Kushiel’s Chosen readalong: week 3

Yay! Time for more Kushiel’s Chosen discussion (chapters 27-36)! This week, questions are from Allie. Find out more about the readalong here. Again, I will try not to spoil. If I do inadvertently, please tell me.

1. Do you think Joscelin might have really considered using the “terminus” in the fight between the Unforgiven and the Yeshuites? How deep do you think his loyalty to the Yeshuite people goes, and why do you think he feels so driven to arm, train and protect them?

Yes, but not seriously. Like, it was only a fleeting thought. Perhaps his thought process was “how can I stop them! I’ll use the terminus! What are you crazy!” I don’t think he’s loyal as such. I think he admires their willingness to make their own destiny and resilience. Mostly I think he likes the attention he gets from them (no, I’m not really that cynical). I think he considered converting for the forgiveness aspect but isn’t ready to let go.

2. What do think of the differences between the culture of La Serenissima and the City of Elua, and the differences in how they conduct their political intrigue?  Who would you favor for the next Doge?

Oh boy! Good questions. I don’t know. One thing that I always thought about was the relative sizes. La Serenissima is obviously much smaller. I wondered how living in close proximity to one another and a smaller pool of people effected intrigue. I’m not sure if my wonders even make sense. I don’t know enough about the candidates and the faces they give the public to give an answer regarding the next Doge.

3. What do you think of Phedre’s plan to play along with Severio’s romancing?  Do you think he is approaching the matter with more sincerity than his parents?

Why not? Yes, I think he is more sincere than his parents. Whether or not it’s love…I doubt it. I think she changed him and he is grateful. Maybe more infatuation than love.

4. There is a lot of fortune-telling in this section, from the Oracle in the temple to the astrologer.  What do you make of the Oracle’s answer to Phedre?  Why do you think the astrologer killed himself, and do you think he would he have been able to lead them to Melisande?

I like how they make fun of the oracle’s answer. Of course it will be in the last place you look because once you find it, you stop looking! I thought the oracle’s initial speech was gratuitous and awkward. I don’t know if the astrologer would have been able to lead them to Melisande, but I don’t think he would have been willing to.

5. Joscelin and Phedre meet a couple who have made compromises in order to build a happy life together.  What do you think of their family, and does their example give any hope for Phedre and Joscelin’s future?

I never really thought of them as compromising so much. I always thought of Ricciardo as bisexual. So, forgive me if I’m way off base, I’m still learning, but I’ve been reading a lot about bisexuality lately, and I kind of learned that it’s a myth that a bisexual person can’t be happy in a monogamous relationship. That just because he is sexually attracted to both men and women doesn’t mean he can’t be satisfied with just a woman. That’s what I took from them. That it was more La Serenissiman prejudice in play surrounding Riccardo’s affair (for lack of a better word?) and Allegra being hella forgiving than Ricciardo and Allegra compromising.

Does it give hope to Phedre and Joscelin, I think so. Because even so, it shows that we can (or some of us can) make choices about who we love or want to be with. Making a choice necessarily closes off an avenue, but that doesn’t mean we will be lacking.

My thoughts:

Phedre is a snob! When they sail to La Serenissima, she remarks on its beauty. But then inexplicably to me thinks that might make her sound “unpatriotic.” As though to love her country, she cannot see the beauty anywhere else. (Which again makes me think of bisexuality. Just because you are attracted to members of both sexes doesn’t mean you can’t settle down. Or just “I’m married. Not blind.”) Then with the oracle, she says “It was nearly a mockery, such gorgeous fabrics adorning so wizened a form.” Old people don’t deserve nice things? Fuck you, Phedre!

The pomegranates. My husband makes fun of me for eating pomegranates like that: spitting out the seeds. Funnily enough, the first person to give me a pomegranate told me to spit out the seeds and was from Venice.

I thought the Unforgiven were awesome! Bowing down to Phedre even though he thought it would mean his death!

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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5 Responses to Kushiel’s Chosen readalong: week 3

  1. nrlymrtl says:

    I think you are right about Joscelin liking the attention he gets from the Yeshuites – they make him feel needed. Right now, his relationship with Phedre probably makes him feel inadequate.

    I think you are right about the size of La Serenissima affecting the politics. The smaller the pool, the more people know who pissed what.

    I’m not sure if Ricciardo is bisexual or homosexual. To the La Serinissimans, it doesn’t matter because he dallied with another man and got caught. It probably matters a great deal to his wife and I think most people want their spouse to be attracted to them somewhat. And I totally agree with you – a bisexual person can totally be happy in a monogamous relationship.

    I’m still a Phedre fan even though I can see your points about her being a bit snobby.

    I too eat pomegranates that way.

    • emmawolf says:

      Yay! I feel completely vindicated in my pomegranate eating!

      Don’t get me wrong, I like Phedre too. (I just like [redacted] better. To the point of I almost named my boy [redacted]. We needed a Hebrew name, and his nickname was in a book of Biblical/Hebrew baby names. My husband vetoed it.) But in this book, I think she flies her snobby flag. Maybe I should cut her some slack because part of it is circumstance. Again. (I think most of my ire came from her not respecting the elderly. I thought it was pretty mean spirited, even if she only thought it.)

      As for Ricciardo, I agree, I think it matters to Allegra but not La Serenissimans. And the way Phedre described their relationship made me think there is love and contentment there.

  2. tethyanbooks says:

    That’s interesting–I understood Ricciardo’s situation completely differently, but I think your answer makes a lot of sense. I read it as he was homosexual, and that he’d been forced by the society’s norms to marry a woman and have a family against his inclinations (though he loved Allegra as a person). Given how opposed their society is to homosexuality, though, it makes sense that they might see any kind of same-sex activity as a sign that someone is completely and only into same-sex. If that’s the case, then I agree, the only compromise in their relationship is Allegra forgiving him for his affair.

    I have to agree with you on Phedre’s snobbishness in this section. The ‘unpatriotic’ line seemed really weird to me, and the comment about the elderly lady not deserving nice fabrics :(. I also remember her having some internal commentary about the dreadfulness of Serenissiman fashion for women. At least she didn’t say any of that out loud.

    • emmawolf says:

      Re Ricciardo: It could just be me seeing what I want to see or what has been on my mind lately.

      Oh, sorry, Phedre didn’t say that about the pretty fabric on the old lady out loud! It was her internal monologue. Even though she can be snobby, she’s still tactful. I remember that bit about the fashion too!

  3. lynnsbooks says:

    I liked your comments – I also thought it was very amusing to read everyone’s thoughts on the oracle.
    I feel kind of sorry for Joscelin – he does need to be needed doesn’t he and Phedre is very independent. I think they can work it out – I hope so anyway because I like Joscelin and would frankly be a bit gutted if he was to part ways.
    As to Phedre – she’s a funny onion to say the least. I like her but she’s very precious isn’t she. For example, she starts off by saying that La Serenissima is beautiful – but then she infers that’s because architects from her country helped with that. Plus she does seem to be quite obsessed with how things looks. Your comments about the oracle wearing silk are a perfect example. Not everybody is beautiful and I think it’s one of her worst flaws that she seems to focus so much on outer appearances – even to be overwhelmed by them – for example with Melissande. She needs a bit of an eye opener I think. I do still like her though. She’s got a lot of great characteristics and she’s a good strong female.
    Lynn 😀

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