Welcome to part three of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Mercy, book six of the Kushiel’s Legacy series and the final book of Imriel’s trilogy. If you’re interested in getting involved in this or other SFF read-alongs, please check out our goodreads group. This week’s questions are provided by Emily of Emma Wolf, and cover chapters 23 to 35. Beware of spoilers through this point in the series from here on out!
1. Imriel spends the night at Melisande's before Solon is to do his spell. Melisande tells Imriel that she would like it if, after all this, he would find it in his heart to come visit her again. Do you think he will? What would that reunion be like?
It seemed like Imriel enjoyed the time he spent with his mother, even though he was wary of falling under her charismatic spell. I think he would come to see her again, especially if her aid helps save Sidonie and Terre d’Ange. I wonder, though, if Phedre and Joscelin would insist on coming along (Phedre to see Melisande, Joscelin to protect Phedre). I’m not sure what that reunion would be like, but I’d be interested to see it.
2. Solon tells Imriel to "put Imriel away" and "make him small...like a tiny, tiny seed." How much of Imriel remains inside "Leander" once the spell is complete?
I think there’s a fair amount of Imriel just under the surface. We’ve seen that his reaction to Sidonie is a lot stronger than Leander’s natural reactions would likely be. It takes him only a shared look to fall back in love with her, despite neither of them knowing their history. There are also little things, like his particularly troubled feelings after seeing the dark-haired slave boy who was about the same age as Imriel when he was sold into slavery.
3. Sidonie and Leander/Imriel meet and court again. What do you think of this and the echoes of their past courtship? How much of Imriel does Sidonie actually remember, if anything?
Once again, Leander/Imriel has a certain idea of the kind of person Sidonie is, and then discovers that her true self is quite different. I thought it was funny how Leander’s smoothness in flirting was hampered by his discomfiture at his own strong emotional reaction to her. I don’t think Sidonie remembers Imriel, but there is at least something in Leander’s familiar Shahrizai face that reaches her. She seems to be aware that something is wrong with her memory, but she just can’t figure out what has happened yet.
4. What do you think of Leander/Imriel's cover story of how he came to be in the service of Solon and sent to Carthage? What do you think of Carthage generally?
He should have anticipated that Sidonie would not be easy to fool! I’m wondering if he made some mistake with the chronology, so that Sidonie is already aware that it’s a lie. Maybe she’s just accepting it for now, because she thinks he knows more than she does of what’s going on. I think that’s also why she trusted him enough to bring him along when her husband sent for her.
Carthage does not seem like a nice place, though I guess we’re really getting a negative view of it through Leander/Imriel. The palanquins seem unnecessary and cruel, and I was surprised at how much slavery is a part of their everyday life.
5. We see Sunjata and Bodeshmun, this time through Leander's eyes. Has your impression changed?
From what we’ve seen so far, it looks like they could have just trusted Sunjata. He seems to have figured out the Leander disguise almost immediately, but he’s keeping it quiet and supporting Imriel. It was interesting to see more of Sunjata’s life from the perspective of someone close to him, and I hope that the story leaves him in a position happier than the one he has now. I don’t like Bodeshmun, and I don’t like how much power he wields. I hope it all blows up in his face, later.
6. Why did Leander/Imriel choose Kratos, Ghanim, and the brothers? Was it more Imriel or more Leander who did the choosing?
It seemed to me that he deliberately chose people that he did not think would survive long as manual labor slaves. Kratos because of his age, the brothers because of their malnutrition, and Ghanim because of his pride and aggression. I think Imriel and Leander would have been more or less in agreement here. Both of them, as d’Angelines, likely abhor slavery, and they both seem to have compassion and respect for people who are suffering. They would also both note that it was a clever move politically. The people he chose have a lot to lose if they are disloyal to Leander/Imriel, and he is offering them much more than they could have ever hoped for their futures. Ghanim also gives him a resource for learning about a new culture and language.
-- I feel a bit sorry for Leander. They stole all his clothes and his jewelry to make Imriel’s identity, and he seems like the sort that would feel that loss sharply. It was really good of him to agree to this plan.
-- I hope Imriel remembers all of his time as Leander, once this is resolved.
-- The hunt emphasized the fact that everyone knows about the spell, so it really isn’t a long-term solution for Carthage.. It seems like Bodeshmun was hinting that after a certain something has happened (The defeat of Aragonia? Something other magic?), they wouldn’t have to worry about keeping Sidonie undamaged anymore.
--I wonder what’s happening in Terre d’Ange while this is going on. I hope Barquiel is making progress in finding the magic stone.