Naamah’s Kiss Part I

Clementine being cute.

Clementine being cute.

The read along continues with Naamah’s Kiss, Book 1 of Moirin’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 your host. We’re covering Chapters 1-12, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) Firstly, Carey has picked up the story a few generations down the line. How do you think this will affect the story, if at all?

This is a great question. The short answer is: I don’t know. Perhaps not. While this is a reread for me, it was years ago and I only have vague memories of this book. I will point out that Carey did a great job keeping the focus of her second trilogy on Imriel and not falling back on Phedre and Joscelin, which probably would have been easy to do. So I expect Moirin will remain front and center.

So far, it has been interesting to hear of Alais the Wise and of the horrible memory magic played on the City of Elua from Moirin and her generation.

2) We have a new female lead.  What are your first impressions of Moirin?

Moirin is something unexpected. That’s my impression. She has Naamah’s whisper in her dreams and Anael’s gift of making flowers bloom or ripen to seeds. Yet she can also make herself invisible and the great Mother Bear has recognized her as her own. So, there’s great potential in Moirin even if it’s not the potential her people expected.

Plus, I like that she is excited to learn, even if that is how to read or to wear proper clothing or ride a horse.

3) I enjoyed the return to Alba, and once again meeting the Maghuin Dhonn – what did you make of the coming of age ritual?

Magic mushrooms can alter your perception of reality and give you what you need.

But for the sake of this story, I am very glad that Moirin was so very stubborn and that the Great Bear eventually came and claimed Moirin as her own. I think that fierce look of belonging and pride will sustain her through some hard times.

Also, I like that she got to meet some other teens of the Maghuin Dhonn.

4) The story already has the inclusion of magic and also visions of Gods – any predictions on what these visions and magic might bring to the story?

Yeah… Let’s chat about this. In the first series, there’s perhaps what one might call magical realism – the sexual magic of the Night Court and Phedre’s red dot in her iris. Later in that series, we get some definite glimpses of deities and magic, but it’s light. In the second series, we see more magic, though often Imriel is on the receiving end of it and not the person casting the magic (tho there was that tiny bit where he put charms on Sidonie). Now we have Moirin who is raised with magic. To her, it is a natural part of being and I don’t think she could imagine her life with her little magics or not knowing there are true deities out there that interact with folk of this world. It’s a beautiful progression of the Terre D’Ange Cycle, don’t you think?

As far as predictions, well this trilogy has Naamah’s name in each book title, so I am guessing we will have plenty of sexy times in this trilogy.

Other Tidbts:

Moirin’s first experience with a book was precious! I think I would have been the same if I hadn’t experienced a book until I was 9 or 10.

The memory erase magic is a powerful and dire magic indeed!

Moirin is sort of named for the Morwen of old, the one who tricked Imriel time and again in a vain and desperate attempt to save her people. That is a dire portent for the beginning of the story!

Oh, Killian! Let’s all raise a beer, perhaps a Killian Red, to the youth! Mostly, I feel for Moirin because she was basically kicked out of Alban society with his death.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
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 NAAMAH’S KISS in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Naamah’s Kiss Read Along – The Schedule

Clementine being cute.

Clementine being cute.

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Naamah’s Kiss is Book 1 of the third trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. You don’t have to have read the first two trilogies to enjoy this third one, as it occurs a few generations after the second trilogy. Lynn over at Lynn’s Book Blog is acting as co-pilot for this read along as I deal with medical stuff. Thanks Lynn! Below is the schedule.

Here is the current schedule:

Dec. 5th Week 1 – Chapters 1-12, Hosted Lynn’s Book Blog
Dec. 12th Week 2 – Chapters 13-26, Hosted by Dab of Darkness
Dec. 19th Week 3 – Chapters 27-36, Hosted by Books Without Any Pictures
Dec. 26th Week 4 – Chapters 37-48, Hosted by Tethyan Books
Jan. 2nd Week 5 – Chapters 49-60, Hosted by Dab of Darkness
Jan. 9th Week 6 – Chapters 61-74, Hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow
Jan 16th Week 7 – Chapters 75-End, Hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow

CareyNamaahsKissBook Blurb for Naamah’s Kiss:

Once there were great magicians born to the Maghuin Dhonn, the folk of the Brown Bear, the oldest tribe in Alba. But generations ago, the greatest of them all broke a sacred oath sworn in the name of all his people. Now only small gifts remain to them. Through her lineage, Moirin possesses such gifts—the ability to summon the twilight and conceal herself, and the skill to coax plants to grow.

Moirin has a secret, too. From childhood onward, she senses the presence of unfamiliar gods in her life—the bright lady and the man with a seedling cupped in his palm. Raised in the wilderness by her reclusive mother, Moirin learns only when she comes of age how illustrious, if mixed, her heritage is. The great-granddaughter of Alais the Wise, child of the Maghuin Donn and a cousin of the Cruarch of Alba, Moirin learns her father was a D’Angeline priest dedicated to serving Naamah, goddess of desire.

After Moirin undergoes the rites of adulthood, she finds divine acceptance… on the condition that she fulfill an unknown destiny that lies somewhere beyond the ocean. Or perhaps oceans. Beyond Terre d’Ange, where she finds her father, in the far reaches of distant Ch’in, Moirin’s skills will be a true gift when facing the vengeful plans of an ambitious mage, a noble warrior-princess desperate to save her father’s throne, and the spirit of a celestial dragon.

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 NAAMAH’S KISS in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel’s Mercy Part VII

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, I am your host as Lisa had some unexpected appliance failures that wreaked havoc with her household this past week. We’re covering Chapters 76-End, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) We talked last week a bit about the charm Imriel put on Sidonie so she could maintain her own will. Did it work as well as you expected? Less or more? Is there anything more they could have done with these charms?

I actually don’t recall what I was expecting the first time I read this book. However, I do really like that these charms weren’t a cure all. Carey kept it real in that this is Imriel’s sincere attempt at a bit of magic he doesn’t really understand versus a well-wrought magic done by a master magician.

Other than having Kratos watch her as much as he could, I don’t think the three of them could have done anything more.

2) Mavros as part of the Queen’s Guard! Was that a surprise to you? Were you surprised by any other characters in this weird, corrupted version of the City of Elua?

Mavros really was the one that shocked me the most. He’s been a stalwart friend, but I never pictured him in uniform! I wonder if he will keep the post, now that everything is back to normal? I can’t recall if that was mentioned at the end.

3) In a desperate moment, Imriel seems to be filled with the light of the 13, or at least Elua, until he’s knocked out. Do you think it was Elua answering his prayers sideways?

I want to believe that Elua and his Companions were making a true plea to the people of the City through Imri. Having Imri knocked unconscious and coming to in a position to see the the gem’s hiding place in the portrait was their backup plan.

4) We have a few desperate moments once the location of the gem is revealed to Imriel – his duel with Joscelin, his ride to the square, his scramble up the tree, his taking hold of Sidonie, and the breaking of the spell, the appearance of the demon. What did you like most about these moments? Anything you didn’t like?

I recall that the first time I read this book, I was truly worried that Kratos would die by Joscelin’s hand. That would have been a true sorrow! So that fight was definitely worrisome. I’m glad that Imri trusted the core of Joscelin and came up with his unexpected tackling.

When Imri put a blade to Sidonie, I knew he wouldn’t harm her, but I wasn’t sure she would trust him enough to do what was needed.

Demon! OK, so it’s freed and the spell broken and perhaps it was a grateful enough to give them a bow, but I have always wondered what the demon did next. Does it have a home with other demons that missed it? Or did it seek out Bodeshmun’s soul and torment him? Did it zip off to some other town and torment innocent souls?

5) Terre D’Ange is at peace. What reconciliations stood out to you?

In a way, I’m glad we had Imriel’s madness and his return to sanity to show us how regretful he was over the things he said and did while his wits were not solely his own. I can only imagine how a big city and most of the nation’s army felt. Yet we also have the folks, like Drustan, who were bespelled but then left, regaining their wits. So they can now they can help guide the rest to reconciliation.

That scene where Sidonie requests Imriel to fetch her mom to help out in getting people settled and Imriel goes to Ysandre, only to have Ysandre turn him down, and then he pushed back – that was awesome.

6) Finally, we have a wedding. Perfect ending to the trilogy? Need something more? Any final questions that you want answered?

Yes, the wedding was beautiful. It was also good to see the Bastard returned and the real Leander (who I think Sidonie wants to do a three-some with). It’s hard to say goodbye to these characters, so of course I can think of all sorts of things I would love to see – like just where Phedre and Joscelin hid the lost book of Raziel. That whole demon question I had above. Alais and her role in Alba. What will Barquiel do now, or perhaps even more exciting, a young Barquiel’s adventures.

Other Tidbts:

Too bad there wasn’t a trusted female servant for Sidonie that could have kept an eye on her in the bath. Which also begs the question of how she kept her back scar from being questioned, because I suspect she did have bath attendants….

I love that she turned the scar into a beautiful tattoo. I expect that breaks all sorts of taboos, just as Phedre no Montreve having a marque and being a Peer of the realm was worth commenting on back in her day.

Melisande has her official pardon… and now I wonder about what’s his face who accidentally killed his sister Persia. Will he get a pardon?

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 VI

Streak being calm & snuggly.

Streak being calm & snuggly.

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

This week, Allie at Tethyan Books is our host. We’re covering Chapters 63-75, so be prepared for spoilers below!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Tidbts:

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

It was nice to see Kratos again.

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

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

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

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel’s Mercy Part V

Streak being calm & snuggly.

Streak being calm & snuggly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Tidbts:

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

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

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

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

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

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel’s Mercy Part IV

Streak being calm & snuggly.

Streak being calm & snuggly.

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

This week, Emily at Emma Wolf is our host. We’re covering Chapters 36-49, so be prepared for spoilers below!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Any thoughts about the Longest Night?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Tidbts:

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

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

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

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

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel’s Mercy Part III

Streak being calm & snuggly.

Streak being calm & snuggly.

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

This week, Emily at Emma Wolf is our host. We’re covering Chapters 23-35, so be prepared for spoilers below!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Tidbts:

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

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

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

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

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

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).