Welcome to week two of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Scion. This week’s questions are provided by me, and cover chapters 12-19. Beware of spoilers through this section from here on out! This week’s section was a lot of Imriel growing up and becoming a teenager, so it’s pretty much going to be an all-about-Imriel discussion week!
1) In this chapter, Katherine and Roshana introduce Imriel to some innocent regional courtship games. What do you think of the differences between the two games? Do you remember anything similar from when you were a teen?
Katherine’s game seemed really innocent in comparison with Roshana’s light whipping game. The only related game I could think of from my life is spin-the-bottle, though I think that’s more the sort of thing young teens talk about playing rather than actually doing. The whole scene seemed like the Shahrizai were trying one last angle to get Imriel to loosen up about his desires, and it once again didn’t really work. It is a shame that he lost his chance with Katherine, but I guess Imriel wouldn’t have realistically been able to have a future with her anyway.
2) How do you think Imriel’s ideas of love and sex affected by the model set by Joscelin and Phedre? Do you think they’re doing a good job getting him through these awkward years?
That was something I didn’t really think about until Joscelin brought it up. Terre d’Ange culture is all about free love, but Imriel’s primary male role model is really not. I think that Joscelin’s perspective—that sex is only worthwhile when you are truly in love—has influenced the way Imriel thinks of these matters. Joscelin’s not really well-experienced to guide his son through the traditional expectations of his teenage years.
I feel like Phedre has been doing all she can to help him, while trying not to embarrass him. It was nice that she lent him the books that she herself had studied when she was growing up, and she handled the arrangements for his trip to the Night Court with minimal fuss. I think she is mostly helping him just by being a person that is not ashamed of sexuality, and who doesn’t treat the subject like it’s something not to be spoken about. I am also really glad they had a chat about consent, and how BDSM is not the same as what happened in Darsanga.
3) Imriel is getting a lot happier and easier at court these days. Is there anything that was particularly notable for you in this period, during the apple-picking party or on the Longest Night?
I enjoyed seeing him genuinely happy for once! The scene where he gave Alais the dog was adorable, and the apple-picking party seemed like such a good time. I’m glad he has friends now, and that he isn’t actually a pariah due to his birth situation. I’m expecting things are going to go badly any chapter now (as they did in Kushiel’s Dart), but right now it’s really nice to see him enjoying his life at court.
4) Imriel comes of age in this section, and spends his first night in the Night Court, at Balm House. What do you think about his experience with Emmeline?
I think Phedre chose the right house for him, and I think it’s best that this happened sooner rather than later. He had been building up his desires as some kind of insurmountable problem, and I think that now he can start to see that it’s not as frightening as he had thought. Emmeline was also an excellent partner, having no shame in her actions and no shock—or even curiosity—at seeing Imriel’s scars. I don’t know whether he’ll visit her again, since that seemed like an impulsive statement out of appreciation for their time together.
5) Imriel has also made a new close friend, Eamonn mac Grainne! What did you think of their fight? How do you think their closeness will affect his image at court?
To be honest, I guessed it was going to be a draw based on what they had wagered. It was a really interesting fight, though, to compare the Cassiline style of combat with Alban. Imriel definitely needs to practice more against non-Cassilines, since the odds of any potential future attacker being trained in that tradition is probably slim.
It’s great that they became such close friends, but I wondered if this is going to once again isolate him at court. Will his other friends be around to pick up their friendships when Eamonn has gone back to Alba? On the other hand, it’s probably a good thing for him politically to start to cultivate friendships with other nations.
—Just to point out, Katherine, Roshana and Imriel’s picnic was completely accurate to French picnicking practices today, including the choices of food, drinks and location. Picnics are a lot of fun!
—It was also pretty cool to see Eamonn meet his father. They both seemed so thrilled to meet one another, with none of the angst one might expect from a first meeting between a nearly-grown son and his father.
—I’m glad Imriel’s trying to give Nicola a chance. Since she and Phedre are so close, she’s bound to be around from time to time.