Time for the reread discussion. This time it’s chapters 50-61. Questions by Susan. There will be a mild spoiler for the next book (I mention the big bad and Phedre’s feelings concerning the big bad) following the discussion questions when I get to my own thoughts. I will place an additional spoiler note there when I get to the spoily bit.
1) This week we learn plenty more about Kazan Atrabiades and his personal demon, the kriavbhog. What do you think of this demon and his blood curse?
I’m not sure how to phrase it, but his mother chose favorites and I think that’s unfair. Daroslav’s death was an accident. Yes, it was Kazan’s fault on two levels (he told his brother about the upcoming fight, which (though it was not his intent) put his brother in harm’s way, and he stabbed him), but Daroslav also made his own choices. I also got the impression that Daroslav wasn’t entirely happy being a scholar. He wanted to be a soldier, but something (maybe his mother) compelled him to study. And then it was their mother to bring about (possibly…? Kazan says it was her bitter words that made it stick) the blood curse. It’s an unfair ending to a sad story or bad parenting.
2) On the island of Dobrek, even Phedre has to admit she had some harsh pre-conceived notions about pirates in general and then Kazan specifically before she was brought to his home. How do you think this experience will affect Phedre going forward?
! In a good way! Kazan’s story is one example of this: people are not always what she expects. They are not so one-sided. She learns more about herself in the thetalos. Her unwillingness to trust others, believing she is smarter than others, gets others into trouble or killed. I think these experiences make her more open-minded, to say the least.
3) Nikanor’s ship returns and Phedre is once again off on the high seas. But, alas, she is not ransomed safely. Were you angry at Kazan for not telling Phedre who she was to ransomed to? Or angry at Phedre for not having told Kazan the whole of it in the first place?
I don’t think I was angry at either one. I always liked Kazan. Even though he wasn’t honest with Phedre to begin with, he saved her life then.
4) Nearly to Epidauro & safety, Phedre can see the kriavbhog is killing Kazan and orders the ship about into the storm. Was there really no other choice?
I guess the other choice would be to let Kazan die. But Phedre and Kazan tend to save one another.
5) Now in the land of Kriti, we meet Oeneus, Hierophant of the Temenos along with the Kore, Pasiphae. What do you think of these two and the small amount of aid they offer Phedre and Kazan?
Politics isn’t really the Kore’s domain. They did what they could and were willing to get Phedre an audience with someone who is in a position to help. I can’t fault them for not helping more.
6) Kazan enters the thetalos to be cleansed of his blood guilt. Of course, Phedre is pricked by Kushiel to go comfort him as she might. There she faces her own guilty demons. Would you be concerned if you had to pass through the thetalos?
I don’t think anyone leads such a blameless life that they wouldn’t be.
My additional thoughts:
I’m a little…I don’t know….confused by? Interested in? Annoyed by? how Phedre thought of Kazan. Yeah, the whole “you’re my hostage” was a pretty bad first impression. And we have to deal with stereotypes against pirates and Phedre’s non-D’angeline snobbery, which is (at least in part) shaped by her experiences. She seems to be a bit pissed that he wants to sleep with her. She is a courtesan, NTTAWWT. This is her trade. Kazan wanted to make a deal with her based on her trade, and she seems very put out by this. She instead seems to think that Kazan should do it (send a ship to Marsilikos) because it’s the right thing to do. And it is. But I think she doesn’t understand the politics behind it. Illyria doesn’t want to get between La Serenissima (to whom they are a vassal) and a country that didn’t come to their aid when it was needed. It’s a big risk for them.
Phedre’s services demand a big price (see her dealings with Severio). It bothers me that she doesn’t seem to think their risk is worth her price.
It especially bothers me that she judges him so harshly because she doesn’t judge all bad guys equally. Melisande and Isidore get passes (not exactly), but Selig is evilpants. Even though he did great things in Skaldia (aside from invading).
IIRC, the next guy is judged less harshly than Selig, and he was for realsies evil. Phedre excuses him because he was mentally ill (and because she went willing). I know it’s not the best test for mental illness and criminal culpability, but I’m an attorney. The Mahrkagir (from the next book) knew the difference between right and wrong and didn’t have an irresistible impulse. And what he did was a whole fucking lot worse than what Selig could even dream of doing. But I guess because he didn’t do it to D’Angelines (with two notable exceptions), it’s ok.
edit: I’m really losing my patience with WordPress and the not putting breaks where I put them. I wonder if it’s my theme.
edit again: Ugh, I think I finally solved it! That was a huge pain! I think there was something left over from the gmail formatting? Weird. I don’t know why that would make wordpress not work, but it did.