Mighty Kushiel, of rod and weal
Late of the brazen portals
With blood-tipp’d dart a wound unhealed
Pricks the eyen of chosen mortals
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.
Kushiel’s Chosen is book two in a trilogy. If you haven’t read Kushiel’s Dart this will have spoilers for that book which I will not be hiding. I will however hide any spoilers for this book.
Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but Chosen follows up a year after we left off with Dart. Having saved the queen and the realm Phedre, Joscelin, and her chevaliers have retired to her newly acquired estate inherited from her mentor Delaunay. By all accounts life is quiet, and she is happy, if a little bored. Until one day a package arrives that brings about her to return to Naamah’s service in search of answers. Once again the fate of the realm will rest on her shoulders.
I easily enjoyed this book as much as the first, maybe more. Kushiel’s Chosen builds upon that foundation built by Kushiel’s Dart taking us to places we have not seen before, and introducing us to new cultures and religions. What makes Chosen different, and arguably better, is a switch of emphasis.
In the first book the emphasis is on all the erotic, action-packed, political, and mystery elements. There are elements of love, and friendship, but these are not truly the focus. In Chosen all these elements are still there, but the focus shifts to the love story between Phedre and Joscelin.
This is a love story above all else instead of being a story which contains a love story.
In Dart our lovers forge a bond through extreme circumstances which in many ways mask their deeply embedded issues. He hates her calling, but loves her enough to accept her completely. The thing is before this can truly be put to the test they find themselves betrayed, alone and surrounded by their enemies fighting for their lives with the fate of the realm hanging in the balance. They save each other’s lives time and time again enduring much suffering in the process. And then it is over. She becomes peer of the realm, and they retire to the a quiet life of loving bliss.
This time around when Phedre makes the choice to re-enter Naamah’s they both have nothing, but the agonizing stillness of time to test the limits of their love. Day by day, moment by moment, we see the toll this takes on them and their relationship. It is excruciatingly painful to watch. You’ll have to read the book to see how this plays out, but trust me it gets pretty brutal.
I will say that this shift of emphasis caused the book to move very slowly at first. I don’t remember it picking up until somewhere around the 300 page mark. If it had kept pace any longer I don’t think my interest would have held, but Jacqueline Carey knows exactly how much slow languish to allow before letting up.
For whatever reason I found I appreciated Jacqueline Carey’s style of writing more this time around. It was every bit as beautiful last book, but it stood out more to me for some reason. Perhaps because it was a slower book plot wise I was able savor it more?
Kushiel’s Chosen was a good deal slower, but a lot more personal than Kushiel’s Dart. It was above all a love story. In that sense I enjoyed it more, but in fairness Chosen could only happen with the work laid down by Dart.
My Rating: ☆☆☆☆
There are a few things I am really looking forward to in the final book.
First, with all the mentioning of Hyacinthe our boy has to make an appearance in the finale right?! I hope so because I loved his character, and the relationship between he and Phedre.
Then there is this ten year gap Phedre was promised. A lot can happen in ten years! Will she and Jescelin get married? Do they have children? I’d love to see that even if it is at the end of the trilogy.
There was the hint of a, permitted?, love affair between Phedre and Nicola. Not going to lie I’m rooting for some steamy sex between those two. Don’t judge me.
Finally there is Melisandre. Beyond all doubt she will play a huge role in the last book, and our heroine will need to finally get ahead of her instead of always being one step behind. This time just kill the chick and be done with it. Seriously she has more lives than an immortal cat! And who has her kid? My money is on her cousin Marmion who disappeared, but we never really heard about him again. And what does that mean if he is actually working with Melisandre?!
Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie.