Kushiel’s Avatar Readalong: Week Five

This post covers chapters 69 to 85. Imyril is hosting the readalong and Peat Long has the questions this week.

Another week, another country. Tell us all what you make of isolated Saba and since this is the last new land we travel to in the trilogy, what was your favorite?

Saba is an interesting place. It is a look at a community that is isolated from everyone else deliberately so it shows them using things for generations if they can’t easily get the materials. And what a community looks like without steel or really knowing what’s happening around them in the world. And also what happens when you let fear guide you. It also seems like they needed a dramatic shake-up to change the situation. They can start building relationships with other nations again and women can hopefully get more of an active role in decision making. Phèdre and Joscelin are notoriously good at this. I like Menekhet the most, I think. It is a place of contrasts and complexity. There are the original native elements and then there are the Hellene influences. I like that we get some exploration of their history and religion. I also like the differences between Iskandria and travelling on the Nahar River.

Phèdre has completed her quest for the name of God, what were you thinking as it happened?

Even though I know what happens I still felt really nervous. It helped that we had this tense situation first and the temple wasn’t opened right away. Also part of my brain was playing Raiders of the Lost Ark with the music simultaneously.

“As often as not, we forge our own chains. And from those, not even Adonai Himself can free us. We must do it ourselves.”

This applies to a lot. It applies to the people of Saba in general. They isolated themselves and it took quite a shake-up to get them to reconsider. There is an argument that the women in the community blocked themselves from power they traditionally should have had. They also had just as much access to the name as Phèdre but she was the one brave enough to try for it. This quote applies to other parts of the trilogy as well. Phèdre and Joscelin had to work through a lot to get to this point in their relationship. They had to go through a lot. And sometimes they were getting in their own way. There was a point where Joscelin wasn’t willing to go on in the Skaldic steading. He was literally chained up, to be fair, but he needed Phèdre to help kick him into gear too. Phèdre felt trapped by her nature but it feels like she has made much more peace with it than she ever has. It freed her to take action. But ultimately no one else could make these choices for them. It is also important in Phèdre’s success. In general I interpret this to be that sometimes circumstances hold us back but more often than not we are holding ourselves back, possibly because of fear, pride, or anger.

Phèdre and Joscelin are back together and intend to adopt Imriel. What are your thoughts on how this all went down?

They needed some time to heal but they also needed this part to heal completely. I appreciated the angst for sure but I also like Phèdre stepping forward and acting on her love for Joscelin. Plus Imriel facilitating some alone time was cute. The scene with them on the boat basically asking Imriel if he will let them adopt him if possible was tear inducing.

Thoughts on how Phèdre is affected by carrying the name of God and would you enjoy the experience yourself?

It seems to be amplifying something Phèdre already likes to do. She likes to appreciate the beauty of things and the name amplifies her senses. But it also makes it so she is easily distracted. Luckily Joscelin and Imriel are there to guide her back. It also sounds like her love for them helps ground her in reality better.

Anything else?

I liked the discussion of how Kaneka chose to tell the story of Daršanga. She leaves some of it out and she makes Phèdre a hero from the start. Imriel points out that it isn’t how it really happened. And Phèdre explains that they need to remember their versions of it but this is the epic that Kaneka’s people will pass down. It simplifies and makes things less painful to recall. It also protects the people who care about Kaneka a little.


3 thoughts on “Kushiel’s Avatar Readalong: Week Five

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

    I’m with you in enjoying Menekhet the most – as we get three visits and see it from different angles I feel it becomes the best developed of the various countries in this book. Plus I like Pharaoh a lot, he’s a good example of an unreliable ally who you just know would change his position in a heartbeat if another alliance offered him more value in some way. I would have liked to see Nesmut again though.

    Liked by 1 person

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