I have to admit that Dekarta fascinates me. He’s probably the only truly religious character in the whole book, for one thing. This is a world where everyone believes in gods because hello? they’re right there in your face. (I’m wrestling with the idea of how an atheist would function in this world right now, in book 3.) But not everyone believes in the gods. Especially among the Arameri, understandably; it’s hard to feel reverence for beings you can order about and put on a leash. But Dekarta feels true faith toward all the gods, even the Enefadeh. In fact, it’s because he feels such faith that he permits his fellow Arameri to torment them; in his eyes it’s his duty, as one of Itempas’ chosen, to make sure even the most exalted of Itempas’ enemies suffer.
Going to put the rest of this behind a spoiler cut for those who haven’t read 100K.
In some ways Dekarta is the only real villain in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. He alone specifically and deliberately sets Yeine up for the hell she goes through over the course of the book. Scimina would’ve been cruel to anyone put into Yeine’s position; Viraine is a victim of circumstance (although motivated by jealousy); Itempas doesn’t care about mortal affairs. But Dekarta knows full well what it means for him to bring Yeine to Sky. He knows she has almost no chance of overpowering either of her cousins, and will most likely end up manipulated by them into becoming the sacrifice. He knows he’s destroying his daughter’s memory. But it’s worth it, in his mind, to find out whether Yeine killed Kinneth or not.
What I continually noodle is, what if Yeine had killed Kinneth?
In my mind, Kinneth’s abdication left a massive hole in Dekarta’s life. He not only lost his beloved daughter, he lost whatever direct familial legacy he’d hoped to leave in the world. (She wasn’t Arameri anymore, remember, and Relad and Scimina are his brother’s children, not his own.) Some of his cruelty to Yeine comes not just because he thinks she killed Kinneth, but because — conflictingly — he desperately wants to see something of himself in her. He’s frustrated that it’s not there overtly, but when he finally realizes Yeine has more than a smidgeon of ruthless murderer in her, he’s delighted. A granddaughter with a soul of death: just what he always wanted. She’s a real chip off the old block.
That said, in the conflict between “I loved my daughter” and “I want a legacy,” Dekarta’s love for Kinneth (and his own ruthless murderer streak turned vengeful) would’ve won out. So I think he still would’ve made certain Yeine died even if she had somehow won the contest of heirs. As he said at the novel’s climax to Yeine, “You took Kinneth from me.” That doomed her pretty much from birth. At the same time, his regret at killing Yeine was genuine, which why I think Dekarta was so pleased by Yeine’s ultimate fate; this way he gets to honor his daughter and have a hell of a legacy. Whenever Yeine gets around to it, Dekarta will be great-grandfather to a whole new generation of gods. I imagine this tickled the hell out of him during his last days.
(I can’t help it; the old guy was a bastard, but I kinda liked him.)