogy, #1)
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2012 Archives > Jun 2012: Melisande Shahrizai (Full KD Spoilers)

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message 1: by Vicky (new) - added it

Vicky (librovert) | 493 comments Mod
Last night in our mini-hangout (shameless plug) we talked a bit about Melisande.

I loved to hate her, others just hated her, and Phedre "loved her once." With everyone's different feelings, I thought she'd be fun to talk about here.

I love a good psychological thriller - one where just when you think you've solved the mystery, there's a new twist. That's what I loved about Melisande. Just when you thought you knew what her game was, she threw another piece into the puzzle. I'm quite sure we still don't know what her game really is.

One of the qualms I had was that Phedre talked about how she loved Melisande once and I just didn't get it. Sure they had a great night together and Melisande, in a round-about way, paid for Phedre to make her marque. But then she dumps Phedre in the hands of Skaldi, expecting her to die in servitude and Phedre can still look back on her fondly?

It also kind of makes me mad that Phedre is playing into her games. Throughout the second half of her book, Phedre tries to get rid of the diamond and it's to no avail. She finally decides she is meant to keep it to throw it back to the one who gave it to her. She does so and she should have been done with Melisande then. But she's not. She continues to play into Melisande's game when she visits her in her cell and decides to go after her at the arrival of her cloak. She was taught the game, she knows ho the game is played, but she's still playing right into Melisande's hand. Ugh!


message 2: by Alu (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alu (aluhealz) I've actually read all of the books but I'll avoid mentioning spoilers beyond the first one. I love her character. She became one of my favorite "villains." I understand Phedre's point of view in everything that happens, but in the beginning I was in the same boat in thinking "Why in the world do you still care about her!?"


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 32 comments I thought she was a good villain, but I couldn't understand Phedre's weakness/obsession with her.


Anna Neal | 66 comments Vicky wrote: "Sure they had a great night together and Melisande, in a round-about way, paid for Phedre to make her marque"

I thought Melisande was one of Phedre's regulars. I think they had many encounters besides the longest night. Wasn't Melisande friends with Delaunay and hung out with Phedre her whole life?

Lady Danielle aka The Book Huntress wrote: "I thought she was a good villain, but I couldn't understand Phedre's weakness/obsession with her."

"That which yields is not always weak."
I don't think it was meant to be a weakness. Though Phedre constantly yields to Melisande's charm over her, she does not change her own morals.

Regardless, Melisande seemed to be one of the only people who understood Phedre and her anguisette thing. I think it would be hard to let go of someone who really understands that part of you.

I haven't read the following books yet, but I loved Melisande's character. A very intriguing, strong and evil woman. I look forward to learning more about her and her plans.

Put me down as a: "One who loved to hate."


Molly (mollyrichmer) Melisande is definitely devious, and I like her as a villain. As for Phedre having a bit of a blind spot when it comes to her...well, knowing that someone is bad for you doesn't necessarily negate desire. Unfortunately. Melisande intuitively understands Phedre, and it's hard to hate someone who knows you so well. Also, the sex was apparently killer. Melisande is the ultimate dom to Phedre's sub. :)

And Anna: Melisande is not a regular client of Phedre's. She contracts her twice: once for Prince Baudoin's birthday as a "farewell gift" and once for herself on the Longest Night. And though Melisande and Delaunay know and respect each other as players in the political game, I got the feeling that they didn't really hang out much. Delaunay's busy raising two kids, and Melisande is off hatching her various schemes with Baudoin, D'Aiglemort, Selig, etc. So I don't think she was much a part of Phedre's life growing up.


Anna Neal | 66 comments Molly wrote: "And Anna: Melisande is not a regular client of Phedre's. She contracts her twice: once for Prince Baudoin's birthday as a "farewell gift" and once for herself on the Longest Night."

Hmmm... You may be right about this, I wish kindle wasn't sucking at searching right now.

That aside, I still definitely got the impression that Phedre was attracted to Melisande for most of her adolescence.


jillz (jillzz) I thought she was a great villain too but did not understand Phèdre's obsession with her either after only one real assignation with her. (the first one was really for Baudoin)

Even if they really do "get" each other there should be a point (I.e. someone drugging you and selling you into slavery!) where you take a step back and ask yourself if it's really worth it..

I think that the narration doesn't do justice to Phèdre's feelings for Melisande. To me, for the level of obsession, there should have been a little more craziness than "I loved her once" dropped a few times whenever Phèdre
decided to act against all reason and engage Melisande in any way.


message 8: by Felicia, Grand Duchess (new) - rated it 5 stars

Felicia (feliciaday) | 740 comments Mod
I had a feeling it was because of the Gods mostly. Melisande's house is of Kushiel's Line, and Phedre is chosen of the God. It was like "destined love" between them, but the author turns that on it's head.

Reading #2 now actually. No spoilers but IT IS SO GOOOOD!


Karly (karlycay) I felt like Phèdre. I didn't WANT to like Melisande but every time she was in a scene I loved it. And that sexy time between the two of them was so steamy, even though I knew Melisande was probably bad news.

And, I know this is just because of the damned Snow White & the Huntsman publicity, but I couldn't help but picture Charlize Theron as Melisande.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 32 comments I could totally see Charlize as Melisande. Who do you picture as Phedre?


message 11: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen) (last edited Jun 14, 2012 07:50PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 32 comments Molly wrote: "Melisande is definitely devious, and I like her as a villain. As for Phedre having a bit of a blind spot when it comes to her...well, knowing that someone is bad for you doesn't necessarily negate..."


You pretty much said it for me.

In reply to Anna's comment. I guess I wasn't clear in my weakness comment. I'm not referring to the D/s relationship. I don't think that Melisande being a good dom is necessarily enough to allow her to continually underestimate Melisande. I guess it's like in the m/f romances where the heroine is so hot for the hero she loses brain cells. I don't think Melisande is any more clever or capable than Phedre, but she seems to have an edge over Phedre that I didn't care for.


Karly (karlycay) I think Evan Rachel Wood would make a good Phèdre, although she didn't appear in my mind while I was reading it. Phèdre's just so different from other characters I've read about, that it was hard to imagine a face I already knew.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 32 comments I couldn't picture a specific face when I read it either.


message 14: by Vicky (new) - added it

Vicky (librovert) | 493 comments Mod
Anna wrote: "That aside, I still definitely got the impression that Phedre was attracted to Melisande for most of her adolescence."

I'm currently looking through an ebook copy looking for references to Melisande... so this post may get a little unorganized. ;)

From Chapter 33 when Melisande comes to contract Phedre for The Longest Night, Phedre's monologue says "I had been waiting for Melisande Shahrizai to offer me an assignation since I was scarce more than a child."

I totally see where the impression comes from that she's be attracted to her for a while. BUT, the only time Phedre even hints at a personal feeling toward Melisande prior to Chapter 33 was during their first meeting in Chapter 7, which felt more like awe and wonderment to me than a feeling of love.

I think that as Kushiel's Chosen she's drawn to what Melisande can provide for her as a scion of Kushiel. It never seemed so much about love as the fact that (like Molly said) Melisande is the ultimate dom to Phedre's sub and Phedre (due to her nature s Kushiel's Chosen) wanted to explore that.

In Chapter 34 when she arrives at Melisande's home prior to The Longest Night, Melisande gives her a "perfunctory" kiss that leaves Phedre "more nervous than the other kind."

Interesting to note, Melisande says to Phedre "Oh, love and hate are two sides of the same blade, and an edge finer honed than yon Cassiline's daggers divides them."

So they have their night, and to be honest, now that I'm rereading it - I don't see the love. I see Phedre's desire for her when she asks to please her - she says herself she had never asked it of a patron before.

After that their next encounter is after the raid on the Delaunay house when Melisande betrays her - at which point there doesn't seem to be any more cause for Phedre to love her.


message 15: by Rune (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rune | 43 comments Love her and hate her. Her betrayal is as beautiful and cold as I could wish.


message 16: by NJ Mix (new)

NJ Mix | 12 comments Lady Danielle aka The Book Huntress wrote: "I could totally see Charlize as Melisande. Who do you picture as Phedre?"

ITA with Charlize as Melisande, I've thought that ever since she did Aeon Flux. As for Phedre, I picture Natalie Portman. Any casting ideas for other characters?

And for those concerned with Melisande's villain arc, I concur with Alisha in post #2. I've read the entire Legacy series and her story arc is well done, and if you've only read this book, it's not what you'd expect!


Karly (karlycay) NJ wrote: "Lady Danielle aka The Book Huntress wrote: "I could totally see Charlize as Melisande. Who do you picture as Phedre?"

ITA with Charlize as Melisande, I've thought that ever since she did Aeon Flux..."


Huh, Natalie Portman would fit. I figured Phedre was young though (not that Natalie Portman isn't young), but in her early early twenties? Anyway, I pictured Liam Hemsworth for Joscelin. I didn't want to. But he just popped up. I blame Hunger Games.

Alcuin and Delauney are really tough for me to cast. Mm.


message 18: by Felicia, Grand Duchess (new) - rated it 5 stars

Felicia (feliciaday) | 740 comments Mod
Jocelin is totally a) Paul Newman from HUD, or b) Peter O'Toole from Lawrence of Arabia. Not modern guy will do.


Karly (karlycay) Oooooh the blue eyes on those guys are perfect. Magical.


message 20: by Mrs_lolowar (new) - added it

Mrs_lolowar | 5 comments Angelina Jolie is Melisande and Mila Kunis is Phedre.


Anna Neal | 66 comments Felicia wrote: "Jocelin is totally a) Paul Newman from HUD, or b) Peter O'Toole from Lawrence of Arabia. Not modern guy will do."

Yummy young Paul Newman! But I always thought of Jocelin as a short man for some reason.

Mrs_lolowar wrote: "Angelina Jolie is Melisande and Mila Kunis is Phedre."

I couldn't help but think of Angelina Jolie as Melisande.
I also think Mila Kunis is a good Phedre. I like how you think.


message 22: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa | 68 comments Ryan Gosling popped into my head for Jocelin. I can def picture Charlize as Melisande. A young Rachel Weisz for Phedre?


message 23: by Mrs_lolowar (last edited Jun 15, 2012 06:13PM) (new) - added it

Mrs_lolowar | 5 comments Joscelin -Chris Hemsworth - he has been in alot lately but looking at him makes my uhhh eyes happy.


message 24: by Brittney (new)

Brittney | 49 comments Ooooo I like the idea of Ryan Gosling as Jocelin. Over in the Ravelry Vaginal Fantasy group someone suggested Chris Helmsworth as Jocelin.

To get back to the original topis. I've also read the entire series and just finished rereading the second book and I really like Melisande as a villain. I understand a little bit of why Phedre liked her so much. Just because someone is bad for you or even a bad person doesn't mean that your feelings instantly go away.


Rachel | 10 comments Melisande is a wonderful villain...one of the best in any book I have read. I think she is such a good villain because most of us can relate to having fond feelings, perhaps even love, for someone who ultimately is bad for us. I would fall into the love to hate camp.

On a side note though, I wonder how people would feel if Melisande was a guy?


Megan (mlindley) | 6 comments Melisande...loved to hate her. I can't wait to hear a bit of discussion from the hangout on what they all think. The allure she has for Phedre is frightening.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Winter Frost Queen)  (gatadelafuente) | 32 comments I still would wonder why Phedre is so gaga over Melisande if she was a man, to answer your question, Rachel.


message 28: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa | 68 comments Rachel wrote: "On a side note though, I wonder how people would feel if Melisande was a guy?"

Its interesting you mention this because, I always felt that Delaunay was just a toned down version of Melisande. I can draw a lot of parallels between the two. And I always wondered how the book would play out if they switched sides.

I think Phedre goes into this a little further in book 3.


message 29: by Felicia, Grand Duchess (new) - rated it 5 stars

Felicia (feliciaday) | 740 comments Mod
Rachel wrote: "Melisande is a wonderful villain...one of the best in any book I have read. I think she is such a good villain because most of us can relate to having fond feelings, perhaps even love, for someone ..."

OMG I WAS GONNA BRING THIS UP IN THE HANGOUT! I totally thought that was something interesting tho think about, and how we would totally bitch about the character if it was a guy. OR some people would want them to get together? I dunno.


AshesToU | 5 comments Mrs_lolowar wrote: "Angelina Jolie is Melisande and Mila Kunis is Phedre."

I have to say out of the so far mentioned castings I would love to see Angelina and Mila the best. Especially because Mila Kunis has that baby doe caught in the headlights feel to her that Phedre gets around Melisande.



Felicia wrote: "Jocelin is totally a) Paul Newman from HUD, or b) Peter O'Toole from Lawrence of Arabia. Not modern guy will do."

Super young Peter O'Toole definitely rings true for me. I couldn't picture it myself but I had a feeling someone would say the guy from Thor, but I just view Jocelin as being less brawny and more languid and fluid. He-man types seem much more Skaldi than monkish IMO.

Felicia wrote: "Rachel wrote: "Melisande is a wonderful villain...one of the best in any book I have read. I think she is such a good villain because most of us can relate to having fond feelings, perhaps even lov..."

This was one of the first things to cross my mind when I finished the book actually! I know Melisande is an evil bitch, but tell the truth, that's a huge part of her appeal. She's the bowl of forbidden fruit someone tells you is gonna make you sick. But when it sits all shiny and juicy on the table just staring at you, you can't help but want a bite! I loved her instantly and I knew exactly what is wrong with Phedre. She is utterly captivated. Melisande is excuse the religious proverb but the beautiful mysterious and deadly snake who tempts you out of paradise.

She also in many ways plays the counterbalance to Delaurney. Think about it, all the political games, the ability to see potential in the adepts and twist it to do your bidding, shear raw beauty and mystery. Phedre herself even refers to the pair being opposite sides of a coin essentially. I also am intrigued by the way she constantly lets Phedre go, and for no other reason than "to play the game". She could kill Phedre left and right but doesn't just torments her, even with the cloak. BUT Phedre has a deep need for pain and being tormented, even outside of the bedroom Melisande just tickles her fancy for punishment!


Karly (karlycay) I think it would have been boring if Melisande were a man. I loved that she was a woman, tying all these webs behind the monarchs for her own gain/just because. Also, in other literature/films the older villainess is threatened by the young heroine and blah blah blah, so it was different and cool for them to have this dynamic. I think if Melisande were a man, the dynamic would be the same but it wouldn't be as interesting because we've seen THAT before.


Christopher | 14 comments I *love* how the end of this first book plays out. Upon sober reflection, my love for the series doesn't really stem from the first book. I do like the story and characters, but the first novel is really a world building, character-establishing novel. A lot of the complaints from folks who couldn't get into the story ring true, despite my love for the story. I remember when I first read the books, it was the sangoire cloak at the end that really sold me on starting the next book, which I think may be my favorite of the bunch (re-reading the first got me excited to go on to the second again, which I just started tonight). I'm a sucker for villains with a flair for subtle drama. Melisande plays her part to the hilt, and I love her for it.


message 33: by Kels (new)

Kels M | 4 comments Mrs_lolowar wrote: "Angelina Jolie is Melisande and Mila Kunis is Phedre."

I settled on Jolie for Melisandre as I was reading, but couldn't figure out a Phedre. You, my dear, are a genius.

Felicia wrote: "Jocelin is totally a) Paul Newman from HUD, or b) Peter O'Toole from Lawrence of Arabia. Not modern guy will do."

Eh, Peter O'Toole was a bit overrated, IMO. He just felt kind of distant all the time... I feel Joscelin has a warmth to him at times that O'Toole would've fell short with...


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Dawn | 2 comments Rachel wrote: "Melisande is a wonderful villain...one of the best in any book I have read. I think she is such a good villain because most of us can relate to having fond feelings, perhaps even love, for someone ..."

I couldn't agree more. Melisande is definitely one of my favorite villains. I have read the whole series so I won't give out spoilers but I found her story to be so compelling that each time she was brought up I wanted more.


message 35: by Coral (new)

Coral (coralm) | 58 comments Melisande is hands down one of the best villains ever. I think Phedre loves her simply because she is the epitome of a sadist to Phedre's masochist. Felicia's point about Melisande's lineage is a good one too.

Timothy Olyphant for Joscelin. Yum. Might be that lately I just see him as everyone. When is Justified coming back? :(


Autumn (autumnbuck) Melisande was my favorite part of the book, so much so that i was disappointed that they never got a final showdown. The scenes between Phedre and Melisande were so powerful that I was slightly disappointed that the relationship between Phedre and Joscelin didn't have the same sparks, considering that he was her true love. But I had fun, so I'm looking forward to the next one since everyone says both relationships deepen in Kushiel's Chosen.


Karly (karlycay) This thought occurred to me..
If Melisande was a man, would we ask ourselves "what if she were a woman?"
I don't think so, because we wouldn't expect het to be a woman... Which is why I love the character and the choices she made. The perfect villain... Except for getting caught and all.
I think Melisande would be on my Fictional Five List (from previous hangout, so would Phedre). If that pain thing wasn't mandatory. That's how great she is.


message 38: by Robert (last edited Jun 23, 2012 09:20AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Robert (helga666) | 31 comments The relationship between Melisande and Phedre is a moth to flame thing. part of Phedre's gifts is she can see how hot Kushiel's fire burns in people and Melisande is a inferno and Phedre' can't seem to stop staring at the fire. Part of the reason the narrator "Phedra does not tell us why she is attracted to her is she does not completely understand her self.

// she has a similar problem with other Sharazi

This is all into great detail in book 2

Oh and Autumn, Book two, should hit that Joscelin spark for you.

(view spoiler)


Rachel | 10 comments Karly wrote: "I think it would have been boring if Melisande were a man. I loved that she was a woman, tying all these webs behind the monarchs for her own gain/just because. Also, in other literature/films the ..."
I agree with you... I think melisande being a woman makes the dynamic more interesting and fresh. But what I was getting at, which felicia touches on, is that I think we forgive her the things she does to phedre a bit because she is a woman. Or to put it another way, I think if the character was male people might fall into the hate camp more easily...we would find it more objectionable.

Spoiler:
How would we feel if mahrkagir was female? I can't imagine the character as a woman...I wonder what that says about how I view gender? :-)


Karly (karlycay) @Rachel
Maybe. Maybe it's like when readers forgive male characters their alpha-ness if they are, say, werewolves? Or in Victorian era/steampunk setting like previous books?


Caitlin I think the reason I forgive Melisande for her alpha-ness is because *spoilers* her and Phedre don't end up together. I hate the "we clash but we'll end up together because DESTINY" story lines.


Autumn (autumnbuck) Robert, I read the second book in a day, totally get the Joscelin thing now.

As I was reading the second book the Phedre/Melisande storyline reminded me a lot of the Richard/Denna storyline from the sword of truth series, if we wanted to compare how we react to a similar relationship but with a guy, if course the dominant character in that comparison is female too, so it isn't a completely apt comparison.


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