Kushiel’s Mercy readalong: week 3

Chapters 23-35. Questions by me.

1. Imriel spends the night at Melisande’s before Solon is to do his spell. Melisande tells Imriel that she would like it if, after all this, he would find it in his heart to come visit her again. Do you think he will? What would that reunion be like?

I don’t know. I think he would want to, but I think politics might prevent him from going. Assuming he and Sidonie get married and Sidonie is to become queen, that’s an awkward visit to make. Even with her sentence commuted, I think, with Imriel’s new position not just as third in line and Sidonie’s lover but, he’d be king (right?), it would still bring out too many bad memories for many people holding on (perhaps rightfully so) to old grudges. But maybe Susan was right when people could move on from the closure.

I guess that’s what he meant when he said he couldn’t make a promise to her. Which is kind of sad considering how well their reunion went. All things considered…

2. Solon tells Imriel to “put Imriel away” and “make him small…like a tiny, tiny seed.” How much of Imriel remains inside “Leander” once the spell is complete?

A lot. I think less at first but more so as time went on. That’s one of the things that I love about this portion–how much of Imriel we see hidden. Like the “there’s always a cousin” line, running with Sunjata, or his reaction to the Aragonian boy.

3. Sidonie and Leander/Imriel meet and court again. What do you think of this and the echoes of their past courtship? How much of Imriel does Sidonie actually remember, if anything?

I think it’s like muscle memory, she remembers the feel of him but not him. Which is why the spark when they touched.

I love how their courtship repeats itself in some ways–tossing flower petals, swearing loyalty to her on his knees–but how in someways, Leander/Imriel is just so ridiculous–the pomade.

I also like seeing Sidonie through a new person’s eyes. Especially the scene where she switched to d’Angeline so she could voice her concerns. Before, I feel like we didn’t fully see this side of her that could plot and figure things out.

4. What do you think of Leander/Imriel’s cover story of how he came to be in the service of Solon and sent to Carthage? What do you think of Carthage generally?

I think it’s interesting being an oligarchy, and I wish we would have seen more of what that means. But I guess that was the point–it was on the verge of having a more concentrated form of government because of Astegal’s (and presumably the rest of the leaders’) ambitions.

As for the cover story, it seems really lucky that no one realized Imriel went to Cytheria, and that gee, this kid looks like he could be kin to Imriel. Well, not that I would have been any the wiser had I been there witnessing it. I don’t think most people are looking for a lie (perhaps even Guild members). I’m surprised by how well he’s playing Bodeshmun. He strikes me as someone who would be more suspicious, but I guess that’s the flattery angle–he needs for people to be in awe of him, and here comes Leander stroking his ego about how impressed Solon (a worthy adversary) is.

5. We see Sunjata and Bodeshmun, this time through Leander’s eyes. Has your impression changed?

Well, yeah. We didn’t get much of a chance to enjoy Sunjata in Terre d’Ange. I remember Imriel, even though he knew Sunjata was in the Guild, was all “to hell with him.” I don’t know why, but I always picture Sunjata as Luis Guzman. He’s not described as looking anything like Luis Guzman, but I cannot shake this mental image. I’m also not sure why I like Sunjata as much as I do. Maybe just because he saved Imriel from Carthage’s curse. Maybe because he’d been enslaved and had reason to be bitter and brooding like Imriel was but he isn’t. Or at least, he isn’t when we know him.

6. Why did Leander/Imriel choose Kratos, Ghanim, and the brothers? Was it more Imriel or more Leander who did the choosing?

I don’t know. Maybe both? He was using Melisande’s game of freeing slaves for their loyalty, which must have come from Leander. He obviously saw some intelligence and defiance in Kratos, which he thought would serve him. Perhaps with Ghanim he also saw defiance and strength–the brand that showed he tried to run away before–and thought he could buy his loyalty.

And anything else you want to talk about!!!

The part with Boodes of Hiram–I love how it’s possible that he saw through Solon’s spell. I love his talk about oranges.


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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6 Responses to Kushiel’s Mercy readalong: week 3

  1. Allie says:

    Now that you mention it, it’s a bit unusual that we’ve seen so little of the working of the government of Carthage. Usually the story tosses us right into the middle of political intrigue in each country. Maybe that will become more of a thing when they get to Astegal.

    I also really like Sunjata at this point, and I am curious what kind of role he’s going to play in the rest of this. Like Imriel, he has suffered so much, and he is still in a situation that causes him suffering. I hope he gets out of Carthage by the end of this. He doesn’t seem to show bitterness or brooding behavior, but I also get the impression that he keeps a lot to himself.

    • emmawolf says:

      “but I also get the impression that he keeps a lot to himself”

      I think you’re right. I think there may have also been things he shared with Leander but that he doesn’t feel comfortable sharing with Imriel, even if Imriel thinks he’s Leander.

  2. @lynnsbooks says:

    I would very much like to know what was in that letter to Sunjata????
    Reading the comments now this week makes me wonder just what Melisande is up to – part of me can’t help thinking ‘could she be scheming enough to have planned this whole thing – and then come to the rescue – all the people with long memories and grudges would then have a reason to think differently about her!’ but I think I’m getting carried away with that particular theory.
    Lynn 😀

    • emmawolf says:

      I assumed that the letter, at least in part, confirmed Imrieleander’s story and the spells, confirmed that he was supposed to betray Carthage and his allies there, and told him that Leander is really Imriel…which is why Sunjata wanted Leander to take out his earrings. He needed to see it to believe.

      “‘could she be scheming enough to have planned this whole thing – and then come to the rescue – all the people with long memories and grudges would then have a reason to think differently about her!’”

      I don’t think she planned the *whole* thing (I don’t think she influenced Carthage), but I just love how it all fell together with her kind of in the center? Melisande through her spies discovered it. Solon could have prevented it but had no reason to and preventing it would have been against his interests. But now, after it happened, Solon, Melisande, and Terre d’Ange’s interests are aligned.

  3. nrlymrtl says:

    Good points about the logistics of Imriel visiting Melisande again. If all goes well, he will at least be the Terre D’Ange queen’s consort, perhaps even king. I hypothesized that they might be able to have a secret meeting if Imriel were to make a state visit to another country, like Aragonia, and Melisande snuck in.

    I like your idea of muscle memory for Sidonie’s reaction to Leander/Imri. Also, that pomade was funny!

    I also think it’s the sheer balls of the plan. Would anyone, even Bodeshmun, expect Imriel to walk in and ask for an audience with Sidonie? Even in disguise? Nope.

    I love that Jacqueline Carey usually tosses in someone that can see thru the spell or subterfuge or disguise, causing our main character(s) to reassess what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.

    • emmawolf says:

      Yeah, I guess I hadn’t thought of the “sheer balls” of it. Bodeshmun is suspicious but probably not paranoid enough to suspect someone would be trying to break the spell right under his nose. Hiding in plain sight and all that.

      I think a secret meeting with Melisande in another place might work. I hadn’t considered that either.

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