It’s time for week 6 of the read-along of Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey! This week’s questions cover chapters 62-73 and are provided by Emily of Emma Wolf. If you’d like to join in for the end of Kushiel’s Avatar or other future read-alongs, the group can be found here, on Goodreads. Now, on to the questions, and beware of spoilers through chapter 73!
1. We see yet another attempt on Imriel's life. Any new thoughts?
I really didn’t anticipate people hating Imriel this much. I mean, that soldier was willing to die to murder the kid. I thought the average person didn’t even know the whole of what Melisande had done, so that kind of shocked me. Was he just so loyal to l’Envers that murdering a child and then killing himself seemed like a reasonable request, or did Melisande directly ruin that soldiers life somehow as well? I guess he’s dead in the river, so we’ll never know.
2. Imriel pulls the old switch-a-roo and ends up with Joscelin, Phedre, and Kaneka on their way to Iskandria. Phedre decides to press on rather than turn back. What do you think of her course of action? What do you think of Imriel's trick? Some seem to be reminded a bit too much of Melisande's escape from Troyes-le-Mont. What do you think? What do you think of Imriel's rationale that he is in Hyacinthe's debt?
I think Phedre’s right that the similarity won’t earn him any friends among d’Angeline nobility, but I don’t think he should worry about it too much. If a particular noble was really going to hate him because of a rumor of him using a trick similar to his mother’s at Troyes-le-Mont, I think that noble would have probably hated him regardless. I fully support Phedre’s decision to press on for the selfish reason that I like Imriel being in the story :). Within the story, I don’t think Phedre was being paranoid about sending him back to Terre d’Ange without her—the two murder attempts justify her fears. Also, I think it is nice that Phedre gave him a sense of purpose in the quest to free Hyacinthe.
3. Phedre meets with Pharaoh again...and threatens to tell Ysandre that Pharaoh has been in touch or in league with Melisande should something happen to her or Imriel. What do you think of her move?
I don’t think the Pharaoh would have done anything to her, really. It was smart of her to make certain, though.
4. Kaneka finds some healing with Wali, and Phedre finds her way back from the darkness of Darsanga. Thoughts?
I’m glad Kaneka found some happiness with Wali, but I think in some ways her healing was a little simpler than Phedre’s. Phedre also has to cope with the guilt of killing the Mahrkagir and the possibly worse guilt that she physically enjoyed the torture he put her through. I was so happy that Phedre found her way out of that darkness, and came back to Joscelin. Their time together, after he caught the fish, felt like a scene of making love, not of just having sex. I also have a lot of respect for him for giving her time and space to heal, and leaving the timing of their resuming their physical relationship completely up to her, with no pressure. Imriel’s happiness was also adorable— he was so delighted that his chosen mom and dad were finally completely back together.
We get the reminder that Phedre is still an anguissette, but I wonder if she is going to be able to take assignations anymore after Darsanga. The novel showed clearly how her time with the Mahrkagir was very, very different from consensual BDSM, but I wonder if the surface similarities between the two might be enough to take her mind to a very dark and unhappy place.
5. Phedre et al. journey down the Nahar, through the desert and into Jebe Barkal and Saba. What do you think of these new places and the new characters we meet?
It was a very interesting journey down the Nile…I mean, Nahar. Apparently, the Nile is referred to sometimes as ‘Nahar Mitzrayim’ in Genesis, which I guess is where the name comes from. I don’t really have a lot of thoughts about the people they met on their way. I guess I was very focused on the destination.
6. Phedre meets with the elders of Saba and is disappointed. Then she meets with some of the women. What do you think? Will they help her when the others didn’t?
I’m suspecting the women are going to help Phedre in an attempt to make up for not protecting the Covenant of Wisdom all those years ago. I hope it works out for them, and they are forgiven by God. It sounds like it really is what Phedre needs to save Hyacinthe. I’m hoping that her purity of intent, that she wants only to rescue a friend, will protect her and allow her to speak the Name.