Behind every man: Kushiel’s Chosen Read-along, Part 5

In the penultimate segment of this read-along, Phèdre makes some sacrifices, and does a lot of soul-searching, for the sake of another. She also makes it back to familiar territory, but the danger is far from over…

Let’s discuss Kushiel’s Chosen.

Spoilers follow for chapters 56 through 70.



What did you make of Phèdre’s interventions to save Kazan – first from the kríavbhog and then from the thetalos? Do you think he deserved it?

I have mixed feelings about this, to be honest. It’s not that I don’t believe Kazan deserved to be saved, or that Phèdre didn’t do the right thing. I think she was led to some very important personal realisations in the process of doing what she did to save Kazan’s life during the thetalos, in particular, so that was an interesting development and I appreciate that it happened. My problem is with Kazan’s rather brazenly oblivious behaviour afterward. He gets to go on like everything came up roses, when Phèdre endured one of the most emotionally challenging experiences of her life in the interest of making sure he came through it in one piece. She didn’t have to do that; Kazan seeming so cheerful and arguably ignorant of what Phèdre put herself through did not sit well with me.

And then he gets to enjoy a hero’s welcome when he finally returns home, like he did anything all that heroic in the first place. Let’s not forget he came within a hairsbreadth of letting the Serenissimans kill her for a bucket of cash. Congrats on not letting that happen after you already betrayed her, I guess. You’re not a complete a-hole. Well done, you.

Wow, I got bitter just now. Anyway! Yes. I am highly dubious of that particular aftermath, and of how comparatively easily Kazan gets to have it because of a woman who turned out to be braver and stronger than he is.

And he shows his gratitude (eventually) by assuring her that he’s not going to force her into bed with him KIND OF LIKE HE ALREADY DID BUT HEY WHO’S KEEPING THAT SCORE, RIGHT?

Perhaps I should move on…


The shadow of the supernatural lies heavy across the narrative. How / does this affect your understanding of Melisande, Marco Stregazza and their ambitions?

Only really in the sense that it gives me comfort, of a sort, to know that no matter what they do they won’t be in control of everything. Consequences are coming, and that’s perhaps a direct result of Melisande choosing not to simply eliminate Phèdre (because she’d rather toy with her instead, let’s be real about the depth of her noble character here). She can argue that even she knows better than to tweak the noses of the gods, but I hardly think that means the gods, Kushiel especially, are going to just turn a blind eye to what’s happening to/with one of their chosen mortals. And Melisande has had an inexcusably heavy hand in the things that have befallen Phèdre here.

As for Marco Stregazza, for all that I find him despicable I’m less concerned about the danger he poses, compared with everything that Melisande has proven herself capable of. He’s a powerful man, but he has very little real idea what a dangerous woman he’s allied himself with. And he probably thinks he’s the one in control in this situation. Oh, honey.


Phèdre describes La Serenissima and Kriti as ‘civilised’; she does not grant it to Illyria. Any thoughts on d’Angeline perceptions / expectations of ‘civilisation’?

That’s an interesting point, and it’s not something I’d picked up on in my reading. But it does make me wonder: how does Phèdre plan on making reparations between her nation and Illyria if even she doesn’t think they’re on the D’Angeline level when it comes to civilisation? Was that notion just born of desperation? I can’t see Phèdre being the type to turn around and dismiss the Illyrians with, “Wow, thanks for all the rescuing and backup and everything, ok byeee”. On the other hand, if she doesn’t see these people as even being civilised, never mind on an equal footing with hers, any effort she makes on their behalf is likely to strike them as a condescension…

Maybe I’m reading too much into that. I mean, I don’t remember exactly what happens past this point in the story; maybe I’m picking at nothing and Phèdre really will make positive changes, or at least get the ball rolling on them. We’ll see!


Reunited! Do you think this separation will be enough to bind Joscelin and Phèdre together in future – if they survive?

I am not going to say a whole lot about this, because I know things and don’t want to spoil any of it for anyone, but MY HEART YES THIS IS WHAT I WANTED. I mean. They still need to sit down and talk about stuff, and make an effort to move forward positively from this. But THEY’RE BACK TOGETHER AND IT MAKES MY ROMANTIC WEE HEART SO HAPPY.


That’s it from me for the moment, but stay tuned because the final week of the read-along is upon us and the duty of asking the questions is upon me, for the finale! So I guess I should crack on with the reading of the final chapters…

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