Kushiel's Avatar Part VI

Claudie snoozing with a very good book.
Claudie snoozing with a very good book.

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Avatar 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 our host. We’re covering Chapters 62-73, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. We see yet another attempt on Imriel’s life. Any new thoughts?

Once again, I think it is the lingering influence of the Valere L’Enver. I expect she thinks she is doing what is best for Terre D’Ange, and she may even being doing it with her Barquiel’s blessing. So far, so few people know that Imriel was taken, then Phedre & Joscelin tracked him down, and that they now have him. I can’t see Amaury Trente sanctioning an attempt on his life.

2. Imriel pulls the old switch-a-roo and ends up with Joscelin, Phedre, and Kaneka on their way to Iskandria. Phedre decides to press on rather than turn back. What do you think of her course of action? What do you think of Imriel’s trick? Some seem to be reminded a bit too much of Melisande’s escape from Troyes-le-Mont. What do you think? What do you think of Imriel’s rationale that he is in Hyacinthe’s debt?

I think Phedre is right to press on. She expressed it elegantly in that she doesn’t know if she will have the heart to leave Terre D’Ange for an extended trip once she returns to it. Also, I expect she is well aware that her decisions in this matter affect Joscelin – so to haul them both home, drop off Imri, only to leave again? I expect Joscelin is just as ready as she is to be home, and be home for years to come. So, yeah, they have to press on right now, otherwise they might not ever get it done.

While I see the point of how folks can (and will) draw the connection, I also shrug my shoulders and say, ‘What kid hasn’t tried a ruse like this?’ Hopefully, the majority of those that hear about it will think the same thing.

I think the characters lose sight of the fact that Hyacinthe made his choice openly, as an informed adult. That’s not to say it doesn’t suck. And yes, the entire realms of Alba and Terre D’Ange owe Hyacinthe a debt. But does Imri owe him more than any other D’Angeline? Hmmm…. Maybe for the Tsingano trust, but I have to wonder if Phedre might have found another way to cultivate that understanding and trust even if Hyacinthe had never been part of her life. She is a gregarious sort.

3. Phedre meets with Pharaoh again…and threatens to tell Ysandre that Pharaoh has been in touch or in league with Melisande should something happen to her or Imriel. What do you think of her move?

Phedre is wise to cover her ass in all her dealings right now. It isn’t just her safety, but also the safety of Imriel. Phedre has fallen in love with the child and will protect him, even if that means pissing off one ruler after another with these bold moves.

Plus, I think the Pharaoh needed this little wake up call. He rules supreme in his vast lands, but if he wants trade with Terre D’Ange, then he needs to at least appear to be courteous in such matters.

4. Kaneka finds some healing with Wali, and Phedre finds her way back from the darkness of Darsanga. Thoughts?

These were both lovely scenes. I like that Kaneka found some very loud, exuberant fun with Wali and how respectful and hopeful he was before they got it on. I also like that Kaneka didn’t feel like she had to stay with the first man who gave her pleasure after Darsanga. She’s free to choose.

The love scene between Joscelin and Phedre after the catching of the big fish is one of the top 10 love scenes in the history of epic fantasy. That scene had it all – tenderness, love, healing, connection, sexiness, smoldering heat, grace. We’ve had a lot of sex scenes in this series for which I am grateful, but if I had to pick one above all, I believe it would be this one.

5. Phedre et al. journey down the Nahar, through the desert and into Jebe Barkal and Saba. What do you think of these new places and the new characters we meet?

I love the wildlife! Everyone is excited at the various animals and how strange they are compared to tame Europe. I did feel a touch sorry for the charging rhino, but I also felt excited for Joscelin. He was able to hold his own when he was very unsure if he could.

When Phedre first describes Kaneka’s village and the rough huts, we seen just a touch of her old D’Angeline conceitedness. She at first judged them crude but then found them perfectly suitable for the climate and terrain. So I really like how this trip is continuing to expand her ideas of what is suitable.

I love that she compared Kaneka’s grandmother to Thelesis Demournay, the Queen’s Poet. Great story tellers are found in all cultures.

6. Phedre meets with the elders of Saba and is disappointed. Then she meets with some of the women. What do you think? Will they help her when the others didn’t?

The people of Saba have been greatly isolated, and it appears that they have made active choices to keep it that way. First, there is some very ancient grudges with neighboring kingdoms that the people of Saba don’t seem willing to let go of. Then they seem quite worried that their one god will be greatly displeased with them, again, and fear drawing attention to themselves – so they are frozen. They can’t help. Really, all these things speak to limiting themselves when others, the entire world actually, is quite willing to let them move on. Oddly, it seems that these self-imposed limitations define the culture and people of Saba. I think they might not know what to do with themselves without these definitions.

And then we have some that feel Elua, etc. are abominations and heresies. I expect we all know people in real life who feel their religion or spiritual believes are the only way and any other way is heresy. So, I am glad Carey didn’t ignore this aspect to the religious discussions, but I am also glad she didn’t  linger over it.

Other Tidbts:


Kaneka swims like a heroine! I loved this scene of saving Imriel on the river. Phedre doesn’t get to do too much great physical feats very often, but here she grabbed that wet horse by the halter and swung up bare back and rode for hell to get to Imri quick. These ladies were magnificent in this scene.

I like that Phedre and Imriel can talk about some of the dark stuff from Darsanga. Like their little conversation about how Imriel would like Phedre and Joscelin to be like Kaneka and Wali.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
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 AVATAR in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

8 thoughts on “Kushiel's Avatar Part VI”

  1. I am nodding enthusiastically to so much here!

    With Shoanete something struck me. She is described by Phedre as older, but it wasn’t in a judgmental way like she described oracle from La Serenissima. I think it really shows Phedre questioning her prior assumptions on civilization and beauty.

    Love Joscelin and the rhino! It reminded me of the scene with the charging Rhino from The Gods Must be Crazy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SE1AEd2NqM
    Only the hero there was no where near as suave.

    I want to know now what your other top 9 scenes are.

    1. Yeah, Phedre has definitely grown with all the traveling she has done.

      Haha! I love The Gods Must Be Crazy movies.

      Most of my favorite epic fantasy sex scenes are either by Jacqueline Carey or Guy Gavriel Kay. Both are not shy in the descriptors or showing how people can be rather different in the bedroom.

      1. Have you read Poison Fruit by Jacqueline Carey? I think my favorite literary sex scene is in there. (Also from that book, I was reading something somewhere about how there is no good fictional story of the Holocaust. Maybe it related to truth is stranger than fiction, but this writer was saying how in fiction, we need a redemption or hope or something. So Holocaust fiction either minimizes or is too damn depressing. I think Carey does a good job of telling a fictional Holocaust story there [as part of the larger plot of the novel].)

  2. I agree, that was a really good love scene between Phedre & Joscelin. I think it’s probably the best one I’ve ever read.

    I don’t know that I would say Imriel really has a debt to Hyacinthe (you’re right, he made his own decisions and Phedre would have found a way), but I think it’s good for him to feel like he’s a part of the adventure. I sort of felt like it was a way of making Imriel feel like he was connected to Phedre, Joscelin, and their quest. I get the impression he is afraid of being abandoned.

    1. I agree – I think Imri is afraid of being abandoned which is a very real fear for him after all he has been through. So, yes, it is good that he feels he has a contribution to make to the quest.

  3. That love scene was the best in this series so far – I vote for Joscelin becoming a full time fisherman! It can’t hurt!!
    Some great points.
    I definitely think Phedre was right with the decision to take Imriel – at the back of my mind I don’t think he would have been safe anyway.
    Aww, the poor charging rhino!
    Lynn 😀

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