Kushiel’s Chosen readalong: week 4

Chapters 37-49. Questions by Lisa. More on the readalong here.

1. Last week we talked a bit about who might succeed Cesare Stregazza as Doge. This week we learn that he might not be out of the game just yet, after all. What are your thoughts on his discussion and agreement with Phédre?

Ok, so this is my least favorite of the series, part of the reason being that I think Phedre is a snob. So, with that in mind, I don’t really like it. It wreaks of Phedre being a (and I hate this term) Canon Sue. Phedre can solve all your problems because she is better than everyone else, which could be why she’s such a freaking snob.

2. Melisande resurfaces – and right where I did NOT expect to find her! What about you? And what do you think of her latest ambitious designs? When she and Phédre speak again after her capture, Phédre calls her mad; Melisande hints at “playing a god’s game”. Is this ambition or is it in fact madness?
I’ve said before that Phedre is probably smarter than me, but not here. By not expecting Melisande to be in the Little Court, that’s a bonehead move. She knows the missing guardsmen, the ones who helped Melisande escape, are there. They are corrupt at best and loyal to Melisande at worst. She knows someone close to the Queen (who was at Troyes le Monte) betrayed them. Therefore, she knows she can’t trust the people she thought she could trust. Yes, by this point, she has it narrowed down, but it means “don’t trust the people you thought you could trust.” Why then would she trust a complete stranger? Who has a D’Angeline wife WHO HAS NOT SHOWN HER FACE? And guards that helped Melisande escape? Gah!

That being said, when I first read the book, I was totally surprised.

As for ambition or madness, why not both? I think ambition is an obsession with her.

3. Things fall apart for Phédre and Joscelin after so much pent-up angst – but our Cassiline isn’t done with her yet, thank goodness! Phédre’s escape from La Dolorosa, and Joscelin’s attempted rescue, is some of the most nail-biting drama we’ve seen yet in this story. Do you think Joscelin will manage to find her, or will he play it smarter and go to Ysandre instead?

I loved this bit! Joscelin crawling under the rickety bridge!

4. New character alert! What are your initial impressions of Kazan and Glaukos? How much trouble is Phédre in this time?

I really like them. Though I hate how Kazan talks, I, I like how he just won’t do Phedre’s bidding. Goes in line with my “Phedre, you’re a snob/Canon Sue” annoyance. I like seeing someone not swayed by her charms, not thinking that D’Angelines shit rainbows.

Also, I just wanted to let everyone know about the Kushiel’s Legacy Wiki site. Please jump in, if you want (but don’t spoil yourself!)!


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 4

  1. nrlymrtl says:

    I haven’t heard the phrase ‘Canon Sue’ before. I will have to keep it in mind. And, yes, Phedre does come off a little snobbish in this section, especially later when she meets the pirates. I really didn’t see that side of her until the read along for Book 1 pointed it out and I asked my man (who is also a fan of the series) if he thought she was a snob. He had to think a moment but then agreed but also said that was part of who she was, being raised in Terre D’Ange.

    I totally didn’t expect Melisande to pop up where she did the first time I read it, but looking back… yeah, why not? Especially after the one corrupt guard who defected and went to live on the glass blowing islands ends up dead.

    Hooray for Kushiel wiki site!

    • emmawolf says:

      I think the reason why I dislike the book and the reason I’m liking it more now is because of the D’Angeline snobbery. I feel like Phedre really lets it show in this book, but it doesn’t get her anywhere. She’s able to see the beauty in other places. She learns that her people aren’t perfect angels.

      Maybe her willingness to trust Benedicte came from this snobbery? He is a Courcel. Percy and Lyonette (though born a Courcel) were from different families (though related). The Courcels are supposed to be direct descendants of Elua. In her snobbery, D’Angelines are better than non-D’Angelines, and Elua and his descendants must be the best of all. So maybe, even though she’s seen Ysandre’s other family members turn on her, it was just unthinkable that a descendant of Elua (even though Lyonette is too, theoretically) would betray another?

      • nrlymrtl says:

        I like your thinking and believe it explains much. In looking at the other characters, the D’Angelines that have traveled widely or lived abroad (Barquiel L’Enver, Admiral Rousse, etc.) seem to have a different view of D’Angelines and don’t hold them so high. So, maybe this is Phedre getting started on the same path.

  2. tethyanbooks says:

    I definitely agree she’s snobbish, and I think that’s mostly a cultural thing. I also really liked that it didn’t get her anywhere with the pirates– they certainly aren’t wowed by her D’Angeline blood. I think this might be the first time outside of Terre d’Ange that people *weren’t* really impressed by her nationality.

    I think I’m behind the times on terms– does Canon Sue mean Mary Sue in a published work? At least in the book’s defense (so far), Phedre isn’t able to do much of anything to help with Cesare’s problems.

    I think Phedre suspected Melisande was hiding in the Little Court or somewhere connected to it in some way, but she wasn’t expecting her to be hiding in plain sight. Maybe it was, as you said in your comment, that she just assumed Benedicte of the Courcel family was above treason. Perhaps this experience will help her get rid of some of her cultural snobbery.

    • emmawolf says:

      Yes, that’s what canon sue means. I hate the term, and I hate myself for using it. (But now that we’re on the subject, http://fanlore.org/wiki/Canon_Sue here someone lists Phedre.) Anyway, I think the Canon Sue/Mary Sue pejorative is crap and a lazy substitute (kind of ironic) for saying that the character is poorly developed and thinking of real criticism of the character. Here, I think Phedre is well developed, she’s just snobby.

      “Perhaps this experience will help her get rid of some of her cultural snobbery.”

      I think you’re absolutely right! Maybe I can view this book as a necessary journey for Phedre’s character to lose her snobbiness.

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