Welcome to my final read-along post for Kushiel’s Chosen. The questions this week were provided by Emma Wolf, and they cover chapters 73 to the end. Beware of spoilers all the way through the end of the book!
1. Earlier in the book, Phedre promised to rid the temple of Asherat of corruption. Here we see her speaking for the goddess. Is this what you had in mind? Is Phedre channeling the goddess or using her own words? Was her act a sign from the goddess, as Cesare Stregazza said, or merely a trick, as Marie-Celeste said? (I realize this is very similar to Lynn's question from last week. I read ahead and wrote these questions early. I flatter myself to think that great minds think alike.)
Much to my surprise, that was pretty much exactly what I expected, initially! I remembered them saying something earlier in the book about artificially amplifying the oracle’s voice, and figured that would come into play. I think I would say that Phedre was speaking with her own words, on behalf of Asherat-of-the-sea. The first comment was designed to get attention, to make sure everyone was paying attention to her. In that sense, I suppose it was a trick, but I’d rather say it was theatrics. It served its purpose well.
2. Ysandre offers (or demands) to take Imriel into her own household to spare him the “taint” of being a traitor’s son. What do you think of this? Would an Imriel raised by Ysandre be welcomed by the people as the heir to the throne? Or would the people remember Melisande’s treachery when they see her son?
I might be wrong, but I think that there’s only a handful of people who even know about Melisande’s treachery. I think the only ones left standing after the end of this book were the nobles (besides Percy and the Shahrizais) who were at Troys-le-Mont. I don’t think anyone else would have as visceral a reaction to Benedicte and Melisande’s treachery, so they probably wouldn’t mind Imriel being the temporary heir. For that matter, it sounded like Benedicte was not the only noble who was concerned about Ysandre ‘tainting’ the bloodline with Drustan, so those might welcome a full d’Angeline heir.
I think Ysandre’s offer was genuine, and she would not have blamed the child for the crimes of his parents. I am not altogether sure Melisande’s desire to protect him is genuine. She has never shown any kind of loyalty or true affection to anyone so far, and it’s hard to believe that giving birth would fundamentally change her character. I’m suspecting that Imriel is a key element to her fallback plan, which she is now forced to use. She can’t give him up, not because he’s ‘her son’, but because he’s the last card she has to play.
3. What do you think of Melisande taking sanctuary in the temple to Asherat and the Doge allowing it? Is it blasphemous? Ysandre asks Phedre what she can expect from Melisande, and Phedre cannot answer. What do you expect from Melisande?
She’s clearly not a believer, so she’s just exploiting their religious beliefs for her own benefit. Unfortunately, they seem to be bound to obey their religious rules, even when someone is obviously flaunting them. I was wondering why they couldn’t try the argument that she was involved in the corruption of Asherat’s priestesses, and so was not eligible for sanctuary. She wasn’t the one who did the corrupting, so I wouldn’t expect them to kill her, just to deny her sanctuary. For the future, I suspect that Melisande is coming to the end of her contingency plans, and I don’t think she ever expected to be pushed this far. I do think she has one more plan up her sleeve, though, and it involves Imriel. I still think this last plan might be foiled by Imriel’s not wanting to be a pawn in someone else’s power play.
4. After seeing his fellow Cassiline Brother attempt to assassinate their charge in La Serenissima, Brys no Rinforte is badly shaken and is unable to accompany Ysandre through the Royal Army and into the City of Elua. What do you make of this? Phedre called it “defection,” which, according to dictionary.com, has two meanings: 1) desertion from allegiance, loyalty, duty, or the like. Apostasy; and 2) failure, lack, loss. What do you think of Phedre’s description? Phedre also tells us that Ysandre dismissed the Cassilines from her service. What share of the blame does Brys deserve for Ysandre’s decision? What do you think of the irony that Cassiline Brothers have become more popular among D’angelines?
I think that’s a pretty good description, since both definitions fit. I think it makes sense that he would be so shaken. His whole life was built around strict adherence to the Cassiline ideals, and all of a sudden he realizes that his brothers may be breaking them left and right. Not just minor things, either, but trying to kill the person you are sworn to protect. He must have been questioning whether his order had any value at all, and uncertain about his ability to protect Ysandre when he couldn’t even be confident of the loyalty of his own comrades.
I don’t think Brys shares much blame for Ysandre’s decision, though. I think that blame can be handed directly to guard who tried to murder her. I agree with her decision. Cassilines are so taken for granted that no one could even remember which ones had been on guard ta Troys-le-Mont. Now that she knows their order is not inviolable, and that there indeed could be a faction within it that wants to murder her, I don’t think she could have made any other reasonable decision.
It’s a shame that the Cassiline’s lost their centuries-long job of protecting the monarch, but it is kind of funny that Joscelin (who has been declared anathema) is the one who has brought them back in style. I guess people are easily swayed by dramatic one-on-one combat stories!
5. The Rebbe Nahum ben Isaac said “you Children of Elua are too quick to forget how the love you invoke may cut like a blade.” What do you think? Is Elua a gentle, loving god or is the rebbe right?
First of all, it looks like I did read that situation correctly, that the attraction was one-sided between Joscelin and Hannah. I hope her life is happier without him. Also, considering how much Joscelin and Phedre have hurt each other with their love, I don’t think they were in danger of forgetting love can cut like a blade. I would still say Elua is more gentle and loving than others we’ve seen, though. For instance, no one gives blood sacrifices to Elua. It was a good reminder to them, though, that “following your heart” can sometimes mean stomping all over other people’s happiness. It’s a good idea to temper the ideal of love with the ideals of charity and compassion.
--I am not generally a fan of romance, so I was surprised by how happy I was when Phedre declared Joscelin her consort! Maybe they can work things out!
--Hopefully, they’ll have ten years of peace before Terre d’Ange is threatened again. Ten years… does that correspond to the length of time it takes for Imriel to be old enough to be part of Melisande’s backup plan?
--We got another moment of d’Angeline vanity, when everyone easily accepted that it made sense for a monarch to be so overcome with Phedre’s beauty that he gave her political aid. I was glad Phedre found that kind of insulting to the monarch’s ability. She’s maturing!
--The Companion Star was quite a nod of respect to Phedre, but it also seems like Phedre having easy access to speak to Ysandre in in the Queen’s best interest. All too often, what Phedre wants to talk about is the list of people she’s found who are trying to kill Ysandre and take her country.