Welcome to weeks four and five of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Naamah’s Blessing, the final book of the Kushiel’s Legacy series! I fell a little behind in the recent weeks, so I’m covering both sets of questions this week. The week four questions were from Susan of Dab of Darkness, while the week five questions were provided by me! As usual, beware of spoilers below.
1) Betrayal again! Did you expect it here in the heart of the jungle? How do you feel about this outcome versus what Durel has endured and has yet to face?
I did not really expect it. I guess Pochotl had no real reason to stay loyal, and we knew he did not want to go to Tawantinsuyo. It was disenheartening, though, and I don’t blame the men who wanted to turn back. The others gave a good talk about bravery, but many of the men who continued on with Moirin and the others did die.
2) Raging rivers, deadly illness, efficient deadly natives, scary ants, big snakes: I know you don't want to face any of them, but if you had to choose, which would you tackle?
I really can’t choose. They are all horrible things that I hope I never encounter. I keep reading over the list, but I get the same sickening dread feeling on each of them.
3) Vilcabamba held a nasty surprise, didn't it? An army of ants and Raphael controlling them! Were you surprised? How do you think Moirin will learn to deal with the ants?
I was surprised. I didn’t expect the group’s barbed ‘gift’ to ever really be relevant to the story. I’ve no idea what Moirin will do with the ants. I was hoping she would be able to communicate to the ants, like she usually can with animals, to win them over. It looks like she can’t really get through to them, though.
4) Raphael intends to summon Focalor and force him to relinquish his powers or serve him without question. What do you think Focalor’s reaction will be? Will he be so easily enslaved or tricked?
I don’t think he will be enslaved or tricked at all. In fact, I think Raphael has already been enslaved and tricked. Raphael is so different from how he was before, and I think a large part of that is the influence of that little bit of Focalor that got through. When Focalor gets through entirely, I expect whatever is left of Raphael will be destroyed. I don’t know what Focalor wants to do exactly, though.
1) What are your thoughts on the whole situation with Bao and Cusi? Was it right of Bao and Moirin to engage in blood sacrifice? What do you think of Cusi’s willingness?
I honestly expected them to find another way, right up until Cusi died. Phedre was so strongly against blood sacrifice in the previous trilogies, as are d’Angelines in general. I know Bao and Moirin hated the idea of doing this, and I was shocked that they actually committed to it. I think a major difference in this situation was that Cusi volunteered. I think we’re meant to see this as Bao and Moirin respecting a foreign culture. I’m just not sure I can get behind it.
2) Was the secret of the ancestors what you thought it would be? Was it worth Cusi’s sacrifice?
I was kind of expecting an army, like Aragorn’s in Lord of the Rings, to suddenly manifest. I guess I didn’t really take it as the past rulers would literally just stand up and take matters into their own hands. It seems it was one of the only ways to stop Raphael, since the ants could not harm them. I still don’t think it was worth sacrificing Cusi, but we’ll see about the aftermath.
3) Did Jehanne’s intervention, or Raphael’s reaction to it, surprise you? Do you think saving Moirin’s relationship with the Maghuin Dhon was worth eliminating their last resort to thwart Raphael?
That would have been a brutal price to pay, but I suspect Moirin would still be accepted by Elua and his Companions, even if the Maghuin Dhon turned her back. Bao still has his Chinese afterlife to head to, so most of the price would have been Moirin’s. It really locked them into the strategy of sacrificing Cusi, though, when Jehanne took away her ability to sacrifice herself. I wish they’d had the backup plan, because that would have at least given them an alternative.
Jehanne did surprise me. I expected her to be a little more help with the current situation, not just resolving the oath tangles. She managed to get Raphael to back out of marrying her daughter, but he only did it to ensure Moirin wouldn’t lose her powers right as she opened the door to Focalor. That’s still pretty gross.
4) On Raphael’s attempted summoning, do you think his turn-around at the end is enough to bring him right enough with Elua to pass into the Terre d’Ange that lies beyond? Meaning, do you think he can be forgiven?
I don’t think so, at least not from what we saw. He admitted he erred in summoning Focalor, but that could have just been him realizing he could not take control of the spirit. He did not have the chance to repent of his other poor choices, or to try to make things right with anyone. For that matter, he’s killed a LOT of people. Then again, though, we don’t really know what is required to get into Terre d’Ange that lies beyond. Maybe, if his heart did truly change, Elua knew. Maybe there is a place for people who have made terrible mistakes, to guide them back to the light. Maybe it will be discussed in the next section.
--Those ants grossed me out. I don’t think I could ever get used to their presence.
--It sounds like Thierry has stepped up a lot. I hope he can handle the situation back in the City of Elua.
--Moirin talks a lot about the mistakes she’s made, but everything seems very nicely entwined. I think she is following exactly the path set out for her. If she hadn’t joined the Circle of Shalomon, she wouldn’t have had the charm to save Snow Tiger. If she hadn’t gone to Ch’in, she and Bao wouldn’t have been able to save the day here. Following one’s destiny doesn’t mean everything will be happy, just that there is a purpose.
--I was impressed by the brief glimpse we got of the old Sapa Inca. He seemed to care deeply for his people.