Kushiel’s Avatar Readalong: Week One

We’re back for the last book in this trilogy, Kushiel’s Avatar. I’m very excited. Imyril is hosting our journey and has the first week’s questions (here’s the schedule).

Today we are covering chapters 1 through 16.

Any thoughts on the evolutions within the society and politics of nations, Terre d’Ange or the Night Court?

I like how Phèdre gets involved in lawmaking and makes changes to this indentured servitude situation because as an individual she has helped some situations (like the woman who makes her clothes) but she can’t save everyone that way.

I also like the difference that Ysandre’s rule has made on Terre d’Ange’s foreign policy. Like Phèdre points out, they tend to focus inward but Ysandre has chosen to make relationships with countries outside of tradition.

“It is a splendid, terrible tale… but never forget it is real people who live out such tales and bear the price of the telling” – discuss.

There are different directions we could go here. Phèdre says this to Hugues who didn’t know Hyacinthe and doesn’t bear any of the survivor’s guilt that Phèdre and Joscelin do. Also, Hyacinthe is Phèdre’s best friend and Hugues is talking about him like a fictional character. I can understand her irritation here. Plus she doesn’t want his tale to be over or summed up because she still hopes to free him.

Were you surprised by Joscelin’s offer after their visit to the Three Sisters? What did you make of their conversations before and after arrival at La Serenissima?

It speaks to the complicated nature of their relationship and their individual feelings. Joscelin doesn’t want Phèdre to suffer but I like that she reminds him that she wouldn’t feel better if he was in Hyacinthe’s place. I like that they disagree and argue a bit but then they work things out when they’ve had some time to sort through things.

What was your reaction to Phèdre’s confession at the shrine of Kushiel?

It made me love her more. It’s very honest. She has complicated feelings for Melisande and they are particularly chaotic after seeing her. Part of the complication has to do with how Kushiel influences both of them. But it is also hard because she has had a ten year break from the life and death struggling and journeying but she has to get back to it and can’t get out of it. And there’s a lot of pressure. Imriel is a major piece in politics, Melisande is unpredictable, plus people are having visions and she feels the wings of Kushiel spiritually brushing her. That is a lot. It is also nice that she feels a little better after her visit.

How do you feel about Brother Selbert and his assessment of Melisande?

I think his assessment is accurate even if I disagree with some of his conclusions. I agree that she did what she did because she loved the game. I also believe that Imriel is the only person she has loved this deeply. When he says that Melisande’s love as a mother was higher than Ysandre’s claim as queen, I can understand that. But Melisande’s games weren’t theoretical. People died. They loved and were loved. Also more people would have died if she’d succeeded. This feels like he can be neutral because he wasn’t personally affected and events didn’t turn out to be the worst case scenario.

… how do you pronounce Cruithne?

I have changed my mind over the years and I could change my view again. Currently I say krewff-nay, kind of breathy and on the tip of my tongue in the middle. (In case you were wondering, I pronounce Cruarch as krew-arch and the ch is like Bach or loch. Sort of gravelly.)

7 thoughts on “Kushiel’s Avatar Readalong: Week One

  1. imyril @ There's Always Room For One More says:

    I think you are spot on with your assessment of Selbert and it makes me like him even less in retrospect.

    I’m also nodding along to your observation that Phèdre gets so angry with Hugues because she doesn’t want Hyacinthe’s story to be over – he’s not a legend, he’s a living man. I hadn’t looked at it quite like that, but you’re absolutely right.

    Liked by 1 person

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