Kushiel's Scion Part II

Elderly Waffles has no idea whats going on.
Elderly Waffles has no idea whats going on.

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Scion is Book 1 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, Allie at Tethyan Books is our host. We’re covering the Chapters 12-19, so be prepared for spoilers below! Sorry for getting this up late – was in hospital for pneumonia for nearly a week.

1) In this chapter, Katherine and Roshana introduce Imriel to some innocent regional courtship games.  What do you think of the differences between the two games?  Do you remember anything similar from when you were a teen?

I think both were pretty innocent, yet I can see why one scares Imri more than the other. he’s dealing with his triggers and figuring out what he can and can’t deal with right now. I do wish they had started with Katherine’s version and once Imri got a few kisses in, moved on to Roshana’s version. Perhaps that would have made it less scary for Imri.

The closest thing I had as a teen was spin the bottle. Yep. Pretty tame and boring. But at the time, it was bold and awesome.

2) How do you think Imriel’s ideas of love and sex are affected by the model set by Joscelin and Phedre? Do you think they’re doing a good job getting him through these awkward years?

I think it’s both good and confusing for him. On one hand, he saw what Phedre was like in Darsanga and how her body responded, willing or no, acting or no, to the Marhkagir. So, he’s seen this darker side to her passions. But then he has had 3-4 years of living with them and seeing their loving, monogamous relationship. I’m sure he hasn’t heard or seen any violent lovemaking between the two. Now that he’s coming into his own, I am sure he feels conflicted – be like the tame, deeply loving Joscelin, or like the loving on the edge Phedre?

And yes, I think Phedre and Joscelin are doing a great job of raising Imri. It’s a total balancing act, giving him enough space to figure out these personal likes/dislikes and also keeping him safe, and providing honest answers, and guidance.

3) Imriel is getting a lot happier and easier at court these days.  Is there anything that was particularly notable for you in this period, during the apple-picking party or on the Longest Night?

I really like that Imri takes a big brother’s interest in Alise, trying to include her in activities like the apple-picking contest. Then there is Mavros having his back at court in the Hall of Games; that was unexpected and cool of him. Imri is still learning what to do with his anger (that I think nearly all of us experience in our teen years) and it’s great that Joscelin lets him get that anger out during sword practice.

4) Imriel comes of age in this section, and spends his first night in the Night Court, at Balm House. What do you think about his experience with Emmeline?

Sacred. Loving. Healing.

This night with Emmeline did a world of good for Imri. It showed him that he can participate in sex in a loving way and that his fears of a darker, more violent sexual side is either not there or can easily be held in check.

5) Imriel has also made a new close friend, Eamonn mac Grainne!  What did you think of their fight?  How do you think their closeness will affect his image at court?

This is a great friendship because the two are so far removed from each other’s worlds that they can confide in each other without the preconceived notions. Imri’s heard some stories about Eamonn’s family and Eamonn has heard some stories about Imri’s family, but they don’t know the characters by sight and the folks around them don’t have these stagnant opinions of their forebears.

I think Imri has realized that some at court believe they are lovers and he’s taken a healthy attitude of ‘So what!’. His friendship with Eamonn means more to him than what others think of it.

Other Tidbts:

When Imri confided in Eamonn concerning the Marhkagir, I wanted to applaud his bravery. After hearing the story, I wanted to kill the Marhkagir all over again.

I think it’s great that Phedre and Imri can, on occasion, joke a little about their first few meetings in Darsanga.

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).

Kushiel's Scion Part I

Elderly Waffles has no idea whats going on.
Elderly Waffles has no idea whats going on.

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Scion is Book 1 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 the Prologue-Chapter 11, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) Through out this section, we relearn the events of the first trilogy through Imriel’s eyes. What do you think of his perceptions of those events?

I’m pleasantly surprised that he doesn’t have more ire towards certain folks, like his mother, Barquiel, the Queen. He has reasons to dislike (even hate Melisande or Barquiel), but he maintains a wariness instead of spite.

I also like that he admits to himself when he doesn’t understand something, like Phedre’s ‘protection’ of Melisande and her adherence to the promise she made so many years ago.

2) What do you think is in Melisande’s letters? How did she escape and who do you think assisted her this time?

Melisande’s letters…  yes. So, she wrote them to Imriel but she also must have known that others might potentially read them. Maybe she tries to explain why she did what she did. Maybe it’s poetry. I don’t really see her being the cuddly wuddly type.

Once again, she escapes. I don’t know how. I can’t recall if we ever learn how or who assisted her. She’s so far removed from the D’Angeline court, she simply could have charmed some of the staff of the temple. I think that would be the easiest thing for her. However, she would want a safe, secure place to head to. That makes me think of the Pharaoh. But I could be totally off on that.

3) What do think about how Imriel handled Maslin of Lombelon? Has he made an ally or a foe for the future?

Such a tough situation! I can totally see why Imri wants to do the right thing, but his version of the right thing and Maslin’s version of the right thing are probably a little different. Still, in the end, when Imri was candid with Maslin, I think they had an understanding, even if they never like each other. I don’t think  Maslin is a foe or ally at this point.

4) There’s a few moments of foreshadowing in this section: Elua’s priest’s words concerning finding and losing love over and over again; Alais’s dream concerning a man with two faces. Are you intrigued or just happy to zoom along at this point?

Honestly, I’ve never been much into foreshadowing and I tend to simply make note of it and keep zooming along. The author already knows where things are going, but I don’t. So I rather spend time reading the story than ruminating over the foreshadowy bits. Sometimes they add a nice touch here and there, where the character can look back and review the warnings.

5) Imriel’s Shahrizai cousins (Mavros, Roshana, Baptiste) have come to visit for a summer. What are your impressions so far?

They are being very, very polite. I am guessing they were hand picked for the visit to make as good an impression as possible. And there might be some politics behind that. I mean Imri is 3rd in line for the crown, he hangs out with a renowned courtesan (and Queen’s confidante) and the Queen’s champion. So, making sure the Shahrizai aren’t complete outcasts is probably important to the whole clan of them.

Baptiste still seems young and bit silly. It seems Roshana and Mavros are the planners and perhaps schemers. Still, so far they seem to want to help Imri understand this side of his family and aren’t up to anything evil.

Other Tidbts:

Pear brandy! That’s what I want!

That all night vigil left Imri with the worst cold ever, maybe pneumonia. That would have sucked for him to die from that. The political ramifications would have been interesting.

Alais’s sword play with Imri was quite cute. Too bad her sister didn’t see it that way.

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).

Kushiel's Scion Read Along – The Schedule

Elderly Waffles has no idea whats going on.
Elderly Waffles has no idea whats going on.

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Scion is Book 1 of the second trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. The read along continues! Below is a schedule.

Here is the current schedule:

Week 1: Prologue-chpt. 11, post on Sunday Jan 3rd, hosted by Dab of Darkness
Week 2: Chpts. 12-19, Jan 10th, hosted by Tethyan Books
Week 3: Chpts. 20-27, Jan 17th, hosted by Emma Wolf
Week 4: Chpts. 28-36, Jan  24th, hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow
Week 5: Chpts. 37-44, Jan 31st, hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog
Week 6: Chpts. 45-52, Feb 7th, hosted by Dab of Darkness
Week 7: Chpts. 53-60,  Feb 14th, hosted by Tethyan Books
Week 8: Chpt. 61-End, Feb 21st, hosted by Emma Wolf

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

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

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.

Kushiel's Avatar Part VII

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, Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow is our host. We’re covering Chapters 74-82, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. Yevuneh and the other women agree to help Phedre continue on her quest, and though it doesn’t go smoothly, she succeeds in finding the Broken Tablets and the Name of God! What did you think of how this part of the story played out?

First, I really liked that the women of Saba decided to assist Phedre & crew despite their fears. They were assisting Phedre to find the island and petition the priests there for the privilege of looking upon the Broken Tablets. It’s not any one person handing the Name of God over to Phedre and I think the men missed this important distinction.

Second, I really like how Phedre gave Imriel the true choice of whether or not to join them on this part of the quest. Then I really liked how they allowed him to take a turn at rowing. They give him responsibilities and treat him as an equal in many regards – and he responds by showing his maturity.

Lastly, the scene where Phedre offers her life in exchange for Imri’s and then the priest’s appearance and then the whole gazing upon the Broken Tablets part – it was amazing. When I first read this book, I wondered how much of this secret wonder Carey would include in the story because in the past she has sometimes given us only so much and then demurred with a ‘the rest I can’t tell you because I swore an oath to keep the secret’ type thing. I was very glad that she gave us every crumb.

2. When the dust settles, Imriel’s position on where he feels he belongs is all the more firm – he wants to be with Phedre and Joscelin, and not with House Courcel. Do you have any thoughts on how things will go for them when they return home?

Well, no matter who he lives with, he will always be a Courcel. Phedre is right in that he will have to make peace with that sooner or later. But I think it is fine that he has figured out where his heart (and true home) lie – with Phedre and Joscelin.  And he will always be a Shahrizai too. That heritage can’t be wiped away either and he will have to learn to make peace with that as well.

3. Among other important changes to their way of life, the possibility of trade between Saba and other nations has opened up in the aftermath of what Phedre has done. This leads her to speculate that the intentions of the gods go far beyond what she was aware. What do you think of that bigger-picture theory? What might it mean for the world in general?

For this story, I love all the connectedness. Phedre’s actions are influenced by 1001 things, some she knows about and many she does not. And it is the same for all the characters. If Phedre had not rescued Imriel, she might not ever have known what it is to love a child in a motherly way, and in turn Imriel would not have been on the Broken Tablet island to scream so loud a priest would come check on the matter. The people of Saba are in for the benefits of this as well with the opening of trade.

In real life though, I’m a believer in coincidence. Yes, things influence us, but no matter what we do there will be affects on others. Not everything, and perhaps nothing, is directed by some higher being. Just my personal belief there.

4. We’re heading toward the finale, and hopefully to a resolution regarding Hyacinthe’s fate… Do you have any thoughts about what might happen when Phedre gets back to him?

Well, when I first read this tale, I had no doubt that Phedre would rescue Hyacinthe. But I had no idea how momentous it would be.

Also, Phedre must sooner or later present Imriel to Queen Ysandre.

Once all that settles out, Phedre will have 101 friends and acquaintances that want the inside scoop. Favrielle will want to know how folks dress in Jebe Barkal. Thelesis will want to hear all of Shoanete’s stories. Nicola will want to let Phedre cry on her shoulder over Darsanga. So, yeah, even after we all leave the story, Phedre and Joscelin and Imriel will still have stuff to do.

Other Tidbts:

Joscelin makes damaged ear men look good! In a lion’s mane!

I think Phedre was very gentle with Hanach after they had all returned from the island. Hanach was feeling a confusion of emotions, I am sure.

I love that Phedre is now so in love with the world, literally.

I am glad that Imriel finally unburdened some of his Darsanga memories to Phedre.

How many of you are interested in doing a read along of the second trilogy? It has Imriel as the main character.

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).

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).

Kushiel's Avatar Part V

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, Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog is our host. We’re covering Chapters 50-61, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. There was so much action this week, let’s just take a minute to discuss that – particularly Phedre’s plan for escape.  I realise this isn’t particularly a question but I just found these chapters so edge of the seat that I think we need to take a moment to discuss them and gather all our thoughts.  What stood out for you?  What surprised you?

I really like that Carey doesn’t down play Phedre’s fear – the fear of getting caught, the fear of not being able to follow through, the fear of actually killing someone and that someone being perhaps mentally incompetent and in love (of a sort).

The women of the zenana going a bits nuts with the blood lust made me think of the French Revolution and the starving women who attacked the royal residence (I think it was Versailles).

We knew there would be deaths but still I was saddened to see Erich and Drusilla pay the dearest toll.

Joscelin was magnificent, as always.

2. We’ve already had a debate on Imriel’s abduction and who was responsible and why.  What are your thoughts now on the Gods and their motivations?

I think Phedre explained it well, when she and Imriel had their long chat up on the crag at the end of Chapter 61. Phedre and Joscelin would not have ventured into Darsanga for anything less than Imriel, and the gods of Terre D’Ange needed Phedre and Joscelin there to have a shot at stopping the Mahrkagir and his cronies. Even gods can falter, as Phedre said. So, perhaps it could have been done differently, but this is the way is went down.

And Imriel is right too – it’s not fair.

3. How do you feel about Imriel and also who do you think is trying to assassinate him?  Also, his reaction to his own family history – do you think that Melisande would ever have stood a chance to bend him to her will or not?

I think Phedre has guessed correctly – the L’Envers are behind this first (and hopefully only) assassination attempt.

I think if Imriel had been raised to 16 or 18 as a shepherd at the sanctuary, then he could have learned about his heritage in bits and pieces. He would have eventually been told more about the Skaldi war, about the main players, about politics. Things would have been carefully fed to him. So, yeah, if this horrible thing hadn’t happened, I think Melisande would have had a shot, because she could control form a distance how and what Imri was told.

4. Phedre and Joscelin – they’ve been through a lot and ultimately it’s taken a toll.  Do you think this is something that they can get past particularly now that Joscelin has been injured – how do you think he will cope with that?

So far, both Phedre and Joscelin need space and time to become comfortable with their own bodies once again. And they are each respecting that and not snapping at each other. Joscelin told Phedre that what she took on was a noble deed and had to be done even though it was so difficult. So, he is seeing the sacrifice she made instead of seeing her as a wanton whore. He’s come a long, long way. I think they will be OK, eventually.

As for Joscelin’s injury, I think it will make him more sympathetic to others with long-term or permanent injuries. As with so many folks who are never ill and rarely injured, once they suffer something that does impede them (perhaps permanently), they become more understanding towards others.

5. It looks like Phedre’s cause to help Hyacinthe will be restored.  It looks, at least, like she will have unexpected help along the way. What are your predictions in that respect?

Ah, well this is reread for me. Still, I recall thinking that there was no way Phedre would get Imriel to leave her. After all, who does he trust, really, other than her and Joscelin? Maybe Kaneka? But she’s also going with Phedre, at least part way. Perhaps Drusilla if she still lived. And with the assassination attempt, do you really think Phedre and Joscelin would be OK with sending Imriel off? Hmm… yeah.

So, we’ve been through some really intense moments in this book so far. Now, we are in for more adventure, and some intense moments, but nothing as dark as what we have already experienced.

Other Tidbts:

I like that Erich knows Phedre from the stories the Skaldi tell. That would be something to hear the songs and tales of the Skaldi concerning the failed attempt to invade and hold Terre D’Ange.

The ‘good’ priests are still a little high and mighty judgmental. I don’t like how they treated Phedre after all was revealed. I can understand their dislike prior to the over throw, but afterwards they were still so prissy.

I am glad that the Akkaddian eunuchs will be given relevant and honorable jobs. They deserve it.

I also like that the Lugal is granting all the survivors sizable dowries. They come from all these different cultures and I am not sure all will be welcomed back because they are not longer ‘pure’. The dowries should go a long way to smooth such judgments away.

I really like that Phedre and Joscelin are treating Imriel with respect and truth, instead of coddling him and trying to smother him in half truths and soothing lies. They still made some mistakes, but they are truly trying.

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).

Kushiel's Avatar Part IV

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, I am your host. We’re covering Chapters 38-49, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) What do you think of Phedre’s dealings with Naamah, Elua, and Kushiel in this section?

I found it very interesting that all three let their presence be known in her life in some way. Once we get into Darsanga, it’s easy to see why these deities want it scoured from the face of the Earth, but Phedre didn’t know the depth of it when she was making her decision.

I was surprised that it took both the carrot and the stick – they offered the infinite beauty of love but then also showed her what life would be like without their gifts. Now, at first, I thought this was pretty unfair – to threaten to take away the gifts that Phedre was born with and has done her best to honor. But then I thought a little bit more and perhaps they showed this possibility not as punishment, but rather as ‘this could happen if this crazy ass cult spreads and wipes out other deities, or the ability to worship them’.

2) We have met the Mahrkagir. Are we dealing with true madness? Does he still know right from wrong?

This is a tough one for me to answer. Partly, it’s because I’m not a psychologist or a long-term head injury specialist. We definitely have the two parts going on in the Mahrkagir. He survived a very traumatic event, both with the physical head injury and with the psychological damage. It really is a perfect fix to set some one down a dark path.

So, is it true madness at this point? He’s been doing these evil deeds for many years now, surrounded by people who also do evil deeds. As far as I can see, no one has told him ‘No!’  to his depraved whims, rather they’ve been encouraged. His memory is messed up and he doesn’t have any positive role models. And yet he seems to have an idea of what an evil deed is, in general, as he needs to commit them to follow or create this Three Fold Path.

So, I think, on some very basic level, he does still have an idea of right and wrong. He lacks the control to choose the action that goes against the grain. All this followers, advisers, etc. want him to continue on this evil path because they gain some kind of power from it. His touch of madness might be something we would call a lack of impulse control today. In any event, this dude has to be put down.

3) The zenana is full of interesting new characters. Who has caught your interest so far? What do you think of Phedre’s first encounters with Imriel?

The Bhodistani ladies made me a little sad but also a little stronger. They are taking as much control over the situation as they possibly can. Still, it’s a tough choice.

Fedaben… whose name I have forgotten but I will always respect – of course she is interesting. She’s got her little court and Phedre, despite all the horrible crap, is still interested in learning a new language from her. Perhaps this helps Phedre take her mind off of all the horror and sadness.

And Eric, the young Skaldi lad. He obviously survived being altered but I would hope he would let the chirugeon have a peak to check for possible infection. The zenana isn’t exactly clean.

I remember reading this the first time and somehow thought Phedre would find Imiriel and comfort him right away, if for no other reason than they are both D’Angeline. There would be a little rainbow and some hugging and bonding right away. Then the two would find some way to bring others together for some fantastical escape. Ah, I was so naive then. No, Imriel’s reaction is much more realistic given what he’s been through.

4) Phedre has her first night with the Mahrkagir. Thoughts?

In some ways, Book 3 is my favorite and in some ways I find it to be the darkest of the first books, so I can’t always dive into this book if I am in a dark place myself. We’ve seen Phedre a captive before and how she deals with various forms of rape and coercion (Skaldi, even the Illyrian pirate, and even Melisande with her La Dolorosa choice). But this is pretty messed up.

On the other hand, it seems that both Naamah and Kushiel are doing their best to enhance her gifts and make this all survivable (that brief sense of rose of attar and beating wings, and Kushiel’s dark desires).

Then there is Phedre’s own natural resistance and her ability to see beyond this moment. She will heal, at least physically, and there will be another chance to change the course of things.

I still shudder a little bit each time I read that scene where the Mahrkagir gifts Phedre the little stone dog.

5) Who do you think is having a more difficult time, Joscelin or Phedre, and why?

Another tough question. We see everything from Phedre’s eyes, so we know exactly what she’s going through and how she is holding up. We only get these little snippets of Joscelin since they were separated. I think he was very honest when he told Phedre that he has asked her to do a very hard thing and he’s trying to see his way through it, but that way involves some cruelty. It was very good of Phedre to be able to accept that.

In some ways, I think this is harder on Joscelin as he is a protector through and through and he has so very few opportunities right now to protect anyone. He has to pretend to be this baddie, but not just in word, but also in deed. Phedre on the other hand, as hard as this is, she consented ahead of time to all of it. She took on this horrendous task knowing it would suck.
Other Tidbts:

I thought it interesting that the lords/ladies of Kebbel-im-Akkad in general do not deign to learn a foreign language believing it to be gauche or beneath them. This gave me a chuckle and made me think of certain relatives I have who truly do get upset when they over hear other people chatting in a foreign language they can’t understand. They believe everyone who lives in this country should be speaking English, especially when out in public. Sigh….

I always thought Josceline looked good in the Skaldic braids…. but then he wears them for Darsanga and I have to rethink that….

I found it interesting to see how folks changed their ways of interacting with Phedre once they believed they would never see her and Joscelin again.

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).

Kushiel's Avatar Part III

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 26-37, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. If I recall correctly, this is the first book (and this is the first portion of the book) that takes us outside of (what is now) Europe and into (what is now) the Arab world. What are your thoughts?

I  love how Phedre sees the adventure in it all. She notes how different the weather is and also things like how the saddles are different. Also, I love the food. Always the food! I  should do a Kushiel’s Legacy meal based on the foods mentioned in these three books.

2. We see the Pharaoh laughing at Phedre, saying that if she had only trusted him, it would have saved them a lot of time. We saw this sort of thing play out before with Kazan and Barquiel. Do you think Phedre should be more trusting or do you think she is right to be so cautious?

Caution, always. She has learned the hard way that being too trusting can lead to dire circumstances (Melisande and the deaths of Anafiel and Alcuin come to mind). So, yes, it took her more time and effort to come to the root of it, but I think she was right to be cautious. Pharaoh has a lot of power and doesn’t have to work behind the scenes or in shadows to wipe out some annoying bug of a Terre D’Ange. There in his land and he has mighty powers of state.

3. More of the story of Imriel and the two other kidnapped children unfold. What do you think now? Was Imriel chosen randomly? Is this the gods punishing Melisande or D’Angelines generally?

I think Imriel got the short end of the straw on this one. He’s going to need years of therapy when all is said and done. And yes, I still think Imriel was chosen randomly by all the humans involved.

As for that last question… well, I know how this book ends. Perhaps Kushiel needs a mighty tool to punish a great evil and unfortunately, in order to get that mighty tool in place to do this great deed, sacrifices had to be made. I think that’s vague enough.

4. More on Imriel: we haven’t met him yet, but we’ve heard a lot about him and how he acted in different situations. So far, what do you think of him?

Obviously, he isn’t one to go quietly. He gave the slavers in Amilcar some grief before they sold him on. Then he stabbed Fadil Chouma in the leg. I think he has a lot of spirit but also some sense as he hasn’t created enough of a stir to be killed outright yet.

5. What are your thoughts on the skotophagotis? Superstition and coincidence or real power?

I think they have a touch of real power, or at least knowledge (like how to make flash powders or such) and the rest is superstition and ill intent. They do make an excellent wicked living myth for Phedre to untangle and also match wits against for this section of the book.

Other Tidbts:

Phedre’s thoughts on the socially required veils and dress codes was interesting. At first, I thought she would balk at it but common sense won out. Being able to travel with less note and no fuss makes the most sense right now.

I felt a bit for Fadil’s scarred wife. Well, I hope she was one of those ladies who coddled Imriel and then I can feel good about feeling bad for her scars.

I like how Phedre convinced the Pharaoh to give up his communications with Melisande (at least for now). Melisande still deserves some thwarting.

OK, now maybe this is just me, but it still freaks me out a little each time I read the scenes where Joscelin threatens Nesmut with physical violence. It’s so not Joscelin and yet I know he wouldn’t actually cut Nesmut up, but Nesmut doesn’t know that, and I get why Joscelin did that… and yet I still want to shake Joscelin  for putting blades to a kid’s throat! Anyone else conflicted over that?

Phedre once again uses the L’Enver pass phrase – By the Burning Bridge – and I have to wonder why the L’enver family hasn’t changed it in the 10 years. Perhaps Ysandre or Nicola would just have told Phedre the new pass phrase so there was no real reason to change it…

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).

Kushiel's Avatar Part II

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 14-25, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1.  Phedre has been incredibly efficient in finding out what has happened to Imriel.  Do you think it really is as simple as a random act of cruelty?  Is it a punishment from Kushiel, and if so, why were the other two children involved?

I believe bad shit happens to people (both good and bad) all the time. So, yes, I think Imriel was randomly targeted because he was out, alone, guarding goats and no one would miss him for a day.

Now, that’s not to say that Kushiel hasn’t stepped in and made this an excruciating ordeal for Melisande. It did take over 3 months for Phedre to find the trail. If Melisande truly loves her boy, then she has been in a bit of a turmoil ever since she learned of his disappearance.

With the other 2 children, we don’t really know much about their parents and we certainly don’t know if they have made any transgressions against man, kingdom, or the deities. Plus, they have been found and will be returned shortly. So if Kushiel had a hand in that as well, I can only assume the trangressions of their parents were far smaller than Melisande’s.

2.  A lot of justice is meted out (or not) to different people.  Do you think the priests deserve forgiveness for hiding Imriel?  Do you agree with the harsh methods in Amilcar toward the slavers?

No, I don’t believe the priests (who knew) deserve total forgiveness. While I can see their logic, I think they were also hiding behind it. In this set of circumstance, with Imriel’s hiding location now known and whatever plans Melisande had for when he turned 16 probably foiled (for now), the priests haven’t really done any harm. But what if Imriel reached his majority at the sanctuary, was told his true identity, and Melisande set her plans in motion and the land was once again bathed in blood, this time from a civil war? Would those priests be so innocent then? I think not. So, I think Ysandre will have to take some measures, even if she does it quietly.

Yes, I agree with the harsh methods used to extract info from the slavers. Child slavery, which usually leads to child molestation and rape, deserves a heavy hand when justice is being meted out. I would like to think that I would find it hard to watch, but I won’t ever know for sure unless I find myself in a situation similar to Phedre’s.

3.  Do you think it’s worth it for Phedre to go to Serenissima to get information from Melisande, or would it be better for her to travel with the royal entourage and find her own guide?

Tough question! So I totally get that Phedre wants Melisande to hear the bad news from her own lips because a written letter won’t convey the sympathy and who else is at all sympathetic to Melisande? And knowing Melisande, there’s always that possibility that she has yet one more bit of info that she hasn’t divulged and Phedre stands the best chance of getting that from her.

On the other hand, Phedre is pretty darn smart and has plenty to go on right now in order to find the Lost Tribe and perhaps the key to setting Hyacinthe free. So, I think it must be her sympathy driving her to Serenissima.

4.  It occurs to me that Joscelin improved the public attitude towards the Cassilines, though he was cast out, and the Prince of Travellers may be having a similar effect for his own people.  In what ways do you think the Tsingani and the prejudice against them might change as a result of recent events?  Do you think Hyacinthe will ever be allowed to go back to them, and if so, should he?

I don’t think the common folk are truly aware that the Master of the Straights is Tsingani (or diddikan – half breed). And, truly, that was just a recent shifting of power on the island. I think those that do know the sacrifice that Hyacinthe has made have already adjusted their attitudes like 10 years ago. So, it’s more those people (like Phedre) speaking up for the Tsingani that is changing the attitudes of the common folk. Even Luke, Joscelin’s brother, was having some heartburn over his words and actions towards the Tsingani that came with word of the slave traders. Now Luke needs to be one of those that stands up for equal rights and respect under Terre D’Ange law instead of verbally siding with the prejudiced.

I think the Tsingani clans have already acknowledged Hyacinthe as their own. But then, they were some of the few that bothered to learn Hyacinthe’s story and spread it 10 years ago. Maybe not all, but enough, especially other half breeds like Emile. I don’t think Hyacinthe will easily fit in anywhere after this experience, whether Phedre frees him from the island or not. Though I expect he would be welcomed almost anywhere.

Other Tidbts:

Lilianne and her animal charges at the sanctuary – that was a nice touch. I bet the priests keep her separate from the yearly culling though.

It was nice to see Phedre with Nicola again. The lover’s token is a nice touch. I also liked that Joscelin was totally cool with giving the ladies an hour to themselves.

I liked that Phedre asked Sibeal to drop Hyacinthe a line on their return trip in the fall. It took her a lot to be direct with Sibeal about possible feelings towards Hyacinthe. I also had a small chuckle because I think Phedre was feeling a twinge of jealousy and hopefully this makes her more understanding towards Joscelin when he shows jealousy over her own affairs.

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).