Sunday, February 14, 2016

Read-Along: Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey, Part 7

Welcome to week seven of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Scion! This week I’ve provided the discussion questions, and they cover chapters 53-60.  Only one week left of the novel, and I’m excited to see how everything will play out.  For now, beware of spoilers through chapter 60 below.

1) We begin this section with a slightly happier topic, Eamonn and Brigitta’s wedding.  Do you think this was a good idea, for Eamonn and Brigitta as well as for the people of Lucca?  Assuming they both survive, how do you think it will go for them when they break the news to their families?

I was surprised that Eamonn and Brigitta agreed to this, though I think it was good for the morale of the city to have something to celebrate.  Still, getting married is a lifelong commitment, and I didn’t think that Eamonn and Brigitta had been dating for very long.  It all seemed very fast, especially when you consider how much thought and planning seems to go into political marriages for nobles.  I can’t help but wonder how much the “tomorrow we may die” atmosphere of the siege contributed to their decision-making.  I really hope that Eamonn survives the siege.

Assuming they both make it through, I’m not sure how their families will take the news.  I don’t think there will be problems of personality (who could dislike Eamonn!), but there are some issues that will need to be talked through.  For instance, Brigitta was in Tiberium only for six months, after which she was supposed to return home.  Now she’s apparently planning to move permanently to Alba.  I expect her parents will not be thrilled.  On Eamonn’s side, I imagine his parents probably planned him to make a political marriage, and not for him to marry a woman he had dated for only a few months in college.  I hope they’ll come around and accept Brigitta eventually.

2)  Firestorm! Do you think this action was worth the sacrifices?  In the words of Deccus Fulvius, do you think it is worth destroying something to save it?

First off, I’m skeptical of how useful an olive grove would be as sustenance for an army.  I guess they have calories, but it would take a lot of time to gather them and they are pretty small.  I guess I don’t completely buy that it was necessary to burn down the ancient olive grove.  I think burning the crops is merited, but it’s also less of a sacrifice. They can be regrown in a year, and I think trade is developed enough that Lucca will be able to import food, once the siege is lifted.

I’m also conflicted on the sacrifice of people for this goal.  Gallus Tadius sent those men out with the expectation that it would be a suicide mission, but I didn’t get the impression that the men really understood this.  I think that if they were going to close the wall against them as they did, they should have made sure the men knew what they were signing up for.  If they had, maybe the one brief survivor would have fled elsewhere and lived.  

3) The d’Angeline delegation makes a deal for Imriel’s friends.  Do you agree with the characters’ decisions on who would go and who would stay?

I agree wholeheartedly with Imriel’s decision.  As for the others, I was surprised Brigitta didn’t choose to stay with Eamonn.  They had only just married, and I can’t imagine how hard it would be to leave your new husband in a siege.  She’s a fighter as well, so her presence could make a difference.  I agree with Deccus and Claudia leaving, especially since Claudia can now try to use her ties to the Guild to ask for help.

4) Do you think that Gallus Tadius knew that his plan to funnel the water to the underworld would require him to also depart?  Was that an act of self-sacrifice, or was it unintentional?

I’m not sure about this one.  He seemed very confident that he would be able to filter the water to the underworld, so part of me thinks he knew what he was doing.  Also, for all of Gallus Tadius’s faults, I think he does value Lucca and his family more than his own life.  I wonder if Lucius will be able to recover, and if his sense of the lemures will be gone now.

5) Any new thoughts on Canis?  Do you think he was involved in informing the d’Angeline delegation, and do you think he’s a part of (or in opposition to) the Unseen Guild?

I still don’t really know what to think about Canis, but the discussion from last week has put the idea in my head that he might be working for Melisande.  The main clue we have so far is that Claudia is lying about not knowing anything about him.  I have been wondering if he might have been involved with the Guild in the past, but has since left them.  Thinking back to his statement about being truly free as a nameless beggar, I wonder if he found he didn’t like being beholden to a powerful group.  Could Melisande have somehow allowed him to get free of the Guild, and that’s why he is looking after her son? Whatever his loyalties, I think that he was involved in informing the d’Angeline delegation, and he has been protecting Imriel.

Other Thoughts:
--After Imriel’s concern about his tendency to cruelty in the past few weeks, it was nice to see so many examples of his kindness this week.  For instance:
  • It was kind of Imriel to speak with Helena, and to share some of his pain to help her deal with her own.
  • It was kind of Imriel to use his Cassiline skills to coerce Gallus Tadius into getting a good night’s sleep.
  • It was kind of Imriel to help Helena’s parents cope by getting them involved in organizing their home for the flood and the invasion.

--Now comes the battle.  I really hope Eamonn lives.


  1. I'm not sure how much Grainne will be dismayed at Eamonn's choice of bride. After all, he's not her first born, and she's not married to his father. So politics might not play that much into it.

    Today, especially in the US, crops are grown as monocrops - only carrots, or only olives or only lettuce. But historically, things were grown in unison with other edibles, like beans and corn, etc. I don't know anything about olive groves, but I love the idea that an olive grove would have more than just olives in it. Plus, this is an army that is sitting around, so they have time to forage in the grove and set snares for rabbits and birds.

    Imriel is definitely kinder than he gives himself credit for.

    1. That's a good point about how maybe other things were growing in olive groves. (I'm thinking of the three sisters in the Americas and how corn, squash, and beans were grown together.) But I don't know anything about olive groves either and what could grow with them.

    2. That's true, so maybe Brigitta will get a warm welcome.

      I hadn't thought of that with respect to the olives. In that case, I guess they would have to destroy the olives to get the other crops :(.

  2. I was a bit surprised Brigitta decided to leave too. Maybe it's because she knew her time in CU was coming to an end and that things would be worse for her if her family thought she was missing.

    1. That's a good point. She might also want to prepare them a bit before they meet her new husband. Maybe his heroics at Lucca might endear him to them, too.

  3. I think we were all a bit surprised about the wedding - Lisa made a good point that maybe it's because we've not really been privy to the relationship developing. It definitely made for a bit of a lighter mood for everyone at the time but it was still a shock and like you say, it's a life long commitment.
    The burning of the olives - it seems like a tactic that an army would use (but I hold my hands up that I really don't know what I'm talking about). It feels like a very 'dog in a manger' type of thing to do and also makes me think that they could have potentially just been burning their own food - because if they're successful all their olive trees, etc, have now been destroyed. A difficult call.
    Canis is very puzzling - I really hope we're going to be chucked a line by the end of the book - I'd hate to come away from this feeling as mystified as I do now! Of course it is an incentive to pick up the rest of the books :D

    1. Yeah, they're going to be in a rough state with respect to food, even if the siege is lifted. I was thinking that maybe they're wealthy enough to buy food from another city to get through until their crops grow again.

      I admit, I'll be disappointed if there's no revelation on Canis and it's a continuing mystery for the next books. I'm going to read them, of course, but I want to know now!