Kushiel’s Avatar readalong: week 2

Time for the week 2 post, and I will try not to be behind and halfass it. Questions by Allie. And here is the readalong schedule.

1. Phedre has been incredibly efficient in finding out what has happened to Imriel. Do you think it really is as simple as a random act of cruelty? Is it a punishment from Kushiel, and if so, why were the other two children involved?

I don’t know. I have a hard time wrapping my head around Imriel’s abduction (+) to punish his mother, let alone the involvement of the other kids. I just thought of this now, so maybe it doesn’t make any sense, could it be punishment to all D’Angelines for the vanity and isolationism? Like a metaphorical punishment?

2. A lot of justice is meted out (or not) to different people. Do you think the priests deserve forgiveness for hiding Imriel? Do you agree with the harsh methods in Amilcar toward the slavers?

I’m not sure if the priest did anything wrong exactly that would necessitate forgiveness. He took care of a child for the child’s mother. Though I agree with Ysandre’s motivations for wanting to find and raise Imriel, I don’t think she had a legal right to him, did she? (Unless it’s I am the law because I am the Queen.) As for the methods in Amilcar, no. I do not agree with torture.

3. Do you think it’s worth it for Phedre to go to Serenissima to get information from Melisande, or would it be better for her to travel with the royal entourage and find her own guide?

I don’t know. I feel like this question asks many things. Is Melisande’s information valuable enough to warrant Phedre taking the trip? I don’t know. Is Melisande deserving of Phedre taking the trip to tell her in person what happened to Imriel? I don’t know. But I understand why Phedre, as Kushiel’s chosen, feels she needs to go.

4. It occurs to me that Joscelin improved the public attitude towards the Cassilines, though he was cast out, and the Prince of Travellers may be having a similar effect for his own people. In what ways do you think the Tsingani and the prejudice against them might change as a result of recent events? Do you think Hyacinthe will ever be allowed to go back to them, and if so, should he?

So many things to think about and we’re only on week 2!

The Tsingani provided information to Phedre which allowed them to locate the two missing Siovalese children and find Imriel’s trail. I hope that role won’t be forgotten. I also hope people won’t forget the circumstances that led the Tsingani to stay quiet before. I think they would be proud to welcome Hyacinthe back, but he’s changed and don’t know if he’ll feel at home there.


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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9 Responses to Kushiel’s Avatar readalong: week 2

  1. @lynnsbooks says:

    Yeah, I think it will be awful if we find out the Gods are behind the abduction of the children won’t it? After all why punish the children for the adults’ mistakes. I like your thoughts on that and maybe that the Gods are punishing all D’Angelines.
    There is a lot to think about this week already.
    Lynn 😀

    • emmawolf says:


      I’ve read these before, so I don’t want to give anything away. But my mind is racing.

      I’m enjoying this reread so much, and I think because I’m reading the books one after the other (which I haven’t done before) and because you all are forcing me to think, I’m seeing patterns and things that I didn’t notice before. Like how perhaps her experience as a slave in Skaldia drove her to want to do more for the children and Imriel, for example.

      • @lynnsbooks says:

        That’s what I love about these readalongs. They bring so much more out of the story that you would probably just miss or never consider. Plus, this is a great series to discuss in this way. There’s such a lot of worldbuilding and scope for discussion.
        I was thinking reading the last few chapters that it seems that Joscelin might make a great dad but that doesn’t seem a path that Phedre wants to go down and I wonder how that will pan out.
        Lynn 😀

  2. tethyanbooks says:

    Ysandre might have had some legal right, since I guess she and Barquiel are his close relatives on the Courcel side? I get the impression it was mostly “I’m the queen” right, though.

    I’m also having a hard time thinking of the children’s abduction in the frame of punishing their parents. I really don’t like the idea of punishing one person by hurting someone else. Even as a metaphorical punishment, I doubt those children had much of a chance yet to exhibit the vanity of Terre d’Ange.

    • emmawolf says:

      Under modern US family law, since Melisande is still living, she is the only one with a legal right to raise her kid or have someone else do it on her behalf. If she weren’t living, then there could be a battle between Ysandre (Barquiel isn’t a Courcel) and his Shahrizai family. So legally (assuming D’Angeline law is close to modern US law, ha ha), I don’t think Ysandre had a claim to him and the priest did anything wrong. Morally, I agree with Ysandre’s motives but still don’t think the priest did anything really wrong. I was swayed by his words that he acted out of love and Melisande acted out of love for Imriel in this regard. Lynn brought up the confidentiality of priests, and that’s something that I hadn’t considered before and find persuasive. Maybe that’s more an ethical point though? I guess I see the priest’s point but also think the situation sucked.

      Yeah, I really don’t like the kids being punished for the sins of the parents. Is there another way to read it?

      • tethyanbooks says:

        Ack, I’m not sure why I said Barquiel there, mind glitch. I figured Melisande lost her right to custody due to basically serving life in prison. I guess she would still have a right to say who gets her kid, by US law? I also don’t think the priests did anything really wrong morally, though they were disloyal to Ysandre by lying to her.

        As I’m thinking about it, I wonder if maybe Phedre misread Kushiel’s involvement. Maybe rather than being behind the kids getting kidnapped, Kushiel’s behind Phedre getting involved and bringing the slavers to justice. I don’t know if that’s true, but I like that interpretation more.

        • emmawolf says:

          Ok, so I ghostwrite a family law blog, and I just learned this! An incarcerated parent might lose custody of her kids if she doesn’t provide care for the child or have someone take care of the child on her behalf. Don’t know the law of Terre d’Ange though.

          Yeah, I think there was some disloyalty (Elua cared not for mortal politics), which might change the legality calculation. I don’t think what they did was treason, but it certainly wasn’t super loyal. But, if Ysandre had ordered the return of Imriel (did she? Was there an order as such or just a request), and had no legal right to do it, then disloyal but not treason? I guess the question is: is Terre d’Ange governed by the rule of law or not. (Sorry, I’m a nerd. I love applying legal crap to fiction.)

  3. nrlymrtl says:

    I like your idea of a metaphorical punishment of D’Angeline vanity. As we learned in Book 2, a D’Angeline’s beauty can cut the one who looks upon them; here we may be learning that D’Angeline beauty also puts the D’Angline in peril.

    Another good question – is Melisande deserving of Phedre taking the time and trouble to go to Serenissima and tell her the news? Well, no, I don’t think she deserves such kindnesses and yet I can totally see why Phedre, given her personality, feels compelled to do just that.

    • emmawolf says:

      Yes to first part. And more to come.

      As for Phedre’s personality, I think it’s one part personality, and one part her role as Kushiel’s representative (she thinks this is Kushiel’s punishment on Melisande). Which, of course, influences her personality, so they’re all tied up and I suppose it doesn’t make a difference. It’s just interesting, and I might be beginning to understand why Phedre loved Melisande. Kushiel loved his charges. Going to Melisande personally was an act of punishment and compassion.

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