This post answers questions for Chapters 1 through 17. Spoilers ahead!
How do you feel about Phèdre returning to the service of Naamah and Joscelin’s reaction to it? Do you sympathize with them?
Like others have said, we wouldn’t have a story if Phèdre didn’t return. Also, she has been pricked by Kushiel’s dart. That’s a rare occurence and seems to include a lifetime of service to the god. Plus, she was never going to let the mystery related to Melisande’s escape go. And she was trained from a young age to be a spy and to serve Naamah. She was ready for a break at the end of the first book but she wasn’t truly ready to retire.
I do sympathize with Joscelin. He loves Phèdre but he seems to be struggling with his true place in the world. He wants to protect and serve but it seems like he preferred to do that in the country and even though it was inevitable that they return he has trouble reconciling everything. I also want to shake him a little.
Why do you think Melisande sent her the cloak?
Part of it is that “genius needs an audience.” And she’s a diabolical chess player.
Any new favorite characters so far? Any thoughts on how Favrielle and Nahum flesh out the world-building?
Favrielle’s situation shows how the indentured servitude works for those who aren’t trained to be servants of Naamah. I love how much of a grump she is and that her talents and hard work make her stand out.
Nahum also presents an interesting situation. They don’t acknowledge the Elua and Companions part of the mythology but they also kind of have to because they live in a land filled with Their descendants. There is also talk of them settling a land in the north for just their people but there is disagreement.
What do you make of the first act mirroring events in Kushiel’s Dart?
I think it makes for a good foundation. We get a summary of previous events, we are given some of the familiar with some of the new elements. The Midwinter Masque Phèdre attends at the palace is slightly different than the one she attended as a child in the Night Court but it also gives us some of the political points that are important going forward.
I noted that during the description of the palace room where the Midwinter Masque occured, there was a painting on the wall of Elua and His Companions at a feast. I thought of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
I’m excited to get into this book again!