Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey, readalong week 2

Welcome to week two of our readalong of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series.  Kushiel’s Avatar is the third in the series and I am loving it so far.  So much goodness.  All free to join in, 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 moving on: a word of warning – there will be spoilers lurking below.

I must say before I even start that I’m loving this book so far, in fact, at this point it’s almost becoming my favourite.  I don’t know why, whether it just feels easier to read now knowing the characters more, I can’t be sure, but I’m really enjoying the story so far.  Anyway, moving swiftly on:

Chapters 14 – 25

1.  Phedre has been incredibly efficient in finding out what has happened to Imriel.  Do you think it really is as simple as a random act of cruelty?  Is it a punishment from Kushiel, and if so, why were the other two children involved?  

I’m not sure what to make of it at this point.  At first I was tempted to say that it was a random act of cruelty but then part of me also thinks maybe Imriel has been taken deliberately – and the other two were taken as a guise to make it seem like a random act.  Part of me just thinks it’s too much of a coincidence that Imriel – out of all the other goat herders – should be the one taken and also that only Imriel was shipped on.  I think there are just too many coincidences.  Perhaps one of the Gods has equally chosen Imriel for special attention in much the same way that Phedre has been chosen?  It remains to be seen but I’m definitely intrigued.

2.  A lot of justice is meted out (or not) to different people.  Do you think the priests deserve forgiveness for hiding Imriel?  Do you agree with the harsh methods in Amilcar toward the slavers?

The priests – well, I don’t think they’ve done anything worse than the priestesses who are currently providing sanctity to Melisande?  We all know that priests have to be confidential and not divulge things that they hear from their congregation so in much the same way I don’t see why the priests should be punished for taking the boy in and giving him an upbringing – they would hold to the same confidentiality.  Plus it seems like they were being fair in that Imriel truly was being brought up in ignorance of who he was – I hope that’s the case anyway as it could lead to trouble if he inadvertently blurts something out to his captors!  In terms of the slavers I’m not sorry to say that I think they got what they deserved.  I admit that I don’t like torture but I simply don’t think they would have given up the information otherwise.  And, I really, strongly, dislike (despise even) slavers – I know that’s probably a bit strong  – but it really is the way I feel.  In fantasy you tend to read about slavers on occasion and every time I experience the same feeling of horror that you could be taken from your home and then called a slave.  What right do people have to do such a thing – it makes me totally aghast.

3.  Do you think it’s worth it for Phedre to go to Serenissima to get information from Melisande, or would it be better for her to travel with the royal entourage and find her own guide?

I think she should go to Melisande.  You never quite know what to expect from Melisande and even now I’m not sure what tricks she has up her sleeves but on the flip side of the coin Phedre could learn something important or pick up some small clue.  I think it’s highly possible that any guide Melisande provides will already have an agenda and in that respect I think it’s good that Phedre is trying to learn the language – at least that way she might have a surreptitious way of discovering something unbeknown to others.  Plus this way we have two threads – the one following Imriel’s trail and the one seeking the answer to the Hyacinthe puzzle.  It will be interesting to see if they cross paths.

4.  It occurs to me that Joscelin improved the public attitude towards the Cassilines, though he was cast out, and the Prince of Travellers may be having a similar effect for his own people.  In what ways do you think the Tsingani and the prejudice against them might change as a result of recent events?  Do you think Hyacinthe will ever be allowed to go back to them, and if so, should he?

Hopefully some of the prejudices against the Tsingani will be quelled although to be honest I think it’s doubtful.  These prejudices are built up over years and years and whilst one person’s opinion might be changed due to circumstances I think the majority of people will continue with their fear and distrust.  In fairness the Tsingani also have their own fear and loathing of the ‘Gadje’ – although I think they have more reason in that they will have experienced much more prejudice.  I think that putting to bed such deep seated prejudices takes a long time and hopefully small steps such as this help but I also think it takes both parties putting down their baggage and trying.  I’m not sure if Hyacinthe should go back to the Tsingani – it’s never really been his home as it?  He’d be a little like a fish out of water there and I think people would still dislike his use of the dromonde and also would probably be scared of him after his time as Master of the Straits.  I don’t know – I think Hyachinthe’s home will more likely be where his friends and loved ones are.  I wonder what he will make of Sibeal and whether they might have a future together?  He might find it easier to be with somebody he has an affinity with after all.  I hope he finds some measure happiness anyway – more than that I hope he finds a way to still be a part of these stories as I’ve missed his presence.

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

6 Responses to “Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey, readalong week 2”

  1. emmawolf

    Concerning the three missing children: I like your explanation of the other two being taken to make it seem like a random act. I feel like I don’t understand this part. Or just really don’t like the idea of gods using innocent children to punish others. More on this later, I suppose.

    I agree with you about the priests. I’m not sure they did anything wrong as such in raising Imriel. As for the slavers, well, I won’t defend them like I did pirates in the last book.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, slavers – I really don’t like ’em!
      I’m really enjoying this and can see two almost separate paths being set up. It’s going to be really interesting to see if Phedre learns anything more from Melisande.
      Lynn 😀

  2. tethyanbooks

    You and I are having some similar suspicions! I was also wondering if Imriel being taken was less random than it seems on the surface, and thinking that any guide Melisande provides is probably not trustworthy. I guess we’ll see how that pans out!

    I agree with you about the Tsingani–it’s nice that some people are changing their minds, but it would take a long time for a real change. I also like the idea of Hyacinthe finding a home with Sibeal. After how they treated his mother–and him due to the dromonde–I can’t see him going back to the Tsingani.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, and I feel like he really wouldn’t fit in now. He’s going to be so changed by his experience isn’t he. It’s almost like he won’t be able to just go back and fit in his old life and he won’t be able to go live with the Tsingani either. I kind of hope that something does happen with him and Sibeal.
      Lynn 😀

  3. nrlymrtl

    I like your point about the priests hiding Imriel really aren’t any worse off than the priestesses providing Melisande sanctuary. And while I understand that they must keep the confidences of the priesthood and their congregation, there’s a line at some point where the government has a right to know. The best case I can think of is child molestation (or worse) by priests (and I guess the most well known are the Catholic church cases). Still, I am not sure if Imriel’s secret hiding location falls into that level of ‘government should know’. We can’t predict how Imriel would have reacted to hearing the truth about his parentage and whether or not he would have done as Melisande wanted, which would most likely have lead to civil war.

    True again – The Tsingani also have their prejudices and I hope Phedre’s efforts help both sides get past it. Though I don’t expect there to be a big love fest between the two societies by the end of this book. As you said, these prejudices have existed for generations and they can’t simply be wiped away in a few years. Though that’s no reason to not try when you have an opportunity to do so.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, it’s a risk really – Melisande has no way of knowing that Imriel will follow in her footsteps. She’s not with him pouring poison in his ear – or even caring for and loving him. So he could just rebel!
      I hope Phedre’s efforts start to make a difference. You certainly have to start somewhere after all. It tends to take a generation to change such deep rooted prejudices but if nobody starts the ball rolling – well, then it won’t be rolling!!
      Lynn 😀

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