This week we take on chapters 17 through 34. Our host is Imyril, There’s Always Room for One More, and the questions this week have been provided by Peat Long.
Imriel’s disappearance is less about who he is and more random cruelty and it has something to do with Kushiel. What was your reaction to this?
I remember my first reaction to reading this was surprise and intrigue. The plot would have been so different if Imriel’s identity had been discovered and he was subsequently kidnapped. This also justifies the journeying to different lands. I have been enjoying that. I like that Phèdre is questioning and sympathizing with the cost of it all but I was a bit more comforted by Kushiel’s involvement. I will say though that I didn’t ever think that Imriel was taken solely to punish Melisande.
Last week we saw Phèdre get uncomfortable over the human cost involved in her tale. This week, she gets very close to it, both watching the torture in Amilcar and watching Joscelin kill bandits. Do these events and her reactions tell us more about Phèdre?
It told me a lot that she defended herself against the bandit who grabbed her and then she got out of the way so Joscelin could do his thing. And then validated his feelings after killing people. She knows her strengths and weaknesses plus she knows him.
Phèdre’s decision to give Melisande the news in the most compassionate of fashions possible causes a bit of friction with Joscelin. Would you have done the same thing? And what do you make of Melisande’s response and revelations?
I like this exchange between Joscelin and Phèdre: “I think your compassion is wasted on Melisande.” “I know, and mayhap you are right. But I can only act according to the dictates of my nature, not hers.” She has complicated feelings about Melisande for sure but also she sees her as a mother who is worried about her son. It’s a vulnerability that is unheard of in this woman. Would I have done the same thing? This is a tricky one. I’m definitely not as compassionate as Phèdre and my feelings for Melisande would not be this complicated. Which is not to discount Phèdre or myself. Melisande just isn’t the type of person I could truly love but I could hate her. I wouldn’t have had Joscelin in the room though because I’d want to deliver the information as quickly as possible, get the guide’s information and then run out of there. I would still look for Imriel, I think, but I wouldn’t make her any promises.
One thing that’s noticeable is just how many characters we meet in this section as Phèdre travels back and forth. Any standouts? Any you wish we’d seen more, or less of?
I love seeing Nicola. She’s such a good friend to Phèdre. I also like that she seems happy in her marriage and motherhood even if it looks different. Also that she wears Phèdre’s love token bracelet is cute. I was also happy to see Drustan and Ysandre, still one of my favorite couples.
What do you think of our introduction to Iskandria and Menekhet?
That architect, who put his name on the lighthouse and then covered it over with the pharaoh’s name expecting that part to fall off over time, was super clever. I appreciated the mini history lesson about the region in general. It was interesting plus it sets up the social situation they are about to walk into. Also, Cleopatra and Alexander are my problematic favorites of the ancient world so it was fun to see them get mentions.
Something the narrative and Phèdre are keen to point out in these chapters is how some groups of people are overlooked and traduced – the Menekhetans, the Tsingani – which leads to a number of conversations. Anything in particular jump out at you about those?
I thought the Tsingani family that came to see Phèdre with information made really important points after Joscelin’s family demanded why they hadn’t reported what they’d seen earlier. He couldn’t really go to anyone without issues or accusations. Small progress seemed to be made there, which might be an overly optimistic view. I like the complexity with the Menekhetans too. The mini history lesson supports how this society has shaken out. It also makes Phèdre’s quest a bit more challenging but she has already proven that her mind is a bit broader. I love her annoyance that the diplomat hadn’t bothered to learn the other language. I was with her on that one.
5 thoughts on “Kushiel’s Avatar Readalong: Week 2”
The various commentary on learning languages this week were fabulous – both Phèdre’s irritation that the ambassador hasn’t bothered learning Menekhetan because the court speaks Greek (oh, you can FEEL her judgement hissing off the page) and Joscelin’s oh-so-casual ‘well if you don’t feel like learning Aragonian I guess I will, it can’t be that hard if Luc managed’ (I laughed and laughed).
The history of the architect is a tale of the Pharos at Alexandria – I do love that Carey incorporates it, it’s a lovely little story.
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