Sunday, February 7, 2016

Read-Along: Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey, Part 6

Welcome to week 6 of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Scion.  This week’s questions are provided by Susan of Dab of Darkness, and cover chapters 45-52.  As usual, if you’re interested in joining future read-alongs, please check out our goodreads group.  Now, on to the questions, and beware of the many spoilers lurking below!

1) Imriel spends a night on the island of Asclepius. Do you agree with Imriel that his nature is to be cruel? Do you think of Imriel as a stunted tree reaching for the light?

No, I think he’s being a little too hard on himself.  I think the tree metaphor works better in reference to what he has suffered than as a statement on his nature.  His suffering will always be a part of him, but it doesn’t need to be something that prevents his growth or becomes the center of his being.

It seems to me that he is a little hypersensitive to his own actions that might be considered thoughtless, cruel and perhaps self-centered, because he has spent so much time meditating on the meaning of goodness.  I don’t think he is any crueler than the average person likely is from time to time, and I think it’s a good sign that he recognizes his failings and wants to improve on them.

2) Imriel makes a good go of breaking things off with Claudia. However, throughout this section we have seen how the spark between them is not yet doused. What do you think of Imriel's lingering desires? Is Claudia telling the truth about her own desires? 

I would give his break-up technique and A+.  He managed to avoid saying hurtful things, and was actually pretty respectful of her. He kept the focus on what their relationship was, and why he did not want to continue it.  Claudia lashed out a bit, and good on Imriel for not letting that get to him.

I think it’s undeniable that they still desire one another, but also undeniable that they don’t love one another.  Even if they end up in bed together a few more times, I think their relationship is essentially over.

3) Imriel reveals his full identity to Lucius and he learns of the legend of the Bella Donna, based on his own mother. Clever, intentional legend building by Melisande, or a fanciful story that built up over time or was borrowed from another legend? 

I blame Melisande!  She’s so easy to blame.  Seriously, though, it does sound tailor-made to absolve her of guilt and cast her in the role of a victim.  Imriel’s horrified response to the story was pretty funny.

4) All is not well at the city of Lucca. Helena has been kidnapped. The ghosts of the dead walk among the living. Lucius is possessed by his warlord ancestor Gallus Tadius. What do you think of this harsh man/ghost? 

Useful for the moment, but it will be good when they don’t need him anymore—assuming Lucius can find some way to banish him.  I am very glad they were able to prevent him from marrying Helena.  She’s going to marry Lucius at some point, I assume, but it was not a good time.  Lucius is possessed and she’s traumatized.

5) When Imri and crew return to the Tadius Villa with the injured Gilot, Imriel ponders the wonder of women. 'The courage of women is different than the courage of men.' Do you agree? 

Not really, courage is courage.  I would maybe agree that in a given society women and men are called (or forced) to express their courage in different ways.   

6) With the city under siege, an older mystery pops up with the arrival of Canis. Why do you think Imriel held his tongue and only told Eamonn? 

The simple answer would be because Canis asked him to (non-verbally).   The more complicated answer would involve why Imriel trusts Canis enough to hide his secret, and why Canis has come here in the first place.  I’m afraid I have no ideas there, though it’s clear that there is more to Canis than I had thought.

Other Things:

--This is a random thought I’ve had for a while, but it was brought up again this week by their riding.  I think the Bastard and I would really not get along. I am a horseback rider, and Imriel’s descriptions of his ‘spirited’ behavior sound exhausting and annoying to me.  I would much prefer a smallish, friendly, responsive, peaceful stallion (they do exist, I swear).  I guess Imriel’s preferences are naturally quite different than mine!

--I was so sad when Gilot died.  It just felt unfair, to him and to Anna and Belinda.  All he had to do was to make it through the wedding, and he could have gone back to Terre d’Ange and lived peacefully with his new family.

--I was quite struck by Imriel’s observation about Lucca: A place where a father loves his daughter enough that he’s willing to risk an entire city full of people to save her, but not enough to let her marry a poor man.

--I wonder if Imriel would have had the courage and conviction to rescue Helena the way he did without having endured the suffering of Darsanga. It was good that he reacted so quickly, even though it did ruin his chances of claiming diplomatic immunity.

--Alais is going to be pretty happy to hear his plans, if he makes it back to Terre d’Ange in one piece! I’m wondering if something else is going to derail that plan though, like Dorelei having fallen in love with someone else in the meantime.


  1. "I think the tree metaphor works better in reference to what he has suffered than as a statement on his nature."

    I agree. I hadn't even though of it as a statement on his nature before this discussion. Odd.

    I appreciate your thoughts on the Bastard. I wonder if this is also a comment on Imriel's personality, that he likes the challenge of a more "spirited" horse or sees himself in him. I don't know. I don't know anything about horses.

    1. I hadn't really either, but the discussion question suddenly put me in mind of it meaning something like "what has grown crooked can't be made straight". I really think Asclepius didn't mean it as an insult about his nature, but as a comfort about what he'd been through.

      I could see it as being kind of a challenge, earning the respect and obedience of a spirited horse. It's just such a hassle to me when you have to fight the horse for every little thing you want him to do (or not do).

      Here is my idea of an wonderful friendly stallion (Paddy is a club horse at my local stable, this is not me riding him in the video): Paddy has such a great personality, and a very comfortable gait.

  2. I also found Imriel's response to the Bella Donna legend quite funny. It's another aspect of his mother's scheming he had not come across before.

    I've grown a little found of the Bastard. But we have goats and donkeys, both of which have very definite ideas of what they want to do.

    Imriel's observations about Helena's father were pretty interesting. He'll risk his position, his wealth, all of Luca to save her life, but won't risk tarnishing his reputation by letting his daughter marry the man she loves. Yep. I hope he has rethought that.

    Yes, I think Darsanga shaped Imriel and that is why he was so quick to respond to that particular look on Helena's face.

    1. I have no experience of donkeys, but my grandmother used to keep goats! I never really tried to get them to do anything in particular, though, besides eat stuff :).

      Helena's father seems a bit shattered, so yeah, I hope he's been rethinking his priorities.

    2. "But we have goats and donkeys, both of which have very definite ideas of what they want to do."

      Please tell me goat stories and post pictures of your goats!!!! I have this completely irrational desire for a goat! I think it's their eyes.

  3. Absolutely agree - I think Imriel is far too harsh on himself but now you've mentioned it I suppose he judges himself based on his past experiences - which, whilst you may think he's golden in comparison, may mean he's a little more harsh on himself then people who haven't been through the same horrors? I hadn't thought of that and it's very interesting.
    Agree about Melisande
    And, yes, courage is definitely courage.
    Canis - I think there's definitely an element of him 'looking out for Imriel' - otherwise he could have already done harm to him. I just don't know why, or at whose request, he's doing so.
    Lynn :D

    1. I think Canis is one of the biggest mysteries left of the story right now! I hope we learn his motivations and who he's affiliated with by the end.