Kushiel’s Chosen readalong: week 7

Time for the final readalong post, chapters 73 to the end. Questions by me. Thank you to everyone for participating in the readalong. It’s been great fun, and I’ve really enjoyed having my opinions challenged, being wrong, and changing my mind. This is a really smart bunch. So many times I have wanted to scream “omg, keep reading!” or “wait until Kushiel’s [fill in the blank]!” I hope we continue reading, because I can’t wait to hear all your opinions on later events.

Without further ado:

1. Earlier in the book, Phedre promised to rid the temple of Asherat of corruption. Here we see her speaking for the goddess. Is this what you had in mind? Is Phedre channeling the goddess or using her own words? Was her act a sign from the goddess, as Cesare Stregazza said, or merely a trick, as Marie-Celeste said? (I realize this is very similar to Lynn’s question from last week. I read ahead and wrote these questions early. I flatter myself to think that great minds think alike.)

I did not see this coming. I tend to think that is was the will of the goddess/Phedre channeling Asherat and not blasphemy. As much as I complain that Phedre is a snob or so perfect and well-liked, she really is god-touched. In this series where the gods use humans as their tools, I think it was divinely inspired.

2. Ysandre offers (or demands) to take Imriel into her own household to spare him the “taint” of being a traitor’s son. What do you think of this? Would an Imriel raised by Ysandre be welcomed by the people as the heir to the throne? Or would the people remember Melisande’s treachery when they see her son?

Having read the rest of the series, I don’t think I can answer this. Someone posted something one of the earlier weeks about how Melisande doesn’t know who her son will grow to be. I’m sorry, I can’t remember who it was, but I can’t wait to read your impressions of the rest of the series and who he becomes. But to answer the first part, I just remember being really moved when it happened, when Ysandre made her offer. I thought it was a really diplomatic gesture.

3. What do you think of Melisande taking sanctuary in the temple to Asherat and the Doge allowing it? Is it blasphemous? Ysandre asks Phedre what she can expect from Melisande, and Phedre cannot answer. What do you expect from Melisande?

This I kind of think is more like blasphemy. Well, I don’t know. I don’t know a lot about the religion and the customs. Is this sort of sanctuary only for followers of Asherat? I think upon first reading, I expected Melisande to escape and reunite with her son.

4. After seeing his fellow Cassiline Brother attempt to assassinate their charge in La Serenissima, Brys no Rinforte is badly shaken and is unable to accompany Ysandre through the Royal Army and into the City of Elua. What do you make of this? Phedre called it “defection,” which, according to dictionary.com, has two meanings: 1) desertion from allegiance, loyalty, duty, or the like. Apostasy; and 2) failure, lack, loss. What do you think of Phedre’s description? Phedre also tells us that Ysandre dismissed the Cassilines from her service. What share of the blame does Brys deserve for Ysandre’s decision? What do you think of the irony that Cassiline Brothers have become more popular among D’angelines?

I thought Brys’s action was a failure but not a desertion, if that makes sense. I thought Phedre was kind of unsympathetic to suggest that he played a role in why Ysandre decided not to have Cassilines around anymore, considering his defection really paled in comparison to David’s. And while I can’t blame him for being completely shaken by what David did, I was a bit surprised by his inability to accompany Ysandre through the Royal Army but sympathetic. I think it goes back to what I think I may have said earlier: Cassilines are humans, not house elves. So often, characters just looked through the Cassilines. Well, of course Cassilines searched through the archives, but they wouldn’t have taken anything because they are Cassilines! I don’t know. I guess I just feel bad for Brys. His failure seemed so human and just reflected d’Angeline society that doesn’t treat Cassilines as individuals. Then again, he did abandon his charge.

5. The Rebbe Nahum ben Isaac said “you Children of Elua are too quick to forget how the love you invoke may cut like a blade.” What do you think? Is Elua a gentle, loving god or is the rebbe right?

Both. Love gave Joscelin the will to storm La Dolorosa.

More thoughts:

I was always interested in Ghislain turning his back on his father and taking his wife’s family’s name. Because House Trevalion had no history of treason and had nothing to do with Percy’s actions.

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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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7 Responses to Kushiel’s Chosen readalong: week 7

  1. lynnsbooks says:

    This is a great series to have as a readalong. There are such a lot of good characters and it doesn’t rest solely on Phedre. Plus all the politics and maneuverings. It’s a very interesting time and place.
    I’m very intrigued now about your comment about Melisande’s son! It will be so interesting to see how he develops. I guess it depends who is bringing him up to a certain extent (which is why Melisande didn’t want Ysandre to take him and rear him for fear that she would poison him against her – although I don’t think Ysandre would do that and it’s more a reflection of how Melisande will bring her son up!)
    I quite liked the idea of sanctuary, it feels like a very old concept and I was surprised by Melisande coming up with it – but she’d clearly already thought it through (otherwise I don’t think she would have put herself in that position – she usually as all the angles worked out after all).
    I was puzzled about Brys. Part of me wondered if Melisande had also tried to turn him against Ysandre? I confess I don’t really know what was going on there and was going to wait and see what happens next.
    Great questions.
    Lynn 😀

    • emmawolf says:

      Regarding Imriel, no further comment. Did I already say too much?

      “but she’d clearly already thought it through (otherwise I don’t think she would have put herself in that position – she usually as all the angles worked out after all).”

      She really does. She doesn’t move unless she has all the possibilities worked out, but even then she repeatedly underestimated Phedre and Joscelin.

      “This is a great series to have as a readalong. There are such a lot of good characters and it doesn’t rest solely on Phedre. Plus all the politics and maneuverings. It’s a very interesting time and place.”

      I agree. Carey created a really rich world. For everyone reading for the first time, I’m so awed by what you all picked up on and were able to predict.

  2. nrlymrtl says:

    Yep, for all of Phedre’s faults, I too believe the gods sometimes use her, as did Asherat in this case.

    Ysandre definitely has a big pair of brass balls for offering on the spot to take Imriel into her household and raise him with honor and station. She must know what kind of difficulties she would have from the nobility if she did that and yet she still offers it.

    We never learn Brys’s reasons for abandoning his charge in that moment. It’s not like he mentioned he was having difficulty or self-doubt to anyone (that we know of) on the trip back from La Serenissima. Nope. He got to that moment and couldn’t do it. In the end, that’s what matters when you are paying someone, let alone an entire Order, to keep you safe.

    I think Ghislain needed to distance himself from the treachery both personally and professionally. Plus I like the idea of a man taking his wife’s name.

    • emmawolf says:

      “In the end, that’s what matters when you are paying someone, let alone an entire Order, to keep you safe.”

      Absolutely. I just felt so bad for him! He was brought up to think it’s like a religious duty to ward a person, and he saw his (Cassiline) brother try to commit murder, regicide, and blasphemy. I don’t see what that has to do with guarding her through the Royal Army, I just have feels for him. I think he’s human but for so long his humanity and individuality had been ignored.

      “Plus I like the idea of a man taking his wife’s name.”

      Oh, me too. But I couldn’t help but think, you know your dad was totally cool with your brother-in-law (who has that name) usurping the throne? But I guess that name has less Melisande stink on it.

      “Yep, for all of Phedre’s faults, I too believe the gods sometimes use her, as did Asherat in this case.”

      Even though she can be snobby, I still love Phedre. And I think one of the things I love about this series is that everyone’s god is true. It’s so pluralistic or monolatrist.

  3. tethyanbooks says:

    On the sanctuary, I kept thinking there ought to be some clause to reject people who are not believers from taking advantage of the safety of the temple for personal reasons. I guess there isn’t, though.

    I agree that it was a bit mean to blame Brys for Ysandre’s decision to no longer have Cassiline guards. I honestly don’t see how she could have chosen any differently, after the one tried to kill her.

    I meant to mention Ghislain’s disowning his father in my answers, but I forgot. It seemed to me to be a kind of reflection of Kazan’s reunion with his mother. Kazan’s long-ago crime was forgiven and he and his mother were reunited, Percy’s long-ago crime came to light, and he was disowned by his son. Politically, I think the disowning was the best thing Ghislain could have done, though. I saw it as he was already ‘tainted’ by his connection to Trevalion, so he needed to take swift and certain action to disassociate himself from the actions of de Somerville as quickly as possible.

    • emmawolf says:

      “I kept thinking there ought to be some clause to reject people who are not believers from taking advantage of the safety of the temple for personal reasons.”

      I kind of thought so too. But I guess who am I to judge? I don’t know. Maybe I want a middle ground for “we accept all seeking asylum unless you were a jerk and brought your persecution on yourself.” Kinda like real life asylum law maybe? (But better.)

      “I agree that it was a bit mean to blame Brys for Ysandre’s decision to no longer have Cassiline guards. I honestly don’t see how she could have chosen any differently, after the one tried to kill her.”

      I agree on both counts.

      ” It seemed to me to be a kind of reflection of Kazan’s reunion with his mother.”

      Interesting. I hadn’t thought of it like that. I think I understand why Ghislain felt he had to do it, but I guess thought it was kinda unfortunate(?) that his wife’s family had their own history. Which I guess is *why* he felt he had to do it?

  4. tethyanbooks says:

    Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. He’s already on shaky ground because of his wife’s family history.

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