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).

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).

Kushiel's Justice Part IX

Chupacabra has spotted something!
Chupacabra has spotted something!

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Justice is Book 2 of the second  trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. The read along continues! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, I’m your host. We’re covering Chapters 66-END, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) In this section, Imriel had plenty of farewells and also reunions. Which ones did you find the most interesting or touching?

I loved seeing Alaise again. She’s always had a soft spot for Imriel and had hoped to call him ‘brother’ one day. Now that it looks like he and Sidonie will be together, she may very well get her wish.

Of course seeing Drustan was intense. He seems to be taking it well, though he’s in a tough spot with Ysandre. I think he did a decent job of explaining why Ysandre is dead set against Imriel and Sidonie being together, though I still don’t agree with her. Now that Imriel has that insight, he may stand a chance at winning her over.

Then seeing Eamonn again and having to say goodbye to him too. Sigh…. Eamonn is his best friend but can’t help him win over Ysandre.

2) Maslin decides to stay in Vralia as an ambassador. What do you think of his decision? When Imriel, Phedre, and Joscelin depart, Phedre says something privately to Maslin that causes him to collapse to his knees and weep. What do you think she said?

I think Maslin will do OK, provided he doesn’t besmirch the reputation of any prominent ladies. He doesn’t strike me as a braggart though, so I think he will be able to remain discreet in his beddings. Also, I think he has this prideful streak that will stand him good in negotiations with the Vralians.

I think Phedre may have told him how brave his father was at the end, how he allowed her to walk out of camp in order to get the message to the besieged fortress, how he fought bravely at the end, and how he faced death in peace. I think that is what would bring Maslin to his knees in tears.

3) Imriel & crew make it to Skaldia where they dine with Aldemar and meet some interesting merchants. Do you think the Unseen Guild had a hand in any of Imriel’s recent adventures?

This is a tricky one. The Unseen Guild has long arms, as we have seen before. But I think in Vralia they might only have a finger or two. Perhaps they eased the way for Maslin in his quest to find Imriel. Perhaps they eased Phedre & Joscelin’s paths as well. Looking back, I can’t see where they directly affected Imriel’s quest to find Berlik.

4) Finally, Imriel is reunited with Dorolei’s kin. There’s a solemn burial of Berlik’s skull which is followed by a boisterous party. If someone was burying a skull at your feet, which would you prefer – serious ceremony or rowdy affair?

I’m all for the rowdy affair. I figure if people need a moment or three for serious contemplation, then it can be a quiet affair at the time and place of the griever’s choosing. While I plan to go with cremation when my expiration date is here, if someone wishes to bury a skull in my honor, they are most welcome to.

I did really like the wild harp music at the solemn affair and how Imri made it clear that all of Alba grieves, including the Maghuin Donn.

5) Sidonie and Imriel are finally together openly. Some still do not approve. What challenges do you foresee for them?

I think some still don’t know that Imriel and Sidonie were in love before his wedding to Dorolei, so that may be a source of bad feelings. Also, I think some Albans may feel a bit miffed that Imriel is choosing a D’Angeline over another Alban lass. So, definitely some bridges to build there. Sidonie’s visit to Alba will hopefully assist in that.

Then there is Ysandre. Sigh. We all know she can hold fast to a decision once she has made it. I’m not confident that even Phedre will be able to soften her on this one.

I also fear that D’Angeline society will be divided on the matter. We know from past events that there are some that support Imriel because of his pure D’Angeline blood, but there are also those who oppose him because of his parentage.

Other Tidbts:

Once again, we have just a touch of the divine or supernatural. When Imriel was witnessing the forced conversion ceremony, he briefly knelt, touched the floor, and imagined the soil beneath as he requested Elua’s blessing. Then he felt this mantle of assurance fall upon him. I thought that was a great scene.

Imriel makes comparisons between men and women, this time on how they handle war. He notices that the Skaldian women are a touch more friendly than the Skaldian men and he considers that it must be because the women are not fool enough to seek glory in battle.  *snort* Ah, Imri…. we need to get you a week long trip with women from a warrior culture and then see what you think.

When Imriel lays eyes upon the Cruarch’s ship and he know he’s surrounded by those that care about him, and who he cares about in turn, and that the danger is finally over, that is when tears spring to his eyes. I liked his insight into how people can stand steadfast for quite some time in the face of adversity, but once in a safe place, they can devolve to tears.

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). We’re plotting on the schedule for Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy, Kushiel’s Justice, and it looks like we will start early June. A final schedule will go up in a week or two.

Kushiel's Justice Part VIII

Chupacabra has spotted something!
Chupacabra has spotted something!

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Justice is Book 2 of the second  trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. The read along continues! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Allie at Tethyan Books is our host. We’re covering Chapters 57-65, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. Imriel actually gave up the quest for justice before he found Berlik, and would have left empty-handed if the man had not come to him.  Does knowing that their eventual encounter was of Berlik’s choosing change the way you think about how it finally ended? How do you think this will affect Imriel, moving forward?

When I first read this book, I didn’t really get why Berlik readily gave up his life, why Berlik thought Imriel had to come to him with a humble heart, and why Imriel cried at the loss of Berlik’s life. Now, this is the 3rd or 4th time I’ve read this and I understand all that a bit better.

Berlik himself had to find his humble side. He himself talks about how arrogant he was to assume he could change the course of the future, how he didn’t trust in his gods. This final scene with Berlik taught me about the difference between forgiveness and atonement. You can forgive yourself, those you’ve damaged can forgive you, your gods can forgive you – but atonement is something else. For Berlik, he had gained some forgiveness, but it came at the cost of atonement, and that atonement was his life.

I was very glad that Imriel could understand at least part of that in the moment and allowed Berlik to die as a man.

2. I was definitely not expecting to see Maslin in the Vralian wilderness!  What do you think of his motivations?  Do you think it’s still possible for them to build the friendship Imriel wanted so dearly many years ago?

I think Maslin was honest with Imriel about his motivations. He went initially because Sidonie sent him, and he wanted to prove his love. He also wanted to be the hero. Somewhere along the way, he let most of that go and was just along for the adventure.

I don’t know if Maslin and Imriel will ever be close friends, but there’s some significant trust between the two now. However, I wouldn’t want to see all three of them (Imriel, Sidonie, and Maslin) in the same room at the same time anytime soon. I think that would stress their fragile friendship at this time.

3. Imriel feels very strongly about going back through the places where he was dishonest or where he caused pain (Miroslas, Tarkov, the Vralian capital).  Do you think these stops were necessary?  Do you think he was right to not go to the pilgrim family that took Berlik in?

Yes and no. I don’t think it is something that I would take pains to do. But Imriel has always tried to respect the gods and religions of the lands he visits. I think he got this from Phedre, who does the same. Also, he is a Prince of two important nations who may one day want honest trade and other alliances with these cities. So, it’s not just about him.

As for the pilgrim family, I think I would have left word with a local priest who could gently inform the family of what happened to Berlik. I could understand Imriel feeling that they would not appreciate hearing the news from him, but I think they will wonder for years if they never hear what became of Berlik.

4. We have another myth in the making: the dark angel and the light angel, battling for Berlik’s soul.  Clearly this isn’t literally true, since Maslin knew nothing about Berlik.  Do you think it carries any metaphorical truth with respect to Berlik’s struggle with his guilt?

This is one of those great books where you can read such metaphorical struggles into it. Until this question was asked, I hadn’t really thought of it that way. Berlik wasn’t evil; he was too proud, he wanted to save his people, he didn’t trust in building relationships with the Alban royalty nor in his gods. He was a man with powers beyond what most have and he made a horrible choice.

5. It looks like Tadeuz Vral will have another Yeshuite advisor now, in the Rebbe from Miroslas.  Do you think this will impact the path of Vralia in the future?  Do you think Imriel’s deceit will affect Vralia’s relationships with Alba and Terre d’Ange?

Vralia is building their kingdom partly on religion, so of course the Rebbe from Miroslas will have a hand in shaping the country. However, it already has a pretty strong military trajectory, so I’m not hopeful that the Rebbe will be able to temper that right now.

I think Tadeuz Vral has already made up his mind about immediate future relations with Terre D’Ange and Alba. He let Imriel go and Imriel’s deceit was not made common knowledge. Tadeuz obviously wants to keep the door open for future trade and alliances with these two powerful nations.

Other Tidbts:

I know some of us readers were concerned that Dorolei’s death was kind of the author’s easy way to let Imriel out of a messy situation. Now that we’ve seen all that Imriel has been through to avenge Dorolei and his unborn child, do you think this is any easier than what Dorolei and Imriel had tentatively planned (basically an open marriage)?

That was really kind of Maslin to boil Berlik’s head for Imriel. It must have been pretty gruesome!

I was amused that Maslin kept tossing questions at Imriel that were almost a challenge – like about how many men Imriel supposedly killed in Luca and so on.

Imri reuniting with his family after so long was really quite touching. I always enjoy that scene because even though Imri has certainly grown up and become a man who can stand on his own, he still treasures his adopted parents, their guidance, their love.

I was glad to hear that Urist was doing well enough, walking with a stick!

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

Kushiel's Justice Part VII

Chupacabra has spotted something!
Chupacabra has spotted something!

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Justice is Book 2 of the second  trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. The read along continues! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog is our host. We’re covering Chapters 47-56, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. Imriel seems to be having a lot of adventures by himself for the past few chapters.  What do you make of his adventures and his character as the story progresses?

Imriel has definitely stepped out of the shadow of his parents, even if he is still bumping into people who have been influenced by them (like Ximon). He’s really having to figure shit out for himself. The further east he goes, the less influence his name, or the rulers of Alba and Terre D’Ange have. Imri is a quick study and is figuring this out quickly but it’s still one dangerous situation after another.

2. What do you make of Urist’s misfortune? Do you think he will play a further role in the story?

That was a bad break for him but it could have been worse. I figure at some point Imri has to head back west and he will either have a captive, or Berlik’s head, or choose to turn back without either for some reason. In any case, I think Imri will feel compelled to return to Dorolei’s grave and pay his respects one more time, so I expect he will pick up Urist on the way back home.

3. Berlik seems to be receiving a lot of help on his travels, he seems very sad and repentant – what do you make now of Imriel’s mission?  Will he succeed or is he changing?  And is this mission worth the price?

I think that it helps that Berlik is repentant and that others have found him to be a good man. I don’t think  Imri doubts any of that. Yet Berlik did a very horrible thing, one that can’t be undone. Imri knows about horrible things and he also knows what a human can live through and also live with, since he has managed both. But Dorolei and the unborn child are dead.  If Imri doesn’t capture him or kill him, will the Alban nobles leave the Maghuin Dhon in peace? I think Berlik knows he has to pay the price or his people will. Some already have.

4.  Joscelin seems to have become known as an ‘angel’ and Imriel as an ‘avenging angel’ – any thoughts?

I think it’s a pretty idea. Who doesn’t like the idea of an angel assisting them or avenging them? Of course, Joscelin and Imriel know the truth in both cases and Joscelin knows the price of such acts. Imri will probably find out the costs.

And then we have the mystical side of things for these books. Imriel is a scion of Kushiel and a worshiper of Elua and Namaah. Berlik and his people have made all three cross and so there just might be this little piece of divine influence going on, pushing Imriel forward.

5. The war that is looming – how do you see this affecting what is yet to come for Imriel?

If nothing else, it may make it harder for Imri to complete his mission and return westward – if these two factions start raiding each other’s territory, etc., then the local people will probably be less trusting and won’t offer Imri a place to sleep and food.

6. What did you think of Imriel’s thoughts about the Gods and the fact that we sometimes change them by twisting the truth a little as time progresses?

Deep questions this week. I’m an atheist but I love stories where humans are affected by deities, such as this series. For me personally, since I believe that gods are a man-made thing that help them cope with life, I do feel they change over time according to culture and needs. Within that, I have seen how individual people gravitate towards one aspect of their chosen deity over the bigger picture. For that person, that is what that god is.

Other Tidbts:

Imri’s meeting various people that think Berlik is a decent guy and I like that he doesn’t tell all of them what he did.  If they ask, he tells but he doesn’t force this nasty truth upon them.

I liked that the sailors found something useful for Urist to do while they worked on repairing the ship – he got to put bows together. I think that most of them would want the same treatment if they were in the same position.

Imri contemplating the domestic capabilities of Sidonie – cooking, cleaning, hunting, etc. That was very amusing!

Imriel and the young Turk having to share a cell and even blankets – I think that whole experience was a growth spurt for Imri. He hadn’t the opportunity to deal with any Turks since Darsanga so I think this allowed him to put some of that fear away.

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

Kushiel's Justice Part VI

Chupacabra has spotted something!
Chupacabra has spotted something!

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Justice is Book 2 of the second  trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. The read along continues! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Emily at Emma Wolf is our host. We’re covering Chapters 38-46, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. At some point before she died, Dorelei made Urist promise to bring Imriel back to the City of Elua and Sidonie for fear that, if he didn’t go, he would be driven to bitterness. What do you think of this promise? Do you agree with Dorelei that Imriel would turn bitter?

I agree with Dorolei. She was very kind and wise to extract such a promise from Urist. Imriel had come to love Dorolei and, Dorolei knowing that a fair percentage of women die in childbirth, probably spent some time thinking about what her death would do to Imriel. And, yes, without a child to dote upon, without a lover pulling him out of his self-absorption, then I think he could become quite bitter. Hence, the need to send him back to his love in Terre D’Ange.

2. Imriel questions whether there was no way to escape the fate of his son foreseen by the Maghuin Dhonn. What do you think?

I think Imriel would have tried had the Maghuin Dhonn been honest about their visions. He’s listened to other people who had visions and heeded their warnings when he could make heads or tails out of them. So even though Dorolei’s people fear them, I think Imriel would have risen above that and given full weight to their warnings.

Of course, at this point that’s rather moot, sad to say. I am sure the ‘what ifs’ will torment Imriel from time to time for the rest of his life.

3. Urist explains the politics underlying the matter to the other Cruithne by noting that Imriel was good enough for Dorelei and Alba, good enough to father Alban heirs, but not good enough for Terre d’Ange. What do you think of his observation?

I think his words ring true. While Sidonie didn’t feel that way, she was in no position a year ago to formally say otherwise. I have to wonder what Drustan will think about this as he, while aware of Terre D’Ange history, has gotten to see Imriel away from the D’Angeline court.

Depending on how things fall out, this could rub rather raw with the Alban court – feeling like they received casts off or nobility leavings from the D’Angelines. I expect that Imriel will try to soften that as much as possible, but the underlying truth and past actions of the D’Angeline court will still be there.

4. We see new places and new peoples. Imriel wonders about the tanner and his wife and their story and how he will never know it. Of all the minor characters we’ve met so far, are there any you wish you knew more about?

I don’t know if we can call him a minor character, but I’m always fascinated by Barquiel L’Envers. He’s so very intense and he’s been in 5 books so far, even if it’s just as a thorn in someone’s side. He was ready to spill blood, I think, this time around, if Sidonie had shown the slightest distress towards Imriel. It’s a good thing she stood her ground or our story might have been much shorter.

I wonder what makes him tick and what makes his few friends and followers so loyal (besides his excellent horsemanship).

5. What do you think of what’s become of the Yeshuites? Of Micah ben Ximon? Do you think the written word is more open to multiple interpretation than the spoken one, as Urist hints?

So it looks like we have a warrior class of Yeshuites which we haven’t really seen before. And it looks like they are/have carved out a homeland in some far northern area. I wonder what that cost – is it just a hardship to claim the land and work it? Or did they have to displace other people and take the land by force?

No matter how things are recorded, there will always be interpretations. Still, with the written word I can make some assumption even if it is tiny, that the words were recorded with care. Think about the resources that go into writing down something – parchment or vellum? ink?  a quill? And then if a book is published in some form, that is more expensive and time consuming so I want to assume that even more care is taken in weeding out typos and such.  I still trust the written word more than the spoken word.

Other Tidbts:

I think Sidonie really shines in this section. First, she kisses Imriel in front of the D’Angeline court. Then she joins him at the Sharhizai  hunting lodge where she faces down first Amaury Trent and then Barquiel. These are not things Imriel could do for Sidonie.

Mavros is really a jewel of a friend, isn’t he? And to think I once held him under such suspicion!

Dorolei and the babe are dead, but I feel like it’s not over for Imriel. He thinks of her often and still mourns her. I’m glad the author doesn’t simply ‘lay the character to rest’ sortaspeak because Dorolei had a large influence over Imri and I think he’s a better man for it.

That was an interesting side note about Maslin of Lombelon – How he was also facing down Barquiel and Sidonie’s comments later about his sense of honor.

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).