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! 😀

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
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10 Responses to “Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey, readalong week No.8”

  1. nrlymrtl

    Yep, Hyacinthe’s a big boy. If he can’t keep himself entertained for 3 months with all that power he has than he’s not a worthy character, right?

    Well said – the Tsingani are slow to change. So even with the Master of the Straits telling the elders they should treat women better, I think it will take time. I think this goes well with Phedre’s observation that many Tsingani, especially the women and children, lack what a D’Angeline would consider basic schooling, and she goes on to think that the D’Angelines have not been good about sharing their knowledge of reading and writing. So, maybe the two can come together to make lives better for the Tsingani in general.

    I agree – I don’t think Phedre was ever going to end up with Hyacinthe. They had their fun as kids and as adults and they will be forever friends, but married? Hmm.. no. Also, Phedre had already chosen, a decade ago, and moved on in that regard. And Hyacinthe with his powers (even as he was learning under the Master of the Straits) could see that. So it makes sense that he had already moved on emotionally too and was ready to give Sibeal a chance.

    This was a great read along for me too. These books are near and dear to my heart and it has been great to share them with you and Allie, Emma, and Lisa. I look forward to exploring the next trilogy with folks in the new year.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I guess Phedre liked the idea of Hyachinthe being a ‘maybe’ – now that he’s off with Sibeal it’s time to put that thought finally to bed isn’t it! Phedre has made her choice – and you’re right, Hyachinthe will have seen her during the past 10 years living her happy life – so it kind of makes sense that he had moved on.
      Yes, I’m very much looking forward to the next series. 😀

  2. tethyanbooks

    I was pretty annoyed with Ysandre, too, but I guess I could also see later on that she was mostly putting on a political show, to not make it look like people could defy her and get away with it.

    I agree with you on Hyacinthe. Ever since the Skaldi, I think Phedre had chosen Joscelin, and from then on it was always Joscelin. Hyacinthe was very important to her, and I think he could be considered her first love (though they didn’t have a physically intimate relationship in that time period), but they have both moved on. I’m glad they can be such close friends, still.

    I’m looking forward to read-along-ing the next trilogy soon :).

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I suppose it was difficult for Phedre to ever truly ‘give up’ the idea of Hyacinthe – and I don’t suppose feeling obliged to rescue him was helping her to come to terms with her choices. I think they’ve finally both reached a sort of resolution though. I hope we see more of Hyacinthe.
      Looking forward to continuing with the next trilogy.
      Lynn 😀

    • emmawolf

      I just thought of this now in response to your comment and Lynn’s response: I agree with you that ever since Skaldia, Phedre chose Joscelin romantically. Do you think Phedre’s dedication to Hyacinthe is at least in part because of that choice? That it feeds into her guilt that he is left there? Like she gave Joscelin her romantic love but feels like she needs to give him something to? I’m not sure if this is making any sense. I have Rachel Maddow on in the background.

      • @lynnsbooks

        I think it’s a really good point – I do always feel slightly with Hyachinthe that Phedre feels kind of a bit sad or sorry for him. It’s like she makes it more of a gesture or token and it doesn’t feel the same way as the way she is with Joscelin – and I think Hyacinthe knows that too which is why he’s moved on. I think also a the back of Phedre’s mind she likes that Hyacinthe was always there as a possibility – not really explaining that very well, but it’s a bit like having a boyfriend, breaking up with him and then being sad when he moves on and gets another girlfriend – because it means he’s moved on and he’s not your back up plan any more! I don’t mean that to sound harsh about Phedre though. I just feel like she thought she always had him there as a possibility.
        Lynn 😀

  3. emmawolf

    “After all, if everybody decides to ignore her commands it won’t go very well for her will it!”

    I think this is what I need to remember. And that they live in a monarchy where one person makes the rules, and that’s kinda the story. It’s just hard for me to… I guess suspend my disbelief…? for this sort of government. I mean, I know it existed and still exists in real life. Just, I’m an American. I think it’s weird. (I live in the UK now, and I am constantly baffled. I asked a friend yesterday, well, what happens if the Queen decides she doesn’t like a law? He said that the last monarch to do that was beheaded.)

    • @lynnsbooks

      Well, not sure the Queen really makes any decisions in this country any longer – more a figure head really. But, go back a few hundred years and, well, you could lose your head quite easily.
      Lynn 😀

      • emmawolf

        That’s kind of how my friend described it. In the US, we had crazy politicians wanting to shut down the government over healthcare. He kind of said that wouldn’t happen in the UK because if nothing else, her role would be to tell people to get back to work. (I don’t mean like from a strike. Just a stop for no reason.)

      • @lynnsbooks

        Yeah, it’s very odd these days. I’m not quite sure exactly what the Royal family actually do – in terms of function (other than being supremely popular with tourists). I feel kind of bad that I don’t really know more about them but I guess I’m not a royalist. I like that they’re there in terms of tradition, but basically, they don’t really throw their weight about any more. Politicians do all the policy forming. They’re more like civic dignitaries, bestowing honours at the end of the year, hosting other high level visits and basically doing the whole schmoozing with the public.
        Lynn 😀

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