Kushiel's Chosen

by Jacqueline Carey

Cover image

Series: Kushiel's Legacy #2
Publisher: Tor
Copyright: April 2002
Printing: March 2003
ISBN: 0-765-34504-8
Format: Mass market
Pages: 687

Buy at Powell's Books

I'd been saving this book for a little while since I loved the first book of the series so much. Besides, the third book isn't out in paperback yet, and I knew I'd have a hard time waiting for it. Now, of course, I'm rather tempted to buy it in hardcover.

Kushiel's Dart ended with a challenge delivered to Phèdre, a challenge that of course Phèdre picks up in Kushiel's Chosen, leading to another dangerous adventure of political intrigue intermixed this time with adventure on the high seas.

The first book is a high standard to attempt to live up to, but Carey manages to pull it off. The richness and depth of the mythology of her world is explored further, slowly unfolding for the reader in a wonderful mixture of the main character and narrator mentioning things in the course of the narrative as asides and discovering things that are new to her. The narrative voice continues to be superb, showing the world to the reader rather than telling them about it, often poetic in her descriptions and emotional musings. And the characters continue to be deep, multi-faceted, complex people who fascinate the reader with their views of the world.

The narrative voice is worth special mention, since I can't remember a book where the first-person narrative voice has been more present as a vibrant character while still not getting in the way of the story and never falling into the trap of telling the reader about the story rather than showing it. Not even Jennifer Roberson's Sword novels, some of the more memorable first-person books I've read, were this good at maintaining that balance. It's so well done that one doesn't even think about it while reading. Kushiel's Chosen has the feeling of a letter from a dear friend and confidant from an age when letter writing was a high art, a friend who is also a master storyteller, and who trusts you enough to share the secrets of the heart.

Phèdre has aged since Kushiel's Dart; not a great deal, but a little. Kushiel's Chosen has slightly less raw emotion and quite a bit more contemplation, serious questions about one's place in the world, the nature of choice and pain, and the price paid for one's actions, although at one point it touches depths of pain and despair unseen even in the most wrenching portions of the prior book. It's a remarkable and intensely realistic evolution of the character; Phèdre is now approaching the world as her own independent actor rather than a player in someone else's game, and that makes her think.

The pacing is just a tiny bit unsteady, once again bringing this book up just a tiny bit short of perfection and perhaps a hair inferior to its predecessor, but the slow moments last only barely long enough for one to get slightly impatient and then are quickly resolved. I once again highly recommend this book (although read Kushiel's Dart first!), and so does one of my most written-about characters, who would love few things more than spending an evening talking with Phèdre well into the night.

Followed by Kushiel's Avatar.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Reviewed: 2003-10-25

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