After finishing the phenomenal Kushiel’s Dart, I was in a hurry to continue with the series. Nonetheless, I approached Kushiel’s Chosen with caution, because how often is it really that a sequel makes good on the promise of a first book that I had loved so thoroughly?
In this case, my fears were unfounded. Jacqueline Carey delivered all of the complexity, intrigue, sensuality, and magic from the first book while engrossing me in the unique culture of yet another of Terre D’Ange’s neighboring countries. While she’s obviously borrowing from Europe proper, it takes no small amount of imagination in addition to proper historical research to create such a fully developed world and place our heroine in similar peril while keeping the story fresh. While many of the major players remain the same, the ever-shifting loyalties and desires in politics are always ripe subjects for tackling.
From Goodreads: “The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. The inhabiting race rose from the seed of angels and men, and they live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.
Phèdre nó Delaunay was sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by a nobleman, the first to recognize that she is one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. He trained Phèdre in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber—and, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze.
When she stumbled upon a plot that threatened the very foundations of her homeland, she gave up almost everything she held dear to save it. She survived, and lived to have others tell her story, and if they embellished the tale with fabric of mythical splendor, they weren’t far off the mark.
The hands of the gods weigh heavily upon Phèdre’s brow, and they are not finished with her. While the young queen who sits upon the throne is well loved by the people, there are those who believe another should wear the crown… and those who escaped the wrath of the mighty are not yet done with their schemes for power and revenge.”
After going on at length as to why I loved the first book, there’s sadly not a lot I feel that there is left to say why I similarly loved this one; all the reasons are the same. While YMMV when it comes to how one responds to individual installments in an epic fantasy arc, suffice it to say that Kushiel’s Chosen worked just as well for me in furthering the story and in developing the fascinating characters as Kushiel’s Dart did, and I already have Kushiel’s Avatar at the ready to start reading.