Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey, readalong week No.8

Welcome to the final week of our readalong of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series.  Kushiel’s Avatar is the third in the series and I’ve really loved it.  If you’ve already read this then please join in with the comments.  The full schedule is here and this week Allie at Tethyan Books is our lovely host.  Before reading further: a word of warning – there will be spoilers lurking below.

So, moving swiftly on:

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?

It didn’t surprise me that Melisande didn’t promise to remain in sanctuary – that would just have been too restrictive really and Carey would then have to make her break her promise if she was going to use her in future novels.  This way the door is open and she doesn’t have to break her promise to Phedre.  As to promising not to make any attempts on Ysandre and her daughters – I’m thinking Melisande will probably be a bit like the fae and find a way of, not getting out of the promise, but adapting it.  Plus, she didn’t promise not to go after anybody else did she!  I don’t know, I don’t think that promise was precise enough.

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?

At the time, no, I didn’t think Ysandre treated them fairly, but, on reflection and having read the rest of the chapters it’s easier to see that she was making a point more than anything else – and I think that’s fair enough.  After all, if everybody decides to ignore her commands it won’t go very well for her will it!  So, yes, at first I was really resenting her if I’m going to be honest.  Then I calmed down a bit and thought that Phedre had pushed her luck – twice!  Plus, Ysandre did stand by her promise and grant Phedre her boon.  I think at first I thought her decision was a little harsh on Hyacinthe more than anything else but in reality he was only going to wait 3 more months – which is longer than Phedre kept Ysandre waiting to see Imriel.

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 wouldn’t say this went how I expected to be honest because I hadn’t really thought about it but that being said I don’t think it was a surprise.  It was a very intriguing and tense scene though.

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 would be a shame to lose all that knowledge (and power) but I suppose it depends on whether Hyacinthe can find somebody who is worthy, capable and willing doesn’t it?  It does feel like a huge burden in many ways but, like I said, it would be a shame to let it fade into nothing wouldn’t it?  Then again, on reflection perhaps it would be better to let the power and knowledge slip – I can’t make my mind up.  Perhaps there shouldn’t be somebody with all that power at their fingertips!  I do think Hyacinthe will have an impact on the Tsingano culture – but I don’t think this will be massive or overwhelming.  I don’t think the Tsingano are quick to make changes so whilst I think they will be proud of Hyacinthe it’s unlikely to make any earth shattering changes to their ways but maybe make differences over the course of time.

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 thought the party was a really fitting way to end it to be honest.  It was like she was going back to where she started and not only that it meant everyone was included.  It was a lovely note to end on.  It seemed that she and Joscelin were happy with their relationship and Imriel completes them really.  I guess the only slight hitch was the feelings that Phedre still seemed to hold for Hyachinthe – it did feel a little like she’d just got him back and lost him all at the same time.  But, let’s face it, Hyacinthe was never really going to be her partner was he and it would have been a bit sad for Joscelin to have to sit on the sidelines watching the two of them.  Plus, I think that Hyacinthe had already made up his own mind what he wanted.!  I think the ending was the best for him and leaves the way open for his involvement in future stories.  As to what happens next – well, I think that we’re probably going to move onto Imriel’s story next – which will be very interesting and sad at the same time as I have enjoyed following Phedre – I’m hoping that she’ll still be involved.

This has been a great readalong.  I’ve really enjoyed it and discussing the story with everyone.  Thanks to everyone for the really thought provoking questions (and answers) and I hope we get to take on the next instalments in the New Year! :D

I think, so far that this is my favourite out of the series.  Such a good story and Jacqueline Carey wins at storytelling.

The other participants:

  1. Susan at Dab of Darkness
  2. Allie at Tethyan Books
  3. Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
  4. Me at Lynn’s Book Blog
  5. Emily at Emma Wolf

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, readalong week No.4 #RRSciFiMonth

Today is the final week of our readalong of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers.  The readalong has been organised by Lisa at Over The Effing Rainbow and is part of this year’s Sci-Fi Month.

So, to the questions, with a timely reminder before we start that the following may contain spoilers:

1. Let’s start with the Toremi, since we’ve waited this long to get to them! As we’ve been discussing for a while, we do get to learn more about the Toremi, about their culture and how they think and behave. In light of what happens when the Wayfarer reaches Hedra Ka, what’s your take on the Toremi now? Are the GC right to abandon their negotiations or could there have been a chance to make something of it?

At the end of the day the GC didn’t really know enough about the Toremi did they?  Basically their culture and ways are very different and, whilst there’s nothing wrong with being different, I wonder whether they’ll ever be compatible.  I think the GC were too busy thinking of the benefits of this agreement and not enough time on how, or whether, they could make it work.  The motivations were frankly wrong and it all felt a little rushed.  Plus the snapshot we saw of the Toremi before they met with the Wayfarer crew seemed to show that not all of them were content with the agreement with the GC and it seems like their response to disagreement, whether between themselves or others, is violence!  I don’t know, it’s a difficult one, partly because I’m not quite sure what motivated the Toremi to ever want such an agreement in the first place.  Perhaps they could both make it work in the future but for the moment I would say not.  The lack of knowledge and understanding and the risk of causing offence and the resulting bloodshed are too great.

2. A visit to a Solitary Sianat colony in “Heresy” provides a potential cure for Ohan’s illness, but they make it fairly clear they don’t want it – though there may be some debate about whether or not Ohan is in their right mind… Corbin takes matters into his own hands in that respect, and he does it in a crucial moment following the attack on the Wayfarer. Do you think Corbin did the right thing?

Well, yes and no.  Yes, because of the way Ohan responded and acted at the end of the story.  He seemed happy and he wanted to stay with the crew so in that respect I think Corbin’s decision was good.  I suppose you could say that Corbin did this with selfish reasons, keeping Ohan alive because the crew would suffer if another member of their team died – but really, his intent was not bad.  Then again, no, because he took away Ohan’s rights and ability to choose.  Now, I’m going to have a bit of an argument with myself.  Okay, Corbin did take away Ohan’s ability to choose, but, if Ohan’s mental capacity was being affected by the illness wouldn’t that be the right thing to do?  If Ohan couldn’t make the choice due to mental issues then I suppose somebody would have to do that for him.  At the end of the day you wouldn’t just let somebody die if they weren’t able to reasonably make that decision – would you? On the whole I’m going with yes, primarily because if it was me and I wasn’t in the right mind to make the decision I think I’d sooner somebody make that decision and keep me alive!  And now, Ohan is having cooking lessons with Dr Chef – so it’s all good!

3. Ohan survives the attack on the ship, but Lovey (as we know her) doesn’t. Were you at all prepared for what happened to the AI? And in light of all that, do you think Pepper’s offered solution was the right one?

I really didn’t see that coming at all and it really was so sad.  But, I think Pepper’s solution was good and I do think it was the right choice.  Lovey could have stayed on the ship – and Jenks would constantly be reminded of what they had, and maybe even try to recreate it.  But the circumstances that led to Lovey becoming the character she was could never be duplicated, they were unique and all the crew contributed towards the way her character developed.  We do lose people we love and we have to come to terms with it and it would be pretty awful, for example, to think that somebody you loved had died but then the body still lived with a different personality inside – it’s the same thing here, Lovey doesn’t have a body as such, she is part of the ship but once she was reset it was no longer the Lovey that everyone knew but a different personality altogether living inside the ship.  Plus, it felt like it would be a good choice for Lovey to be honest.  Pepper seemed to be making her a really good offer.

4. This one is less of a “thinky” question and more of a “wrap up” one, but I’m curious for your answers – now that we’ve finished the story, what scenes/moments do you remember best as your favourites, if any?

Well, I’m obviously a sucker for the happier moments to be honest and these were thankfully scattered liberally throughout.  I think my favourite parts of the story were the introductions to the crew, watching the dynamics between them all and seeing the relationships grow.  Sissix was undoubtedly my favourite character and I think that’s simply because she was so loving and affectionate – it’s difficult to not like a character with that type of nature.

Thanks to Lisa for organising this readalong and to all the other participants for all the thought provoking discussion.  Stars! It’s been a blast!

Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey, readalong, final chapters

Today is the final week of our readalong for Kushiel’s Chosen.  This week Emily at Emma Wolf is hosting.  As you would expect – spoilers lurk below – so beware.  Please feel free to jump in on the comments (clearly it’s a bit late to join in the readalong!).  However, we are proposing a readalong for book No.3 and all are welcome so if you want to join that readalong then let me know in the comments and we can add you to the list. This week’s questions and answers below:

1. Earlier in the book, Phedre promised to rid the temple of Asherat of corruption. Here we see her speaking for the goddess. Is this what you had in mind? Is Phedre channeling the goddess or using her own words? Was her act a sign from the goddess, as Cesare Stregazza said, or merely a trick, as Marie-Celeste said? (I realize this is very similar to Lynn’s question from last week. I read ahead and wrote these questions early. I flatter myself to think that great minds think alike.)

Haha – I like this question – I think it’s good that we look at this again with the benefit of having now read it.  Yeah, I don’t think she’s channeling the goddess to be honest – she’s using her own words, in fact, didn’t she mention something about having been practising what she was going to say just before she stood up?  Even so, her actions have the same effect and do actually help to cleanse the temple.  I do think that Phedre feels she has made a connection with Asherat and more than that she has made a promise to help and that’s what she feels she’s doing.

2. Ysandre offers (or demands) to take Imriel into her own household to spare him the “taint” of being a traitor’s son. What do you think of this? Would an Imriel raised by Ysandre be welcomed by the people as the heir to the throne? Or would the people remember Melisande’s treachery when they see her son?

I thought that was such a great gesture.  How well it would work would remain to be seen but I think if anybody is capable of undertaking that in the proper spirit it would be Ysandre.  As to being welcomed by the people – I think so actually.  I think they would see the example set by Ysandre and would probably be happy with her actions and follow her lead.  It’s the nobility that would probably have more of a problem.  They seem to be the one who hold very long grudges.  They have more at stake after all – money, favour, lands – and they’re always positioning so to have a child of Melisande on the throne could possibly cause division – we’ve learnt that some of the nobility don’t like Ysandre’s choice of partner for example.  They would probably seek to overthrow Ysandre at any opportunity to raise Imriel up.  And there could be others who have an eye on the throne themselves and so wouldn’t take kindly to Melisande’s child being raised to that purpose.

3. What do you think of Melisande taking sanctuary in the temple to Asherat and the Doge allowing it? Is it blasphemous? Ysandre asks Phedre what she can expect from Melisande, and Phedre cannot answer. What do you expect from Melisande?

I just knew she’d wriggle out of trouble somehow.  She always has all her bases covered and even now – she’s not going to be worried.  She is constantly thinking of how to manipulate a situation.  She’s safe, her son is safe so her end game will still be the same.  We know that she won’t take defeat so it stands to reason that she’s now thinking of another way to get her son on the throne.  As to the Doge allowing her to take sanctuary.  I think that he’s also edging his bets.  Melisande has a son who could be the next heir – it doesn’t really do to burn all your bridges and clearly she has supporters.  For me, he’s just keeping his options open and waiting for the best time to jump so he can see what direction to jump in. 

4. After seeing his fellow Cassiline Brother attempt to assassinate their charge in La Serenissima, Brys no Rinforte is badly shaken and is unable to accompany Ysandre through the Royal Army and into the City of Elua. What do you make of this? Phedre called it “defection,” which, according to dictionary.com, has two meanings: 1) desertion from allegiance, loyalty, duty, or the like. Apostasy; and 2) failure, lack, loss. What do you think of Phedre’s description? Phedre also tells us that Ysandre dismissed the Cassilines from her service. What share of the blame does Brys deserve for Ysandre’s decision? What do you think of the irony that Cassiline Brothers have become more popular among D’angelines?

It was unusual and even now I’m not quite sure what to make of it.  I’m not sure whether Rinforte was suffering from similar feelings to those we’ve often witnessed in Joscelin where he beats himself up over any type of failure.  Or, whether there’s something else underlying it and he actually was more aware of what was going to happen and has actually defected – in the way of changing allegiance.  If this was Joscelin, for example, I think he would be suffering tremendous guilt but I also think he would want to make reparation so I think he would want to accompany Ysandre into Elua.   It makes me wonder whether Rinforte has jumped ship.  You can’t really blame Ysandre for dismissing the Cassilines – it must feel like a terrible betrayal to have those that you trust so implicitly turn against you.  I think Ysandre will need to chose very carefully from now on those people that she chooses to to surround herself with.

5. The Rebbe Nahum ben Isaac said “you Children of Elua are too quick to forget how the love you invoke may cut like a blade.” What do you think? Is Elua a gentle, loving god or is the rebbe right?

I think this is a great question.  it raises the ups and downs and upsets that Phedre and Joscelin have been inflicting on each other.  This whole idea of free love for example, it’s an ideal but it’s difficult to completely sign up to.  At the end of the day it would be difficult to share somebody who you love, at least I think it would.  I think the Rebbe makes a very clever remark for more reasons than one.  It is easy to hurt someone you love – as we’ve seen with Joscelin.  Also, I think to an extent, the ‘children of Elua’ are perhaps a little bit imperious in that they seem unaware of the love they inspire in others and therefore the fact that they have the ability to hurt those people without even really being aware of it.  Joscelin is more often than not completely unaware of the feelings he creates in others and Phedre, whilst I think she is more aware of the feelings she creates in those around her, seems quite detached from the pain it might inflict.  Not that I’m implying that she would deliberately inflict pain on somebody, it’s more that she doesn’t seem to recognise that people will become attached to her.

Other participants:

Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Nancy at FaeStruck’s Reviews & More
James at James T. Witherspoon
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan at Dab of Darkness

Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone, readalong: final week

Today is the final week of our readalong of Max Gladstone’s Two Serpents rise. Lynn over at  Little Lion Lynnet’s  is our host this week.  Without further ado lets get to the Q&A and if you haven’t read this book be aware that there will be spoilers below.

1. I think we all pegged Mal for being involved with whatever is going wrong in Dresediel Lex after the way Book 3 ended last week. How do you feel about discovering how deep that involvement goes?

Sort of disappointed to be honest – which I think just goes to show that I was really hoping that she wouldn’t be quite so bad or that somehow she’d manage to find some sort of compromise and would be redeemed.  I wound up feeling like she was just as big a fanatic as Temoc and would stop at nothing to get what she wanted.  I mean, I always had trust issues with Mal but I really didn’t expect her to be quite so extreme.

2. Caleb and Temoc have to work together to save Dresediel Lex (and the world) from certain destruction. Do you think they make a good team?

I quite enjoyed reading that element of the story and again was surprised that Temoc had such different intentions.  Clearly he’d pulled the wool over my eyes as well as Caleb’s.  I think Teo’s remarks about him not being a team player when they were running up the stairs was a good hint in that direction and also her distrust of him should have given me more of a clue but I just failed to pick it up and was really hoping that he was going to go all out to try and make Caleb’s suggestion work.  He didn’t really end up making any friends in the end.  Strangely, Mal and Temoc turned out to be very similar in the way they were prepared to go to such extreme lengths.

3. What do you think of the narrative’s overall treatment of Teo? Especially in light of her role in the finale?

I think Teo has been an interesting character to read and I was a bit surprised to be honest at her becoming such a victim all of a sudden.  Again I didn’t see that coming at all – but, she managed to turn the situation around and with Caleb working with her summon up the Red King.  I was pleased with the eventual outcome for both Caleb and Teo.

4. In the epilogue Caleb seems to have found a way to compromise between the ways of his father and the new world brought about by the God Wars. Do you think he’ll succeed in his goals?

It does seem like something of a dangerous idea but I really think he could make it work, The Red King seems inclined to help and Teo and Caleb make a good partnership.

You have to hand it to Max Gladstone for coming up with such an unusual world filled with strange creatures, magic and Gods and for managing to make his stories into something much more than you would generally expect.  I’ve really enjoyed all the discussion that this book has inspired and so thanks to all the other bloggers for making this so interesting.

Other bloggers taking part:

Lisa – Over the Effing Rainbow
Lauren – Violin in a Void
Anya – On Starships & Dragonwings
Heather – The Bastard Title
Lynn – Little Lion Lynnet’s 
Ria – Bibliotropic
Susan – Dab of Darkness

Two Serpents Rising by Max Gladstone – readalong

I recently finished reading Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead as part of a group readalong with a number of other bloggers.  It was very enjoyable and now we’re moving onto the second in the Craft Sequence books – Two Serpents Rising.

This is going to be great.  The full details can be found here.  If you want to take part then let Susan at Dab or Darkness know or simply leave me a comment and I’ll make sure you’re added to the list.

The first in the Sequence books was very original and I really enjoyed it.  I’m looking forward to No.2 – although I understand that these are not follow on novels so it will be interesting to compare.

These are all the other participants:

1st Post Date: April 13th Book 1: chapter 1-Interlude: Fire, hosted by Dab of Darkness

2nd Post Date: April 20th Book 2: chapter 16-Interlude: Dreams, hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow

3rd Post Date: April 27th Book 3: chapter 29-Interlude: Tea, Hosted by Violin in a Void

4th Post Date: May 4th Book 4: chapter 36-Epilogue, hosted by Little Lion Lynnet’s 

Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow

Me at Lynn’s Book Blog

Lauren at Violin in a Void

Anya at On Starships & Dragonwings

Ria at Bibliotropic Reviews

Lynn E. at Little Lion Lynnet’s

Susan at Dab of Darkness

Heather from The Bastard Title 

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