Kushiel's Chosen Part V

Tofu kitty with a very good book.
Tofu kitty with a very good book.

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Chosen is Book 2) is one of my all time favorite series. The red along continues! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, I am your host. We’re covering Chapters 50-61, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) This week we learn plenty more about Kazan Atrabiades and his personal demon, the kriavbhog. What do you think of this demon and his blood curse?

I really like this element. As in Book 1, we have very little truly fantastical elements. In Book 1, it was the Master of the Straights and his strange abilities. Here, we have the kriavbhog, this serpent demon type thing that only a handful can see. Makes me want to go look up fan art of the beastie. Alas, a quick search turns up nothing. 🙁

2) On the island of Dobrek, even Phedre has to admit she had some harsh pre-conceived notions about pirates in general and then Kazan specifically before she was brought to his home. How do you think this experience will affect Phedre going forward?

So through out the Book 1 read along and now in this read along a  few readers more astute than I have pointed out Phedre’s conceitedness or snobbery. It wasn’t something I put a lot of thought into before these read alongs, but now I really notice when Phedre herself takes note of her incorrect pre-conceived notions about people or cultures.

So, she’s had some pretty tough experiences for the last 200 or 300 pages and some of those have been nasty surprises she didn’t expect, in part, due to her ideas about folks or cultures. I think it was Emma or Allie last week who pointed out Phedre’s notion that D’Angelines would be her instant comrades in arms in the hunt for Melisande…. and we all know how that turned out.

So, here she is, once again, kind of slapped in the face by karma over her notions about pirates in general. I think these world travel experiences are going to teach her to pause and rethink any instant notion she has in the future. In Terry  Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching novels, Tiffany and the other witches call this look, and then look again. If you look a third time, I think Pratchett called it Third  Sight at some point in the books. Anyway, it is a worthy notion that has stuck with me since reading those books and I wish I could scribe Phedre a note and pass it on.

3) Nikanor’s ship returns and Phedre is once again off on the high seas. But, alas, she is not ransomed safely. Were you angry at Kazan for not telling Phedre who she was to ransomed to? Or angry at Phedre for not having told Kazan the whole of it in the first place?

Ah, well 20/20 hindsight isn’t so useful in the moment, now is it? So, no I was not angry at Phedre. She doesn’t know Kazan and the knowledge she carries is pretty sensitive top secret stuff. Plus Kazan was pretty much of an ass up until the final 2 or 3 weeks before this unfortunate event.

And, yes, I was a bit ticked with Kazan for not telling Phedre who she had been ransomed to. After all, that was part of the bargain. I think Phedre would have understood his dilemma with the blockade and some of his men being held as surety. But I also think she would have come up with some plan to get the men, and perhaps the rest of the gold.

4) Nearly to Epidauro & safety, Phedre can see the kriavbhog is killing Kazan and orders the ship about into the storm. Was there really no other choice?

Ah, another tough situation. And Phedre had to do the thinking in a desperate moment after a very lengthy chase in which many men were lost and the rest were dead tired. I guess Kazan could have jumped overboard and sent his ship ahead into  Epidauro…. but I  don’t know if he ca swim, plus the pursuers would probably have killed him.

5) Now in the land of Kriti, we meet Oeneus, Hierophant of the Temenos along with the Kore, Pasiphae.  What do you think of these two and the small amount of aid they offer Phedre and Kazan?

This makes me think of the Vatican City a little in that they have full say-so within their tiny little sphere of influence (much of which is this spiritual temple and the thetalos) and very little sway outside of it. So I think they truly are offering up what aid they can – fixing of the ship and a favorable introduction to a more powerful political entity.

We got to see more of Pasiphae and she seemed to be genuinely found of Phedre. Should be interesting to see what she thinks once everyone knows she entered the thetalos without a proper blessing.

6) Kazan enters the thetalos to be cleansed of his blood guilt. Of course, Phedre is pricked by Kushiel to go comfort him as she might. There she faces her own guilty demons. Would you be concerned if you had to pass through the thetalos?

Yes. I think the rude things I have occasionally done in ignorance I could view and then forgive myself over. But there are a handful of things I wish I could have handled things better. Nothing like what Phedre has been through, so if I am worried, then I can only imagine her despair at being caught up in that grief.
Other Tidbts:

 

Kazan’s little ‘trade’ of sex for speedy messenger service didn’t really seem fair to me. Though  I think Phedre carried out her part of the bargain in better spirits than I could have. Also, I wanted to slap Kazan upside the head as he could have offered up the speedy messenging as a nice gesture and then traded for Phedre’s special attentions later on… or even tried to woo her? Maybe wooing is not in his nature.

When Phedre wandered the house and checked out Kazan’s personal room and his personal affects! OMG! I was pretty sure Kazan was going to take a switch to her or hand her over to his men or make her a cleaning slave or something awful.

OK, when Phedre was on that ship about the be beheaded, I really wish she had taken up carrying at least some small knife or such at some point. I know it probably wouldn’t have saved her in that moment, but it might have given her some satisfaction to take out 1 or 2 assailants before she went down.

It was a grand, touching gesture that Kazan was willing to sacrifice himself after cheating Phedre on the ransom and getting so many of his men killed in the horrid affair. I think this is the point in the story where I start to like him.

Rouging of the nipples and formal dress code that calls for an exposed breast or two…. Has anyone tried this for a Halloween costume?

Various kinds of grief seems to be a theme for this book – grief between her and Joscelin, grief at La Dolorosa (both Asherat’s and her own on loosing her chevaliers and Joscelin), and now the grief faced within the thetalos. Oh and Kazan’s blood guilt grief over his brother.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Nancy at FaeStruck’s Reviews & More
James at James T. Witherspoon
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S CHOSEN in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

7 thoughts on “Kushiel's Chosen Part V”

  1. I couldn’t believe that Phedre was almost killed. Carey is very sneaky – she takes great pains to describe certain things and lull you into this sort of false sense of security and then she whips out a double cross and nearly cuts the throat of the main protagonist. I was like ‘wtf’!!
    I’m intrigued about the next chapters – I can’t believe I haven’t just cheated and read straight on!
    Lynn 😀

    1. Yeah, Phedre came very close to death this time. If she wasn’t narrating the story, I would have been deeply worried.

      I too am looking forward to next week’s discussion!

  2. “… or even tried to woo her? Maybe wooing is not in his nature.”

    I was thinking along similar lines. It almost reads like he did make twisted attempt at wooing her (the fabric for the dress, the ride to the hilltop, the dinner). But it’s like he realizes he could never get her fairly, so he creates an unfair situation. I can forgive him for not willing to take everything at her word and being wary because Illyria is a vassal to La Serenissima and Terre d’Ange didn’t help them out when they needed it and Phedre’s story (falling off a cliff, being noble, and in rags) it’s hard for him to wrap his head around. But as you pointed out to me, the choices were sleep with me and I’ll send the ships now, or don’t sleep with me and I’ll send the ship when I feel like it, is wrong. It’s not equal bargaining. It may have been Kazan’s bluff. He knows Phedre means money, and he’s clearly interested in money. And I don’t see how he has an interest in keeping her in his house until he just decides to send the ships. Maybe he thought, ok, I’ll keep her in Illyria a while and she’ll learn to love Dobrek and me and we’ll live happily ever after. And when that didn’t happen, when she didn’t give herself willingly, he played the only card he had left to get her into bed. Not that this would make what he did better. (headcanon off.)

    1. All good points about Kazan. He doesn’t know Phedre like we do, and perhaps his gifts of clothing, a fancy bath and dinner, and a horseback ride are his way of wooing.

  3. I thought Phedre noted at one point that he seemed kind of like a ladies’ man, so I suspect he does have some wooing tricks. I was wondering if maybe he just saw her as a prostitute (he seemed to have that idea about Servants of Naamah), and figured he was supposed to be mercenary about it all. It definitely wasn’t fair, though, I agree.

    I was also pretty annoyed with Kazan for not telling her. I guess that’s why he was avoiding her at the end, because he felt guilty for what he was about to do. Which.. if he really believed she wouldn’t mind going to Benedicte, why would he feel guilty and not tell her? I think he must have suspected things would not go well for her, even if he didn’t know they were going to kill her.

    By the way, didn’t Delaunay have Phedre and Alcuin taught at least a bit of self-defense? I remember they learned tumbling. I’m sure its probably not enough to make a difference in actual combat anyway, but it would have been nice for Phedre to fight back (on the ship, and when Remy and Fortun were killed).

    1. Yeah. I think Kazan was feeling a little guilty about the ransom fiasco since he started avoiding Phedre before they met the ship.

      And I have wondered many times why Phedre, after her time among the Skaldi, never took up some defensive combat skills, even minor stuff. I am sure Joscelin could have taught her but maybe they both fell into that habit of thinking they would be together for a very long time. So no need as Joscelin would always be there to defend her.

Comments are always appreciated, so don't be shy!