I’m very excited to be doing this readalong AND to be reading more of Jacqueline Carey’s books. I didn’t realize how much I missed Phèdre’s voice until I got started on Kushiel’s Chosen, the second novel in the trilogy.
As I did with the first book, Kushiel’s Dart, I’m reading Kushiel’s Chosen as part of a readalong hosted by Imyril of the Wyrd & Wonder crew. Each week, someone new pops in to host a discussion on the chapters read. This week’s discussion questions comes from the host, Imyril, who blogs over at There’s Always Room for One More.
Btw, if you’d like to join in the readalong, you can check out the link above or visit the Goodreads group for the reading schedule or to share your thoughts on the book.
What is your position on Phèdre’s decision to return to Court as a Servant of Naamah – and Joscelin’s reaction to it? Do you have more sympathy with one or the other?
I knew she would! I couldn’t imagine Phèdre living peacefully in the countryside. That doesn’t suit her at all. I can only imagine her in the mix of things. Plus, she is god-touched, and I believe that means she MUST be in the mix of things. It’s a requirement.
Another reason — Phèdre is very devout, and giving/receiving pleasure seems to be the religion of the D’Angelines, the Night Court being the different ways they worship (so I’ve started to think of it all), so I expected her to return to it for that reason too.
I guess it’s because I’m reading from Phèdre’s POV and like her character that I have more sympathy for her than I do for Joscelin. I was actually annoyed to see that Josc is still uptight about his vows and how Phèdre serves Naamah. I thought he was over this or at least a bit more open-minded about it all. At the same time, however, I understand that his vows as a Cassiline are a major part of his identity so breaking them or diverting from the Cassiline beliefs will take time, or he might not abandon them at all. I just wish he was less uptight and more open about how he feels — meaning talking to Phèdre about how he feels instead of being cold and locking her out. I’m not a Josc fan right now.
Phèdre is quite certain that the sangoire cloak is a challenge – and a promise that she can unlock Melisande’s secrets if she applies her arts. Why do you think Melisande sent her the cloak?
Lol, well… I guess Melisande did send it as a challenge — I can totally see her beautiful, conniving face doing that since she no longer has a big-ass diamond to taunt Phèdre with — BUT at first I thought to myself, “Omg, Phèdre! You’re totally overreacting and looking for an excuse to return.”
For the sake of continuing the plot and making it interesting, I guess it was Melisande who sent the cloak to make Phèdre go fish. But I’m also hoping that someone else did it maybe to divert Phèdre from other plots or because they think she might want her cloak back since Siovale is kind of cold compared to the city.
We get to know a plethora of characters this week: Favrielle nó Eglantine, Remy, Fortun and Ti-Phillipe, Nahum ben Isaac, Marmion Shahrizai, Severio Stregazza – any new favourites so far? Any thoughts on how Favrielle and Nahum flesh out aspects of the world-building?
Ok, so… all the new peeps overwhelm me (just like all the names overwhelmed me when I started Kushiel’s Dart). It was hard to keep track, so I gave up on doing that and actually do not remember who Favrielle and Nahum are… I googled them for brief descriptions (the book isn’t close by at the moment).
I think of them as the dressmaker and the Yeshuite priest (I’m horrible with names IRL too, smh). I like them both and agree that they help to further flesh out the world, especially Nahum because we learn more about the myths/beliefs the cultures are based on from him or when Phèdre reflects on her lessons with him. Actually, those were some of my favorite bits because I could see stronger similarities to cultures and religions in the real world. Plus, I just love this sort of worldbuilding in stories — ones that rely on myths and legends that become the base for a culture or religion’s beliefs. It’s even cooler that Nahum doesn’t seem to believe Phèdre about the Master of the Straits stuff. I’m hoping more mystical beliefs made real happen as the story goes along.
As for Favrielle, reading her parts were entertaining. I liked seeing someone who isn’t, or acts as if she isn’t, enthralled by Phèdre. I liked their interactions and what Phèdre does for her. It makes me wonder how their relationship will develop and if we’ll see more of Favri. I also appreciated seeing this other perspective of the Night Court — what happens to someone who is not allowed to continue Naamah’s service in a traditional way.
As for the other characters we were introduced to — I love the chevaliers, and Fortun is my favorite of the trio since he seems to be the opposite of the other two; he’s nice contrast.
Phèdre comments on the Midwinter Masque as a recurring motif in her life, but it’s far from the only echo of earlier events. What do you make of the way this first act mirrors events of Kushiel’s Dart?
I think the familiarity helps to ease us into this story, but I did get a bit annoyed by the recounting of what happened in the first book. However, I liked the way Phèdre reflects on past events. She does so while inserting a little sarcasm, I think, which I appreciated.
(First time readers) Care to place your bets on who helped Melisande to escape Troyes-les-Mont?
Yes! Let’s see… hmm… (Had to go find the book because damn the many names, ugh!)
I suspected Marmion (Meli’s cuz) at first because he threatens Phèdre at the masque, but then I wondered if he was there when Meli was locked up and then he seemed too scared when he saw Phèdre with Severio (he was unraveling too quickly), so I gave up on him. I’d be surprised if it was him. He doesn’t seem like he’d be on Meli’s side, but he also seems like he’d prefer to just stay out her way.
I HIGHLY suspect Barquiel L’Envers because he seems so damn mysterious and he’s one of few people Phèdre can’t read to know what he desires (how very convenient). But he’s too sly. Plus, he’s Ysandre’s uncle (so in line for the throne, maybe), and if he throws in his lot with Meli, he could probably gain the throne. He is highly respected, so he could have been the one to get close enough to the guards to stab them or sneak Meli past them. They wouldn’t really question him! But my suspect-alarm bells really went off when Phèdre saw that he brought a young woman to court — Nicola, a convenient young cousin to Ysandre. Phèdre couldn’t read her either (which made me go hmm…). And I was like, now why would uncle foxy do that. And I suspect that it’s to have Nicola socially usurp Ysandre. I mean, uncle foxy has a lot to gain if Ysandre is out the picture. I wonder if he had his sister killed. I wonder why he’s doing this, and I hope I’m right because he’s my biggest suspect right now.
OTHERWISE, I’m starting to suspect those Cassiline dudes, so maybe it’s them. A Cassiline is hardly noticed. They can sneak past anyone and they are bad-asses who can kill with a flick of the wrist. Could be them. As Josc said, they are human. Vows can be broken. Ain’t nobody that clean of sin.
But I really suspect uncle foxy. He’s just chilling in the shadows, behind scenes like a puppet master, waiting for his grand moment to reveal his plans.
…and of course anything else you’d like to share your musings on!
I have only one question: Does Phèdre manage to free Hyacinth? — don’t tell me, but I do wonder.