Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Read-Along: Kushiel's Chosen Part 5

Welcome to week 5 of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Chosen!  This week’s host is Susan of Dab of Darkness, and her questions cover Chapters 50-61.  If you’re interested in joining us, check out our Goodreads group.

I’m a little late this week, because I made the odd life choice of wearing myself out riding horses shortly before going on an intense weekend trip to Copenhagen.  Now that the sheer exhaustion and muscle soreness have abated a little, I’m back to blogging!  This section took some turns I didn’t expect, so beware of spoilers below.

1) This week we learn plenty more about Kazan Atrabiades and his personal demon, the kriavbhog. What do you think of this demon and his blood curse?

It seems extremely unfair to me.  He did kill his brother, but it was completely accidental.  Kazan was going to suffer tremendously even without a blood curse.  He said he would have given anything to have his brother be alive again, and I think he was telling the truth.  I can’t imagine the grief and guilt that must haunt him daily.  And on top of that, he knows that his mother definitely blames him, since she set the blood curse on him.  He’s shouldering all of this alone, and doesn’t even have a family to turn to.  The supernatural curse may be bad, but I think the completely natural reaction to his situation is harder to bear.

2) On the island of Dobrek, even Phedre has to admit she had some harsh pre-conceived notions about pirates in general and then Kazan specifically before she was brought to his home. How do you think this experience will affect Phedre going forward?

Phedre grew up pretty sheltered (at least, up until Delaunay’s death), and she has seen so many different ways of life since then.  She still seems to feel superior about Terre d’Ange, but I think each experience like this must broaden her horizons a little.  Also, she has now learned a completely different language to add to her arsenal of knowledge, so that may help her in the future.

3) Nikanor’s ship returns and Phedre is once again off on the high seas. But, alas, she is not ransomed safely. Were you angry at Kazan for not telling Phedre who she was to ransomed to? Or angry at Phedre for not having told Kazan the whole of it in the first place?

I don’t judge Phedre from not telling Kazan everything.  It would have been a bit weird for her to trust her pirate captor with all the secrets of Terre d’Ange politics.  I was a bit angry at Kazan for not telling her.  If he really thought that she wouldn’t mind going to Benedicte, why not warn her in advance? Somewhere deep down, he must have known it was going to be a bad betrayal.

This reminds me of their ‘bargain’, as well. I think Phedre was right to call it out as a sop to his conscience for raping her, but she then chose to go into it as a Servant of Naamah.  She seemed to feel led by Naamah to really commit herself to the role, and I suspect that may be what convinced Kazan to save her at the cost of his own men.  He might not have done so much for a random hostage, but things are different when it’s for a woman who was his lover.  Not to mention, he must have felt so guilty for betraying her. 

4) Nearly to Epidauro & safety, Phedre can see the kriavbhog is killing Kazan and orders the ship about into the storm. Was there really no other choice?
She could have just let him die, so there definitely was another choice.  I don’t know if that’s really a choice she would have ever made, though.  He risked the lives of himself and all of his men to protect her life from Benedicte, so I don’t think she would have ever repaid that by letting a kriavbhog kill him.

5) Now in the land of Kriti, we meet Oeneus, Hierophant of the Temenos along with the Kore, Pasiphae.  What do you think of these two and the small amount of aid they offer Phedre and Kazan?

I think it was not a small amount of aid for Kazan.  Whatever that absolution comes from, it seems to have given him some peace. It sounded like it also called off his blood curse.  They introduced Phedre to the local secular authority as well, so they’re helping her as they can.

6) Kazan enters the thetalos to be cleansed of his blood guilt. Of course, Phedre is pricked by Kushiel to go comfort him as she might. There she faces her own guilty demons. Would you be concerned if you had to pass through the thetalos?

I really liked that Phedre was forced to go in there by Kushiel, because I think she faced a lot of hard truths that she had been avoiding.  For instance, the fact that she enjoyed hurting Joscelin.  I also think it was right that she was not absolved for her guilt.  I think she may have been right about it being better to remember how it feels, when she commented about how easily Kazan talked of killing people after his absolution.  I hope that she’s more likely not to make the same mistakes in the future.

As for me, I’m sure it wouldn’t be pleasant, but I don’t think I’d be in fear of dying of it.  I’m sure everyone has done things that they regret, but to my knowledge none of mine carried as dire consequences as Phedre’s or Kazan’s.   


  1. "He’s shouldering all of this alone, and doesn’t even have a family to turn to. The supernatural curse may be bad, but I think the completely natural reaction to his situation is harder to bear."

    Wow. Interesting and sad observation.

    "I was a bit angry at Kazan for not telling her. If he really thought that she wouldn’t mind going to Benedicte, why not warn her in advance? Somewhere deep down, he must have known it was going to be a bad betrayal."

    Here too. Hmm...you're making me want to reread these passages and rethink things. I thought it was one part of him playing his hands close to his chest, one part of him thinking it didn't concern her (since she had said, sure, go to La Serenissima). Did he know that they would plan to trick her into thinking it was a D'Angeline ship? I can't remember.

    1. I don't know if he knew about that plan or not. I don't remember it being mentioned (but he didn't seem surprised, I think, when they met the ship). The way he suddenly stopped sleeping with her after he got the news from Nikanor, though, made me feel like his conscience was troubled.

    2. I'm rereading a bit now, and he did, um "summon [her] once more to lie in his great bed" the night before they sailed. I'm rereading it, and it's a pretty icky scene. I think it actually furthers your position.

  2. Yeah, Kazan - I wasn't expecting that double cross to be honest. I guess at least he saved Phedre. In some respects I feel sorry for him but in others - not so much!
    I also think it was good that Kushiel had Phedre go into the thetalos to be cleansed. She clearly has a lot on her mind - hopefully this will help.
    Lynn :D

    1. Yeah, even if she didn't get the absolution Kazan did, I feel like it helped her process a lot of her actions/experiences.

  3. I agree with you about Kazan and killing his brother. He would have beaten himself up about that for the rest of his life.

    Yep, I think Phedre went into the bad bargain as a Servant of Naamah because it gave her some control over the event. But I am still glad she called him on his BS at the beginning even if she didn't mention it again.

    I too liked that Phedre didn't get absolution for entering the thetalos and the things she saw there. I think only Elua and Kushiel have say over her absolution anyway.

    1. Yeah, I was glad she pointed it out at the beginning, just so it was clear what was happening.

      Also, that makes sense, if she is going to be forgiven, it would be through Kushiel.