Kushiel’s Mercy (Imriel’s Trilogy #3) by Jacqueline Carey readalong week No.1

kushiels-mercyHaving learned a lesson about thwarting the will of the gods, Imriel and Sidonie publicly confess their affair, only to see the country boil over in turmoil. Younger generations, infatuated by their heart-twisting, star-cross romance, defend the couple. Many others cannot forget the betrayals of Imriel’s mother, Melisande, who plunged their country into a bloody war that cost the lives of their fathers, brothers, and sons.

To quell the unrest, Ysandre, the queen, sets her decree. She will not divide the lovers, yet neither will she acknowledge them. If they marry, Sidonie will be disinherited, losing her claim on the throne.

There’s only one way they can truly be together. Imriel must perform an act of faith: search the world for his infamous mother and bring her back to Terre d’Ange to be executed for treason.

Facing a terrible choice, Imriel and Sidonie prepare ruefully for another long separation. But when a dark foreign force casts a shadow over Terre d’Ange and all the surrounding countries, their world is turned upside down, alliances of the unlikeliest kind are made, and Imriel and Sidonie learn that the god Elua always puts hearts together apurpose.

Today is the start of our readalong for Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey and it’s so great to be returning to this world and these characters – I didn’t realise that I’d missed them until I picked this up.  Anyway, here’s the Goodreads link and also the schedule is below in case you want to join in.  Beware of spoilers because they’ll be lurking.  Now over to the Q&A.
1) So far, what do you think of the variety of responses people have to Imriel’s and Sidonie’s relationship?  
I think this is much as I expected to be honest.  It was never going to be joy all round was it.  There are a few issues, firstly there’s obviously the issue of Imriel’s mother!  This isn’t an issue that’s just going to go away because it’s still too fresh and too many people lost loved ones in the war.  Not to mention that Melisande had the bad grace to up and escape punishment and is still on the prowl which doesn’t help Imriel’s case any because of course he could be plotting world domination with her!!  On top of this you have to remember the usual expectations about members of royalty – they don’t usually have the freedom to choose their own partners do they.  More often than not royal marriages are politically motivated or arranged in order to strengthen relationships between countries, etc, so you also have to remember that certain ambitions from other parties will be going fast down the drain as they observe this love match.  So, lots of resistance for our two young lovers!
2) Imriel starts the hunt for Melisande. What do you think of his efforts so far? Could you hand over a wayward relative to the authorities? 
Well, so far his efforts haven’t really been that strenuous have they – he’s too busy enjoying himself which I can’t really blame him for!  His efforts so far have consisted of a letter to Hyacinthe to ask him to make a search, discussions with Phedre and Jocelyn and translating a hidden message (well, I’m condensing a little there).  But, it’s hardly surprising if Imriel is a bit reluctant.  Of course he could just ask Sidonie to step down and all this would go away but I think that would almost make him look guilty somehow in the eyes of others.  I think it will be a lot harder for Imriel to hand his own mother over than maybe he thinks.  Obviously we already know that Imriel can make difficult choices and stand by them but this is so tough.  And, I have to question why it’s up to Imriel to bring his own mother to justice!  It feels a little unfair but then I guess that’s life.  Still – this is his mother!  Tough, tough choices.
3) Sidonie makes her first ventures into the spicier side of the love arts. Comment away!
Well, as usual with Carey, she has a wonderful way of writing relationships.  Imriel and Sidonie are just so intense aren’t they.  They practically jump off the page and you can feel the love they have for each other in every sentence.  It doesn’t surprise me that both of them are experimenting and seeing what they like and don’t like.  They’re enjoying each others bodies and learning to trust each other.
4) The priesthood weighs in on Sidonie’s and Imriel’s relationship. Do you think Imriel’s words were the clincher, or do you think the priests had mostly made up their minds before the meeting?
To be honest the whole thing with the priests felt a little bit like an exercise in futility.  That might seem a little bit harsh but I don’t think they were ever really going to make that big a difference.  It’s nice of course that they’re going to reinforce Sidonie’s and Imriel’s love for each other by at least agreeing that they’re both honest but it still leaves the very real issue of politics doesn’t it.  All that being said though – it must have felt good for Imriel to have the priesthood believing in his feelings.
5) It’s been two years since Imriel last celebrated the Longest Night in the D’Angeline fashion. What was the most interesting part of this night for you?
Well, the little spat inspired by L’Envers was the highlight really – more so for me because as I was reading about it, the build up, the costumes, the dancing, I’d really actually relaxed and for once wasn’t anticipating anything bad to happen, yes, I was just enjoying the moment and then look what went and happened.  I thought Ysandre was a lot more self contained than I would have been if somebody had been shouting ‘whore’ at one of my daughters and I thought it was a bit of a ridiculous scenario for L’Envers to get mixed up with – because, really, what did it achieve – well, I suppose he succeeded in ruining a perfectly good celebration but it really did feel a little bit of a peevish thing to do.  Is that really what he’s now resorting to.
6) We catch our first glimpse of the Carthaginians and the general Astegal. What do you think of their tribute? 
This all has a very bad feeling in my opinion.  All these tributes.  Why?  No such thing as a free lunch in my experience.  So, either something is expected in return – or, and this is the feel I’m getting from all of this, something a bit more sinister is afoot.  It’s like the Carthaginians have showed up and wowed everybody with all their wonderful gifts, everyone’s guards are down and they’re all rubbing their hands together gleefully, but, it feels like a distraction, like ‘oh, look at all this glittery stuff over here’ whilst over ‘there’ anything could be happening.  I don’t know why but it just feels like something sinister is about to drop on us all.
The Schedule:
Oct.  9th Week 1: Chpts. 1-10 (Hosted by Dab of Darkness)
Oct. 16th Week 2: Chpts. 11-22 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Oct. 23rd Week 3: Chpts. 23-35 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Oct. 30th Week 4: Chpts. 36-49 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Nov. 6th Week 5: Chpts. 50-62 (Hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog)
Nov. 13th Week 6: Chpts. 63-75 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Nov. 20th Week 7: Chpts. 76-END (Hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow)
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9 Responses to “Kushiel’s Mercy (Imriel’s Trilogy #3) by Jacqueline Carey readalong week No.1”

  1. Allie

    Regarding Imriel & Sidonie, there is one kind of negative thing that unexpectedly might help their case politically. Some people are already disapproving of Sidonie being only half-d’Angeline, so I bet there is considerable support for her to marry within the country.

    I am very wary of the Carthaginians as well. At first I wondered if there was some poison hidden in the tribute or something, but I’m now suspecting their plans are less direct and more political.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Ah yes, good point – in fact didn’t Sidonie make the point about not being fully d’Angeline herself? So that would be in Imriel’s favour.
      The Carthaginians – don’t know what to make of them but I smell a rat.
      Lynn 😀

  2. emmawolf

    “On top of this you have to remember the usual expectations about members of royalty – they don’t usually have the freedom to choose their own partners do they. More often than not royal marriages are politically motivated or arranged in order to strengthen relationships between countries, etc, so you also have to remember that certain ambitions from other parties will be going fast down the drain as they observe this love match.”

    It’s always frustrated me that this was true even in Terre d’Ange.

    “And, I have to question why it’s up to Imriel to bring his own mother to justice!”

    Yeah, that is a good question. Ysandre was seemingly content to allow Melisande to escape justice until some point after she learned about Imriel and Sidonie. I think it is unfair that he is asked to heal the country (especially considering the cost to him), but I guess I’ve always had issues with Ysandre’s idea of fairness.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah – it’s really wrong when you think about it – Ysandre was quite happy for Melisande to be at large until this point but now it’s up to Imriel to bring her in for justice – why? Because he wants to marry her daughter – presumably, if he wanted to marry anybody else’s daughter then it wouldn’t matter! Definitely Imriel shouldn’t be blamed for the crimes of his mother. Okay, i can see how it is slightly different with Sidonie being heir to the throne but even so I think if Ysandre was so worried about Melisande then she should have took steps long ago.
      Lynn 😀

      • emmawolf

        Yeah, I guess she probably did take steps to try to find Melisande (Terre d’Ange has spies too), but they came to nothing. Even though she knew about the Guild, she couldn’t exactly do anything with them without putting Imriel in danger. So maybe I can see this actually as Ysandre admitting that she needed the Guild’s help in finding Melisande, and Imriel being her in. Because other than that, I don’t see how Imirel (even with the help of Phedre et al.) would have the ability to hunt down Melisande if Ysandre’s spies couldn’t do it. And it couldn’t even be him pretending to want to reconcile with his mother since all of Terre d’Ange knows Ysandre is using him to kill her.

  3. Danya @ Fine Print

    Jacqueline Carey’s work has been on my TBR for ages, I really need to make a commitment to read Kushiel’s Dart soon. I even own a copy! Which of her books has been your favourite so far?

    • @lynnsbooks

      I think this is definitely something you need to start from the very beginning. The first three books focus on Phedre and her stories are brilliant. I love her and Jocelyn. The next three books focus on Imriel – his story is also fascinating. Carey is brilliant with world building and detail – she practically transports you to the place to be honest.
      Lynn 😀

  4. nrlymrtl

    I agree with you about Imriel’s efforts to find his mother so far have been a little laid back (tho I don’t blame him either). He’s had too little time to wallow in bed with Sidonie, and I understand him taking his time in locating his mom and then planning a trip to go arrest her.

    Good point about the priesthood and the politics being very separate entities.

    Carey is such an expert writer. I too had fallen into the whole ball scene – the beuatiful costumes, the magic of the night. I had forgotten about Barquiel’s stunt since it’s been a while since I last read this book.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I also can’t blame Imriel for dragging his feet – not really the nicest thing to be asked to undertake! Still, having read on now the ballpark has changed again! Looking forward to this week’s chapters.
      Lynn 😀

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