Kushiel's Mercy Part VI

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! 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 63-75, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. The Euskerri paid a brutal price for their sovereignty. What do you think about how this played out? Did anything stick out in your mind?

I think I need more info, really. The Euskerri obviously hold their sovereignty dear, but why? Were they being unjustly taxed? They have their own language and customs, but do they use Aragonian or D’Angeline coinage? Are their people conscripted into either army? In short, I am wondering if they want their own rulership because of their different language/culture alone or because they have been unjustly treated by either or both of their neighboring countries.

At any rate, they gave as good as they got. Definitely worthy fighters even if they don’t know much about planning, strategy, etc. Only time will tell if their sacrifice of so many young men was worth it.

2. How do you feel about the way things ended for Astegal? Was it just? If not, what would you have preferred to see happen?

It was just. Aragonia ordered the execution and Imriel and Sidonie, representing Terre D’Ange, carried it out. I guess he could have been tortured for info on the jewel, but that’s a messy business.

3. Do you have any theories on why Imriel’s charm is able to protect Sidonie?

I think Elua and Kushiel are lending their aid on this one. It was a desperate thought in the first place and Imriel isn’t trained to any sort of magic or spiritual rites, so he simply had to do his best.

4. What do you think about Alais’s change of heart regarding political power and her new plans for her future?

Totally makes sense. She has spent years away from the D’Angeline court, growing up, seeing how she can make a difference with all the knowledge and training she has been given. Plus, the last time we checked in with her on this issue, she was… 13? 14? So, it’s totally fine that she’s changed her mind on this as she’s grown up. I think she will make a fine leader.

5. The spell twists the personalities of people we knew, sometimes in disturbing ways. Do you see the seeds of who they are now in their true selves? Given their currently twisted view of reality, do you think anyone is acting against their own principles?

A friend of mine in college once said that alcohol tends to bring out the person’s real personality and after several years, I think I finally agree with him.

Here, I think this spell brings out the worst in people. Their core is still their, but now all their fears, suspicions, even hates are brought much closer to the surface and folks are much more likely to act upon those feeling than on any rational thoughts. Right now, nothing extreme has happened to anyone but Sidonie and Imriel. So, yes, I think everyone is still acting according to their principles but this spell has the fear talking, so folks are being a bit closed off, protecting those things they hold dear first, and suspicious of the rest….. kind of makes me think of certain political stuff going on lately here in the real world…..

Other Tidbts:

Imri has indeed written too many goodbye letters these past few years.

It was nice to see Kratos again.

It was cool that Sidonie came up with the plan, even if it was Imriel that had to take it to the Euskerri. Still, we know she’s a badass.

It was good to see Joscelin sparring with Imri again even in these messed up times.

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

Kushiel's Mercy Part V

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog is our host. We’re covering Chapters 50-62, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) We had a number of dramatic chases and escapes this week – what really stood out most for you?

The flaming ship! Those sailors risked everything – their ship, their possessions (and for some, it was probably everything they owned), and their lives, but also their livelihoods (if badly injured, would they be able to work as sailors again?). Even though this is a reread for me, I am still amazed that these sailors and their captain were willing to risk so much for these royals. Perhaps Solon is a great and yet sometimes terrifying boss. I bet he will reward their loyalty handsomely and also I don’t doubt that he would have punished them horribly had they handed Sidnoie and Imriel over.

2) Imriel and Sidonie meet with Nicola L’Envers y Aragon who turns into an ally for the two of them arranging for them to gain audience and we once again see Sidonie’s diplomacy skills – how do you think she would compare to Ysandre as a ruler?

Sidonie has definitely learned well from Ysandre. Their situations are quite different but I see echos of Ysandre’s skill and poise in Sidonie, but Sidonie is definitely her own woman in these scenes. She has to be since her mom is still bespelled. I think Ysandre would be proud of her.

3) Imriel made a statement this week about once wanting to be a hero but now having changed his mind – and how heroism meant living in terror that you wouldn’t be able to protect those you loved – what do you make of his thinking?

Yes, our boy has grown up and continues to build his wisdom, doesn’t he? I think he’s right – being hero can mean you are constantly concerned or worried about being able to protect those you care about or those in your charge. Sometimes no matter how clever you are, no matter how physically fit you are, no matter how broad and excellent your skills, you won’t be able to protect everyone all the time. So, yes, you live in terror of that coming true and something catastrophic coming about on your watch. The hero part is still doing it anyway, pushing forward and giving it your best despite this knowledge.

4) Euskerri. The plan is to sway the Euskerri (by offering them sovereignty) to side with Aragonia. Do you think the Euskerri are wise to accept or not?

Oh, wow. What a mess there. The Euskerri have been lied to far too often, so I get why they need so many assurances and how it’s a very tentative yes on their part. Still, I was severely frustrated with them too. With both Imriel and Sidonie giving their word on the trueness of the offer, of course I would accept it. But the Euskerri make some solid arguments for needing more than the word of a few royals of country that is facing civil war and possibly invasion (again?) by Carthage. Still, I didn’t like that they were a bit underhanded in refusing Imriel and Sidonie passage to Terre D’Ange.

5) Finally, it seems like both Imriel and Sidonie will return to the battlefront – what do you think of the agreement reached? What do you predict going forward?

Ooops, so I answered part of this int he question above. Of course I don’t want Sidonie and Imriel to head back to Aragonia. They just escaped there! But I see that the Euskerri feel they need a few royal guests (hostages) to ensure the treaty is signed in full by Aragonia.

Other Tidbts:

I really like that Sidonie was uncomfortable with the days of sleeping on uncomfortable mats or on the cold forest floor as they made their way to the Euskerri village. I love that she didn’t complain.

I think it took a lot for Sidonie to ask Imriel to end her life rather than let Astegal have her again. I think it took even more for Imriel to agree to it.

Imriel takes note that the Aragonia council is made up of all men and perhaps finds it odd. Nicola seems to have to work in the background, not given a voice at the council.

I loved that Imriel could look back on his kidself and see that his disliking of Nicola was wrong, petty. I’m glad he finally has a chance to see Nicola as Phedre’s confidante.

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

Kushiel's Mercy Part IV

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! 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 36-49, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. After being freed, Kratos decides to stay in Leander/Imriel’s service. Did his loyalty or reasons surprise you? What about how he was able to aid Leander/Imriel?

Not really. he strikes me as a loyal fellow and also his reason of ‘you’re an interesting guy’ rang true. This is probably the most exciting thing he’s done in many years. Also, he can see that Leander/Imri is a person of morals. He kept his word in freeing the slaves, he’s not rude in action and word, and he doesn’t lightly bed folks for a momentary enjoyment.

I really liked how he suggested working with Esme the bath house attendant. It shows he’s been paying attention to the rude soldiers around him, that he doesn’t approve, and that (most of the time) he can’t do anything about it – but here is the chance for Esme to do something about it.

I honestly can’t recall if he dies or not so I was pleased he made it through this section.

2. Despite Justina’s training, her loyalty to Melisande, and her position ready to tip the balance, she is unwilling or unable to help Leander/Imriel. What do you think of this? What good is the Guild or Melisande and her spies if not for this?

I think Justina was being honest about her abilities. She points out that she was trained and put in position to influence politics and keep an open ear. She wasn’t trained in slight of hand, etc. I expect she’s not trained in the masseuse arts either, so she couldn’t simply do what Esme could. Plus Astegal has Esme for that and if Justina offered out of the blue to do so, and his ring happened to come loose, I think he would be suspicious. I expect we’ve all worn rings to sleep and if someone tugged on one of mine, I would most likely wake up.

So I don’t blame Justina for backing out of this one, but I do think she could have done more to either help Imri or Sidonie. She did see a little comfortable with her current position and I sensed she was hesitant to give up that position/power/influence/money (whatever combo).

Event the Guild and Melisande were not prepared for the magic wrought by Bodeshmun. Melisande and Solon knew, somewhat, ahead of time but I’m not sure they could have stopped it if they had tried. It’s all a bunch of ‘what-ifs’.

3. Any thoughts about the Longest Night?

I, like Leander/Imri, hoped for a beautiful pageant like the City of Elua holds yearly, but I could also see why Astegal and Bodeshmun wanted to avoid that. I did really like that the Imri side of Leander/Imri went in search of a patch of nature where he could do some Elua worshiping and he stumbled upon Sidonie doing the same thing. Even though he wasn’t allowed to join her, I did find that a very beautiful scene.

4. Any thoughts about the aftermath of the breaking of two of the spells? Were you amused by Imriel’s conversation with Sunjata? Were you surprised by Sidonie’s reaction once the spell on her is broken?

So much here! First, Imriel coming back to himself was both beautiful and a little traumatic at the same time. I’m sure it appeared very strange to Sidonie at the time. I’m listening to the audiobook and Simon Vance, the narrator, does a great job with the Leander voice, the Leander/Imri voice, and then Imri’s voice and keeping it all straight throughout these sections.

I did love Imri’s discussion with Sunjata and I think Sunjata is a good chap seen as he had the decency to blush over the entire thing. Still, I find myself comparing his actions in their romance to Astegal’s actions in bed with Sidonie. Now Sidonoie was be-spelled unknowingly and against her will, while Imri did it with purpose…. and yet is it totally right for Sunjata to have bedded Leander/Imri? Hmmm… Perhaps it’s simply how things had to be in the moment if Sunjata was to avoid tipping the balance on Solon’s disguise spell.

Sidonie is awesome. I love her reaction initially to the tattoo being found. Even be-spelled, she knows that’s not right. Once cut out, I love that her first reaction is to deeply want Astegal’s death, make love to Imri, and then discuss how to save the realm.

5. Last week, Allie said she hopes Bodeshmun’s power “all blows up in his face.” Thoughts on his death?

This was such a tense section! I knew Imri was capable of killing, and I believed him when he set his mind to killing some of he guards in cold blood. We’ve seen Joscelin do it and we’ve seen Imri in tough situations. So I knew he wouldn’t balk, but I expect those deaths will weigh heavily on him for some time.

But killing Bodeshmun will not be one of those deaths that weighs upon him.

I do wonder what the black flaky stuff was. Perhaps some desiccated deadly mushroom or such.

Other Tidbts:

I hope Sidonie’s visit with Roderick while she was be-spelled works to her favor later when she tries her best to explain to folks about the evil spell.

I was glad that the guards kept their secret of falling asleep on the job among themselves but I doubt they were fooled. Perhaps they thought it was a wicked, petulant joke of Sidonie’s, perhaps not.

I was a little surprised that Sunjata was scared to stick around in the city during the ring switch. He obviously didn’t want to be caught if things went south, but, honestly, I don’t think a jot down the coast (or wherever he went) would have mattered. If Esme had been caught, she would have been forced to tell, then Leander/Imri would be in custody and they would just round up his associates. Sunjata being a gem merchant’s representative would be high on that list. So unless Sunjata is excellent at disguises, he would have been in the thick of it anyways.

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

Kushiel's Mercy Part III

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! 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 23-35, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. Imriel spends the night at Melisande’s before Solon is to do his spell. Melisande tells Imriel that she would like it if, after all this, he would find it in his heart to come visit her again. Do you think he will? What would that reunion be like?

Perhaps in the far future, if all turns out OK with Imriel and Sidonie, they might arrange some clandestine meeting when Imriel and Sidonie are making some royal progress in Alba or Aragonia or such. I can see Melisande arranging it anyway and just popping in on them. If the two of them ever reproduce, then Melisande might find it impossible to stay away forever despite their wishes. I think the initial reunion could be really awkward. But if Sidonie can find it in her heart to forgive, or at least find conclusion (recognizing that Melisande’s punishment for the Skaldi invasion is permanent exile), then I think they could all move forward and just be what they are – a messed up family that do care about each other.

2. Solon tells Imriel to “put Imriel away” and “make him small…like a tiny, tiny seed.” How much of Imriel remains inside “Leander” once the spell is complete?

We see flickers of him even from day one, like when he says goodbye to Melisande. Later, when the chamber maid makes it clear that she wouldn’t mind a dalliance, Leander/Imri holds back and Leander has to explain it away to himself. So obviously Imri is still in there and he does have an influence on the actions his body takes.

3. Sidonie and Leander/Imriel meet and court again. What do you think of this and the echoes of their past courtship? How much of Imriel does Sidonie actually remember, if anything?

I think the rose petals cause an echo of past memories to serve. Also it’s kind of sweet to see Leander/Imri bumbling along with the flirting. I think we can see flickers in Sidonie but to her Leander is a stranger, so she’s not going to reveal her concerns about her memory or pieces into quite fitting together yet. She has all the training in royal poise going on. It will be interesting to see these two learn to trust each other all over again.

4. What do you think of Leander/Imriel’s cover story of how he came to be in the service of Solon and sent to Carthage? What do you think of Carthage generally?

Leander, like any good spy, is sticking as close as he can to the story. However, he has to leave out or alter anything that might remind Sidonie of Terre D’Ange. I think he will find that harder to do than he expects. In general, I think the cover story is enough. After all, both Bodeshmun and Astegal (I’m assuming) have to realize that various spies will wiggle their in close to try to learn how they pulled off this big magic with Terre D’Ange.

Carthage in general seems to be an old and vibrant city. I like it even if I don’t agree with everything (like the life-long slavery). And while I like the look of palanquins I too find them ridiculous. Unless you’re having sex while your slaves carry you around the city. That’s what I would use a palanquin for. And mine would be steampunked up, with some sort of automatons carrying me and my harem around town. Maybe the automatons would be in the shape of armadillos, because I really like them but, alas, they carry the the leprosy virus. So no live armadillos for me.

5. We see Sunjata and Bodeshmun, this time through Leander’s eyes. Has your impression changed?

Since this is a reread for me, I was really looking forward to seeing Sunjata again. I love that Leander is in a on/off relationship with him. I felt that Sunjata was, in general, a gentle soul even from the beginning, even when he stuck Imri with the madness needle. So it’s nice to see that expanded upon here.

Bodeshmun is an arrogant man, just like folks have told Imri. I’m glad to see it as that could be a key to his undoing. Tho I do believe he’s very dangerous and has the power to remove Leander’s eyes.

6. Why did Leander/Imriel choose Kratos, Ghanim, and the brothers? Was it more Imriel or more Leander who did the choosing?

I think it was more Imriel doing the choosing here. He picked men that he knew would end up in hard labor and it would probably kill them. He chose well. I expect these men will serve him loyally.

Also, wasn’t it hard to watch Leander/Imri agonize over the Aragonian boy? Jacqueline Carey sure does know how to jerk the emotions out of me!

Other Tidbts:

I love that Leander/Imri brought Sidonie a chess set!

Seeing Imri through Leander’s eyes has been very interesting. I think this is what many D’Angelines think about Imriel to one degree or another.

Also Leander’s ideas about Imriel’s hunt for his mother to bring her to justice were interesting.

I think it’s interesting that Sunjata wanted to see Leander/Imri totally naked, thereby seeing Imri’s true body.

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

A Time Travel Tagging

I was recently tagged by Lynn over at Books & Travelling with Lynn. The subject is all about books and time traveling, in one way or another. I really enjoy these tag posts as they often give me something to talk about without having to use a lot of brainpower. Here are the Q&A.

SummersOwlDanceWhat is your favorite historical setting for a book?

It’s hard to pick just one. I’ve read plenty of stories set in ancient Greece (Mary Renault), Roman murder mysteries & ‘celebrities’ (John Maddox Roberts, Conn Iggulden), and the 1800s of the American West (David Lee Summers, Cherie Priest). Also, the Tudor era attracts me. In fact, I’m currently wrapped up in Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory.

AsimovStarsLikeDustWhat writer/s would you like to travel back in time to meet?

Isaac Asimov is near the top of my list. His books feature prominently in my childhood/teen years. I read his Lucky Starr series but also many of his adult novels. For kicks, I’d love to meet Homer and put to rest the age-old argument on whether Homer was male or female or collection of authors. I wouldn’t mind meeting Pearl S. Buck. Her novel, The Good Earth, was required reading in both the 5th and 9th grades (I moved and changed school districts, so that’s why I got hit twice with this classic) and I loved it both times. She had a very interesting life and it wouldn’t just be her books I’d pester her with questions about, but also her travel and years living in China.

LynchTheLiesOfLockeLamoraWhat book/s would you travel back in time and give to your younger self?

There’s so much good stuff out today! Apart from a few classics, most of the ‘safe’ or required reading I had access to as a kid was boring and often felt fake or like it was missing a big element of life – you know, all the gooey, messy bits that make all the good parts that much better. Luckily, I had full access to any SFF novel in the house and there were plenty of those. So to supplement my childhood bookshelf, I would give myself Andy Weir’s The Martian, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series, and The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.

Chupacabra
Chupacabra

What book/s would you travel forward in time and give to your older self?

I would speed ahead to my future self and hand her a copy of Robert E. Howard’s stories. His writing is some of the best I have enjoyed and yet several of his stories, Conan or otherwise, have certain sexist and racist elements that really repel me. This book would remind me that humans, including myself, are flawed and that things change over the years, such as views on a woman’s proper role in high fantasy adventure. Yet despite these shortcomings, a person can still love a story, or a person, or a country, etc.

ChaneyTheAmberProjectWhat is your favorite futuristic setting from a book?

I always enjoy closed systems and several feature in SF stories. These are domed cities (Logan’s Run by Nolan & Johnson), underground villages (The Amber Project series by JN Chaney), underwater towns (Lucky Starr & the Oceans of Venus by Isaac Asimov), very large space stations (The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey), etc.. There’s the wonder of discovering these places, seeing how they are supposedly working and will go on working forever, and then watching it all come apart in some horrible way that means death for most of the people in the story. Yeah, welcome to my little demented side.

 

Grahame-SmithAustenPrideAndPrejudiceAndZombiesWhat is your favorite book that is set in a different time period (can be historical or futuristic)?

For fun, I wouldn’t mind visiting Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I really like the idea of making polite ball jokes, decapitating zombies, working out in the dojo, and politely trading British insults over tea. Honestly, I think that is the only way I would survive the Victorian era.

RobertsTheKingsGambitSpoiler Time: Do you ever skip ahead to the end of a book just to see what happens?

Back when I was eyeball reading printed books (I do mostly audiobooks now) I had a ritual. I would start a book and at that moment that I knew I was hooked, that I had fallen in love with the story, I would turn to the last page and read the last sentence. Most of the time this didn’t spoil anything, but every once in a while there would be a final line that gave away an important death or such.

PriestMaplecroftIf you had a Time Turner, where would you go and what would you do?

Actually, I do have a Time Turner. My husband bought it for me at the start of September while he was at an SCA event. It was right after we learned that I was quite sick but a few weeks before we learned just how sick. So, lots of bitter sweet emotions tied up with that piece of jewelry.

Anyhoo, if I had a working one, I would go everywhere and do everything. I would start with planning things that Bill and I have wanted to do together (like celebrating Beltane in a pre-Christian era) and then add in things that I have always wanted to do but which my be a big snooze fest for Bill (such as Charles Darwin’s Beagle voyage).

JonasAnubisNightsFavorite book (if you have one) that includes time travel or takes place in multiple time periods?

Currently, I’m enjoying the Jonathan Shade series by Gary Jonas. Time travel really becomes an element in this urban fantasy series in the second trilogy with Ancient Egypt featuring prominently. I also adore Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I finally read a Stephen King novel, 11-22-63. The characters were great even as the underlying premise was only so-so for me. The Dinosaur Four by Geoff Jones was a fun, crazy creature feature.

ButcherColdDaysWhat book/series do you wish you could go back and read again for the first time?

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, for sure. I’ve read the early books several times each and I get a laugh out of them each time. Also I would like to experience Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey all over again for the first time. That book showed me how prudish some of my ideas were when I first read it. I wonder what it would show me now? Perhaps the same thing, if indeed this book has had as big an impact on who I am as I think.

Tagging Other People

So in general with these fun tagging posts, I never want anyone to feel obligated to play along. As usual, if any of you want to play along, I definitely encourage you. You can answer any of the questions in the comments or you can throw up your own blog post and then let em know about it so I can come read it. Here are some people who I think would like this particular time travel subject:

David Lee Summers

Under My Apple Tree

Beauty Is A Sleeping Cat

On Starships & Dragonwings

Kushiel's Mercy Part II

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! 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 11-22, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) Imriel visits a few of the Houses with Astegal. If you were to visit Carey’s Terre d’Ange, would there be a particular house you’d be interested to see?

Such a hard choice! I think we had a question similar to this one way back at the beginning of the series and now that we’ve come so far, experienced so much with these characters and the discussions, I bet my answer has changed. I’m waffling between Jasmine (for pleasure’s sake), Eglantine (to create is to live), and Balm (rest and be soothed). You know, I think I will make the rounds to all three like a good D’Angeline would.

2) The Carthaginians’ scheme was some of the most blatant magic that I think we’ve seen in the series. Given that there is a whole country of people who are not fooled, do you think they really expected to get away with it cleanly in the long-term? Do you think they have an alternative plan?

You’re right about the magic being upfront and in our faces with this story. After the more subtle, perhaps even bordering on magical realism, in past books, it’s a bit of a change, isn’t it?

It’s been some years since I last read this book, so I’ve forgotten the details. But based on Carey’s intricate plots, I would say that there is more to this plot that what we’ve seen so far, and what we’ve seen so far has the D’Angeline monarchy, a chunk of its priesthood, and its army enslaved. So, yeah, I bet there’s more coming.

3) Barquiel l’Envers goes from a petty antagonist to one of Imriel’s only allies. Does this change your opinion of him? Do you think this adventure will alter his perception of Imriel?

Quite frankly, I love this part. It’s very much like how Barquiel gave Phedre such the stink eye yet still rode out to save her from a skinning. I can say from experience that Barquiel’s role in this book made me look more kindly upon him during rereads later on.

4) We finally see Melisande again! What do you think of what she has become? Do you think she still deserves execution for her crimes?

It was good to see her interacting with someone she wouldn’t consider seducing (probably, hopefully!). It was a different side of her and also I think she has gained some wisdom over the years. It was both fascinating and chilling to see how honest she was about her amorality.

Yes, she does deserve to be punished for her crimes. Those people who died during the Skaldi invasion are still dead. There are still plenty of repercussions from that act of treason. However, this is not always a just world and I think Imriel’s compromise (banned from D’Angeline soil for life) is the best he could get. Sometimes making a final ruling, as such, lets people move on, whether they think it is fair or not.

5) What do you think will be Imriel’s key to change out of the form and mind of Leander? Do you think you would be willing to undergo such a transformation?

So I do recall the answers to the first question. And I recall how each happens –  and I think you will all enjoy those scenes as I did.

Would I be willing to undergo such a transformation? Well, for the love of my life, sure. No problem. Heck, even just for Halloween I might do it. It might be interesting to be a fairly attractive young man with a randy attitude for a day or week or so.

Other Tidbts:

Imriel’s little trick with the pillow was simple and perfect for getting info. Our young man has come pretty far since he was a kid. I don’t think he would have done that even at the beginning of this trilogy.

Madness for a whole month! And then when you get your wits back, you have perfect recollection of all the hurtful, crazy shit you said and did. That is one nasty piece of magic.

It was silly for Imri to bring the Bastard but I think he really needed a D’Angeline friend at the time.

The Wise Ape! Fascinating man. I would love to see some fanfic about his life.

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

Kushiel's Mercy Part I

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

Ah! It’s definitely good to be back in the land of Terre D’Ange! The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, I am your host. We’re covering Chapters 1-10, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) So far, what do you think of the variety of responses people have to Imriel’s and Sidonie’s relationship?

I’m always a bit surprised at how many folks disapprove of their  relationship. At one point, someone tells Imriel they have a right to their anger and I think I would have to take it on a case by case basis. I’m don’t think they all have a right to their anger.

Then there are those that just love the naughty  feel to it all, the defiance and that’s OK but perhaps not sincere. I’m very glad there are some who are truly happy for Imri and Sidonie. I’m glad that Sidonie and Imri are careful as to what parties they choose to  attend and don’t overly flaunt their relationship, adding salt to some people’s wounds.

2) Imriel starts the hunt for Melisande. What do you think of his efforts so far? Could you hand over a wayward relative to the authorities?

I’m always of two  minds about this part. Basically, others are doing most of the searching and asking for him. Hyacinthe is searching in his sea mirror. Phedre is sending off queries.  I’m sure  the queen has her little spy network working on it too. As things go on, he does get more involved, and I can understand his hesitancy – going off  after his mother, once she’s located, would mean an end of his daily bed tumbling, at least until he returns. Also, and I believe he’s aware of this at this point as well, she is his biological mother and did adore him as a babe. There will be some sorrow in seeing her finally facing justice and being put to death.

As to the second question, it probably depends on what my wayward relative had done and if they had or were trying to make amends. Stealing  from someone but then showing remorse – perhaps not. Depends on what was stolen. Even murder, I would have to consider the reason why they did it. Treason to the country and nearly bringing about a successful invasion and fall of the existing functional & fairly fair government – uh, yeah, I think I would have to hand them over.

3) Sidonie makes her first ventures into the spicier side of the love arts. Comment away!

I’m so glad they did a viewing –  and not just because it was fun to read! I really loved that Imri wanted to see her reactions to the various activities available to those who like a bit more  spice in their bed play. And I love that Imri lost his fear of himself, finding his own abilities and responses were in keeping with Elua’s teachings. Tho he did mess up once, I think Sidonie’s response was perfect! Imri did atone for that, and did it  well.

4) The priesthood weighs in on Sidonie’s and Imriel’s relationship. Do you think Imriel’s words were the clincher, or do you think the priests had mostly made up their minds before the meeting?

I think it was a mix. Some of the priests had already made up their minds before they met Imriel. Yet he spoke quite well, his honesty coming through clearly. I love that he cites Joscelin’s words about his attempt to live without Phedre. Imri has tried to live without Sidonie and that hasn’t gone well for many people – not just Sidonie and Imriel.

When I first read this book years ago, I recall being quite put out that the priesthood should have any say on such a personal matter. But, as Jacqueline Carey is always doing, she shows me through this book how their union is bigger than just the two of them. Also, I have read several historical fiction and non-fiction histories since then and getting the church’s blessing for royal unions is not really that uncommon. So, I was a silly thing then, but am less silly and ignorant now.

5) It’s been two years since Imriel last celebrated the Longest Night in the D’Angeline fashion. What was the most interesting part of this night for you?

Favrielle out did herself this time! She’s always setting the bar for eloquence when it comes to ball attire. I don’t think I have ever  held onto something that long in hopes of using it for something  incredible, but I’m glad she did.

Barquiel! What an ass! I bet he’s the one that got that wine baron sloshed and then riled up  enough to make a scene. In the end, I did feel sad for the wine baron, and I wanted to punch Barquiel in the teeth – tho that would probably not work out so well for me.

6) We catch our first glimpse of the Carthaginians and the general Astegal. What do you think of their tribute?

Wow! He really goes for the glitz! And there is so much of it! While apologies are made for Imriel’s experience with the Carthaginian slavers so many years ago, I  had to wonder how much of that tribute was ‘earned’ through slavery. Still, it’s a new culture for us to explore with these beloved characters and I look forward to it.

Other Tidbts:

Mavros is such a stalwart friend! I’m glad he keeps popping up in these books even tho he has a minor role so far.

The Captain of the Queen’s Guard, Claud du Montluc, seems like a good chap. I’m glad he took Imri’s advice in getting his men trained to fight on horseback.

Ah! Amarante! She’s such an understanding and gracious person. I’m glad that Imri no longer has any jealousy over her when it comes to Sidonie.

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

Kushiel's Mercy Read Along – The Schedule

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Mercy is Book 3 of the second trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. After dealing with some medical stuff, I’ve returned to continue the read along! Below is the schedule.

Here is the current schedule:

Oct.  9th Week 1: Chpts. 1-10 (Hosted by Dab of Darkness)
Oct. 16th Week 2: Chpts. 11-22 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Oct. 23rd Week 3: Chpts. 23-35 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Oct. 30th Week 4: Chpts. 36-49 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Nov. 6th Week 5: Chpts. 50-62 (Hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog)
Nov. 13th Week 6: Chpts. 63-75 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Nov. 20th Week 7: Chpts. 76-END (Hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow)

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow

As always, folks are welcome to jump in and join us. You don’t have to be a host or a blogger. You can always choose the easy route and tackle the weekly discussion in the comments of the hosting blog. 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 MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Sunshine Blogger Award

I was awarded the Sunshine Blogger Award by My Library Card Wore Out, and yes, I did get a little bit of a giggle out it. But I guess even the sun has a little dab of darkness here and there whenever it farts a bit of pent up energy into the universe.

As it goes with these fun little awards, there are rules – which I don’t always adhere to, but I expect most people do these things for fun.

  • Name drop and link to the blog of the person who nominated you.

  • Answer the eleven questions from the blogger who nominated you.

  • Nominate up to eleven wonderful bloggers and write (or borrow/steal) eleven questions for them to answer.

  • Bend said rules

And here are the questions from My Library Card Wore Out, along with my answers.

What are you currently reading and why did you choose that book?

I’m always in the middle of a few books. I’m currently listening to my very first Star Wars book, Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne. I’ve really enjoyed Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles and then a blogger friend gifted me his Star Wars book. I’m only 1 disc into it so far, but it’s a lot of fun and makes me want to rewatch the Star Wars movies. Then I’m also listening to Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest by Keira Gillett. It’s a great kid’s book that takes place in Norway and had all this mythology stuff thrown in. Trolls and the Wild Hunt! Then on the Kindle I’m also listening to Starship Grifters by Robert Kroese. The humor reminds me a little of Douglas Adams but not so over the top all the time. I’m quite enjoying that as well. Then I’m trying to eyeball read Bad Apples 2: Six Slices of Halloween Horror and The Golden Valley: The Untold Story of the Other Cultural Center of Tibet. I’ve been dealing with a lengthy illness and it leaves me greatly fatigued so my text reading is very slow.

When you were a teenager, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A biologist of one flavor or another. For awhile, it was a marine biologist. Then I was into bugs. Reptiles are cool too. Pandas – so adorable and so horribly inefficient at surviving!

There’s a massive asteroid heading your way and it is about to destroy planet Earth and you have 24 hours to live. What would you do for your last 24 hours?

Well, first I call those that I want along for the ride and tell them to get their butts over here. Then I start packing my rocketship. I’ll need food, bedding, entertainment, toilet paper, pet food, and seeds to get the grow vats started. Then the last 6 hours will probably be spent convincing people and pets to get their asses on the ship, doing the final checks and warm up, and then actually getting off the planet.

Tea or coffee?

Tea. Black orange tea is one of my favorites. Last year I tried to become a coffee person, but it tears up my stomach when I drink it straight, and so I really only like it if it’s totally froofrooed up, and then it’s not really coffee anymore, is it?

Book or movie?

Usually a book, though I do like action movies with lots of special effects on the big screen. The age of the Super Hero movie is a great thing to alive for!

You can only watch one movie for the rest of your life. What will it be and why?

That’s a tough one. I’m tempted to cheat and say The Lord of the Rings trilogy or the Firefly series including the movie Serenity. Lady in the Water is a top pick as well. Or perhaps Brick. Or Pitch Black.

You find a genie and he says that he can transport you into your favorite book. Forever. What book would it be and why?

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey. It’s a great mix of historical fiction and fantasy, with no small amount of quality sex thrown in.

What’s your favorite website (any subject)?

The giant panda cam at the national zoo. It feels a little voyeuristic but, hey, it’s pandas!

If you could meet any celebrity, who would you meet and why?

I think it would be great to meet Alan Dean Foster. I grew reading his scifi books and I especially love his Pip & Flinx series. From his website, it looks like he travels a lot as well, so I bet he would have lots of great stories to tell over drinks.

You can also meet any person from history, who would you choose to meet and for what reason?

Queen Elizabeth I of England. She was a ruler, and a fairly successful one, at a time when women weren’t rulers. She was also a bit more tolerant than other nations in regards to religious practices. Tho she did have a temper, so things would never be boring in her court.

You can only study one thing for the rest of your life. What would you choose to study?

Women in history. Since it has been overlooked for so long, there’s always more coming to light, so I think it will be decades, perhaps centuries before that chunk of history runs out of surprises for us.

As usual, I like to leave these things as an open mic. If you enjoy answering random questions, please join in – either in the comments or via a blog post. With that said, I will mention some blogs I enjoy following. I spend time over at The Audio Book Reviewer, where they have not only reviews but also giveaways and narrator and author interviews. Musings on Fantasia is a great place for not just chatting about books but for also writing tips/shares and such. It’s run by the author Liesel Hill, whose short story The Hatching is one of my favorites. I’m fairly new to following X+1, who has been hosting a read along of The Gentlemen Bastards series by Scott Lynch, but there’s other good stuff there too. I’ve read several of Edward Lorn’s books and I like to follow his blog as well – book reviews, darkly humorous fun stuff, sometimes commentary on current events. Fangs, Wands, & Fairy Dust is rather eclectic in book reviews, some commentary, and cool giveaways. I enjoy catching the weekly Buzz Worthy news over at Cuddlebuggery. Under My Apple Tree is also an eclectic reader/reviewer and posts pics of birds and flowers as well. For more audiobook fun check out the AudioGals and The Guilded Earlobe.

Here are my 11 questions for folks who want to play to answer: 

  1. Do you have any phobias
  2. If you were to create your own special ice cream, what would it be?
  3. Who are your favorite hero duos?
  4. What was the last thing to keep you in suspense?
  5. Do spoilers ruin the experience for you?
  6. Who is your favorite comedian?
  7. You’re about to be tossed into a post-apocalyptic world –  pick the world.
  8. If you could be a super villain, what would be your super villain name?
  9. You’re arranging a family dinner out – fancy place where you have to dress up or comfy clothes and comfort food?
  10. What are your current top 5 favorite reads?
  11. What is your favorite format (paperbook, ebook, audiobook) of reading material?

Bloggity Award and Other Stuff

Lynn over at Books & Travelling with Lynn blog recently nominated me for the Real Neat Blog award. I tend to enjoy blog awards because it forces me to be a little more personable and chatty. Plus, we all get to talk about books.

The Rules:

    • Thank and link the blogger that nominated you.
    • Answer the 7 questions that the nomination has provided you.
    • Create 7 questions for your nominees.
    • Nominate 7 other bloggers.
    • Bend said rules

1. If you could meet any author, from any time (past and present), who would that be and what would be your most pressing question?

That’s a tough one. Andre Norton (Forerunner Foray, Timetraders, etc.), Alan Dean Foster (for his Pip & Flynx series), Isaac Asimov (for his Lucky Starr series), and Anne McCaffrey (for her Dragonriders of Pern series) all an impact on me as a kid and it would be cool to get a drink with them and find out what books, authors, or artists had an impact on them.

2. Who is your absolute favorite character, ever. I know you’re probably groaning and rolling your eyes but there must be one character that springs to mind immediately – probably followed by a host of others – but, I want that first knee jerk reaction please and why!

I find that if you ask me this today, you’ll get one answer and if you ask 6 months from now, you’ll get another. I’m easily swayed by whatever I’m reading and thoroughly enjoying at the moment. Let’s go with Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only practicing wizard PI. I like how he can think out side of the box and come up with crazy polka powered T-rex zombie type solutions to messed up situations.

3. What is your favorite series out of all the books you’ve read?  The series you would recommend without hesitation.

I will always adore Jacqueline Carey’s Terre D’Ange Cycle. The epic fantasy, the alternate history, breaking so many standard tropes! However, I’m not sure I would recommend it to everyone because of the sex. I love the sex, and that’s part of what breaks so many dated, sexist standards in fantasy fiction, but is everyone ready for it? Personally, 9/10 people I recommend this series to, has enjoyed it.

4. What’s your preferred reading format, book or e-reader?

These days I do a lot of audiobooks. I dabble in other formats, but find that my deep fatigue from illness makes concentration an issue. Audiobooks are great for me because I don’t get hung up on typos, grammatical errors, large words that I once knew but now find difficult to connect meanings to, etc. The story continues with an audiobook no matter what issues the book may or may not have.

5. The book you were most looking forward to but ended up being really disappointed with?

Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel. Wow! This book was a bit of a snoozer for me. The main character that ties it all together, that everyone knows or is tied to in some manner, is pretty darn boring. I kept on with it to the end hoping it would get better. There’s plenty of interesting side characters and I liked the slower pacing than usual for the fall of modern society story. But instead the book really is about this one guy who is pretty bland.

6. Blogging – what do you love/not love – any embarrassing moments?

I love that I don’t have a schedule. I blog when I feel like it (or when I feel up to it) and can take a break from it when I don’t. I like that I have kept it small and just blog what I want to blog about and don’t try to force myself into being glitzy, trendy, or the first to post a review on the latest hot ARC. There’s plenty of blogs that do focus on those things, and I’m glad they’re out there because I read them.

So far, I haven’t done anything too embarrassing. I know my typos and such have gone up this past year while I have been sick. But in the big scheme of things, that’s rather small.

7. Most anticipated book for the remainder of 2016?

Kevin Hearne is coming out with his first epic fantasy, I think. Hooray! I really enjoy his Iron Druid Chronicles (urban fantasy). Scott Lynch may be releasing his next Gentleman Bastards book (hooray!). As far as I know, there’s no release date yet for Peace Talks by Jim Butcher. Henry Hertz & his two sons have at least 2 more kids books coming out this year – they’re always so well illustrated! Of course, the next A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin. I always look forward to something new from Jim Bernheimer. I’m hoping Domino Finn does another Sycamore Moon book. I’ve really enjoyed the first 3 Jonathan Shade urban fantasy books by Gary Jonas and I’m hoping he puts more of the series out as audiobooks. Joe Hempel does a great job narrating them.

Here’s my 7 questions:

If you could be an extra on a period piece (Outlander, Spartacus, etc.) what would it be and what would you be doing?

What makes you cringe?

What’s the most interesting gross fact you know?

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

Bonus Question: If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class about your favorite genre, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

While I will mention some favorite blogs below, I’m going to leave this open mic. If you find the questions (or my answers) amusing, feel free to chime in down in the comments or create your own blog post answering them – if you let me know you did so, I’ll swing by and check it out.

I like to visit author David Lee Summers blog for the steampunk – most definitely for the steampunk. Viviana, Enchanstress of Books is doing a lot of cool audiobook stuff this month. Broken Teepee has a fun mix of home gardening, book reviews, and info on home brewing kits and such. I’ve found Home Cooked Books by narrator Karen White to be a fun place with lots of interesting bits on what it’s like to make an audiobook. Violin in a Void is constantly expanding my world of books, and I like her focus on African authors and book blogs. Mike Powell is a photographer and he focuses on nature. I especially love his photos of herons. Evelyn Aster, who writes mostly contemporary romance (which, admittedly, is a bit outside my favorite genres), regularly posts pics of her fancy nails and her fancy drinks.

On a personal note, I haven’t been as involved as I normally am due to chronic illness. 2015 was one of the toughest years of my life and 2016 is shaping up to be as well. However, just last month I finally got a diagnosis! Hooray! Turns out I have many, many tiny blood clots throughout my lungs. Because the blood clots have been tiny, the condition didn’t present with the normal sharp pains to the chest, etc. Various scans and doctors missed it, and I was often misdiagnosed as having an asthma exacerbation. Now my doctors suspect the blood clots could have been going on as long as 2 years, with my lungs absorbing at least some of them. Because it went on so long, I have a moderately high case of pulmonary hypertension, which in turn has enlarged my heart. So, I have lots of work to do to get better and it will take many months. I’ve been on 24/7 oxygen since January and will be for at least a few more months, perhaps longer.

So, if you pinged me about something and I haven’t responded, feel free to ping me again. I’ve been hypoxic for probably about 12 months now and when your brain doesn’t have it’s regular stream of healthy oxygen, you get stupid, tired, and forgetful.