Read-along: Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey (week 4)

From darkness to light, thank goodness, and not a moment too soon. Our D’Angelline duo have defeated one god and restored another, and now they’re off to search out the name of god. Piece of cake! (Sarcasm, it would seem, is most definitely my defence mechanism when I’ve been hit one too many times in the feelings).

Details for this read-along can be found over at There’s Always Room for One More.

I’m asking the questions for this week’s reading, so let’s not beat about the bush …


Week 4: Chapters 52 through 68

“And they heard me, îshta, your gods heard me and knew fear.”

We’ve speculated about Kushiel’s involvement already, I know, but have your theories developed or feelings changed at all in light of this week’s chapters?

This felt like a confirmation that Kushiel has ‘sent’ Phèdre to stop Angra Mainyu from destroying the world. Although I don’t know where all the other gods from all the other cultures are that they didn’t see fit to get involved. Like, what’s Ahura Mazda doing that he plays no part in the overthrow of his own usurper? I’m willing to accept that the gods are a law unto themselves, I’ve even enjoyed the ambiguity of their presence in Carey’s world, but I also try not to look at it all too hard.

And while we’re at it: I was also struck by this comment from Ismene, the Hellene girl who dies after the escape from Daršanga:

“Sometimes the gods themselves find the pain of existence too much to bear. Because they are gods, they pick a mortal to bear it for them; a lypiphera, a pain-bearer.”

Which has me side-eying those gods – swap out the word ‘gods’ with ‘parents’ and perhaps you’ll appreciate where I’m coming from – and smacks of mortals making excuses for the suffering they endure.

So, yeah. I remain happily confused about the cross-culture relations between all the various deities and the varying levels of power and influence they seem to have.


The death of the Mahrkagir and the subsequent escape from Daršanga is a terrifying and bloody end to Phèdre’s Drujan ordeal. How’s everyone doing now?

Well, I’m feeling a lot better now everyone’s made a break for it, but this was an emotionally fraught week’s reading! When Phèdre and Joscelin hugged one another briefly before getting on with the business of getting the heck out of Drujan, I sobbed my little heart out. When Drucilla died, I sobbed again. When Imriel asked if people would hate him because of who his mother was, my heart was rain. And when Drucilla’s shawl/Joscelin’s sling was cast aside, I wailed.

Thankfully, after that it was mostly sniffling.


“Some things, once broken, can never be made whole again.”

Thoughts? Feelings?

So many. *sniffle*

That ten-year strong relationship has been tested to it’s very limits, I think. Joscelin may have known what Phèdre was before, but now he has seen it too, and that’s a very different thing sometimes. Meanwhile, Phèdre herself admits to feeling “broken inside” and I don’t think this is anything Joscelin can help fix – she’s got to make some sort of peace with herself over this. While that love for each other is still there, I don’t know if it’s enough. But if it is, I think Phèdre and Joscelin’s relationship will be more beautiful for everything it has weathered.

And then there’s Imriel. Both Joscelin and Phèdre have, at different times, observed that at his age they were on their own paths to what they have become; acknowledging that trauma will play a part in how he turns out. And yet he is with the best two people he could be if he has any chance at recovery. And so I wonder if love for Imriel will play some part in their relationship mending (don’t let us down here Carey – I don’t think you’d be so cruel as to divide our two drama queens after so long).


“The boy could be dangerous. Or he could be something else.”

Imriel has a hard road ahead of him. How do you feel about him and his situation?

I don’t quite know how Carey has done this – but I love Imriel so much! He’s vulnerable and resilient all at once and I just want to put him somewhere safe and warm. I can’t help but think that his life is going to be difficult no matter where he goes (the attempts on his life that we’ve already witnessed underline that pretty clearly) and it just seems so unfair. Everything we know about him so far suggests that he’s sensitive and smart. I’m kind of worried that he’ll be twisted into something against his nature by what he means to others.

I can’t help but be aware that there is another trilogy that tells Imriel’s story, so obviously that is colouring my thoughts a little. I didn’t think I’d be interested in reading it, when we started this journey (I didn’t think I’d end up loving these books quite as much as I do – I absolutely would not have chosen to read independently), but then, I didn’t think I’d like Imriel at all and now that I find I do, I need to know that he’ll be OK … in the end.


Valère L’Envers again. Anything you want to share on this particular character?

I was quite fascinated by her on the first pass, but now I’m just cross with her. How dare she?! Not just trying to do away with Imriel – and why, when her family was so happy to marry her off?? – but generally just being a bit pissy about Phèdre’s survival and return. If I wasn’t totally sure about her before, I know now that I don’t like her, even as I wonder what, if any, role she might play in Imriel’s future.


And it doesn’t look like our little D’Angelline family will be heading home any time soon. Care to share your thoughts on where they’re heading next and what kind of welcome they might get when they do finally make it home?

Oof – the journey across the desert, so soon after Drujan, was a bit much. I don’t know about Kushiel, but I definitely think Carey is trying to wring every last drop out of her heroine.

I have to admit that when it comes to Melek al’Hakim/Melehakim and the search for the name of god, I’ve got very little clue what’s going on. I want to enjoy this scholarly quest so much, but with everything else going on, I just can’t. I’ve got the basic gist, but that’s all, and I’m just letting the story take me there.

I do wonder about that eventual homecoming though. The longer Imriel stays with Phèdre and Joscelin the more I think that they’re all going to want to stay together (assuming P and J get past Daršanga and remain together), and I don’t know how Ysandre and the rest of Terre D’Ange will feel about that. I’m worried for my little misfit family!


And, of course, any other thoughts?

The Mahrkagir’s death was surprisingly quick and understated, I thought. Phèdre is no warrior, I know, but I still found this interesting.

Kaneka “reclaiming her body’s pleasure” and later her homecoming. All the feels. *sobs*


  1. The question about what the other gods are doing is one that crosses my mind.

    An idle thought on Joscelin and Phedre – since I’ve not got a lot else to say other than I agree – but I think part of the challenge is to forgive themselves for what they put/let the other through, and believe the other isn’t too damaged to want to come back to what they were.

    Liked by 1 person

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