Imriel de la Courcel’s blood parents are history’s most reviled traitors, but his adoptive parents, the Comtesse Phèdre and the warrior-priest Joscelin, are Terre d’Ange’s greatest champions.
Stolen, tortured, and enslaved as a young boy, Imriel is now a Prince of the Blood, third in line for the throne in a land that revels in art, beauty, and desire. It is a court steeped in deeply laid conspiracies … and there are many who would see the young prince dead. Some despise him out of hatred for his birth mother Melisande, who nearly destroyed the realm in her quest for power. Others because they fear he has inherited his mother’s irresistible allure – and her dangerous gifts. And as he comes of age, plagued by dark yearnings, Imriel shares their fears.
At the royal court, where gossip is the chosen poison and assailants wield slander instead of swords, the young prince fights character assassins while struggling with his own innermost conflicts. But when Imriel departs to study at the famed University of Tiberium, the perils he faces turn infinitely more deadly. Searching for wisdom, he finds instead a web of manipulation, where innocent words hide sinister meanings, and your lover of last night may become your hired killer before dawn. Now a simple act of friendship will leave Imriel trapped in a besieged city where the infamous Melisande is worshiped as a goddess; where a dead man leads an army; and where the prince must face his greatest test: to find his true self.
I’m currently making my way through the Jacqueline Carey books as part of a readalong with a group of other blogger buddies. We’ve just finished the first series that started with Kushiel’s Dart and focus on the exploits of Phedre. We’re now about to embark on the second trilogy starting with Kushiel’s Scion which focuses on Imriel. If you’re interested in joining the readalong the details and other participants are below. This is a nice gentle readalong and as this is the start of a new series I don’t believe it’s necessary to have read the first three – so, if you want to read some Jacqueline Carey this could be just the incentive and time for you to jump on board.
Here is the current schedule:
Just a quick post to notify you of a readalong of Rosemary and Rue (October Daye #1, by Seanan McGuire). Organised by the lovely Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow. The details are over here on goodreads – the schedule is below. I’ve been wanting to start this series for a long time and so this is the perfect opportunity to share thoughts and banter on a series that enjoys a lot of reader love! There are quite a few in the series so no doubt the readalongs will continue if everyone is enjoying them.
- Week 1: Saturday 9th January, Chapters 1-6, hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow
- Week 2: Saturday 16th January, Chapters 7-14, hosted by (me) Lynn at Lynn’s Books
- Week 3: Saturday 23rd January, Chapters 15-20, hosted by Anya at On Starships and Dragonwings
- Week 4: Saturday 30th January, Chapters 21-End, hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow
A little bit about the first book:
October “Toby” Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a “normal” life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas…
The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening’s dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening’s killer.
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:
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!
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.
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