Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey, readalong week 1

Welcome to week one of our readalong of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series.  Kushiel’s Avatar is the third in the series and I can say, straight off the bat, what a fantastic start this series gets off to.  I’ve literally raced through the first 13 chapters and can’t wait to move forward.  So much goodness.  All free to join in, we’ve only read the first 13 chapters so not much catching up at this point.  Or, if you’ve already read this then please join in with the comments.  The full schedule is here and this week Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow is our lovely host.  Before moving on: a word of warning – there will be spoilers lurking below.

Chapters 1 – 13

The book begins with the ending of Phedre’s “ten years of peace”, and with a journey to visit Hyacinthe on his island. It’s a less than optimistic beginning, but the seer Sibeal seems to believe better… What did you make of these opening scenes?

I can’t make head or tail of it – although it certainly steps up the need to try and find a ‘get off the island pdq’ card for Hyacinthe.  And, I suppose it does give Melisande the perfect leverage to involve Phedre in her plots (whatever they may be).

I was kind of struggling to think why Sibeal was involved – wasn’t it her sister who had a brief involvement with Hyacinthe? Did Phedre come across as maybe a touch jealous of Sibeal’s interest? Maybe Sibeal’s interest is purely on behalf of her broth – Drustan must be interested in the comings and goings at the straits and so he would be interested in his sister’s prophetic dream.  At the moment the waters are clear for him to pass.  Also interesting that Melisande was looking into the history of the island as well.  Clearly the Straits and Hyachinthe are going to play a larger role in in this story – at least I think so!

Sorry, my mind is a complete jumble.

Before long Phèdre and Joscelin are revisiting Melisande Shahrizai as well, and she’s got yet another surprise for our heroes… Do you have any suspicions yet about who could have taken Imriel, and why? How about any thoughts regarding what Melisande could be up to now…?

Wow, Melisande back on the scene so quickly into the story!  I didn’t see that one coming.  Or the reason why she requests Phedre’s assistance. Never. Saw. That. Coming.

It seems to me that the one consistent thing that Melisande seeks is power so I feel that will be the case now.  Whether this is an elaborate ruse I’m not sure.  It seems to me that Phedre has successfully stopped Melisande on two previous occasions so there’s a chance that this is a distraction?  Sleight of hand maybe.  Perhaps get Phedre’s attention firmly set on ‘x’ and then implement ‘y’ whilst she’s distracted.  But, at the back of my mind Melisande always seemed to have a healthy respect in terms of the wrath of the Gods and she did swear that she was telling the truth – still, I find it very difficult to trust her.

As to other thoughts, I’m a bit short on ideas to be honest.  Barquel – seems a bit obvious, unless he has killed the boy to eliminate the threat.  Don’t really see it though.

The thing that does niggle is that surely none of Melisande’s enemies would know of Imriel’s whereabouts – which leaves the possibility that he’s been taken from somebody in Melisande’s own camp.  I don’t know why they would do that – perhaps, even though she thinks not, someone from her own family?  I don’t know.  As you can probably see!

Taking a step back from the higher drama, what are your thoughts regarding the romantic developments that seem to have taken place for Phèdre and Joscelin over the years? They seem to be in a better place… Do you think it will still last?

I love Phedre and Joscelin’s relationship and their current status and the way they seem to be able to read each other so well is a testament to how well they’re suited to each other.  I’ve no doubt that setting off on another mission may once again raise doubts.  I think the main issue I could see coming between them is Hyacinthe because clearly Phedre has feelings for him and also, clearly, Joscelin seems to have doubts in that respect (or at least I kind of read it like that).

I like that Phedre is now able to recognise her own love for Joscelin and also that both of them realise that she needs something more on occasion.

And, Joscelin has changed in a lot of respects.  That ending to Chapter 13 – very sneaky!!!  Plus, in his own way he has found ways of pleasing Phedre – for example after she visited Kushiel’s temple *raises eyebrows*.

It’s going to be interesting!

Anyway, I thought this week’s chapters were brilliant.  I don’t know whether it’s just that I’m now so invested in the characters and world but, really, this book got off to an excellent start.

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
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4 Responses to “Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey, readalong week 1”

  1. nrlymrtl

    We’ll get a little more about Sibeal as the story moves forward, but yes, I also have the same questions. Sibeal’s sister and Hyacinthe had a brief thing and he grieved we mightily when she died, believing he could have had a deep love with her. Right now, it is really the Straights and their kindred gifts of True Dreaming (Sibeal) and the Dromonde (Hyacinthe) that bind them.

    I think Melisande is a little short sighted to implicitly trust her fellows at this point. After all, while she does have some sort of spy and courier network, she has been off the playing field for 10 years. Allegiances do change over times.

    I love that Joscelin encouraged Phedre to seek release in Kushiel’s temple. He has changed in that he is so less full of himself and also has greater tolerance for perceived weakness in others (or what he once would have thought of as weakness).

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah – I think the scene with Joscelin and Phedre – after her visit to the temple and her flaying – let’s face it, it would have been painful for her and that would have put Josceline off a few years ago. He’s definitely mellowed a bit – in a good way.
      Good point about Sibeal – the ‘sight’ definitely draws them together and that seemed to be the major attraction for Hyacinthe and Sibeal’s sister in the first place. Is she telling them everything she knows though????
      10 years is a long time to be out of the picture. I wonder if somebody is double crossing Melisande – which would be a great twist!
      Lynn 😀

  2. tethyanbooks

    I guess I did unthinkingly trust Melisande that it wasn’t one of her people, but there’s no reason she should have a monopoly on betrayal. That would be an interesting twist!

    I also got a sense of there being hints towards Hyacinthe maybe coming between Phedre/Joscelin. But I don’t know, for all that she did sleep with him, he is mostly her childhood friend. I am hoping the love triangle (rectangle, with Sibeal?) gets nipped in the bud, if things start heading that way.

    It’s so nice to see how much more mellow Joscelin is about her masochism! I think it would have been really hard for Phedre to be with someone who viewed her desires with contempt.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Well, I’m probably wrong about Melissande being betrayed by one of her own people – but I guess you never know.
      I really hope we don’t have a love triangle – in fact it wouldn’t be even a triangle with Joscelin in the mix as well.
      Joscelin has definitely mellowed and I really like it – I liked him anyway but moreso now.
      Lynn 😀

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