Readalong: Kushiel’s Chosen Week 1+

I’m superexcited to be participating in an online readalong of Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey. Because I’m already a bit ahead and not sure how this group is working their discussion, I’m going to post some of my prereading/week one/wherever I am in the book thoughts here (warning, there are spoilers for the entire series here).

This is my least favorite of the books in Kushiel’s Legacy. Because of that, I’m happy to be in this group. I want to experience it with people who love it, or at least like it more than I do. I like Phedre much less than I like Imriel. I don’t like how she can be such a snob, thinking she is better than anyone who isn’t D’Angeline. If I’m being charitable, I can say that she is shaped by her experiences with the Skaldi. But her opinion of them carries over to everyone, and I feel like it’s especially obvious when she’s dealing with La Serenissima.

Also, on a more personal note, this book deals probably the most with the Yeshuite population, which are the Kushiel’s Legacy-world Jews. I’m a self-hating Jew. As such, I find these parts to be either boring or annoying. Like when Phedre greets people with “Baruch atah adoni.” Yeah, Jews don’t do that, and it sounds really freaking weird that you want me to pretend that they do. I cannot suspend my disbelief for that.

I’m also half-Jewish, and I think as such, I really like or get Severio Stregazza (one quarter D’Angeline and three quarters La Serenissiman). He has a lot of anger towards D’Angelines for their snobbery and how he’s made to feel inferior for his mixed heritage. Much like how I hate it when people (usually Jews) refer to Jews as “the chosen people” (because it makes them sound like they think they are better than everyone else) or when they ask me which parent is Jewish. Like they want to find out if I’m “really” Jewish. So, upon rereading Phedre’s assignation with him, it was something that really spoke to me. Not saying that I want to dress like a medieval Catholic nun and have some Jew boy bow down to me and appease me, but I get where that anger’s coming from and how he needed to make peace with his two sides. But during this reread, it did make me think of Eammon mac Grainne. I don’t remember him having that anger. Maybe because Eiran and Alban society were more accepting than La Serenissiman in some ways and because D’Angelines were more accepting of Eirans and Albans.


About emmawolf

I'm a freelance writer living in Baltimore with my husband, son, and two cats. I'm working on editing my first novel. I love reading, traveling, and the cello.
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3 Responses to Readalong: Kushiel’s Chosen Week 1+

  1. nrlymrtl says:

    Did you get the week 1 discussion questions via email? If not, let me know.

    I’ve read every book in the D’Angeline Cycle except the very last one (Book 9). So I totally get your references to Imriel and Eammon mac Grainne. But some of our readers are brand new the series, so they won’t get that at all.

    I’m very glad to have your viewpoints on the Yeshuites in this epic fantasy. I have chatted with some Jewish friends who have avoided this series because of the Jewish role in this tale, which I thought was interesting.

    For Week 1, we cut off right before the assignation with Severio. But since I have read this book before I totally get what you mean about the anger and superiority and infereioty complexes going by different characters.

    Several other readers felt that Phedre was a little bit of a snob as well – and noted it in the read along for Book 1. I have to say, I never really saw her as a snob at all until the read along pointed out certain aspects.

    Here’s my Week 1 post:

    • emmawolf says:

      Yes, I got the email. But I think I started writing this before the email was sent, then got the email but wasn’t sure if people would be responding via email or blogs, got too excited, and posted! I didn’t want to discuss the email here because I knew I’d put up spoilers for the whole series. I should have put a spoiler warning and promise to do so in the future and will not purposely mention future events/people when we talk about the books as a group.

      I have chatted with some Jewish friends who have avoided this series because of the Jewish role in this tale, which I thought was interesting.

      That is interesting. If I understand correctly, the whole series is kind of rooted in Jewish mythology and Kabbalah (among other things). (Naamah was the name of the wife of Noah and Solomon, for example.) I think the whole series is pretty respectful to Jews and Judaism and Yeshuites (even the Moirin series, IIRC…the parts that were upsetting were not based in Judaism, from my interpretation).

      I don’t think I really saw her as a snob until I had Imriel to compare her to and reread her series. At first I didn’t know any different.

      • nrlymrtl says:

        You can discuss spoilers, jut mark them. About half of those following along (actively & passively) have read the whole series and the rest are newbies.

        I did not know that about Naamah. And this is why read alongs are freaking awesome.

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