Kushiel's Chosen Part VII

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, Emily at Emma Wolf is your host. We’re covering Chapters 73-END, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) Earlier in the book, Phedre promised to rid the temple of Asherat of corruption. Here we see her speaking for the goddess. Is this what you had in mind? Is Phedre channeling the goddess or using her own words? Was her act a sign from the goddess, as Cesare Stregazza said, or merely a trick, as Marie-Celeste said? 

Way back when I first read this book, I thought Phedre and crew would round up and confront those priestesses that were phonies, and  perhaps hand them over to some higher force. Obviously, that isn’t what happened nor was there time for such things, the way things fell out.

I think Phedre intended to speak on the goddess’s behalf, all in good intentions. But then as she  started to speak, Asherat used her to voice her complaints. I do believe Asherat had a hand in how things got rolling and that it wasn’t a simple trick. Though I would not have blamed Phedre if she had used a simple trick to reveal the corrupt priestesses, unmask Melisande, and save Ysandre.

2) Ysandre offers (or demands) to take Imriel into her own household to spare him the “taint” of being a traitor’s son. What do you think of this? Would an Imriel raised by Ysandre be welcomed by the people as the heir to the throne? Or would the people remember Melisande’s treachery when they see her son?

I think Ysandre has noble intentions but I don’t think they are practical in this case. Melisande has committed treachery against the crown and country not once, but twice now. Enough people know of her deceit, especially those who have contact with the throne, that it could not be easily set aside.

No, I don’t think the people of Terre D’Ange would welcome Imriel as heir to the throne. I think too many folks would try to use Imriel for their own ends – politics never sleep! Also, even well-meaning folks might wonder if Imriel would harbor any resentment on his mother’s behalf. So we better hope that Ysandre and Drustan have a baby or two!

3) What do you think of Melisande taking sanctuary in the temple to Asherat and the Doge allowing it? Is it blasphemous? Ysandre asks Phedre what she can expect from Melisande, and Phedre cannot answer. What do you expect from Melisande?

Every place we have seen Phedre travel, we have seen how she takes care not to insult the deities of that land. Melisande was taken into the sanctuary in good faith before all was revealed. So, no, I don’t think it is blasphemous. But I was sorely maddened that they didn’t haul her ass out of there anyway!

The Doge just regained his place in the political hierarchy so I can see why he doesn’t want to oppose the Temple of Asherat on this one. Plus, it was really up to the temple to rule on it.

OK, when I first read this series, I really didn’t know what to expect from Melisande next. Her husband is dead and she is safe so long as she stays within the temple’s bounds. So… I wondered what the rules were. Could she remarry and see her husband within the temple? Essentially, could she ally herself with another political power through marriage and child bearing? But she’s already tried this once and it didn’t get her what she wanted. So perhaps a longer game involving her son, Imriel. But that would have to be a long-game for sure. I guess she could take her time to develop a spy network.

4) After seeing his fellow Cassiline Brother attempt to assassinate their charge in La Serenissima, Brys no Rinforte is badly shaken and is unable to accompany Ysandre through the Royal Army and into the City of Elua. What do you make of this? Phedre called it “defection,” which, according to dictionary.com, has two meanings: 1) desertion from allegiance, loyalty, duty, or the like. Apostasy; and 2) failure, lack, loss. What do you think of Phedre’s description? Phedre also tells us that Ysandre dismissed the Cassilines from her service. What share of the blame does Brys deserve for Ysandre’s decision? What do you think of the irony that Cassiline Brothers have become more popular among D’angelines?

I think Brys was genuinely shaken by the events in La Serenissima, especially since he wasn’t the one to put the traitor down. I don’t think he feared losing his life to the Royal Army; rather he truly feared having to watch his charge die. So, he froze and couldn’t move forward. Also, it was beautifully climatic to watch Ysandre ride into that army and turn the tide on her own.

Defection was a harsh yet fitting term for Brys’s lack of action. If he is not in trouble with  the Cassiline order for his failure to act, then I think they are hypocrites (because Joscelin held to his vow despite all the crazy crap he and Phedre got into prior to him being kicked out of the order).

I expect Ysandre was contemplating dismissing the Cassilines from her immediate service ever since the showdown at Asherat’s temple. They are still human and can be corrupted, or have personal agendas of their own. The fiasco at the temple made that perfectly clear. Perhaps she had already made up her mind to do so once the City of Elua was her’s again. This would have given her remaining Cassiline the chance to finish out the La Serenissiman Progressus with honor. Alas, he was not able to go the last mile.

Ha! Yes, it is so very human for anything newsworthy to become popular with some segment of the population. In this case, I think it is more Joscelin’s magnificent efforts to keep Ysandre safe that spurred the nobility to hire Cassiline bodyguards. I think folks are secretly hoping to find a ‘Joscelin’ among them.

5) The Rebbe Nahum ben Isaac said “you Children of Elua are too quick to forget how the love you invoke may cut like a blade.” What do you think? Is Elua a gentle, loving god or is the rebbe right?

The Rebbe is right. Who among us haven’t fallen in love, at least a little, with someone because they are beautiful to look upon? If they turn out to be clever or kind or mysterious AND they show even  a little reciprocal  interest, it can be quite the deadly combination.

A few years ago, I read an article that speculated that humans were genetically wired to appreciate beauty and youth more, as a kind of ‘must protect and care for’ type of thing. If you look at how humans have selectively bred certain animals for thousands of years – horses, dogs – we keep looking for delicate strength and aesthetically pleasing aspects. Grown horses are more coltish in  appearance and we swoon over them, etc. Anyway, I can’t talk to the accuracy of that article, but  I found it rather thought provoking. Here we have the D’Angelines. Often the men get comments about being boys because they have no facial hair. They women are typically  delicate and beautiful. So, yeah, definitely want to feed them and keep them safe.

Other Tidbts:

I really did feel sorry for the acolyte who survived Phedre’s forced entrance to the temple. He just lost his comrades and friends – and everyone else is going out for a celebratory drink!

Phedre commented that the fight between Joscelin and the Cassiline traitor was both the most deadliest and most beautiful thing she had ever seen – and yet she had to be strong enough to look away and hunt down Melisande.

Even though I have read this book several times, I have always found the confrontation between Melisande and Phedre in the temple during Joselin’s fight to be a bit silly. Phedre didn’t have to kill Melisande – just incapacitate her. Surely after all the dire circumstances Phedre has lived through, she could have seen that?

The Black Shields! While I appreciated that they were a little torn at leaving the border, I am very glad they did so and I do believe it goes a long way in atoning for their prior misstep.

I really enjoyed Phedre’s homecoming and the fete in her honor. I always feel I should read those beautiful party scenes at midnight on wintry night.

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). We’re currently planning the read along for Book 3, Kushiel’s Avatar. Contact me if interested in joining in!

6 thoughts on “Kushiel's Chosen Part VII”

  1. A very satisfying ending. I loved the way Ysandre turned the tide back all by herself.
    I like the idea of Melisande seeking sanctuary – it’s such an old fashioned concept but I liked that it was respected (although like you said – I was at the same time torn and kind of hoping that they’d drag her out of there!) At the end of the day – Melisande is a good baddie – I hope that she doesn’t remain the baddie through all the books though. Eventually she must be caught and brought to account but at the moment she seems the most capable of stirring up trouble.
    Lynn 😀

    1. Seeking sanctuary is an old-fashioned idea and yet I didn’t see it coming in this book. It makes perfect sense and in retrospect I am sure Melisande had that in mind when she chose to become a supplicant of Asherat Temple.
      Nope, she’s not the main baddie for all the books. In fact, her role for Book 3 isn’t as big as it has been for Books 1 & 2.

  2. I have all the comments but I don’t want to say much because I don’t want to spoil things for others by saying even what *doesn’t* happen!

    Joscelin and the Cassilines–I love that he is what made them popular. It’s like, ha ha! Suck it, Prefect! And I love Carey’s description of the fight that we couldn’t see!

    Re genetic wiring, your comment reminded me of cats, for some reason. Apparently, they evolved to be cute so humans would take care of them. And their meow is supposed to mimic a baby crying so we’ll be more sympathetic.

    1. Yes! The cat baby thing is exactly what I was thinking of! Since this correlation between the beautiful D’Angelines and baby-like animals has been in my mind for some years, I sometimes picture the characters as certain animals. Totally silly, I know. Phedre is a young filly, of course. Joscelin is a large, but lovable, sleek cat. Melisande is a beautiful, but deadly, dog who still carries some wolfish traits.

  3. I hadn’t really considered what would happen to Brys afterward. I guess since the assassin is dead, he’s going to take the lion’s share of the blame for causing the queen to reject Cassiline protection as well :(. I feel kind of sorry for him.

    Also, I forgot to mention the acolyte in my answers. I doubt he’s going to accept that Phedre was serving Asherat, after she killed his comrades. I wonder if he will ever show up in the story again.

    I was a little exasperated with Phedre in the confrontation, too. You’d think after all the horrible things Melisande did to Phedre and the people she loved, Phedre would finally be beyond melting into a little puddle at her feet. She could have just punched her in the face or something.

    1. I feel sympathy for Brys too. And I do wonder if he became a potato farmer or a goat herder after this. And, yes, Phedre, why don’t you give Melisande a nice punch to the left temple? Sigh…

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