Hello all, and welcome to week 7 of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Avatar! I’m a few days late this time, due to having way too much work to do over the weekend. Better late than never, right? We’re finishing up this read-along next week, but if you’re interesting in catching the end, or in future read-alongs, please check out our goodreads group page! This week covers chapters 74-82, and the discussion questions are provided by Lisa of Over the Effing Rainbow. Beware of spoilers, and let’s get to the discussion!
1.Yevuneh and the other women agree to help Phedre continue on her quest, and though it doesn't go smoothly, she succeeds in finding the Broken Tablets and the Name of God! What did you think of how this part of the story played out?
I think this is how it had to have happened. If the men hadn’t chased them down, Phedre wouldn’t have been threatened. If Phedre hadn’t been threatened, Imriel wouldn’t have tried to defend her. Then if Imriel hadn’t been in danger, Phedre might not have been able to reach that place in herself that held selfless love. I really appreciate that it was an adopted parent/child love that made her worthy to carry the Name of God.
2. When the dust settles, Imriel's position on where he feels he belongs is all the more firm - he wants to be with Phedre and Joscelin, and not with House Courcel. Do you have any thoughts on how things will go for them when they return home?
I would be extremely sad if Imriel didn’t end up as Joscelin and Phedre’s son at the end of this. He clearly has chosen them as his parents. For their part, both Phedre and Joscelin seemed not altogether content with their decision not to have children. Phedre didn’t want to risk her child having to also bear Kushiel’s Dart, and Joscelin thought that would be going too far against his former Cassiline ideals. For both of them, it was more external reasons than emotional reasons that they didn’t want to start a family. Now, their love for Imriel will allow them to have a child without having to worry about any of these considerations! In terms of the politics, I still hope Phedre will use her boon to adopt him as Imriel nó Delaunay.
3. Among other important changes to their way of life, the possibility of trade between Saba and other nations has opened up in the aftermath of what Phedre has done. This leads her to speculate that the intentions of the gods go far beyond what she was aware. What do you think of that bigger-picture theory? What might it mean for the world in general?
I hadn’t really considered that angle on the situation. In that sense, perhaps the deities are working together, Elua and his Companions alongside the Jewish God. I think that does make some sense, given the connection of Elua’s birth with the death of God’s Son. In that sense, perhaps it was God’s intention to find a home for Imriel, to stop the Angra Mainyu cult, to forgive the people of Saba, and to free Hyacinthe from his curse. I still don’t like that Imriel had to suffer to start this chain of events, but it does seem to be righting a lot of wrongs that have been resting unaddressed for many years.
4. We're heading toward the finale, and hopefully to a resolution regarding Hyacinthe's fate... Do you have any thoughts about what might happen when Phedre gets back to him?
I’m hoping he’ll be free, and he’ll go to be with his British almost-girlfriend. Of course, I’m also hoping they’ll visit Phedre and Joscelin from time to time. Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I’m so ready for everything to end up happy! If freeing Hyacinthe really is part of God’s plan to right wrongs, then I am wondering if the Name of God will vanish from Phedre’s mind after she uses it to lift Hyacinthe’s curse. It was a gift, after all, and seemed to be given to her for this purpose.
—The descriptions of rain were just so miserable! I can’t imagine having to travel like that for so long.
—Joscelin’s lion mane is amazing. I even found a fan art of it.