Sunday, January 17, 2016

Read-Along: Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey, Part 3

Welcome to week three of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Scion.  Our discussion questions this week cover chapters 20-27, and they provided by Emily of Emma Wolf.  If you’d like to join this or other read-alongs, check out our goodreads group.  Lastly, beware of spoilers through chapter 27 below!

1.Maslin says that Imriel’s gift of Lombelon made the estate small by so easily discarding it. Eamonn says it was Maslin that made it small. Who do you think is right?

I’m with Eamonn on this one.  The only reason it made Lombelon “small” is because Maslin cares more about what people think of the estate than he cares about the estate itself. Also, what exactly was Imriel supposed to do?  It seems like Maslin has the situation set up in his head such that he could have resented Imriel for any action he did or did not take concerning the estate.  Thus, he seems to value preserving the chip on his shoulder more than he does anything else right now.  I’m not overly fond of Maslin at this point.

2.What do you think of Imriel’s oath to Sidonie? Do you believe him? Would you believe him were you in Sidonie’s position? When he makes this oath, Imriel is still fairly young and doesn’t have a lot of experience in politics. Do you think there’s anything that could change his mind?

I think maybe he was a bit drunk, but I also think he meant it.  I don’t think it really changes anything, because he had always intended to be loyal to the throne.  The effect of the oath is simply that now (well, at least after she sees he was serious) Sidonie seems willing to believe his intentions.

3.Things change between them during a hunt. What do you think?

I think Sidonie trusts him now, at least. However, now we have a bit of awkwardness, given that they seem to be attracted to one another.  I am not sure I’m on board with the Shahrizai’s, “Oh you’re barely even related” attitude.  If I’m not getting the families wrong, I think Sidonie is Imriel’s first cousin once removed.  I guess that is distant enough to not be considered highly taboo today, since it is legal in most US states.  Still, it seems a bit weird.

4.Imriel becomes the unwilling target or subject of potentially a treasonous plot. What do you think of Bertran’s reaction? Of Ysandre’s reaction and advice to Imriel?

Bertran’s reaction seems about as unfair to me as Maslin’s.  There’s absolutely nothing Imriel could have done to be more honest, open, and loyal.  He told everyone right away, and went immediately to report to the queen.  On the other hand, I can see why Bertran would be very leery of anything that had the slightest connection with treason.  Given that, though, I’m not sure why he was ever Imriel’s friend in the first place.

Ysandre was very reasonable about everything, I think.  It is annoying that Barquiel is going to get away with maliciously ruining Imriel’s social life, but at least he did get a slap on the wrist in the form of his forced retirement.  I am sympathetic to Imriel’s anger, but I think Ysandre was right that realistically there was little more to be done about it. 

5.What do you think of Talorcan and Dorelei and the idea of the betrothals?

So far, it doesn’t really look like Imriel or Alais are going for it, though they don’t really know them all that well yet.  I do appreciate that this isn’t about forcing people to get married, but more in the lines of encouraging them to consider whether they’d be willing to do it.  Given Terre d’Ange culture, I don’t think anyone would force Alais or Imriel into a marriage if they refused.

6.Mavros takes Imriel to Valerian House and forces him to confront...less vanilla sex, if nothing else, and Imriel eventually gives in. What do you think of this? Was Mavros too pushy? Why did Imriel give Sephira her own signale?

I think that Mavros gave Imriel exactly what he came to him looking for.  Mavros didn’t say where they were going, but I think it was clear Imriel was pretty certain about their destination. Also, he let Roshana braid his hair, so that he would look like a Shahrizai.  I think Imriel wanted to step outside himself for a while, so that he could do what he wanted to do without all the emotional baggage and history of being Imriel de la Courcel.  Mavros and the others let him just be one of the Shahrizai party at House Valerian. 

I think it’s probably for the best that he finally confronted this part of himself, and hopefully found that it wasn’t too terrible.  Sephira was also pretty great, even though she couldn’t have possibly known the entirety of what she was dealing with in Imriel.  I think it was very helpful for him that she kept giving assurance that he had her consent, and that this was what she wanted and enjoyed.  As for the signale, maybe Imriel was just trying to say that he couldn’t handle it anymore?  He had spent the evening being someone else, and now he needed it all to stop.

Other Things:

—While I’m glad Imriel confronted his teenage desires, I’m not sure his sleeping around all over Siovale was extremely helpful for him.  I’m glad that he was a kind partner, though.

—Eamonn’s departure left Imriel as moody and isolated as I’d kind of feared he would be.  It must have been a jolt to going from spending all his time with someone he completely trusts to hanging out with casual friends that he’s been neglecting for months.

—I’m wondering if Imriel’s going to get his chance for adventure sometime soon!  I don’t think the world is any less in need of heroes than it was when Phèdre was in her twenties.  I guess knowing your parents were so heroic might make it feel that way to a teenager, though!

—I’m glad Phèdre found someone to talk to about Darsanga, and that it wasn’t Joscelin.  I know he would have listened, but it would have hurt him deeply.

—I’m also very happy that Alais’ dog survived.  Hooray for Celeste!


  1. "I’m also very happy that Alais’ dog survived. Hooray for Celeste!"

    I know! I loved that Imriel saved her!

    As for Imriel and Sidonie's relatedness, I think it's first cousins twice removed (not that that makes it better). I think they say in the book that he is first cousins with Ysandre, which is wrongish, I think. Ganelon was brothers with Benedicte, so that would make Rolande (Ganelon's son) and Imriel (Benedicte's son) first cousins. So Imriel and Ysandre (Rolande's daughter) are first cousins once removed, which would make Imriel and Sidonie first cousins twice removed..... I think...?

    Your observation is interesting concerning Imriel braiding his hair to look like a Shahrizai. Like he wanted to blend in or not be himself. But Sephira singled him out for being Melisande's son.

    "It seems like Maslin has the situation set up in his head such that he could have resented Imriel for any action he did or did not take concerning the estate. Thus, he seems to value preserving the chip on his shoulder more than he does anything else right now."

    I think you're totally right.

    1. Ah, good point! I think they did say he was first cousins with Ysandre at some point, which I think is where I got confused. I think you're right, Benedicte was a generation back. It still feels a bit weird, I think because there is so much emphasis on how Imriel is their family, but at least their relation is quite distant.

      It's true that she singled him out for being Melisande's son, but at least it was about her being a Shahrizai (and skilled in bed) and not to do with her treason.

  2. Maslin definitely has a chip on his shoulder. I have to keep reminding myself that he's also a teen becoming an adult and he doesn't have any close adult figures (that we know of) to help guide him. Still, he's a pisser, isn't he?

    I think Imriel's dad was Sidoni'e great grand uncle or some such thing, so they're not first cousins. Still, it does have that slight forbidden fruit quality to it since they share the same eyebrows and what not. And in some ways, it also smacks of narcissism to be attracted to someone who shares at least part of your facial features.

    Imriel lost some face among his friends but Barquiel lost hiscourt-appointed job. So I think I can live with that even as I sympathize with Imri wanting a duel instead.

    I think Imri needed to experience the difference between sacred love making (as he did with Emmeline at House Balm) and lustful tumbles (the ladies of Siovale) and his darker desires and paying for it (Sephira at House Valerian) because each is very different and the emotional baggage for each varies as well.

    I totally agree with you about Phedre chatting with Nicola (instead of Joscelin) about Darsanga. And I am glad Nicola shared that little nugget with Imri so that he can let go of some of his dislike for her. Sometimes we need a confidante outside of our one true love.

    1. Maybe Maslin will learn to let things go a bit as he grows up? Right now he's really frustrating.

      Yeah, Emily pointed out that I missed a generation, so I think they're first cousins twice removed--a fair bit more distant. I think it's all the emphasis on how they're family (and sharing the same facial features, etc.) that makes it seem weird to me.

  3. Things do feel a little awkward between Imri and Sidonie - I don't know whether it's the relationship issue or not but they feel more closely related to me somehow - I think it's possible that in my mind Imri's relationship with Alais almost feels brotherly and so any relationship with Sidonie would taboo - but they're obviously not brother and sister.
    Eamonn's friendship helped to cast all of Imri's court friendships in a much clearer light. I suppose a lot of people at court are fickle and flow to whoever is in favour. I was thinking kind of harsh thoughts about Bertran, particularly as he didn't give a truthful account - it seemed to me that he was complicit with whatever was going on as he also hampered Imri's chase. I think Ysandre handled the situation well - I certainly don't think a duel would have been a good idea.
    Maslin - well, yeah, he has a massive chip on his shoulder and doesn't seem to be able to see past his own bitterness. I also don't think he would like the idea that receiving this gift puts him in debt somehow to Imri, he doesn't strike me as somebody who likes to be indebted!
    Lynn :D

    1. Maybe his brother-sister-like relationship with Alais is part of it. Imriel and Sidonie are really distantly related, but somehow it feels like it's closer.

      Yeah, there's a big difference between an intimate friend and a casual friend, and I think Bertran was even a crappy casual friend. I hadn't considered him being complicit, though. That would be a nasty surprise.