Kushiel’s Chosen readalong: Week 2

Time for week 2 of the Kushiel’s Chosen readalong, chapters 15-26. This week, questions are by Susan. More info on the readalong here.

1) Severio & Phedre have their assignation. Who do you think learned the more from it? 


Severio definitely. A bit more on this in my pre-readalong post, but I loved this assignation. I love how it helped him reconcile his D’Angeline and Serenissiman parts.

2) Hanna from the Yeshuites tells Joscelin, ‘….this pain you suffer, you cling to it.’ Do you think that is true of Joscelin? What do you think of Joscelin teaching some of the young Yeshuite men to fight?


Yes. I think Joscelin needs the pain like it’s part of his identity. The pain comes from his broken vows, and if he were stop feeling the pain, it would be like forgetting and like his vows never happened. (It reminds me of the Evil Queen from Once Upon a Time [if anyone is watching that show]. She needs to feel the pain from Daniel’s death because moving on would deny his memory and take away a part of herself.) I think it’s pretty awesome that he’s teaching the Yeshuites to fight. It appeals to his need to be important and will help them found their country in the north.


3) In this section, we really saw the pressure put on Marmion. Do you think Marmion’s punishment was just?


I don’t know. Probably not since many D’Angelines were betting on his death. The fire and Persia’s death were accidents, but the spying and trying to hide the circumstances of her death were not. I would argue that Marmion proved his loyalty to Ysandre by turning in Melisande, but Persia turned her in too.


4) Phedre goes to Gentian House for some guidance through dream interpretation. What did you think of this? Have you ever had your dreams interpreted? 


I liked this. I liked seeing the inside of one of the Houses. I liked seeing Phedre as a patron. And yeah, as a teenager I had a dream diary and a dictionary of dream symbols. I still think sometimes dreams are our subconscious trying to tell us something, but I don’t think it’s anything like if you dream about a banana, that means you are afraid of falling on ice or something bizarre like that.


5) The plot has thickened in this week’s reading as Phedre & Joscelin dig further into the mystery of the escaped Melisande Shahrizai. Thoughts?


Yes it has! Since I’m a bit ahead and I’ve read this book before, I’m worried that saying more here will spill too many beans.


6) Ysandre and Phedre carry out a bit of subterfuge. Do you think it is enough to fool Melisande, should she be paying attention? 


No. Melisande knows (or should know) about the trust Ysandre placed in Phedre (sending her to Alba, believing her when she escaped from Skaldia). I don’t think Melisande would think Ysandre would get so angry with Phedre over jealousy. If it was an attempt to fool Ysandre, I don’t think it was a clever plan. But then again, maybe Melisande will think something got lost in the gossip. Assuming she doesn’t have someone loyal to her close to Ysandre, and we know she does.


My additional thoughts:


There’s a lot that I didn’t like in this portion. The assignation with the brother and sister squicked me. I also thought their dialogue on “this is how I spy” was forced and odd. And speaking of squick–Phedre putting her tongue between Severio’s toes. Eww. The assignation with Nicola was….I don’t know. The trying to spy on a spy? The laughing? It was far fetched. And all of that paired with the comments Solaine made about how foolish Phedre is… contradictory? Is Solaine just bitter or is she stupid to not understand Phedre’s role in, well, everything? The attempt to make everyone think Ysandre was mad at Phedre–who had done so much for Ysandre and Drustan–was petty.


When I think back to this book, this portion that I didn’t like is probably what comes to mind first: the squicky assignation, the ridiculousness with Nicola and Ysandre. But I’m enjoying the rest. I’m hopeful that I can isolate this portion as 100 icky pages and enjoy the rest.

I’m sorry if this just looks like a wall of text. WordPress decided to change its user interface and switch it around so it’s different each time I try to write or edit. Because of that, sometimes the breaks are there, sometimes not.


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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6 Responses to Kushiel’s Chosen readalong: Week 2

  1. nrlymrtl says:

    I think Joscelin needs his pain too. And you nailed it by saying if he gives up that pain it is like his vows never meant as much as they should have. I can definitely see how certain people in my life have done something similar.

    Now I will worry about dreaming about bananas. 😉

    I am going to add ‘squick’ to my weekly vocabulary.

    I agree somewhat with the brother/sister assignation. Even though the twins never engage directly in sexual activity with each other (that we see) they are both there engaging with Phedre. I’ve never enjoyed brother/sister sexual relations in any scenario, even step-siblings (which aren’t even biologically related).

    • emmawolf says:

      Change is difficult. Even if someone doesn’t like what they are or are in emotional pain and even if the change is good. So I can’t blame Joscelin, but I think I pity him a little here.

      I just made that up about a banana. I didn’t want to go for the obvious Freudian reference. Not every dream is about a penis.

      Yeah, I thought there was a big enough difference between the twins and this set of siblings. With the twin, I thought, well, that’s kinda weird that they are into sharing, but maybe I’m just reading into it. With these guys…no. Squick.

  2. tethyanbooks says:

    On Joscelin teaching them to fight, I was fearing it would lead to some kind of showdown with the Cassilines or the queen’s military, where a bunch of people would end up getting killed. I can see how it would help them in the future, I just hope nothing happens to get them killed first.

    I can see your complaints with this section, and I hope things get better from here. I figured Solaine was always kind of stupid. She’s the one who answered a treasonous mail in front of a hired sex partner, after all. Phedre is leaning pretty heavily on the idea that Delaunay was the spy and she was just a tool, but it is kind of surprising that so many people believe her (especially after she was the emissary that made the Alban alliance). Also, the drama between Ysandre and Phedre is so petty, I just assumed it was designed to fool people who didn’t know them.

    • emmawolf says:

      She’s the one who answered a treasonous mail in front of a hired sex partner, after all.

      Good point!

      I’ve complained before about Phedre being a snob. I think that’s part of it, but I also think the culture (the night court specifically and D’Angelines generally) she comes from is a bit superficial, to put it mildly. As such, I shouldn’t be surprised when people are willing to forget or disbelieve her spying and would believe that she fell out with the queen over something small. So I think that’s something I didn’t fully consider when writing the original post. Yes, it might be petty, but maybe that’s all they needed?

  3. lynnsbooks says:

    Yeah, I see where you’re coming from with the Squick element – hopefully it will move on from hereon.
    Joscelin – I’ve had a rethink about him hanging onto his pain – I suppose if he stops feeling so much then maybe it will just make him indifferent or blaise about doing right or wrong . It’s probably that he over thinks things so much that keeps him on the straight and narrow.
    I’m loving the intrigue and once again I’m getting all caught up with the mystery.
    Lynn 😀

    • emmawolf says:

      “It’s probably that he over thinks things so much that keeps him on the straight and narrow.”

      *nods* I really like Joscelin. I see him as quiet and thoughtful. Very Siovalese.

      Ugh, I just realized something. So I’m reading the second book in the Divergent series (I think they are pretty bad, and no, I’m not sure why I’m reading it), and in the books the characters are divided up into groups of nice people, self-sacrificing people, “brave” people, honest people, and smart people. And the “smart” people are portrayed in such an annoying way! Like “I want to know how this completely irrelevant salt shaker works!” I like how Carey categorizes the scions of different regions so much better!

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