Sunday, May 1, 2016

Read-Along: Kushiel's Justice by Jacqueline Carey, Part 7

Welcome to week seven of the read-along of Kushiel’s Justice by Jacqueline Carey!  We’re winding down towards the end now, with only two weeks left to go.  This week’s questions cover chapters 47-56, and are provided by Lynn of Lynn’s Books.  If you’re interested in this and/or other read-alongs, check out our goodreads group!

1.Imriel seems to be having a lot of adventures by himself for the past few chapters.  What do you make of his adventures and his character as the story progresses?

I thought it was interesting that he had noted this was the first time in many years that he had been truly alone.  Even as an ‘orphan’ child in Elua’s sanctuary, Imriel was always a part of a group or a family.  I think he functions better when he has other people to keep his perspective grounded.  Right now, his travels seem less like an adventure than a grueling journey full of mishaps.  If Berlik really does want to meet his avenging angel, he could have made himself a bit easier to find.

2. What do you make of Urist’s misfortune? Do you think he will play a further role in the story?

I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him.  While Imriel is out wandering in the sticks, Urist is right next to ben Ximon and the Vralian leader.  They don’t share a language yet, but I imagine they’ll learn to communicate.  He’ll probably end up involved in the current Vralian civil war in some way.

3. Berlik seems to be receiving a lot of help on his travels, he seems very sad and repentant - what do you make now of Imriel’s mission?  Will he succeed or is he changing?  And is this mission worth the price?

I have a lot of conflicting feelings about this.  To paraphrase Imriel, I’m sure Berlik is very sad, and I’m also sure that he would still kill Dorelei and their unborn child if he had it to do over again.  Given that, he has proven himself unsafe to society, and he should be removed from it.  However, he has already more or less done that, by heading out into the Vralian wilds to contemplate his guilt alone for the rest of his life.

I don’t know what this mission will do to Imriel.  It would have been much simpler if he could have hunted down and killed Berlik in Alba.  Now he has spent so much time and so much pain in the single-minded pursuit of Berlik.  I am not sure I can see how he would be able to back down now.  He would feel that all his suffering was for nothing, and the Albans would take it as an insult to Dorelei’s memory.  I do think Imriel is going to find it harder than he expected to execute a repentant man.

4.  Joscelin seems to have become known as an ‘angel’ and Imriel as an 'avenging angel’ - any thoughts?

I think it’s kind of funny that Joscelin has turned into an 'angel' in this story, but also fitting.  I think the description fits well for Imriel as well.

5. The war that is looming - how do you see this affecting what is yet to come for Imriel?

In some ways it’s a little lucky, because that and the cold are probably hampering communications.  Otherwise, he might have been recaptured.  He usually ends up involved in whatever war or battle is at hand, so I expect he’ll end up rejoining Urist and the Vralians at some point.

6. What did you think of Imriel’s thoughts about the Gods and the fact that we sometimes change them by twisting the truth a little as time progresses?

I’m really exhausted this weekend, and not sure I’m sufficiently coherent for theology discussion.  I’ll give this question a try, though.  First, this thought kind of assumes that at one point mankind understood God fully, so that we initially had a perfect perception of Him/Her that has then been twisted over time.  I don’t think this can be true, because no human being at any point in history had a perfect understanding of God.  Since we don’t fully comprehend the truth, then we can’t be certain whether any change over time is bringing us closer or further from an accurate understanding of the mind of God. 

One can pursue understanding through prayer and worship, as the Yeshuites do and as Imriel does for Elua.  I think it is this pursuit that is worthwhile, and which brings you closer to God.  Still, people can come to very different conclusions about the same deity, and there’s no one who can definitively say who is right and who is misinterpreting.  It would be enlightening, as Imriel commented, to be able to see God’s reaction to his believers’ perceptions of Him.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that kind of enlightenment is often (or ever?) granted during a human lifetime.


  1. "Given that, he has proven himself unsafe to society, and he should be removed from it."

    This reminds me of something from the book Fried Green Tomatoes. I read it a really long time ago, but from what I remember, the woman in the nursing home said something like she would rather live next door to a murderer than a thief because you never know when the thief will get greedy and want what you have, but murder is a personal crime and, in her estimation, the killer won't kill again unless there is a good reason. I'm not so sure I agree with her. Not when you look at serial killers.

    But with Berlik, I guess I'm curious to know, if the woman from Fried Green Tomatoes is right and Berlik is safe because he won't kill anyone else, do you still think he should be removed from society?

    1. That is a really interesting idea, but I don't think I agree with the Fried Green Tomatoes woman. The thief has shown that there are circumstances in which they believe it is justified for them to steal, and the murderer has shown that there are circumstances in which they believe it is justified for them to murder someone. Who's to say what those circumstances are? I think murder is the kind of line you can't ever un-cross.

      Concerning Berlik, I don't think he really is safe. His murder was a personal one, committed with the intent of protecting his people. In that case, wouldn't he be likely to kill again, if he perceived his people as being threatened again? What if he decides the Yeshuite faith is a threat to the Maghuin Dhonn, for instance? Would the pilgrim families be safe then?