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

5 Responses to “Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey, readalong, final chapters”

  1. nrlymrtl

    Good point about the people being separate from the nobility. Like presidents here in the US, we pretty much go about our daily lives no matter who is running the place, even if we have strong notions about that person. As long as the place keeps running, the average person isn’t going to raise the rabble to try to change rulers. The nobility are different entirely in that they have the resources to scheme and hire assassins.

    the Doge was in a difficult position there. He just got his power back and part of the reason he did get it back was because the Temple of Asherat supported him then and there. If he turned around and violated their sanctuary rules… well, that wouldn’t be good for him.

    I think Phedre has difficulty recognising how folks become attached to her. We saw a lot of that in Book 1 – her Chevaliers, the twins Emmond & Grainne, etc. I think being traded into a life of servitude for hard cash at a young age affected her.

    • lynnsbooks

      Great points. The Doge was between a rock and a hard place for sure. I’m glad that he respected the sanctuary. As much as Melisande is a piece of work she does seem to respect the gods.
      I think you’re spot on with Phedre – I don’t suppose it would occur to her that people would become attached, after all she was in servitude which kind of meant people didn’t have to have any feelings for her at all but could still ask for the pleasure of an evening with her. It’s a bit sad in a way.
      Lynn 😀

  2. emmawolf

    “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.”

    You know, I hadn’t thought of this. Good point! It seems really obvious now in retrospect. Politicians in Illyria and Kriti (and La Serenissima too, IIRC) were both hedging their bets with everything, giving Phedre well, we want to help you, but if you lose, we’re screwed.

    • lynnsbooks

      Everybody seems so scared of picking the wrong horse don’t they. It’s curious but it’s like they’re all perched on a knifes edge.
      Lynn 😀

  3. tethyanbooks

    I also saw Phedre’s words as her own, but given in service to Asherat for cleansing her temple. I think human action taken by one’s own free will can sometimes be purer than being taken over by a god, if that makes sense.

    Echoing other commenters, I hadn’t considered the political angle for the Doge in allowing Melisande to claim sanctuary. Now I’m even more curious to see who Imriel will be when he grows up.

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