36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2002
In Kushiel's Chosen, Jacqueline Carey has written a phenomenal successor to Kushiel's Dart. The novel picks up where Kushiel's Dart ends and takes the beautiful, bull-headed, intelligent, vain, patriotic and conflicted heroine, Phèdre nó Delaunay de Montrève, on further adventures to distant, fascinating lands. It begins with a well-executed mystery (where is the captivating Melisande hiding?) and progresses through a wild series of misadventures into a thoughtful story about the consequences of one's actions and the act of redemption. In between, we find ourselves caught up once again in the tumultuous relationship between Phèdre and Joscelin. Stubborn courage and their love for each other are the only things they have in common. Can such opposites remain together? Once again, Carey's characters are complex and deal with issues that we can reflect on in ourselves. Another strength of both books is the artful way that Carey has of creating complex, believable religions. Kushiel's Chosen is a fitting sequel to Carey's first brilliant novel.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Kushiel's Chosen" is the second book in Jacqueline Carey's thrilling fantasy trilogy of life in a world similar to Earth, during a period reminiscent of our Renaissance. This novel, a fantastic romantic adventure, is every bit as exciting as her first book, "Kushiel's Dart."
Our heroine, Phedre no Delauney, is now Comtesse de Montreve, a peer of Terre d'Ange. This lash-loving lady has come a long way from the little girl who was sold by her parents, years before, into the service of Naamah, the honored profession of the courtesan. Phedre was kissed by the god Kushiel. There is a tiny crimson mote in the white of her left eye, (Kushiel's Dart), marking her as an "anguisette," one of Kushiel's Chosen. A true "anguisette" is extremely rare. They are born to find pleasure in pain.
Phedre played a major part in ending the violent war that threatened to destroy her country. The new Queen of Terre D'Ange, who Phedre pledged to serve and protect, has been crowned. However, those who would wrest the throne for themselves continue to plot treachery and renewed violence. Chief among the traitors is Melisande Shahrizai, Phedre's nemesis and patron of old. Melisande announces her continued presence in the world of intrigue by beginning a game of cat and mouse with Phedre, who comes out of retirement to thwart plans to harm the Queen. Her return to Court, the City of Elua, and her profession as a spy, threaten her star-crossed relationship with her beloved companion and bodyguard, the Cassiline apostate, Joscelin Verreuil.
The plot and subplots are unique and stunning. The excitement just doesn't stop. Ms. Carey combines eroticism with swashbuckling adventure, romance and world building. Her imaginative use of historic detail, diverse cultures, the creation of many varied characters and their development, make this series so special. A riveting novel - I couldn't put it down. Highly recommended!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Jacqueline Carey returns to the lush and decadent world of Terre d'Ange in "Kushiel's Chosen", sequel to the strange but beautiful "Kushiel's Dart", and produces a sequel that unfortunately doesn't quite live up to its predecessor.
Our masochistic heroine, Phedre, leaves behind her comfortable new life as a country countess when she begins to suspect that all is not well in Terre d'Ange. She believes that Melisande Shahrizai, from her hiding place in La Serenessima (Venice), still plots against Queen Ysandre--with the help of at least one D'Angeline noble. But who is her co-conspirator, and what are they planning? Phedre returns to prostitution in the hopes of finding clues, but doesn't accomplish much except driving away her bodyguard-lover Joscelin. Phedre decides there is only one thing to do--travel to La Serenissima and investigate there. In Italy, Phedre uncovers the conspiracy--but disaster strikes and she finds herself lost at sea and entangled with pirates. Now, Phedre's task is to get back to La Serenissima in time to save Ysandre. Along the way, she begins to realize that maybe being marked by the angel of punishment means more than having weird sexual proclivities.
While "Chosen" is a decent book, it fails to engage the reader in the way that "Dart" did. I think my essential problem lies with the middle section of the book--the pirate part. Maybe it's because Phedre's skills are espionage and seduction, not sailing and fighting, so she doesn't do much during this period of time except sit around and feel guilty whenever someone dies. Maybe it's because this sequence doesn't seem to advance the main plot any (except maybe that Phedre's absence makes Joscelin think about his feelings). It almost feels like Carey wrote the beginning and ending of the book, then said, "Oh no...I unraveled the conspiracy too quickly and now I need 300 more pages."
This isn't a bad book; it's a faster read than "Dart", though it never attains the heartbreaking power or the sensuality of the previous novel. I still plan to read the third.
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2002
Jacueline Carey has done something few writers can attest to:
She wrote a sequel that is just as good as it's predecessor!Carey returns us to the kingdom of Terre D'ange, the land of holy prostitution and lethal intrigue.Kushiel's Chosen leads off where the first book ends, with the mysterious escape of archvillianess, Melisandre.Phedre, our heroine is determined to find out the traitors who helped Melisandre escape from prison and when she gets cloak sent by her enemy as a challenge she takes it upon herself to find Melisandre. Phedre's obession with her enemy will pull her back into her holy order and it will strain her relationship with her lover, Joscelin.Phedre's adventure will take her sun-drenched villas of La Serenissima
where she will uncover Melisandre's sinsiter conspiracy to gain the crown and a deadly assasination plot against queen Ysandre!
This novel has all of the ingredients that made the first one such a smash hit: lyrical prose that sings upon the page; outstanding world-building that makes Phedre's world come alive
sweeping action sequences like daring escape upon island prison that holds our heroine and unforgettable swashbuckling swordfight between Joscelin Queen Ysandre's would be assasin! The characters of this epic novel are also a wonder like blood-cursed pirate Kazan Atrabiades who rescues Phedre and helps her at her cause.I love Phedre and her world of dark desire, darker intrigue and swashbuckling adventure! Bring on Kushiel's Avatar!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2002
When I finally got my hands on this book, and then had the chance to read it (exams...so annoying!), I was completely enraptured and finished it in under two days. I loved the first novel as I thought Jaqueline Carey's writing style was beautiful and her world was intriguing and incredibly interesting. I feel that Kushiel's Chosen lives up to its predecsor, and in some ways it surpassed it, and of course in others it did not.
I did miss the characters which had featured prominantly in the first, namely Delaunay and Alcuin, but then they're dead so this is a stupid gripe. The prose was just as good as the first, I never found it too repetative, but everyone has their own opinions. The story was perhaps a tad slow to get going, but I think that that only added to the depth of the story, and was a good introduction to the fast paced adventure which faced Phedre.
I really enjoyed the movement of the book the travelling was wonderful, and made it all the more exotic. The complex plot was very good and keeps the reader on their toes, a very important commodity for novels these days. Especially in the fantasy genre, which is steadily becoming more and more formulated. Its a rare thing to find wonderful new authors which are creative and raise it all to a new level. For further recommendations, go the SF site, which has excellent reviews. my main happiness in this novel was Phedre and Josclin finally sorting out their issues and being together properly. But then I am a complete romantic sap at heart.
So overall, if you are looking for a good strong read, with vivid characters, intricate plotting and exotic settings, then look no further than this novel. It is advised that you should read the first of the trilogy, Kushiel's Dart, but there are references to keep you going if you do forget at times what happened. There is strong sexuality and sensuality in this novel, although I think it is a lesser extent than the first. Carey treats it all with lyrical prose and never makes anything seem like [bad] porn. It is part of Phedre, and only enhances her tale. Give this novel a go, you cannot go wrong.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2002
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The only thing I like more than a good book is a good LONG book. (Anyone who has read Kushiel's Dart can indulge in all the double entendres they like). It is hard to classify Ms. Carey's D'Angeline world -- fantasy is perhaps the closest; it is an alternate universe but very like our own. She has subtly twisted cultures, countries, languages, history and religions so they are just similar enough to our own to be comfortably familiar, but different enough to fire the imagination. For example, the Yeshuites who play such a prominent role in this novel are clearly a speculation of what might have occurred if Christ had been officially accepted by Judiasm as the Messiah. But there are also elements of adventure and historical romance and, of course, dollops of titillating soft-core sex.
Her characters are complex, likable and engaging and the plot is full of surprises. I was able to predict some of what was to come, but that's not unusual when one already knows a third book is in progress. I could live without some of the language affectations -- "Of a surety" and "Twas" got on my nerves after a while, but only a little.
Carey's lays on too thickly her insistence that Phedre's beauty alone enthrall everyone she meets. Certainly I have known that sex can make people stupid (the old "Men have 2 brains, but only enough blood to run one at a time"), but there is a limit. Also, Phedre's weakness for Melisande just does not ring true, when all is said and done.
These flaws did not change at all the fact that this book was a blast, far better than Kushiel's Dart, and leaves me eagerly awaiting the next book, and anything else Jacqueline Carey publishes.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2003
When I first saw 'Chosen' at the bookstore I absolutely had to have the book. I couldn't wait to continue on with Phedre's adventures, and I was rewarded in that respect.
As one who lives in Italy, I felt that Carey's descriptions of Phedre's Venice were perfect. I could just imagine myself up inside a religiously renovated San Marco's Cathedral, and walked with Phedre down the marbled corridors just outside of the Doge's Palace, and toured the Square with her. I'm sure that Phedre would have identified with Cassonova's Bridge of Sighs, had it been there.
The prose used to bring forth Carey's visuals was just as sumptuous and sensuous as Phedre's romps in the sack. However, along with many other reviewers, I had the feeling that Carey just got lost somewhere. Did she tire of Venice? Is that why we suddenly had to be plunged in with the Albanians and Greeks? The insertions of these characters, and the absolute length of their portions in the story was a bit ridiculous. Unless, of course, later on in the series they'll help Phedre in her search for freeing Hyacinthe. Then I may be able to buy it.
Overall ... a good book. I hesitate over using the word great, for it was not nearly as fabulous as Kushiel's Dart. But then again, sophmore books have the stigma of being flat, so I am eagerly awaiting book three, which will hopefully bring back a little of the magic from book one.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2002
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Kushiel's Dart, the first volume of what is apparently now a projected trilogy of which Kushiel's Chosen is the middle book, was astonishingly good. What a delight it was to find a fantasy novel with so much truly original and vividly imagined content, and that manages to commingle such unlikely elements as adventure fantasy, the coming-of-age story, intricate tales of courtly intrigue and sado-masochistic/polymorphously perverse eroticism that somehow combust explosively into one hell of a wild ride! I have seldom enjoyed reading a novel more than Kushiel's Dart.
One of the things that made Dart so good was that Jacqueline Carey manages to carry off something that I would not have believed possible: making a girl/woman who genuinely enjoys pain and who hungrily pursues her pleasure (while getting well paid for it) into a convincing heroine of a swashbuckling action fantasy. Indeed, Phaedre is not only convincing, she is very likeable. Given the premises of the book's setting, Phaedre acts honorably and often selflessly, and though she has a weakness for pain, this is the weakness of springy steel that bends and does not break--and that acquires a fine edge as our heroine is put to the test.
One reason for Carey's success in creating a believable and likeable heroine out of such unlikely material is that Carey has also created a remarkable setting: Phaedre fits into her world in a completely logical way. In the hedonistic culture of "Terre d'Ange" ("Land of the Angels"), a woman who can transmute pain into pleasure is seen as a sort of saintly miracle worker. Indeed, the world of Terre d'Ange has the conviction of true mythology (no, I don't think that's an oxymoron). Carey is one of the few fantasy writers who has created a compelling religion that is not mere frippery and decoration, but that actually motivates the characters in the novel and makes their actions seem sensible, where in our world they would be viewed as deviant and perhaps lunatic.
...Poor Phedre is whipped, stretched, ..., and slashed with razors--and that's just by her friends. Well, mostly her friends. People, this is not a soft novel. It is not a book I want my 12 year old daughter to read--not for quite a few years. It needs to be stressed that this is, indeed, fantasy: I doubt whether there are many women like Phaedre in _our_ world, and if there were, one probably would not want to spend the evening with them unless they were indeed stringently manacled. No one who isn't mature enough to understand the fantastic nature of these books' eroticism should be allowed to read it.
But I was going to write a review of Kushiel's Chosen, was I not? The problem is that I don't have much to say about it. Yes, it was fun to read, but it was nowhere near as good as the first novel. Compared to Dart, Chosen is a pale shadow that has no real reason to exist. As someone mentions, Chosen goes over old ground, well furrowed by the first book.
Still, Carey is a skilled writer, and there are a few scenes in Chosen that I remember, a few weeks after reading the book. The fortress-prison of La Dolorosa was colorfully unpleasant, though of course it's not particularly inventive--dank prisons abound in fantasy. The visit to Crete ("Kriti") was nice. But the trouble with this book is that my expectations of this writer had been set much higher than a merely pleasant reading experience. I wanted to be surprised and delighted by this book as I was by its predecessor, and in this Carey failed me...
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2003
This novel is a capable sequel: Jacqueline Carey gives her readers more of what they've come to expect after Kushiel's Dart. Therefore, if you enjoyed the first book, you will probably enjoy this one, too. However, if you're like me, Carey will continue to leave you a little disappointed, given the story's potential. She has developed an intriguing alternate reality Europe, in which the child of Jesus and Mary Magdalene fostered a kingdom in France, built around the credo: "Love as thou wilt." She has a compelling character concept in Phedre, a masochistic courtesan and adept spy. She immerses her heroine in a web of political intrigue, as well as giving her an unlikely lover in the form of Joscelin, a warrior monk sworn to protect her despite his distaste for her way of life.
These elements are all familiar from Carey's previous work, but I still feel that she has yet to exploit them fully. The tension between Phedre and Joscelin feels too artificial; we don't see enough of Joscelin's struggle among his love for Phedre, his vows of chastity, and his seeming destiny among the Jews. The resolution here is far too facile. I similarly wish that Carey would give us more direct confrontation between Phedre and her nemesis, Melisande, whose power over Phedre is the only force that makes our heroine seem truly vulnerable. The relationship between these two women also bridges the gap between the plot Phedre's masochism, which otherwise plays far too small a part in the story, outside of some rather enticing scenes with some of her patrons. If you're into that sort of thing.
Honestly, Kushiel's Chosen works well enough as a tale of adventure, but I feel that Carey has laid too much groundwork to ignore her heroine's more internal conflicts. I still intend to read the last novel in the trilogy. Perhaps then Carey will not be afraid to bring these conflicts to a head.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Phedre no'Delaunay is back, imbedding herself into another masterful intrigue of the courts of Terre d'Ange, a beautiful land populated by beautiful people. Though 'Kushiel's Chosen' uses many flashback moments (too many), I strongly recommend that your read the first installment in the series first, 'Kushiel's Dart'.
Phedre helped to save Terre d'Ange and ensure that queen Ysandre de la Courcel secured her throne. Through all she endured, her nemesis Melisande Shahrizai escaped. Phedre is uneasy, knowing that Melisande is loose. With her reluctant Cassiline, Joscelin Verreuil and her chevaliers known as 'Phedre's Boys', Phedre sets off to the land of La Serenissima to track Melisande's flight. What she finds is a big shock, and another deadly plot against queen Ysandre.
Like the first book, this second adventure of Phedre no'Delaunay is an intricate twist of dangerous intrigue and startling adventures. Unlike the first book, 'Kushiel's Chosen' takes its languid pace into tedium. Too many times, our heroine languishes in reminisces that can cause yawning, especially if you have already read about her previous exploits in the first book. You will also find heavier religious references and closer ties to real-life Europe.
'Chosen' also seems to draw a firmer line between the sensuality of the story and the adventures, with the fist part of the book dedicated to Phedre's return to Naamah's Service. She re-enters the Terre d'Ange courts and conducts a series of liaisons, using her talents as an 'anguissette', one who experiences pain as pleasure. This makes her a valuable courtesan indeed. In the second half of the book, the sensuality is cast aside for some high-tension conflicts and narrow escapes.
Jacqueline Carey's 'Kushiel Legacy' books are far too rich and intricate to describe them in detail, but rest assured they are well written in a beautiful, flowing prose and offer up much more than your average romantic fantasy. Phedre is smart and well trained, caring and beautiful, interesting and sometimes funny, a unique heroine that you cannot help but like.
'Kushiel's Chosen' maintains a slower pace than 'Kushiel's Dart', but in the end does not disappoint, in spite of the too frequent episodes of digging up past thoughts and deeds. There is also a nice surprise waiting in this installment, so don't miss it. I'm already well into the third installment, 'Kushiel's Avatar'. Enjoy!