Sunday, October 30, 2016

Read-Along: Kushiel's Mercy by Jacqueline Carey, Part 4

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.

Other Things:

--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.


  1. "I meant that figuratively, but it turned out to be surprisingly literal!"

    I know!!! Since this is a reread for me, when I read your comment a week ago, I cackled and just couldn't wait to see your reaction when you learn how right your prediction was!!!

    Concerning self-defense, this is something that, I don't know, maybe I'm just completely cold hearted. Or maybe I would feel differently in the situation. But I feel like, Imriel killing the guards, that was self defense/defense of others too. It wasn't immediate or direct, but they were involved (even indirectly) in the kidnapping and ensorcellment of Sidonie. It might be similar to battered woman syndrome. After years of abuse, when an abused spouse kills her abuser while he is vulnerable, a lot of times the justice system doesn't view that as self-defense. But she knows that he will kill her eventually, and she needed an opening. I might be explaining that badly, but I don't want to go off too far on a tangent.

    1. I think I get what you mean. They weren't an immediate threat to his and Sidonie's life, but they were a long-term threat that had power over their lives. If he hadn't killed them, they would have tried to kill him and Sidonie. I don't have much sympathy for the guards anyway, because I assume they've been taking part of the pillaging of Aragonia.

  2. 1. - definitely agree. His life will certainly be interesting - providing Carey doesn't cut it too short!
    2. - that whole scene with Justina feels a bit odd now I think about it - I can't help wonder what the whole inclusion of this was - what was behind Carey's inclusion of this aspect - unless maybe to introduce the fact that Melisande has spies everywhere?
    3. 'Astegal is a crummy, cheating, inconsiderate husband' He really is!
    4. OMG that tattoo carving scene was horrible - I don't think I could have done that if I was Imriel!
    5. - so funny - a few hundred years ago and people would have persecuted you for those intuitive powers!
    Lynn :D

    1. 4. I'm with you. It's hard enough for me to help get a splinter out for someone, I don't think I could handle carving off a tattoo!
      5. :D

  3. I agree with you about Justina - not all spies learn all of the espionage arts or are good at them.

    Sidonie really showed her strength in those moments when she is still at least partially under the spell and yet still willing to trust Leander/Imriel enough to cut a tattoo off her back.

    Hooray for D'Angeline fertility rights! I wonder if an evil foreign female opponent would have ignored such things?

    1. Yeah, I think one key to Astegal's downfall is simply going to be that he drastically underestimated Sidonie's intelligence and strength of character.

      I wonder! I like how this series shows again and again that having power over one's own fertility is so important to quality of life for women.