Kushiel's Avatar Part VIII

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, Allie at Tethyan Books is our host. We’re covering Chapters 83-END, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1.  Phedre stops by to extract a promise from Melisande.  Why do you think Melisande chose the condition she did, out of the two that Phedre asked for?  Do you think she has some other scheme afoot that no longer involves the d’Angeline throne?

Melisande allowed Phedre to choose which promise to exact, as it is the only present Imriel would accept from his mother. If Melisande had promised both, then she would be in a right pickle with little wiggle room. Phedre chose to safeguard Ysandre and her daughters. So Melisande is free to scheme about with her worshipers and plot on how to escape the Sanctuary of Isherat. If Melisande had promised to forgo worshipers and to stay always at the Sanctuary as well as to not plot against the queen and her daughters, then she would be stuck there. If Phedre had chosen the second option, then Melisande would be free to plot to put Imriel on the throne.

Personally, I don’t think Melisande has any other schemes on the D’Angeline throne at this point. I think she has learned the D’Angeline deities have taken note of her meddling and found it unwholesome. However, that just leaves the rest of the world.

2. When Phedre gets back to the City of Elua, she faces Ysandre’s anger.  Do you think Ysandre treated Phedre & Joscelin fairly?  What do you agree or disagree with in her reaction?

When I first read the book, no, I did not agree. But then I had a very visceral, emotional reaction to the story. I was totally caught up in Phedre and Joscelin and Imriel and them all trying so very hard to free Hyacinthe. Now, here they were just a few days away from their goal and they were denied!

And, yet, since then, rereading it with a cooler head, I can see better why Ysandre did it. For one, Phedre did not make returning Imriel to D’Angeline court her first priority, as she should have (according to Ysandre). Second, lots of the nobility know that Phedre defied this order (even if it was a general order to all of the nobility – if you see Melisande Shahrizai’s son, please bring him by the palace post haste, thanks, much love Ysandre). Then of course there was that very public adoption of Imriel where Phedre forced the queen’s hand.

So all these things forced Ysandre politically and publicly to be harsh with Phedre. And I think that if this had all been done in private, the punishment would have been less, if anything. Ysandre’s feelings would still have been hurt but Phedre would have been able to more fully explain herself. So, now after so many rereads, I have come to see why Ysandre did it and for the stability of the realm (respect from the nobles is a must!), I agree with her.

Besides, Hyacinthe is a big boy. He can handle 3 more months on the island eating fish this and squid that.

3.  The next major event of the story is the confrontation with Rahab.  Did this go how you expected, or were there any notable surprises?

Originally, I really didn’t know what to expect. Throughout the trilogy, we have caught glimpses of various deities, usually giving Phedre a nudge here or a shove there. I half expected some fantastical water works and then more of a feeling or angel wings on the water’s surface kind of thing.

Obviously, what we got was so much more. First, I was surprised how drawn out this scene was. Hyacinthe lost a bit of courage in summoning Rahab so Phedre jumps across. I think I cried the first time for Joscelin and Imriel. They think they may just have lost Phedre for good! Then Hyacinthe keeps Phedre above water with his incantation as she summons Rahab. Yet she does go under eventually and it is Imriel’s high, clear voice that gets her to the surface again. Such tension!

And I absolutely loved Phedre’s description of Rahab – which was essentially that he was beyond any mortal description. It was beautifully written.

Then she says the name of god and Rahab acquiesces and the folks on the boat essentially all hear the same word but in their native tongues, or in Hyacinthe’s case, in the language of sea and storm. I really like that bit.

4. Do you think Hyacinthe will (or should) pass on his knowledge and power at some point? Also, how much of an impact do you think he will have on the Tsingano culture?

Hmm… this is tough question. the Master of the Straits had awesome power, but he was confined to the island. So, there was a checks and balance in place that was reinforced by Rahab. That no longer exists. If Hyacinthe taught even part of his power to someone who was not as scrupulous with it’s use as Hyacinthe, then countries could suffer.

Also, we don’t know if things will work out with him and Sibeal, what either of them have seen in their dreams concerning their futures, or if they will have kids.

I think Hyacinthe probably told the elders what he told the Tsingano gent who heard the name of god on the ocean – that it’s wrong to hold a woman’s virginity above the woman herself, that automatically casting out didikani and their mothers is wrong, etc. So, I can hope that the Tsingano culture relaxes on thoose two points and becomes more compassionate concerning children born out of wedlock.

5. At the end, all is well, and Phedre seems content with her life.  Was there anything that stood out to you in the resolution of the story, or in Phedre’s massive party in Night’s Doorstep?  How do you feel about the way her trilogy has ended?

I’m really glad that Phedre threw such a party for Hyacinthe. His sacrifice in saving Terre D’Ange from the Skaldi had not been recognized by most, and his continued protection of both Alba and Terre D’Ange since then was of passing note to most. So, this was great to see so many turn out to acknowledge him and celebrate his freedom. It was great that Joscelin had his lion’s mane made into the ruff of a nice cloak.

I liked that Hyacinthe took time to travel the land before he goes off with Sibeal, though he isn’t clear about where they plan to start their life together nor exactly why he feels he must leave Terre D’Ange. Perhaps it is more painful than he expected, being home.

Phedre and Ysandre made up – which is nice. I am glad that was also done publicly so that any gossipy nobles will be silenced on that front.

Phedre and Joscelin have sacrificed much over the years for Terre D’Ange and their patron deities. I am very glad they have this happy ending that also leaves them with the new adventure of raising Imriel.

Other Tidbts:

That image of Imriel on one of the ships while Phedre figures out how to deal with Rahab and he is trying to touch some big fish in the wall of water…. sigh, that kid!

Alise and her ink making as Phedre, Joscelin, and Imriel tell the story to Thelesis – I think Alise is already one who is willing to face the ugly with the pretty in life.

I think Phedre was a little naive to think Hyacinthe had not moved on. After all, she had and Hyacinthe was aware of that. I’m glad he is willing to give Sibeal a chance.

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.

5 thoughts on “Kushiel's Avatar Part VIII”

  1. I am wondering what Melisande’s new target is, now that she’s agreed to leave Ysandre alone. Maybe we find that out in future books?

    Maybe my reaction to Ysandre is because this is my first time reading it, and I was also caught up in the emotion of the story. It seems like it would have been a lot better all around if Ysandre had met with her privately first, so she could know the whole story before she had to make a public statement.

    I hadn’t really considered a malicious use of the Master of the Straits power, but at least it is very difficult power to gain. Hopefully, if his apprentice was not a good person, Hyacinthe would figure it out somewhere in the years of teaching.

    1. In the next trilogy, which focuses on Imriel, we do learn a bit more about Melisande and the other Shahrizai.

      I too wish that the two fold honor could have been done in private. I think Ysandre set a public stage for her first meeting with Imriel to let everyone, including Imri, know right from the start that he has her mantel of protection.

  2. I wondering how things would have played out had Imriel not snuck off from Amary Trente to begin with (assuming Phedre wouldn’t be stuck at the temple waiting for it to open). I mean, do you think his story of running off with Phedre and Joscelin out of love made him more or less likable to D’Angelines? Phedre and Joscelin worried that it would remind people of Melisande, but I think it makes him really sympathetic to people who would distrust him. Hmmm…

    1. I expect there will be a majority of D’angelines that have already made up their minds about Imriel (like Barquiel). Perhaps they don’t care anything about the boy himself, just what he represents. Then there will be those who are willing to give him a chance. I expect the latter group to be much smaller than the first group.

      So, no, I don’t think folks will be swayed too much one way or the other by his little switch-a-roo and then following Phedre & Joscelin. Those who don’t like him (or what he represents) will point to it as evidence that he has a deceitful nature. Those willing to give him a chance will shrug their shoulders, simply making note of it.

      1. Yeah, I think you’re right.

        Spoiler for later books:
        I don’t even remember it being mentioned again, one way or the other. Though people do love/respect him for being Phedre and Joscelin’s foster son, some of the details around that (the switch-a-roo specifically) don’t seem to be recalled or known. I guess I just think, for me, seeing him make that move out of love makes him more sympathetic to me. Could be rambling….

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