Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey (Book Two in the Kushiel’s Legacy series) continues the historical fantasy story of spymaster, seductress and heroine Phedre no Delauney. The characters are as fun as ever plus the plot’s betrayals and intrigue keep you reading. You’ll want to know what happens next and you won’t be disappointed.
The Characters: The characters from Kushiel’s Dart including the spymaster heroine Phedre no Delauney continue to grow as people. Phedre’s part of the nobility. Joscelin enjoys his time at their estate in Montreve.
Of course politics throws a wrench in their quiet little life. Melisande challenges Phedre by sending her sangoire cloak back to her and it serves as the gauntlet being thrown down. Phedre knows that Melisande has another plot in the works and goes about trying to hunt her down.
You’d think Joscelin and Phedre’s relationship was all perfect except Joscelin still wrestles with the demons of breaking all but one of his vows. He also dislikes the fact that Phedre is going back to Naamah’s calling and sleeping with other men (as well as being a whipping toy).
The friction between Joscelin and Phedre keeps their romance storyline fresh. It also plays a hand in the plot because they lose some dear friends because of it. I won’t say who.
Melisande continues to be a compelling villain in Kushiel’s Chosen. She’s not one dimensional in that she desires domination — she does what she does because she loves the game. She remains the perfect foil to Phedre though Phedre eventually turns the tables on her.
The Plot: This time the intrigue takes Phedre and her allies to Caerdicca Unitas and La Serenissima (Italy and Venice I think). It’s as gripping as the plot in the first book. Here Phedre is far from home and allies she can trust are hard to find.
It doesn’t involve just intrigue. Phedre meets some interesting pirates who help her beat Melisande at her own game. The story does a good job keeping you reading and there’s a touch of myth and magic that adds charm to the story including the cleansing of the blood-curse of Kazan Atribades.
There are moments you really feel for Phedre’s situation. It’s when she’s so beaten and defeated you ask yourself how she’s going to get out of it. The results prove to be a jolly read.
The World: Phedre’s travels take her not only to Caerdicca Unitas but also Kriti (Crete) and Illyria. Jacqueline does a great job describing the culture, people and customs of these other locations. It really feels like you’re there, traveling along with Phedre.
The Plot: You have so much fun reading about how Phedre gets out of the last bad situation that you’re usually not too concerned about the times you predict the end game. So it’s hard to say that there was anything I disliked about this book to be honest.
I will say that I had a pretty good idea where Melisande was about halfway through the novel. Maybe I was used to how Jacqueline thought through the plot. So I wasn’t entirely surprised by the ending or the big betrayal nearly halfway through.
Kushiel’s Chosen is a wonderful continuation of Phedre’s story from Kushiel’s Dart. The characters and romance remain a high point of the story though the plot outshines even that. If you read Kushiel’s Dart and liked it, you won’t be disappointed with Kushiel’s Chosen either.