Kushiel’s Avatar readalong: week 8

Time for the final week of the Kushiel’s Avatar readalong. Again, thank you all for reading this with me. I enjoyed reading your thoughts. Questions by Allie.

I really hope people will want to continue with Imriel’s trilogy. You guys know how much I love Imriel!

1. Phedre stops by to extract a promise from Melisande. Why do you think Melisande chose the condition she did, out of the two that Phedre asked for? Do you think she has some other scheme afoot that no longer involves the d’Angeline throne?

Well….. if we look at the wording, it says she won’t raise her hand (or another’s) against them. And originally, Phedre had only asked protection of their lives, not their throne. So, who knows? Maybe Melisande sees a loophole. Maybe she can see a way to push them to abdicate.

2. When Phedre gets back to the City of Elua, she faces Ysandre’s anger. Do you think Ysandre treated Phedre & Joscelin fairly? What do you agree or disagree with in her reaction?

I’m really glad you asked this question. I’m not so sure Ysandre was fair. Earlier in the novel, we see Phedre tell Imriel that everything the Mahrkagir did as “punishment” to Imriel, everything that he did and said it was Imriel’s fault, was really another way for the Mahrkagir to abuse his victims. And I absolutely think Phedre is right. Here, with Ysandre, we have another ruler taking her displeasure out on an innocent party. In this case, Hyacinthe. We’ve spoken before about whether Ysandre had any “right” to Imriel. His mother is still alive. Did Melisande lose her maternal rights by being imprisoned in the temple of Asherat? I don’t think she did. Melisande gave Imriel to the keeping of the priest of Elua and then to Phedre. I don’t think Ysandre had a legal claim to Imriel. And so I’m not so sure Ysandre was right to use the law to punish Hyacinthe for something Phedre probably had the right to do. And her punishment seems to fly in the face of what Phedre was telling Imriel about the Mahrkagir’s abuse. So yeah, I’m comparing Ysandre to the Mahrkagir.

3. The next major event of the story is the confrontation with Rahab. Did this go how you expected, or were there any notable surprises?

I guess my surprise, or frustration, was Ysandre making like a fete out of it. Like it was her way to save face for her unfair treatment of Phedre and Htacinthe. Or like it was her plan all along and she just needed the time to get everything ready.

4. Do you think Hyacinthe will (or should) pass on his knowledge and power at some point? Also, how much of an impact do you think he will have on the Tsingano culture?

It’s interesting that, like Joscelin, someone who is an outcast seems to have so much influence on a people.

I don’t think he should pass on his knowledge. I think he knows that power corrupts. Even if he has good intentions now, how can he be sure his successor will be worthy?

5. At the end, all is well, and Phedre seems content with her life. Was there anything that stood out to you in the resolution of the story, or in Phedre’s massive party in Night’s Doorstep? How do you feel about the way her trilogy has ended?

I love it (though I could have done without the party because I’m an introvert). It feels very complete. Phedre found love in unexpected places. Romantic love and familiar love.

I feel sad for Hyacinthe. I don’t know why exactly. Maybe it seems to me like will never feel at home anywhere. In a way, that kind of gives “Prince of Travelers” a new meaning: even though he has permanent home, he might not fit in and feel at home. I don’t know. Sometimes I make stuff up.

Additional thoughts:

I like that Phedre took Imriel to see Severio. As Phedre said, a lot of his family has committed treason in one way or another. It’s good for him to know that not all of his family are so power hungry and ruthless. Though what Severio would have done if Imriel had eyes on the little court…


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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10 Responses to Kushiel’s Avatar readalong: week 8

  1. @lynnsbooks says:

    I would definitely like to continue with a readalong with the next – perhaps at the start of the New Year but really I’ll just fit in with others.
    1. Yep, I thought that promise wasn’t really specific enough, perhaps I’ve just read too many books about the fae and their trickery but I think that leaves Melisande with plenty of scope!
    2. I had mixed feelings with Ysandre at this point. At first I really resented her treatment of Phedre and Joscelin – even if she’s just told them off in public but then had a word with them in private. If feels like being the chosen ones of a ruler is a very fickle thing, in fact the number of times Phedre and Joscelin have saved Ysandre I would expect her to treat them like royalty! Then on the other hand I guess she felt like she had to punish them just because they didn’t carry out her edict – like you, I’m not sure why she can just decide that Imriel can now be ‘hers’. I’m glad that he’s gone to Phedre and Joscelin – at least he stands a chance of being brought up in a reasonable environment.
    3. Haha – I think you were even more naffed off with Ysandre than I was! Now you mention it though, it did feel a little like she was stealing the limelight – almost like she was the one rescuing Hyacinthe!
    4. At first I was thinking it would be a shame to lose all that knowledge and power, then like you say, I kind of decided that it’s perhaps not such a good thing letting somebody have all that power – too easy to corrupt and, anyhow, how could he possibly choose who to pass it onto?
    5. Yeah, it was a great ending and Carey wrapped everything up nicely. You’re right about Hyacinthe, he won’t ever be the same or ever truly fit in again will he, which is a shame, especially when we remember back to his personality/temperament in the early days. It is a little bit sad – but at least he’s off that island!
    Lynn 😀

    • emmawolf says:

      “even if she’s just told them off in public but then had a word with them in private.”

      I agree. I think there had to have been a better solution. Phedre, Joscelin, and Imriel did put her in a tricky situation, but, since they all acted out of love and that is what their religion tells them to do… I don’t know. I think that should have weighed heavily in their favor. Like sending Imriel back would have been blasphemy or something.

  2. nrlymrtl says:

    I’m sure Phedre would raise an eyebrow at the comparison of Ysandre to the Mahrkagir – but she might agree with you about who has a legal right to Imriel and deciding his future. I don’t like that Hyacinthe was the one ‘punished’ by this, but I can also see how Ysandre was pushed into a corner politically. Also, I don’t feel that Hyacinthe suffered unduly. He’s a big boy and he’s bored and lonely, but still well fed, with lots of books, other people, decent food, and long lost treasures of the sea. The punishment was really for Phedre and she was anguished over it.

    I didn’t see Ysandre making light of sending Phedre off to do her thing with Rahab. I felt it was a public acknowledgement of Phedre and her efforts, and also giving her any supplies and personnel she needed.

    Yes, it does give Prince of Travelers a new little meaning, doesn’t it? Hyacinthe has been irrevocably changed by his experiences, and now it’s up to him to decide if he will sulk over it his whole life or not.

    I too like that Phedre is making an effort to show Imriel he has this bigger family and that not all of them are homicidal asses.

    • emmawolf says:

      I agree that Ysandre was pushed into a political/diplomatic corner. I think my biggest problem is that I cannot get in the world of royalty. It is such a hard concept for me to understand and accept. I don’t think the rule of man is ever fair. I think Ysandre and the Mahrkagir both abused their power. It’s not a fair comparison (one is evil, after all). But…. he was doing it out of his faith, and she was doing it for her reputation. I don’t know. It just sits wrong with me. Especially with what Phedre was trying to teach Imriel.

      Now that I’m thinking about it more, it was pretty nervy of Ysandre to mess with the Master of the Straits like that. He could crush Terre D’Ange beneath the waves. Yes, he’s in no danger on his island, but I think it’s about hope and despair. Everyday, he lost hope, and it changed him.

      I’m wondering now how it plays into love as thou wilt. At this point, Ysandre doesn’t know Imriel, but I think her heart is open to him and she could love him. Do you think her punishment was out of love of Imriel?

      But in terms of Ysandre equipping Phedre to go see Hyacinthe, yes, it was a public acknowledgement and appropriate. Not just considering what Phedre went through, but also who Hyacinthe is. I didn’t mean to make light of it. But I just always roll my eyes and go “oh, Ysandre” when I read that part. It’s frustrating because I don’t think she wanted to be mad at Phedre (at least, not too mad) but, as you said, pushed into a corner, and I don’t think she was right. I think there could have been another solution.






      In the future, she finds an other, more diplomatic solution to a problem that Imriel creates. The solution sucks, but it seems more fair and rooted in her power.

      • nrlymrtl says:

        I thin if you have that much power, sooner or later you will be pushed to use it and that use will seem abuse to someone somewhere. In this case, sentencing Hyacinthe to the island for another 3 months was probably the smallest punishment Ysandre could come up with on the spot. It’s not right to Hyacinthe, but it’s also not terrible. It was terrible mental anguish to Phedre, and that was the real punishment and Phedre herself deemed it fair.

        • emmawolf says:

          My God! That makes it sound more terrible! That she wanted to cause terrible mental anguish to Phedre! (Which is actually kind of strange, since she’s an anguisette and should experience some pleasure in that.)

          I think someone said before (I think you, but I don’t want to put words in your mouth) that Hyacinthe is fine and isn’t going anywhere. Which is true. But what if something had happened to Phedre in that time? I’d guess that there are some people who would have an interest in keeping the Master of the Straits in place, possibly to keep Alba isolated (though Hyacinthe hadn’t been doing that anyway as Master. It was only in his power). What if someone had tried to assassinate her?

          I said before that I think this was an abuse of power. On rethinking that, I’m not sure I still feel the same way. I don’t know the limits of Ysandre’s power. From my American perspective, I think this is an overreach. If this was in Ysandre’s power, I still think it’s unfair and punished the wrong party additionally. But I can’t help but wonder why Carey wrote it in this way especially so shortly after the dialogue with Imriel and Phedre about the Mahrkagir’s evilness. I can only think that we are supposed to compare them and draw out the differences.

          • nrlymrtl says:

            That would have been awful if Phedre had died prior to making it to Hyacinthe to set him free. But we also know that Ysandre was sending that inspector regularly to make sure Imriel was happy, clothed, fed, and well protected. Basically, Phedre and crew were being closely watched. I think it would have been hard for an assassin to do his/her work at that time.

            • emmawolf says:

              That’s a good point. Becoming Imriel’s family ensured that all of them had an extra measure of protection (I’m also picturing Joscelin streaking again if any attempts were made). Plus I’m not really sure who would have an interest in keeping Hyacinthe chained there. And there’s no telling what what the friggin Master of the Straits would do if you killed his childhood best friend, so not a wise move.

  3. tethyanbooks says:

    I was pretty annoyed with Ysandre too. I especially didn’t like how quickly “trusted by the Queen” vanished as soon as Phedre did something that would require Ysandre to trust her intentions, and how Ysandre cut her down in public for not gaining her title by heredity and for being a Servant of Naamah. Based on our previous discussion, I also agree that Ysandre should have no right to Imriel, and his mother’s wishes concerning his guardianship should have given Phedre legal rights.

    It was nice that Imriel got to see through Severio that not all his family is horrible. Also, Severio might be a very helpful and comforting correspondent when Imriel moves into teenagerhood, assuming he does end up having somewhat Kusheline tastes.

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