Welcome to the seventh and final post in the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Mercy, the sixth book of the Kushiel’s Legacy series and the final book of Imriel’s trilogy. This week’s questions cover chapter 76 through the end and are provided by Susan of Dab of Darkness, so beware of spoilers for the full first six books of Kushiel’s Legacy below.
1) We talked last week a bit about the charm Imriel put on Sidonie so she could maintain her own will. Did it work as well as you expected? Less or more? Is there anything more they could have done with these charms?
I think it worked better than I expected. Maybe it was because she settled very slowly into the spell, due to the charm, but she never fully lost herself. The two of them would have failed in the end, if she had. I don’t blame Kratos, he couldn’t have watched her every second of every day.
I wondered if Kratos could have quietly sedated her for a while, so Imriel could have snuck in and redone the charms. I don’t know if that would have worked, though, or if it only worked because the charm was in place before she set foot on Terre d’Ange soil. In any case, that would have been very hard to pull off without being caught. There’s no telling what they would have done if it seemed like Imriel was endangering Sidonie, since we saw how easily people turned against him.
2) Mavros as part of the Queen's Guard! Was that a surprise to you? Were you surprised by any other characters in this weird, corrupted version of the City of Elua?
I did not expect that at all. Thinking about it, Mavros is extremely loyal to his family. Maybe that is the seed that the spell built on? I’m so used to seeing him as an excitable flirt that he seemed like a totally different person. Beyond the weirdness of Mavros, I wasn’t shocked any more than I was over the people we saw in the previous section.
3) In a desperate moment, Imriel seems to be filled with the light of the 13, or at least Elua, until he's knocked out. Do you think it was Elua answering his prayers sideways?
I think it was definitely divine influence. Imriel seems to think it was so he would be knocked out and carried to that particular bed, where he would be in a position to see the pattern on the gem-painting of the oak tree. That seems extremely convoluted, but it’s possible. It seems like Elua and his Companions do not generally solve problems for their descendents, but instead set up situations where those loyal to them will be able to get what they need to solve the problems themselves.
4) We have a few desperate moments once the location of the gem is revealed to Imriel - his duel with Joscelin, his ride to the square, his scramble up the tree, his taking hold of Sidonie, and the breaking of the spell, the appearance of the demon. What did you like most about these moments? Anything you didn't like?
I was so scared that Joscelin was going to kill Kratos, especially after he stabbed him. I wasn’t sure at first how Imriel would get past him, either, since Joscelin was more skilled than both of them put together. It was a very clever but risky move to charge him barehanded. With Sidonie, it’s lucky she’s so good with pronunciation. That would have been horrible if they failed simply because no one could get the vowels or the emphasis quite right. I would say what I liked the most was that Sidonie was able to keep hold of herself just enough to help end the spell.
5) Terre D'Ange is at peace. What reconciliations stood out to you?
I am glad Imriel convinced Ysandre that she had to face the people she had wronged. I don’t feel like the reconciliation would have gone as well if Ysandre and Drustan had just stayed hidden away and let Sidonie handle it. I also was not expecting Hyacinthe to be there, when Alais and Barquiel came to the city.
6) Finally, we have a wedding. Perfect ending to the trilogy? Need something more? Any final questions that you want answered?
I like that Imriel’s trilogy ends with a party, as did Phedre’s, and that we got a quick reminder of all the characters we’ve grown to love along the way! I especially like that Hyacinthe sees happiness in Imriel’s future. I don’t think I really have any more questions that need answers.
--I like Sidonie’s tattoo. She changed the scar into a badge of honor, and I agree that it is not irreverent for her to carry a kind of Mark of Naamah after all that she’s done.
--I am skeptical of their amazing stamina, to be still alert and awake after a wedding celebration that lasted almost to sunrise. The style of wedding seems quite French, but those kinds of weddings wear me out. I guess some people are just really energized by extremely long parties?
--Finally, we saw some pushback over Imriel’s idea of “women”! It was a nice touch that Sidonie had no interest in planning her wedding.
--Alais is very clever. If Breidaia agrees, she has resolved all the problems between Alba and Terre d’Ange, and also contrived to have a certain Conor nearby ;).
--I appreciate that even after the events of this book, Imriel still thinks often of Dorelei.
--It turns out Ysandre did abdicate after realizing all that she had done, but I’m glad Sidonie refused the throne. As much as I dislike Ysandre’s decisions sometimes, it would have been a terrible way for a generally good reign to end.