Welcome to week four of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Mercy. This week’s questions were provided once again by Emily of Emma Wolf, and they cover chapters 36-49. Beware of spoilers from here on out!
1. After being freed, Kratos decides to stay in Leander/Imriel's service. Did his loyalty or reasons surprise you? What about how he was able to aid Leander/Imriel?
I’m not too surprised. He didn’t really have anywhere else to go, and he was likely too old to try to start a business or anything. He could have gone to Cythera, but that would have been relying on the kindness of strangers to take him in. Even with the danger, it seemed like his best shot at having a nice life was with Imriel. Definitely, his best shot at having an interesting life! I think he’s shown the value of his mind and loyalty so far, and I suspect he’s going to end up as a permanent member of Imriel and Sidonie’s household. If he survives the rest of the book, at least.
2. Despite Justina's training, her loyalty to Melisande, and her position ready to tip the balance, she is unwilling or unable to help Leander/Imriel. What do you think of this? What good is the Guild or Melisande and her spies if not for this?
I thought this was surprisingly realistic. It doesn’t really make sense for the spies to be experts in everything, and she was just not trained as a pickpocket. I don’t think I could manage to exchange someone’s ring without them noticing. I have a lot of sympathy for her fear, though it was frustrating for Imriel. The bottom line is just that she did not possess the skills to be useful in that particular way in this scheme.
3. Any thoughts about the Longest Night?
It’s a shame that Sidonie and Imriel couldn’t hold vigil together. I suspect that was another bit of Imriel showing through, because I doubt Leander ever went for holding vigil over celebrating. Regarding the celebration, I thought it was sad that they didn’t even make any effort to have it in the d’Angeline tradition. I know it would have been bad for their spell on Sidonie, but still. Even without considering the spell, Astegal is a crummy, cheating, inconsiderate husband.
4. Any thoughts about the aftermath of the breaking of two of the spells? Were you amused by Imriel's conversation with Sunjata? Were you surprised by Sidonie's reaction once the spell on her is broken?
I’m glad Sidonie trusted him enough to hear him out, after his spell broke. I’m surprised she trusted him enough to let him carve a tattoo off of her, but I guess she already believed him about Astegal’s spell. I thought her reaction was pretty reasonable. I am relieved that they are finally back together and both in full possession of their minds.
5. Last week, Allie said she hopes Bodeshmun's power "all blows up in his face." Thoughts on his death?
I meant that figuratively, but it turned out to be surprisingly literal! Small correction, Imriel blew his power up in his face. Whoosh. Also, that was self-defense on Imriel’s part, so I don’t have any qualms about how he handled the situation. It was lucky that Bodeshmun had the word on him, though, or Imriel and Sidonie would have been in a tough situation.
--It turns out Sidonie didn’t ask for fertility! Astegal and Bodeshmun’s plan of avoiding Terre d’Ange traditions seems to have spoiled their plans in that case.
--Even though she’s escaped now, I wonder how much her ordeal is going to affect Sidonie. She was horribly violated, down to having someone else alter her thoughts, memories and feelings. I don’t even know how one would cope with that, or come to terms with those memories.
--I’m nervous about how Barquiel is doing in the City. In this case, I think no news may not be good news.