Books / Life

Kushiel’s Fish

A couple of weeks ago, I told you of the untimely passing of Septimus, my Crowntail Betta fish. His death was tragic, but we – and life – soldier on. So, after an appropriate time of mourning, we finally chose a worthy heir to Septimus’s estate.

Kushiel's DartMy current tradition of fish naming is linked to Jacqueline Carey’s excellent series of novels starting with Kushiel’s Dart and known collectively as the Kushiel’s Legacy Series. The protagonist is a woman, Phèdre, who experiences pain as pleasure, is raised from a young age to be a courtesan and a spy, and after a great deal of suffering, becomes a hero of the realm..several times over. Along the way, she befriended the Admiral of her nation’s Royal Navy, a grizzled and boisterous old veteran named Quintillus Rousse. Unable to pass up naming my first Betta fish, a striking blue-and-black fellow, after an Admiral of a Royal Navy, he became Quintillus.

In another series of books set a few decades later, we happen across a descendant of Quintillus Rousse, himself a Captain in the Navy. That, of course, became the namesake for Septimus.

But now we’re out of fictional Naval officers in these books to name fish after, and after meeting our newest one, we decided to name it after the woman herself.

Phèdre in her jar.

Phèdre arrives in her new home.

Phèdre explores her surroundings.

Phèdre takes a good long look in the mirror.

I realize she is more than likely a male, but with her gorgeous coloring and white lips, we decided to overlook that little fact and name her Phèdre anyway, after the prostitute who saved a nation, and one of the strongest female heroes in modern fiction. “She” certainly looks the part, doesn’t she? Seems like she’s eternally dressed for the fanciest ball in all the world. Even the folks at PetSmart were taken aback at her loveliness…which is more impressive when you consider that these were the type of people who read the boxes to answer your questions. Enthusiasm from them is a rare thing indeed.

But we welcome Phèdre into the family. Hopefully she’ll live a long, happy life. And without all the anguish her namesake went through. But maybe a bawdy sailor’s chant like the woman inspired…


Whip us till we’re on the floor,
We turn around and ask for more!
We’re Phèdre’s boys, Phèdre’s boys!

We like to hurt, we like to bleed,
Daily floggings do we need,
We’re Phèdre’s boys, Phèdre’s boys!

Man or woman we don’t care,
Give us twins we’ll take the pair!
We’re Phèdre’s boys, Phèdre’s boys!

Just because we let you beat us,
Doesn’t mean you can defeat us!
We’re Phèdre’s boys, Phèdre’s boys!

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