Kushiel's Justice Part I

Chupacabra has spotted something!
Chupacabra has spotted something!

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Justice is Book 2 of the second  trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. The read 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 1-7, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) Imriel wraps up some left over business – meeting with Bernadette de Trevalion. What do you think of the way Imriel handled the meeting? Will the peace hold?

I liked that Imriel went alone instead of taking either Phedre or Joscelin. It showed that he was doing this on his own and not willing to lean on his ties through either parent. This truly was a beef between him and Bernadette. It was great that he showed sympathy for Bernadette’s pain (her dead brother Baudoin, etc.) but that he also made it clear that he wasn’t willing to die for it either. I think because of the way Imriel set the boundaries, the peace will hold. Bertran’s apology and his comment about how certain things were made clear to him, followed by the de Trevalion’s leaving the city for the rest of the season, show that Bernadette is finally willing to let things lie.

2) Imriel first hears of the Bear People or Bear Witches from Alise and later a little more from the Alban honor guards who attend the Bard, and still a bit more from Phedre. Simply a spooky story or more to it? Does the tale remind you of any myth or legend?

I think we’ve learned by now that if Carey lays down cookie crumbs of a spooky story or myth a couple of times by more than one person, then we shall see a greater manifestation of that story. Still, there’s all sorts of spooky here.

The bits we’ve learned so far stir something foggy in my brain – a tale of Roman soldiers capturing a bear for their sport of bear baiting – building a pit of sorts and betting on bear of humans armed with various weapons. If I recall any of this correctly, I think the bear wins the initial event, even killing some of the spectators, gets loose, only to be hunted down and killed later, upon which the dead bear transforms into a druid. Ring any bells with folks? It’s rather foggy for me.

3) Mavros accompanies Imriel on their visit to Bryony House, where Imriel wins them tokens for the Longest Night. What did you think of how Imriel won the bet? Mavros shares a bit of wisdom later, pointing out that Imriel isn’t really enjoying sampling all the Night Court Houses before his wedding and that it is somewhat of an injustice to Naamah. Do you think Mavros is right?

Imriel really is a glutton for punishment. So, on one hand he’s like beating his head against the wall. He made this active choice to not enjoy the experience and he could have refused the lady at the beginning. On the other hand, he didn’t know quite what he was in for when he walked into Bryony House and was swept up quickly in the events. He chose to beat the bet by going to a dark place, and I think even he didn’t expect it would take that to exert his will over when to orgasm.

I definitely think Mavros is right. Imriel has gone beyond exploring his own sexual fears at this point and is punishing himself and abusing the gifts that Naamah brings to the table.

4) In this section, Imriel visits Kushiel’s Temple and then later Naamah’s Temple, wishing to atone in both for various slights and actions. Which would you find more cathartic? Do you think Imriel has a deeper understanding of himself, and perhaps Phedre, now?

I like that Imriel doesn’t rely solely on the temples for  atonement. As we saw last book, he is quite willing to do what he thinks needs to be done to atone for a wrong, like deeding a property over to Maslin or visiting Gilot’s beloved Anna in person. And still the need goes deeper and some things can never be made right or whole again in this world.

Quite frankly, I have found in my life that a physical release is more cathartic than a bit of sunshine and reflection (tho those things help too). I’m more likely to put my back into to some hard labor, earning blisters or bruises, etc. to atone. Also, with physical punishment, others can see it and know you have born a cost, and the healing process reminds you daily that you erred. If something was eating me up inside like with Imriel, I would chose Kushiel’s temple.

5) Finally, we have the Longest Night. What stood out the most for you? If you could join Imriel’s little group, what philosopher would you choose to dress as?

So much going on at this party! First, tho it was brief, it appears that at least one person took note of Imriel’s medallion. So the Unseen Guild is not quite so unseen as they would like. Then Imri and Sidonie still have some heat between them. Then I liked that Barquiel nearly got a rise out of Imri by commenting on his hair. Ha!

If I had the chance to go as part of Imri’s retinue, I would choose to dress as Hypatia. Of course, I would have to dig through some histories to figure out how an Alexandrian woman in the late 4th century dressed. She studied astronomy as well as philosophy, so maybe planets would adorn my dress.

Other Tidbts:

I really feel for Alise being so often ignored by nearly everyone. It’s good of Imri and even Mavros to give her a bit of attention here and there. Still, it must be hard to know that you don’t really fit in at home and yet you have this arranged marriage on the neighboring island where you don’t know if you will fit in any better.

I’m glad Imri finally read his mother’s letters. It’s one less thing he will be curious over and now he can take the time to contemplate whether or not she truly meant the things she wrote.

I loved that Imri spent his last Longest Night in the City of Elua doing three things – the Queen’s Court, then the Night Court, and finally, seeing Joscelin in Elua’s Temple for the vigil.

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 SCION in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

4 thoughts on “Kushiel's Justice Part I”

  1. It didn’t really hit me that the hair comment was what just about set him off– that really reminds me of Phedre’s constant concern about her and other peoples’ hair during intense moments. 😀

    It was sad to see Alais feeling out of place, though I could also sympathize with Imriel’s frustration with hanging out with a group of young teen girls. I hope that Alba marks a change for the better for her, because she deserves a place she feels like she belongs.

    1. Yes, Phedre was a bit focused on looks when she was young and it’s funny to see that mirrored somewhat in Imri.

      I love the image of Imri covered in teen girls for Alais’s sake.

  2. I feel kind of conflicted about Imriel at Bryony House. On one hand, I feel like it was almost blasphemy to bring those thoughts and words into a place where Naamah is served. On the other, well, it was a wager. The idea was that there was a risk that Imriel wouldn’t climax. He had to have a way to do it. I guess it was just expected that he’d think of baseball or something.

    1. Ha! Yeah, what would Imri think about if he was attempting to hold off an orgasm? Knowing his history, I guess I should have seen that coming, but I didn’t the first time I read it.

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