Sunday, January 3, 2016

Read-Along: Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey, Part 1

Welcome to the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Scion!  This is the fourth book in the Kushiel’s Legacy series, so beware of spoilers of the previous three books (Kushiel’s Dart, Kushiel’s Chosen, and Kushiel’s Avatar) in the following discussion, as well as spoilers for this week’s section of Kushiel’s Scion.  We’re just now starting up, so head on over to our goodreads group if you’d like to join in, and check us out on twitter @SFFReadAlongs!  This week’s questions are hosted by Susan of Dab of Darkness, and they cover from the prologue to chapter 11.  Let’s get started!

1) Throughout this section, we relearn the events of the first trilogy through Imriel's eyes. What do you think of his perceptions of those events?

I think it was a good way to include a recap of the first trilogy, while also helping us to get into the mindset of the new protagonist. Phedre and Joscelin both seem very heroic in Imriel’s mind.  I don’t blame him for disliking Ysandre’s a bit, based on how she initially greeted him.  In the last read-along, I was really critical about how Ysandre handled their return, and I think this shows again that it was also a mistake in another respect.  She may have staked her claim on Imriel publicly, but she also damaged her ability to have a close familial relationship with him in the near future.  

2) What do you think is in Melisande's letters? How did she escape and who do you think assisted her this time?

I would expect probably a lot of attempts to get back into Imriel’s heart, and to display herself as a person worthy of his love. Since he’s still a child, I think it is reasonable that he wanted his adopted parents to handle the emotional burden of the letters instead of reading them himself.  Based on how guilty he felt about it, though, I expect he will actually read them sooner or later.

For Melisande’s plot, I’m guessing her escape was in some way related to the cult she was growing around herself.  This time, her package to Phedre seems to be designed to allay her fears, instead of to goad her into joining the fray.  I figured the message was, “I’m not coming after Ysandre and her family, so don’t worry about it.” She may be making a play for some other kingdom.  Also, I’d just like to say that it was great that Joscelin vetoed running off to La Serenissima.  There is really no call for her to potentially sacrifice her happy family life just to go chase Melisande again.

3) What do think about how Imriel handled Maslin of Lombelon? Has he made an ally or a foe for the future?

I think he actually handled it just about as well as it possibly could be handled.  I was really impressed with his ability to handle people, given his age and inexperience.  He didn’t go with either of the routes he could see with his ‘gift’, but instead treated Maslin with respect and subtly pointed out the similarities in their emotional situation.  I would say right now he hasn’t made an ally or a foe, but if things continue to go well, he might actually be able to become this guy’s friend one day.

4) There's a few moments of foreshadowing in this section: Elua's priest's words concerning finding and losing love over and over again; Alais's dream concerning a man with two faces. Are you intrigued or just happy to zoom along at this point?

I honestly just figured that first was a general statement about what life is like.  Now that you point it out, maybe it is specific to Imriel.  I hope then that it is referring to him having a tumultuous love life in the future, not that Phedre and Joscelin are going to be tragically murdered.  The man with two faces makes me think that Imriel is not going to succeed in his plan to keep his life sociopath-free.  No idea who it could be yet, though.

5) Imriel's Shahrizai cousins (Mavros, Roshana, Baptiste) have come to visit for a summer. What are your impressions so far?

So far, it seems like they are really trying to help him come to terms with his heritage.  They really don’t know what happened to him in Drujan, though, so all they can do right now is prod and back off when they hit sensitive spots.  I would think that they should have realized talking about how sexy his mom is would not be a great direction to take the conversation, though.

Other Things:

--I love Imriel’s relationship with Alais.  She is such an adorable princess :).  It was very sad, though, when they were playing at knife-fighting and Sidonie seriously thought he was going to kill her.  That must have been a pretty hard blow, to find that even his cousin thinks he’s really that heartless and dangerous.  

--One thing that stuck out to me in this section is how desperately Imriel is trying to justify himself separately from his heritage.  First there is the situation with Maslin, which he resolved by doing what he thinks is right, from Phedre’s model, and where he rejected the use of Kushiel’s Gift.  Then we have his vigil with Joscelin, where he chose to nearly freeze himself to death, following Joscelin’s model, instead of going to a party. Lastly we have his determination to do hard physical labor alongside the workers on his family’s estate, at least in part as a way to distance himself from his noble heritage.

--On the situation in Alba, I wonder if it might be resolved by declaring a son of Hyacinthe and Sibeal as the heir.  If the d’Angeline’s accept Hyacinthe as one of their own, then maybe that would be seen as ensuring the interest of Terre d’Ange in Alba.  I know there are problems with this idea (not the least of which that Hyacinthe doesn’t have a son yet), but that was just something I was thinking about.     

--Lastly, I am a bit puzzled by the book cover, since the main character is no longer Phedre! It is a pretty picture, though.


  1. Definitely true about Ysandre and Imriel. I think he has an innate distrust of authority figures after his big ordeal, and even benevolent authority figures are held in suspect.

    Yes. I was very glad that Phedre didn't go chasing after Melisande again. Sometimes you just have to cut things loose. Melisande wouldn't make a hasty disappearance. She would plan everything out. So, even if Phedre could pick up the trail, even if she could find her, Melisande would most likely be in a place where Terre D'Ange could not pry her out.

    Oh Mavros! Man I wanted to slap him up side the head when he went on about how sexy Phedre is. I know there is no blood relationship between Imri and Phedre, but she is his chosen mom. Mavros should respect that, especially after Imri gave his first warning. Dumb ass. I have to remember that these cousins are kids/teens too.

    Imri really is working hard to find his own identity, isn't he? It's great that Phedre and Joscelin are giving him so much space to do so, and it's not something they can do for him. I did really like that he spent part of his summer working alongside the Montreve workers. If nothing else, it gives him a better appreciation of hard manual labor.

    Ah! I am glad I am not the only one to have been puzzled by the book cover. I have wondered these many years why Phedre is on the cover and not Imriel or even Melisande. Phedre is still an important part of the story because she is important to Imri, but this is no longer Phedre's story.

    1. That makes sense, authority figures have never really boded well for him in the past.

      Yeah, and even if Phedre did manage to track her down, what would be the cost? It's really not worth it at this point.

      Exactly! I guess some teens might do that in reality too ("Your mom is so hot!"), but it seems like it should be obvious that's its not appropriate.

      My first thought was that maybe they wanted to tie the series together with Phedre-pictures, but from a quick web search it looks like this is the last cover to feature Phedre.

  2. "I would think that they should have realized talking about how sexy his mom is would not be a great direction to take the conversation, though."

    Inorite! That always rubbed me wrong. Which I guess is kind of the point. It's hard for me to understand the Shahrizai. They seem a lot more open and incestuous than is comfortable for me.

    1. Yeah, that's kind of weird to me, too. I get the sense that they might just be a lot more demonstrative than most people, so they have a different level of affection that they consider acceptable between relatives.

  3. I love your thoughts on this - sorry for not getting round here sooner!
    Completely agree about Ysandre - I don't think she's helped herself with her behaviour at the end of the last book. I must say that even though I can see why she acted that way I really did resent it - simply because of everything that Phedre and Joscelin have done for her and the kingdom - it just felt wrong somehow.
    I guess Joscelin putting his food down about chasing after Melisande was our first real pointer that this series really isn't about Phedre taking the lead any more. It was well done I thought because after reading Phedre's actions over the past three months I think Carey has realised that her readers will probably still hanker after Phedre's involvement still. And I think she needed to tease us all away from that expectation a little.
    I like your thoughts to a solution at Alba - it will be interesting to see how that develops.
    Lynn :D