Welcome to week five of the read-along of Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey. This week’s reading covers chapters 50 through 62, and the questions are provided by Lynn of Lynn’s Books. Let’s get right to the discussion!
We had a number of dramatic chases and escapes this week - what really stood out most for you.
I would say the horseback escape through battle stood out the most to me. That must have been really terrifying for Sidonie, who has never experienced war firsthand before. Not to mention, they were riding through combat on horses they didn’t know. The horses could have easily spooked unexpectedly and gotten them killed. I assume they were trained warhorses, but they are still intelligent creatures with their own personalities. It is frightening to think of trusting your life so completely to a perfect stranger, and that goes both ways.
Imriel and Sidonie meet with Nicola L’Envers y Aragon who turns into an ally for the two of them arranging for them to gain audience and we once again see Sidonie’s diplomacy skills - how do you think she would compare to Ysandre as a ruler?
I think she has already shown herself to be a bit more reasonable than Ysandre. She has visited Alba, and she has been willing to change her mind when she gets new information. She also generally treats people ‘below’ her with compassion and respect, which is not something I particularly remember of Ysandre. In summary, I think Sidonie will be a more flexible ruler than Ysandre, and that she will make a Terre d’Ange that is less likely to break.
Imriel made a statement this week about once wanting to be a hero but now having changed his mind - and how heroism meant living in terror that you wouldn’t be able to protect those you loved - what do you make of his thinking?
I think it shows his maturity. When he was young, he kind of romanticized the idea of being a hero like Joscelin. In reality, I don’t think Joscelin much enjoyed being a hero. It mostly involved enduring through a lot of pain and humiliation, and desperately trying to keep Phedre from being killed or worse. If he and Sidonie get through this alive, though, I’m sure they will be remembered as heroes in song.
Euskerri. The plan is to sway the Euskerri (by offering them sovereignty) to side with Aragonia. Do you think the Euskerri are wise to accept or not?
I hate to say it, but I kind of see their perspective. This is incredibly annoying from the perspective of Imriel and Sidonie, but they have no reason to trust that the offer of sovereignty is made in good faith. I get the feeling they have been abused by Aragonia in the past, and they aren’t willing to send their people to die without a guarantee that it is worth it. That being said, I think they are wise to accept. I don’t think Carthage is likely to be reasonable about sovereignty issues.
Finally, it seems like both Imriel and Sidonie will return to the battlefront - what do you think of the agreement reached? What do you predict going forward?
Imriel is not a bad soldier. I hope he is not injured in some permanent way, and I expect he’ll probably spend most of the battle making sure Sidonie is safe. I bet the Aragonian nobles will be surprised to see them again.
--Part of me wonders if Barquiel and Alais will manage to sort out Terre d’Ange before Sidonie and Imriel get there. They’ve sent along the key word, which is all they really needed.
--On that note, I feel like everyone has forgot that Sidonie will lose her mind if she crosses back over into Terre d’Ange. Unless I am missing something? There were two different spells on Sidonie, and they only broke the one, right?
--I hope the two of them actually get to a future where they aren’t constantly having to check each other’s wounds.
--Didn’t they say at one point that part of the navy got away from Terre d’Ange? If they aren’t ensorceled, why aren’t they helping Aragonia?