Sunday, October 9, 2016

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

Welcome once again to the continuing read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s series, Kushiel’s Legacy, organized by Susan of Dab of Darkness.  We begin this week with book six, Kushiel’s Mercy, which is the final volume of Imriel’s story.  Feel free to join us, or to join the SFF Readalongs goodreads group to participate in this or future read-alongs!  The schedule this time is as follows, where each week a different blog will propose reading questions and we will all answer in a Sunday blog post:

Oct.  9th Week 1: Chpts. 1-10 (Hosted by Dab of Darkness)
Oct. 16th Week 2: Chpts. 11-22 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Oct. 23rd Week 3: Chpts. 23-35 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Oct. 30th Week 4: Chpts. 36-49 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Nov. 6th Week 5: Chpts. 50-62 (Hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog)
Nov. 13th Week 6: Chpts. 63-75 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Nov. 20th Week 7: Chpts. 76-END (Hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow)

As listed above, this week’s questions are courtesy of Susan from Dab of Darkness.

1) So far, what do you think of the variety of responses people have to Imriel's and Sidonie's relationship?  

I think it is pretty much as to be expected.  People who have been personally harmed by Melisande find it harder to not blame her son in her absence. The younger generation, who have no emotional connection to Melisande’s actions, are much more able to see Imriel as an individual.

On the other hand, I feel like Ysandre’s reaction is hypocritical in the extreme and is exacerbating the political situation.  As queen, she should be setting an example for her people to follow.  Instead, she is turning her back on a decade of claiming to accept Imriel into d’Angeline nobility.  She could have maintained that guilt is not transmitted genetically, and that Imriel is indeed not responsible for actions committed by someone else before his birth.  That level-headedness likely would have swayed some who disapprove of the relationship.  I understand the narrative need for Imriel to hunt down his mother, but I really wish that could have come about in another way.

2) Imriel starts the hunt for Melisande. What do you think of his efforts so far? Could you hand over a wayward relative to the authorities?

I approve of the way his search begins.  There’s no reason for him to go running out the door when he has no idea where to start looking. Also, I love that Phedre and Joscelin are going with him, whenever he does find a destination!  I hope they all make it through this adventure safely.

As for the second question, I don’t think I would have any trouble in this particular sort of situation.  His wayward relative is someone he doesn’t know and doesn’t love, and I believe he agrees that she deserves execution for her crimes.  I think the only difficult parts would be that he knows she loves him (or at least the idea of him, since she doesn’t actually know him), and a feeling of repeating the pain of executing Berlik.

3) Sidonie makes her first ventures into the spicier side of the love arts. Comment away!

I really liked how this part of the story progressed.  I am still jealous of their information resources in this fictional world, as so much of it would be useful for so many people in reality.  I’ve been a little skeptical of “Showings” in the past, but in this case I think it would be really helpful for teaching purposes.  

On another note, these were actually Imriel’s first genuine ventures into the spicier side of the love arts as well, so it was interesting watching them explore everything together.  I liked how they focused on making sure everything was fun for both of them, and that there was no expectation that they would engage in this kind of intimacy all the time. I also felt that they had a much healthier relationship with the idea of a safeword than Phedre in her youth.  It is a tool for communication, not a challenge!

4) The priesthood weighs in on Sidonie's and Imriel's relationship. Do you think Imriel's words were the clincher, or do you think the priests had mostly made up their minds before the meeting?

I would imagine they’d more or less already made up their minds.  Sidonie’s been talking with the priesthood for a while, so they have a pretty clear view of the relationship from her.  I would have thought that all Imriel would need to do is not seem shifty and dishonest.  His vague statement about going after Melisande seemed to make an impact, but I don’t really see why the priesthood would assume something like that was proof of romantic love.  

5) It's been two years since Imriel last celebrated the Longest Night in the D'Angeline fashion. What was the most interesting part of this night for you?

Probably Barquiel l’Envers getting kicked out of it.  He has really let his irrational hatred of Imriel poison his own life.  He’s lost so much as a result of his unreasoning pursuit of making Imriel unhappy, and it doesn’t seem to have deterred him one bit.  At this point, I would almost not be surprised if he hid Melisande, just to thwart Imriel’s wedding plans.

6) We catch our first glimpse of the Carthaginians and the general Astegal. What do you think of their tribute?

Aside from the Unseen Guild angle, I feel like the Carthaginian government must have some kind of ulterior motive.  I haven’t figured out what it is yet.  As for the Unseen Guild, I’m wondering if the two spies are of different factions. If so, which one wants to betray Melisande?  Or does Melisande just want to see her son again at this point, so the correct directions will come from her loyal spy?  I assume she is not planning to be executed, but she probably has some plan in play that will allow her to see Imriel again.

Other Thoughts:

--The Alban situation seems like a real mess.  I understand Alais is pushing for her own power, but changing a matrilineal system into a patrilineal system does not seem like it would be particularly good for women in the future.  Also, I really don’t see how Drustan could ever agree to it, given recent Alban history.

--I guess we’re going to Cythera soon?

--I’m glad Imriel is keeping his promises.  I expect Alais will be wanting that puppy soon.

--It seems like Mavros has become one of Imriel’s best friends over the last few books.  I am glad that he is able to show Imriel a more positive side of the Shahrizai heritage.

--I wonder what Ysandre would do if Sidonie decided she was going to accompany Imriel on his hunt for Melisande?   


  1. It's got off to a great start hasn't it - it's funny because the world and people are so familiar now that I just kind of fall very comfortably back into the reading.
    Ysandre hasn't always been my most favourite person to be honest - some of her actions in the past have grated on me a little and this isn't really any exception, although, again, I can see that she will be worried about how this will divide her people. Still, I think she could have shown Imriel more support. As it is, her offer of a home to him feels a little fickle and something only offered at face value.
    I hadn't even considered the possibility of Sidonie accompanying Imriel - I think Ysandre would be livid!
    Lynn :D

    1. Yeah, it was surprisingly easy to fall back into the world, even after a few month's break! I'm kind of dreading this being the last book in this time period.

      That would be awesome if Sidonie went with Imriel. It isn't technically against any pronouncement that Ysandre has made, I think :D.

  2. "At this point, I would almost not be surprised if he hid Melisande, just to thwart Imriel’s wedding plans."

    ha ha!

  3. I agree with you about Ysandre. Tho we have seen in this trilogy that her emotions sometimes hold a bigger sway than we would like. In the first trilogy, I think the only time we saw this type of bullheadedness from her was when Phedre, Joscelin, and Imri returned with the Word and she wouldn't let Phedre sail to the Straights right away.

    I love your comment about the safeword being communication, not a challenge!

    Ha! If Barquiel was so driven in his hatred as to hide Melisande, then I think Ysandre would have to charge him with treason as well.

    I totally agree with you about the importance of Alban's matrilineal monarchy.

    1. Yeah, I think that was the first time her reaction made me angry. Since then, she seems to have become even less reasonable.

      On Barquiel, wouldn't execution for treason be a small price to pay for *ruining* Imriel's wedding? :D