Read-along: Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey (week 1)

After the incredible introduction to Terre d’Ange that was the Kushiel’s Dart read-along in September last year we are finally returning to see how Phèdre and Joscelin are getting on and what new games are afoot in this angel-touched world. This will be another six-week Wyrd and Wonder read-along (because these books are chunky) being led by imyril of There’s Always Room for One More. Prompts are posted on this Goodreads page each week, along with links to everyone’s response posts and the reading schedule.

 

Before you read on, please be aware that there will be SPOILERS not only for Kushiel’s Chosen but also for the preceding volume Kushiel’s Dart.

 

Week 1: Beginning to Chapter 17 inclusive

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?

Well there’d be no story if she didn’t, so I’m definitely pro her return to Court, and I feel like being a Servant of Naamah is so much a part of who she is. Just as being a Cassiline is a part of who Joscelin is. I don’t feel more sympathy for one than the other, their whole situation is possibly the most star-crossed one I have ever read. I’m curious (and quietly, tentatively hopeful) to see if they will ever find a way to reconcile what they are with their love for each other. I also wonder if they both don’t actually get a kick out of the situation. We know Phèdre’s feelings about pain, but I feel like Joscelin also revels in suffering up to a point.

 

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?

The one thing we know about Melisande is that she plays games, and I think her sending the cloak to Phèdre was done in that spirit. The game is no fun if you don’t have someone to appreciate your clever moves and daring escapes. I suspect she’s as much gloating as she is tempting Phèdre back into the game.

I’d like to know what Melisande wants though. Is she just playing for the thrill of playing? Or is she after a particular outcome? (I can’t quite remember if she confessed any motivation at the end of Kushiel’s Dart). Does she want to tear Terre d’Ange down just because she can? And what of the gods? If they are taking a hand in Phèdre’s life, are they toying with Melisande too? (So many questions!)

 

We get to know a plethora of characters this week: Favrielle no 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?

Favrielle is fabulous and definitely my favourite of the new characters we’ve met so far. I love her scowling!

Remy, Ti-Phillipe and Fortun are each endearing in their own way and I have to say that I like Phèdre having her own small pack of errand boys.

I wasn’t sure about Nahum ben Isaac at first, but I suspect he’s going to grow on me (and has already started to), and I really don’t like Marmion Shahrizai. Severio Stregazza was quite interesting though. I wonder how large a part he has to play in the coming story.

In terms of how they’ve added to the word-building, I found Favrielle’s split lip, work for Eglantine House and Phèdre’s gift to her of her independence all quite interesting (up until now there’s not been much talk about what happens to the ‘ugly’ ones in the Night Court, and to here Phèdre talk you’d think there were none). But I find what we’re learning from Nahum way more fascinating. Despite the D’Angeline people being living proof that Elua and his companions existed there are still points of faith that are contested, and different religions. I am here for all of this. I want to know more about how the D’Angelines are seen by other nations too (to offset Phèdre’s continuing smugness about her fellow countrymen/women), and I remain curious about how Servants of Naamah are both highly regarded and looked down upon even within their own country.

 

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?

Aah, I loved it! There was something very comforting about Phèdre returning to the city, to a new town house and to the Court, rededicating herself to Naamah, finding a seamstress, getting ready for the Masque, and then receiving floods of offers and accepting Severio’s ridiculously high bid “to be the first”. It echoed her and Alcuin entering Naamah’s service in Kushiel’s Dart, but it also highlighted how much Phèdre has learned since then. If before she was innocent of the span of the game Delaunay used her to play, now she has a much clearer idea of the board on which she is playing, her opponent, and the dangers she faces. And so do we.

It’s a great way to have opened the book.

 

(First time readers) Care to place your bets on who helped Melisande Shahrizai to escape Troyes-les-Mont?

I like the theory about Persia switching places with Melisande and feel that’s going to prove right. And I think that one of Ysandre’s Cassilines is definitely going to have been involved, that also seems quite clear. Am I being blind to something more? Should I be guessing who the Cassiline Brother is? I don’t think I know any except the dude that said Joscelin was an oath breaker. Oh boy, is there going to be another of Ysandre’s inner circle involved too? This is all too tense for me!

Now I’m thinking about it, was there someone to help Melisande beyond the gates of Troyes-les-Mont? She’d not have gotten far without a horse and somewhere immediate to bolt for. Argh, this is where I start to feel stupid again! I don’t want it to have been anyone!

 

The next post for this read-along can be found here:

Week 2 – Chapters 18 to 30 inclusive

14 thoughts on “Read-along: Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey (week 1)

  1. Same here! I’d love to see how the D’Angelines are seen by other nations. I actually got a little annoyed by Phedre going on and on about how D’Angelines are all beautiful and other nations see themselves as incompetent in comparison. I guess we get an inkling from Severio of how others see themselves in comparison to the D’Angelines and we get hints from when Phedre was with the Skaldi, but it was all from Phedre’s POV and she’s majorly biased, so I didn’t fully trust it.

    Same here on suspecting one of Ysandre’s Cassiline protectors, but I think someone close to her who’s very powerful is helping Melisande too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the ‘we d’Angelines are so great’ thing did get a little wearing. 😂
      And I think you’re right about someone close to Ysandre helping Melisande – it’s such a small group of people that were at Troyes-le-Mont and I don’t want any of them to be a traitor! 😬

      Like

  2. I think you’re right about Joscelin and Phèdre’s situation, it appears that both of them are getting a kick out of the situation, even Joscelin! He likes to play the victim quite a bit and like Phèdre he is very prideful and not inclined to discuss anything which is very frustrating.
    I’m re-reading this book but I don’t actually remember who helped Mélisande at all, I have several theories but they might all be wrong lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ‘I feel like Joscelin also revels in suffering up to a point’

    …I hadn’t really thought about this, but now you’ve pointed it out you’re absolutely right. He’s always dressed his decisions up in duty (in Dart) – and even in Chosen he’s walking the line of ‘I’m not breaking my last vow’ – buuuuuuut the boy really is a glutton for punishment, isn’t he? I’m sure he’d rather have had his happy ever after being slightly miserable but comfortably loved in Montreve, but drawing a line of ‘I’m not leaving your side because oaths but no more feelings, I can’t do this’ is a wild ride of angst and outrage and misery. Sure, Joscelin, this was the easier option, honestly.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. The Joscelin’s masochism is a really good spot! And it makes a ton of sense to me when you consider his life. What pleasure is there for a Cassiline other than proving just how good you are at being one, which after a point, just becomes how much can you endure?
        Maybe that’s part of why they’re drawn to each other – two people who can understand the other’s need to be pushed on a subconscious level the way few others can’t.

        Liked by 1 person

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