Kushiel’s Avatar readalong: week 3

Time for week 3 of the Kushiel’s Avatar readalong. Questions by me.

1. If I recall correctly, this is the first book (and this is the first portion of the book) that takes us outside of (what is now) Europe and into (what is now) the Arab world. What are your thoughts?

Love! This book is my favorite of the first three, in part because of all the places Phedre goes and the open mind she keeps. I was (sort of) a Middle Eastern Studies major in college, so I just loved some of the descriptions here.

2. We see the Pharaoh laughing at Phedre, saying that if she had only trusted him, it would have saved them a lot of time. We saw this sort of thing play out before with Kazan and Bariquel. Do you think Phedre should be more trusting or do you think she is right to be so cautious?

I do think Phedre is less trusting generally than some other characters, but I think in this situation, she was right to be so cautious. With Kazan at least (his coercion aside), I think revealing more of the truth would have benefited her. He knew she was hiding something, and I think that could have at least played a part in why he didn’t tell her about the blockade…not that Phedre saw that coming. I guess I just mean I’m not sure why she wasn’t more forthright with him and I think it would have benefited her. As opposed to here, she doesn’t know Pharaoh and suspects him of buying Imriel. All she lost was a bit of time until they reached their understanding.

I don’t know. Maybe this is just me judging from hindsight.

I really liked how Phedre learned Pharaoh was communicating with Melisande–Phedre learning the language and overhearing Pharaoh give a description of Imriel. Language is interesting in this portion, I think. The ambassador who doesn’t speak the language, Phedre testing the servant in D’Angeline.

3. More of the story of Imriel and the two other kidnapped children unfold. What do you think now? Was Imriel chosen randomly? Is this the gods punishing Melisande or D’Angelines generally?

I’ve read the books before, so no comment. I want to know what you guys think.

4. More on Imriel: we haven’t met him yet, but we’ve heard a lot about him and how he acted in different situations. So far, what do you think of him?

Imriel is my favorite character in this series. I loved getting to know him through the children he grew up with in the previous section, but I also love hearing how he stabbed Fadil Chouma. I disagree with torture and the death penalty as legal means, but I can get behind fictional extrajudicial revenge. Imriel is a scion of Kushiel, so this was probably just punishment. (Like Princess Leia strangling Jabba.)

5. What are your thoughts on the skotophagotis? Superstition and coincidence or real power?

I remember being so disturbed by this when I first read them. I was wondering how Carey would write her way though this–someone who could just think the other person dead. (Like Darth Vader….I don’t know why I’m making all the Star Wars comparisons today. Usually the skotophagotis make me think of Death Eaters.)


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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12 Responses to Kushiel’s Avatar readalong: week 3

  1. rarasaur says:

    I came to check on how you were doing and what you were up to and found this– yay! This is one of my favorite series ever in part because I could answer all of these questions differently depending on my mood. 🙂 Love! ❤

  2. nrlymrtl says:

    I love how Phedre makes such good use of languages and her putting the pieces together concerning Pharaoh and Melisande is such a great example. I live in a part of the country that is multi-lingual and I sometimes don’t understand people getting in a huff when they overhear two other people speaking something other than English.

    I like your Star Wars comparisons.

    • emmawolf says:

      Me too. I like how this book uses her language skills.

      I read something recently about the far right political party in the UK wanting to make it so you could only speak English on the trains or something. Anyway, so I was on a train with my kid, and someone stole one of our seats when we went to the bathroom. When we came back, I just had my kid sit on my lap. No big deal. But he was reading a far right newspaper! So I asked my kid to speak to me only in Hebrew.

  3. @lynnsbooks says:

    I think so far this is my favourite book of the series. I’m just loving it. I feel really invested in the characters and I’m loving all the places they’re travelling to.
    Funnily when I read the part where Pharaoh described Imriel my first thoughts were that he was guilty and that’s how he knew what he looked like. That could have all gone really badly for them! He’s a pharaoh after all.
    Loving the Darth reference. And now I’ve thought that I’m not going to be able to get the notion out of my head when I’m reading about them!
    Lynn 😀

  4. Allie says:

    I really enjoyed the language bits as well. Where I live now, there is a mix of languages, and many people speak only native tongue+English (due to the work culture), despite the fact that the local language is French. Phedre’s test of the servant was clever, and I’m very jealous of Phedre’s ability to pick up languages so quickly! On other languages, I’m also curious how knowledge of Phedre as a ‘Lypiphera’ has traveled to Menekhet.

    • emmawolf says:

      “I’m also curious how knowledge of Phedre as a ‘Lypiphera’ has traveled to Menekhet.”

      I wonder about this too. Maybe they have a similar red-spot-in-eye legend. I also wonder know where you live and where you work but feel stalkery for asking. I’m also so jealous of Phedre! I’m crap at languages.

      • tethyanbooks says:

        No problem, I’m near Geneva, and I work at the CERN lab :). I used to think I was decent with languages, but then I learned that reading/writing and listening/talking are two very different skills, and I’m pretty crap at picking up the second set.

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