Kushiel’s Justice readalong: week 6

Chapters 38-46. Questions by me.

1. At some point before she died, Dorelei made Urist promise to bring Imriel back to the City of Elua and Sidonie for fear that, if he didn’t go, he would be driven to bitterness. What do you think of this promise? Do you agree with Dorelei that Imriel would turn bitter?

No matter how many times I’ve read this, I’m always surprised by this promise. Really, she made you promise? Really, she thought he’d be driven to bitterness? I don’t quite understand when Dorelei made him promise. Did she have any premonition about that night? I don’t know if I agree with Dorelei or not, but I think it shows how well she came to know and love him.

2. Imriel questions whether there was no way to escape the fate of his son foreseen by the Maghuin Dhonn. What do you think?

I think there had to have been. In my head, Imriel left Alba for good after Dorelei died (in this alternate future seen by the Maghuin Dhonn). Whether or not he could have prevented her death, I think if he changes that, it could change the outcome. I don’t believe our fates are so set.

It makes me wonder a bit about how and why it all happened. Was Imriel over come with grief that he couldn’t stand returning to Alba? Did Aniel try to change Alba to become more like Terre d’Ange to try to entice his father to return?

3. Urist explains the politics underlying the matter to the other Cruithne by noting that Imriel was good enough for Dorelei and Alba, good enough to father Alban heirs, but not good enough for Terre d’Ange. What do you think of his observation?

I think that just about covers it. I argue with myself by saying, well, Urist doesn’t understand the politics behind it and how D’Angelines will react to Imriel with Sidonie. But no, I think Urist, who fought for Drustan in Alba (did he fight in Terre d’Ange?), who killed his own brother in the war, understands. I think the attitude about Imriel–approving of his marriage to Dorelei but disapproving of his relationship with Sidonie–is kind of….patronizing maybe? to Albans, just as Urist suggests. It shows people just wanted to get rid of him and that they don’t value Alba, though they may pretend to care about their influence there and the succession. That being said, I think I can understand Ysandre’s shock.

4. We see new places and new peoples. Imriel wonders about the tanner and his wife and their story and how he will never know it. Of all the minor characters we’ve met so far, are there any you wish you knew more about?

Not so minor, but I’d like to know what Kaneka is up to. And the boy Imriel traded places with to sneak off with Phedre and Joscelin. And maybe Nesmut too.

5. What do you think of what’s become of the Yeshuites? Of Micah ben Ximon? Do you think the written word is more open to multiple interpretation than the spoken one, as Urist hints?

For the Yeshuites and Micah, I don’t even know. I guess I saw it coming or should have seen it coming. We knew they were off to claim a country.

No, I disagree with Urist. Oral tradition can change with each speaker and there’s probably not a good way to verify information. It might sound contradictory (considering that reading is a skill and privilege and books can be hard to come by), but not trusting writing almost sounds elitist. If you can’t access a book, how can you access information? What if you can’t reach an Ollamh, or you distrust the one nearest you? It keeps information in the hands of a few.

Other bits:

Another thing that I couldn’t quite turn into a question, I noticed similarities between Urist and Kazan—they both killed their brother. With Kazan, it was a quirk of fate and he was not directly responsible, yet he was pretty destroyed by it (and his mother’s curse). With Urist, it was direct and intentional. Urist thinks his brother understands.

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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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4 Responses to Kushiel’s Justice readalong: week 6

  1. Allie says:

    I guess with all the trouble with the Maghuin Dhonn, maybe Dorelei thought something might happen to her? Now that you mention it, it is kind of sad that she was already making plans for her potential death.

    I’m with you on Urist’s distrust of written language. I think one reason oral tradition might seem more reliable is because there is no real way to check it’s validity.

    • emmawolf says:

      “I think one reason oral tradition might seem more reliable is because there is no real way to check it’s validity.”

      Oooh, I hadn’t thought of it like that. Like there are some people that want to keep others in ignorance. But now that you mention it, I’m not sure *why* I hadn’t thought of it like that. It’s like what we’re seeing maybe. Like those who dislike the Maghuin Dhonn want to tell the story of them feeding a bear children rather than the other stories.

  2. @lynnsbooks says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your answers this week. And so sad that Dorelei did feel the need to make Urist make this promise!
    I definitely don’t think the future is set in stone – I guess if it was you could argue that it shouldn’t have been possible to kill Dorelei and her unborn baby – as in doing so the future was then changed!
    Patronising is a perfect word for Ysandre – spot on in this respect I think although I do give her a little leeway because she was shocked and annoyed.
    I would definitely like to spend more time with Drustan – I was thinking he could shed some more light on Ysandre!
    And, definitely disagree with Urist. I think the written word is more likely to be accurate – providing it was written accurately in the first place of course! People embellish stories all the time – plus they leave out little bits that they don’t like and over the course of time the story changes.
    Lynn 😀

    • emmawolf says:

      “Patronising is a perfect word for Ysandre – spot on in this respect I think although I do give her a little leeway because she was shocked and annoyed.”

      Yeah, I think her shock is understandable. And it’s not like she did anything really rash, like she knew she just had to process all of it before she acts. I think sending Amaury Trent kind of showed that she knew she needed to think about it all first. (I don’t want to spoil anything, but I like this discussion and can’t wait to talk about Ysandre more.) And wow to how Sidonie handled it!

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