Read as thou wilt: The Kushiel’s Avatar Read-along, Week 2

It is time to discuss the second segment of Kushiel’s Avatar, and this week there’s a plot twist! Also, travel. Lots of travel.

Spoilers follow for chapters 17 through 34.


Our host this week is Peat Long, and for those of you only just catching on or catching up, here’s a reminder of our read-along schedule:

  • Week One: Beginning through the end of Chapter 16, hosted by imyril
  • Week Two: Chapter 17 through 34, hosted by Peat Long
  • Week Three: Chapter 35 through 51, hosted by me
  • Week Four: Chapter 52 through 68, hosted by Bookforager
  • Week Five: Chapter 69 through 85, host TBD
  • Week Six: Chapter 86 through End, host TBD

And with that, let’s discuss!

We have a twist in the plot! Imriel’s disappearance is less about Imriel and more random cruelty… and Kushiel. What was your reaction to this?

I remembered this plot twist, though a bit vaguely, but it still hits the same way, which I can appreciate. I feel like it would be almost easier for a lot of writers to go for the intricate revenge/ransom plot reveal, so for Carey to reveal that Imriel’s disappearance isn’t actually about Melisande at all, at least not in a material sense (more on that in a bit), has more impact for me because not only does it reflect the very real cruelty of humanity, it serves as a timely reminder to Melisande that a) not everything is about her, and b) yes, actually, there are some things she can’t predict or control. And to use her son to make this point only makes the impact of this twist greater.

Phèdre’s decision to give Melisande the news in the most compassionate of fashions possible causes a bit of friction with Joscelin. Would you have done the same thing? And what do you make of Melisande’s response and revelations? 

I’ll be honest, Phèdre took a higher road here than I think I would have been able to. That said, I appreciate that she did it. I’m not entirely sure Melisande would have done the same in her place, but perhaps that’s neither here nor there. So I can understand where Joscelin’s coming from, but I’m glad Phèdre made the choice she did – even if her conversation with Melisande left me very tense throughout!

As for Melisande herself… I can barely comprehend the amount of self-control it must have taken for her to keep any semblance of cool here, though the cracks we do see in her normally rock-solid composure did earn her a bit of sympathy. HOWEVER. I can’t help but feel like Melisande had this coming, however badly I feel for Imriel being caught up in it. Melisande might be able to out-think and out-maneuver her fellow D’Angelines, but escaping Kushiel’s justice is another matter entirely, and if this was what it took to exact a price from her for her actions… Well. She doesn’t exactly seem surprised, which is a relative point in her favour. She’s smart enough to know the score, and not try to weasel out of it or make excuses for herself. And that’s about as kind as I can be toward her.

One thing that’s noticeable is just how many characters we meet in this section as Phèdre travels back and forth. Any standouts? Any you wish we’d seen more, or even less of?

I’ll be honest, I’ve had a hard time retaining any detailed memory of that part of these chapters. When there are a lot of characters coming and going from the stage, they have to really stand out if I’m going to remember them, and I must admit the only ones I remember are ones we’ve met before, like Nicola. Nesmut is the exception, though I feel like that’s mainly because he gets more page time, and more interaction with the main characters. So I’d have to go back and reread this section to remind myself of anyone else, which is probably telling…

We appear to be on the verge of some big revelations. Any guesses at what they’ll be? Rereaders – can you remember much about what’s going to happen next?

As a rereader… yes and no? I recall quite clearly the tone of some upcoming chapters, and what Phèdre goes through (puts herself through?) in them… But as for larger plot details, my memory is fuzzy on those. It’s been a while! So I’m both eager to read on, and dreading what I’m going to read…

And that’s it for me, for now! Next week, I will be in the hosting seat because I’m a glutton for punishment on occasion. Brace yourselves…



1 comments On Read as thou wilt: The Kushiel’s Avatar Read-along, Week 2

  • …I hadn’t thought about it until you commented on Melisande being ultimately unsurprised that there’s a price to pay for what she’s done, but this week’s reveal is rather a strong mirror to Brother Selbert’s position last week, isn’t it?

    Brother Selbert: say what you like about her – traitor, murderer, terrible person in every way – but she did it all for LOVE. No laws broken here.

    Kushiel: oh really

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