Kushiel’s Justice readalong: week 4

Chapters 23-29. Questions by Allie.

1) Given the developments since last time, what do you think the Maghuin Donn are after with Imriel? Could it be related to Dorelei’s and Alais’s dream? Were Imriel and Dorelei right to refuse their blessing?

I don’t like how Dorelei refused their blessing. I feel like that was a sign of bad faith. But from her point of view, they ensorceled her husband and continue to threaten him, so I can’t really blame her for that. (But I can continue to wish that she had had an open mind, more like Grainne, from the beginning.)

2) Imriel and Dorelei’s relationship is very honest now. Do you think their plan is a wise one or not? What do you think of the Alban custom of limited-term marriage?

I don’t know. Nothing is ever as simple as we can just walk away from it and that’s it. Also, maybe I’m a cynic, but I don’t think I see the point. Is there no divorce in Alba? Even if not, I don’t see how that’s an issue. Grainne has children from lots of different fathers (and Dorelei admits there are a lot of absent fathers to other children in Alba). So even if there is no divorce and someone walks out on a spouse, what are the implications? In orthodox Judaism, a wife needs permission from the husband to get a divorce. I guess she can’t just leave because the communities are so small and so intertwined that her dirty laundry would follow her. Is that anything similar to how it is in Alba that would necessitate the idea of a temporary marriage? I kind of doubt that. Marriages seem less important there.

3) What did you think of the Alban nuptials, with respect to the ones in Terre d’Ange? Did anything in particular stick out as memorable?

I loved all the men bragging about their wives/girlfriends! And Imriel afraid someone would tattoo him in his sleep.

4) We get to see Hyacinthe again! What are your thoughts on his plan to not pass on his knowledge? Do you think Phedre and Joscelin are completely on board with it, and do you think this ‘secret task’ will affect Imriel’s story?

I guess he is worried that he won’t pick a worthy successor (or that that person won’t pick a worthy successor, etc.). I see his point. Power corrupts. Wait…what would happen if he were to pick more than one successor? Maybe an Alban and a D’Angeline? Or one from each tribe of Alba? Or he taught only part of his knowledge to each and they had to work together? (Still, they could choose someone unworthy or teach each other and then we have power corrupting again.)

5) Imriel’s going to start off as a Prince of Alba with a neighborly cattle raid. What do you think about this tradition? Is the violence and risk worth the respect and goodwill Imriel will likely get for it?

I think it’s a bit silly, but it doesn’t sound like anyone would get hurt? Urist calls it a “friendly skirmish.”

I wonder about Alais’s reaction. Does this show that she doesn’t understand Alban culture as much as she wants to or thinks she does?


For those of you with better knowledge of the geography of England, where do you think Clunderry is?


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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5 Responses to Kushiel’s Justice readalong: week 4

  1. nrlymrtl says:

    Dorolei is very sweet in many ways, but she does have this ingrained distrust about the Bear Witches. I think that fear is driving her attitude towards them more than her own observations. I too wish she could have accepted their blessing.

    I’m not sure about divorce in Alba. In our real England, it was something reserved for nobility and wasn’t used often at all. Henry the VIII sure had trouble obtaining the Church’s blessing for it. But for this series, I think the limited marriage shows good will from both parties towards each other and any children that may result from the union. I do like that even without limited marriage, children out of wedlock are not a big scandal.

    ha! I do wonder what would happen to the power if it was a committee. Would that dilute the power of the Master of the Straights over time? Or would it just be that many more chances for an evil sorcerer to arise? Hmm…..

    I have no idea where Clunderry is. It’s fun to say tho…. clunderry clunderry clunderry

    • emmawolf says:

      Yeah, I think the limited marriage is a show of good will too. I know my comment is super cynical. I do think it’s a good idea (or living together first), but I guess I’m just trying to understand what it says about marriage in Alba generally. It could be that divorce is like you described for real life (historic…? What are there divorce laws now?) England–divorce is a big deal, so people are hesitant to enter into marriages. Which is why there are so many children or unmarried parents and the need or desire for temporary marriages.

      As for the location of Clunderry, this site says it’s Stoke-on-Trent. http://www.terredange.net/library/places.htm
      I have no idea why. Maybe just vague placement. The only thing I remember from this passage is that there was a river running through it and it was bordered by taisgaidh land/forest on the west. There is a huge national park west of Sheffield….I’m just saying.

  2. tethyanbooks says:

    Looks l like I missed commenting here last week! (I was at a week-long workshop).

    That is a good point about Alban ideas around marriage. For Grainne, I guess I assumed the Dalriada had different customs than the Cruithne. But then, Dorelei seemed to be saying that things would be fine if he walked out, as long as he acknowledged the child, so it doesn’t sound like marriage is all that important to them.

    I loved the bragging poems, too :).

    • emmawolf says:

      I like how through the discussions, we seemed to flesh out maybe what their ideas of marriage is like given what we know (we see a lot of half-siblings, we see kids with dads who aren’t in the picture, we see the mention of marriage lite). I remember reading something a long time ago about a Buddhist couple who took these vows that they will never be more than 10 steps away from each other (something like that. This was a long, long time ago that I read this). Maybe that’s kind of like how for realsies marriage is in Alba. It’s not just, lets live together, comingle our finances (I just got off the phone with the bank and they would not give me an authorization code to access my account online because it was under my husband’s name or something. The 1950s called. They want their business practices back), and raise kids together. It’s something more. Becoming one legal person maybe? So marriage lite would be a good practice.

      • Allie says:

        I hadn’t considered that. If marriage is really that serious, then it would make sense that they don’t frown on kids out of wedlock. Maybe allowing kids without marriage and marriage-lite helps in a way to protect the sanctity of marriage. People don’t get married just because they have kids together or because they’re supposed to politically, but only if they seriously want to be bound to the other person for the rest of their life.

        Also, that sounds super annoying with the bank.

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