Sunday, October 23, 2016

Read-Along: Kushiel's Mercy by Jacqueline Carey Part 3

Welcome to part three of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Mercy, book six of the Kushiel’s Legacy series and the final book of Imriel’s trilogy.  If you’re interested in getting involved in this or other SFF read-alongs, please check out our goodreads group.  This week’s questions are provided by Emily of Emma Wolf, and cover chapters 23 to 35. Beware of spoilers through this point in the series from here on out!

1. Imriel spends the night at Melisande's before Solon is to do his spell. Melisande tells Imriel that she would like it if, after all this, he would find it in his heart to come visit her again. Do you think he will? What would that reunion be like?

It seemed like Imriel enjoyed the time he spent with his mother, even though he was wary of falling under her charismatic spell.  I think he would come to see her again, especially if her aid helps save Sidonie and Terre d’Ange.  I wonder, though, if Phedre and Joscelin would insist on coming along (Phedre to see Melisande, Joscelin to protect Phedre).  I’m not sure what that reunion would be like, but I’d be interested to see it.

2. Solon tells Imriel to "put Imriel away" and "make him a tiny, tiny seed." How much of Imriel remains inside "Leander" once the spell is complete?

I think there’s a fair amount of Imriel just under the surface.  We’ve seen that his reaction to Sidonie is a lot stronger than Leander’s natural reactions would likely be.  It takes him only a shared look to fall back in love with her, despite neither of them knowing their history.  There are also little things, like his particularly troubled feelings after seeing the dark-haired slave boy who was about the same age as Imriel when he was sold into slavery.

3. Sidonie and Leander/Imriel meet and court again. What do you think of this and the echoes of their past courtship? How much of Imriel does Sidonie actually remember, if anything?

Once again, Leander/Imriel has a certain idea of the kind of person Sidonie is, and then discovers that her true self is quite different.  I thought it was funny how Leander’s smoothness in flirting was hampered by his discomfiture at his own strong emotional reaction to her.  I don’t think Sidonie remembers Imriel, but there is at least something in Leander’s familiar Shahrizai face that reaches her.  She seems to be aware that something is wrong with her memory, but she just can’t figure out what has happened yet.

4. What do you think of Leander/Imriel's cover story of how he came to be in the service of Solon and sent to Carthage? What do you think of Carthage generally?

He should have anticipated that Sidonie would not be easy to fool!  I’m wondering if he made some mistake with the chronology, so that Sidonie is already aware that it’s a lie.  Maybe she’s just accepting it for now, because she thinks he knows more than she does of what’s going on.  I think that’s also why she trusted him enough to bring him along when her husband sent for her.

Carthage does not seem like a nice place, though I guess we’re really getting a negative view of it through Leander/Imriel.  The palanquins seem unnecessary and cruel, and I was surprised at how much slavery is a part of their everyday life.

5. We see Sunjata and Bodeshmun, this time through Leander's eyes. Has your impression changed?

From what we’ve seen so far, it looks like they could have just trusted Sunjata.  He seems to have figured out the Leander disguise almost immediately, but he’s keeping it quiet and supporting Imriel.  It was interesting to see more of Sunjata’s life from the perspective of someone close to him, and I hope that the story leaves him in a position happier than the one he has now.  I don’t like Bodeshmun, and I don’t like how much power he wields.  I hope it all blows up in his face, later.

6. Why did Leander/Imriel choose Kratos, Ghanim, and the brothers? Was it more Imriel or more Leander who did the choosing?

It seemed to me that he deliberately chose people that he did not think would survive long as manual labor slaves.  Kratos because of his age, the brothers because of their malnutrition, and Ghanim because of his pride and aggression. I think Imriel and Leander would have been more or less in agreement here.  Both of them, as d’Angelines, likely abhor slavery, and they both seem to have compassion and respect for people who are suffering.  They would also both note that it was a clever move politically.  The people he chose have a lot to lose if they are disloyal to Leander/Imriel, and he is offering them much more than they could have ever hoped for their futures.  Ghanim also gives him a resource for learning about a new culture and language.

Other Things:

-- I feel a bit sorry for Leander. They stole all his clothes and his jewelry to make Imriel’s identity, and he seems like the sort that would feel that loss sharply.  It was really good of him to agree to this plan.

-- I hope Imriel remembers all of his time as Leander, once this is resolved.   

-- The hunt emphasized the fact that everyone knows about the spell, so it really isn’t a long-term solution for Carthage..  It seems like Bodeshmun was hinting that after a certain something has happened (The defeat of Aragonia?  Something other magic?), they wouldn’t have to worry about keeping Sidonie undamaged anymore.

--I wonder what’s happening in Terre d’Ange while this is going on.  I hope Barquiel is making progress in finding the magic stone.


  1. "I feel a bit sorry for Leander. They stole all his clothes and his jewelry to make Imriel’s identity, and he seems like the sort that would feel that loss sharply. It was really good of him to agree to this plan."

    Inorite! And all he got in exchange is having to take care of a bad tempered horse.

    "Ghanim also gives him a resource for learning about a new culture and language."

    I think you're right. I was wondering why he chose someone who he might not be able to communicate with, but I think that was a bit Imriel. Imriel is good with languages so he might be able to pick up enough so that wouldn't be such a barrier. And I think Imriel would think it would be important to learn more about the people guarding Sidonie.

    1. Yeah, I would not want to have to deal with the Bastard on a daily basis!

  2. 1. - Totally agreed and what a reunion that would be!
    2. - I think that lots of Imriel still remains, just barely concealed and the strength of his feelings for Sidonie are almost negating the magic!
    3. - It's awful what's happened to Sidonie - I can't help wondering if there is something - she can't put her finger on it but clearly she is drawn to Imriel - even with her memory suppressed. She certainly granted him plenty of audiences.
    It will be intriguing to see if Imriel can remember his time as Leander - I hadn't even considered that as a possibility.
    Lynn :D

    1. 2 - Yes, it made me wonder if their love would be strong enough to eventually break the spells on its own.

  3. Having Phedre and Joscelin meet up with Melisande again would be very interesting!

    I also enjoyed Leander/Imri failing at flirtations. It was such a fail it was a little charming.

    I think I would have liked to read that note that Sunjata got from Solon/Melisande. He did a good job of not letting whatever it was show on his face. How do you explain to someone that this friend of yours (Leander) isn't really Leander but he needs to think he is so don't treat him any differently... and that means bedding this stranger if Leander would do so.

    Ha! I bet you are right about Leander's clothes and jewelry. But I bet Melisande compensated him quite well.... Makes you wonder what that entailed!

    1. Yeah, his awkwardness was pretty adorable.

      It really must have been a challenge for Sunjata. At least it was a stranger who thought he was Leander, so Sunjata knew he would be a generous lover.