Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Read-Along: Kushiel's Chosen by Jacqueline Carey, Part 2

It’s time for the second part of the Kushiel’s Chosen read-along, covering chapters 15-26!  The questions were provided this week by Susan of Dab of Darkness.  I’m a little late this week, because I was sidetracked by a Sunday-Monday airplane ride that left me less than coherent with exhaustion yesterday.  The final Full Fathom Five post is also coming soon! Anyhow, as usual, beware spoilers of Kushiel’s Dart and of the first 26 chapters of Kushiel’s Chosen below.

1) Severio & Phedre have their assignation. Who do you think learned the more from it?

I would say Severio. I think Phedre still doesn’t know all that much about La Serenissima yet.  Severio, on the other hand, had his entire social status in the City of Elua turned around by Phedre’s attention and her advice.  He seemed way nicer after the assignation, maybe because he was so thrilled to have someone who really didn’t judge him for his interests.

2) Hanna from the Yeshuites tells Joscelin, '....this pain you suffer, you cling to it.' Do you think that is true of Joscelin? What do you think of Joscelin teaching some of the young Yeshuite men to fight?

I think Joscelin is looking for comfort in all the wrong places. I don’t think Joscelin is clinging to suffering as much as he is clinging to wanting things that he can’t have.  For instance, I got the impression that he was happy with Phedre at Montreve, and not suffering much pain at all.  I think he would have clung to that happiness, if Phedre had let it be possible.  I don’t get the impression that he has any romantic feelings for Hanna yet, though she seems to want him to.  I hope the guys he trains don't end up getting into some kind of trouble in the city.

3) In this section, we really saw the pressure put on Marmion. Do you think Marmion's punishment was just?

No, Ysandre was pushed into it by Barquiel d’Envers.  I think Ysandre was very frustrated about having to do that to him as well.  I don’t really know what to think about d’Envers right now.  He must have known what he was doing, so it must have been in his interest to get Marmion ruined or killed. I worry for Nicola if he really is in league with Melisande.  

4) Phedre goes to Gentian House for some guidance through dream interpretation. What did you think of this? Have you ever had your dreams interpreted?

I’m skeptical about the need for sex in this particular endeavour, but I guess Phedre needed to relax in general. It sounded really peaceful.  The dream interpretation was a really neat skill! I don’t know if I would be comfortable having anyone else watch my dreams, but it seems to have really helped Phedre.  I did not predict the outcome though, I assumed she was having stress problems about the situation with Joscelin.  The “I need to go to La Serenissima” came out of left field for me, even though I had picked up the hints that she was going there at some point in this book.

Concerning dream interpretation for myself, not really. Most of my dreams are either really strange or really easy to understand.  For instance, I have fairly regular dreams about my teeth falling out and/or my mouth being full of some kind of gunk I can’t get out.  Apparently, this is tied to when I don’t feel like I’m being listened to at work. There’s also the recurring dreams where my vision becomes so poor and I become so dizzy that I can’t walk (obviously tied to fears about my vision), or where my loved ones die (self-explanatory, I think).  On the other hand, there’s probably nothing meaningful to interpret about dreams where I go to the north pole on a dogsled to slide down enormous slides made of ice candy. I dream a lot, but no professional interpretations!

5) The plot has thickened in this week's reading as Phedre & Joscelin dig further into the mystery of the escaped Melisande Shahrizai. Thoughts?

I was not suspecting Barquiel d’Envers, but after what he did to Marmion, I am.  I am not sure how he could be involved, though, if she is in La Serenissima.  I thought his connections were in the Arabic countries.  I am out of theories for the moment. Edit: I forgot to mention the Casselines.  I think they're in on it, but I can't really tell them apart, except for Joscelin. Phedre seems to have this problem too, so I still have no theories.

6) Ysandre and Phedre carry out a bit of subterfuge. Do you think it is enough to fool Melisande, should she be paying attention?

Melisande? No.  Many others?  Probably.  I think anyone who knows Ysandre and Phedre personally would see through it, or at least suspect it is a cover.  Luckily for them, there are not very many of those sorts of people around at the moment.

Other Things:

--Phedre was so brutal to Joscelin about going to La Serenissima.  I really hope something happens there to patch things up, or he may actually leave her.

--I actually trust Nicola. I don’t think she’s very discreet, so it’s probably best that Phedre did not confide in her.  I do think she’s on Phedre’s side, though.

--We get to see a new country next!  This is going to be fun!


  1. "I got the impression that he was happy with Phedre at Montreve, and not suffering much pain at all. I think he would have clung to that happiness, if Phedre had let it be possible."

    I agree. For me, the pain came in when Phedre returned to the service of Naamah. I think the happiness and pain are tied together. (I apologize if this sounds really stupid or obvious.)

    "I’m skeptical about the need for sex in this particular endeavour"

    Me too! It sounds like some sort of scam, like "oh, you're stressed? Do you want a massage? *eyebrow waggle*"

    Also, re dream interpretation, I bought a dream dictionary when I was younger, and it was probably a load of crap. I think the symbols in our dreams (if any) are probably specific to us.
    For example, when I was writing my post, the only thing I could remember from my dream dictionary is that teeth falling out means you are afraid of telling a secret. That made no sense to me. Your interpretation of the symbol makes more sense all together.

    I think Barquiel is ruthless and petty. I think he had Marimon punished because he could and possibly because Ysandre liked him. I think he hates Melisande and all of her family.

    1. "For me, the pain came in when Phedre returned to the service of Naamah."

      Oh, definitely. I was just meaning that it wasn't like he was particularly into being in pain. The pain was a consequence of Phedre's decision, and what he is clinging to is the idea of the happiness that he can't have anymore. So yes, tied together.

      Yeah, my self-dream-interpretation is based more on what is going on in my life at the time and what seems correct to me. I think you're probably right that they are specific to individuals. In that sense, it seems like the best person to interpret dreams is the one having them. I suppose, in the end, Phedre was the one who figured out her dream was about going to La Serenissima.

      On Barquiel, that's such a mean-spirited reason! If someone is going to scheme politically to get someone else killed or exiled, I'd like for it to at least be part of a larger goal. Somehow it makes me think even less of him, to consider he might have done that just because he didn't *like* Marmion.

    2. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you think less of him. I don't think it was personal with Marmion. Like Marmion once snubbed Barquiel at a party and Barquiel never let him live it down. I think it has to do with Melisande. Barquiel is ambitious and family orientated and loves the fact that his niece is in power. Melisande tried to overthrow and/or kill his niece who is of the highest rank and his most powerful player. Since family means a lot to him, I don't think he appreciates the differences between family members (if one Shahrizai is bad, they all are). I think Barquiel's larger political goal is to maintain power.

      Then again, there may be some Kushieline blood in him (the provinces of Namarre border on Kusheth, and the Namarre brother and sister had some in them, I think Nicola did too?). I don't think he did it entirely for his own sick pleasure, but I do think he probably enjoyed it.

      As for Joscelin, I think I got what you mean now. And yes, I agree.

    3. I can see that, more of a family grudge than a personal dislike. At the same time, though, if he really wanted to help Ysandre, I feel like he would have told her quietly. Marmion could have been useful as a tool to smoke out the other traitors, for instance. It was actually against Ysandre's (and his family's) interest to just destroy him straight out.

      The more I think about it, the more I think that he is either (a) incompetent at politics, (b) not as loyal as I thought to his niece, (c) the kind of person who allows his decisions to be dictated by grudges, even at the expense of self- or family interest, or (d) there's some information I don't know yet (probably true, regardless). Right now I'm leaning towards (c), since we did see that in the first book as well. Delaunay made him an ally simply by giving him the ability to satisfy a family grudge. If it's (c), then maybe the Kushieline blood factors into it, making him really into justice and punishment for wrongs against his house, above all else.

    4. I love your insight into Barquiel. I'm going to stop talking so that I avoid spilling any beans.

  2. Haha, I completely agree with your number 1, and it's almost what I've just written myself which is uncanny!
    I also didn't pick up that Joscelin had feelings for Hanna but I could have just missed it. But his behaviour is very odd at the moment and it has given me pause for thought.
    Interesting point about d’Envers - I hadn't thought about that at all but now you mention it he was very keen to have Marmion taken out of the action.
    Lynn :D

    1. Great minds think alike?;)

      It will be interesting to see if Hanna shows up again in the future of the book, and then maybe we'll find out!