|Cover artist||John Jude Palencar|
|Dewey Decimal||813/.6 21|
|LC Classification||PS3603.A74 K79 2002|
|Preceded by||Kushiel's Dart|
|Followed by||Kushiel's Avatar|
In the novel, the journey of famed anguissette, Phèdre nó Delaunay brings her all the way to Caerdicca Unitas, chasing after the path of the infamous traitor of Terre d'Ange, Melisande Shahrizai. Even still, the curse of her one true friend, Hyacinthe, haunts her. She has a long way to go if she will ever have the chance to free him from the curse that should have been hers. It is all she can do to keep madness at bay and try to stay one step ahead of Melisande.
The Hunt for Melisande
Kushiel's Dart, the first book in the Kushiel's Legacy trilogy, ends with the arrival of a mysterious gift at Montrève, the Comtesse Phèdre nó Delaunay's quiet country estate. Kushiel's Chosen picks up immediately after an Italian merchant and former acquaintance presents Phèdre with her sangoire cloak, last worn when she was betrayed by Melisande Shahrizai, the beautiful but deadly and manipulative scion of Kushiel. She takes it upon herself to find out how Melisande escaped from Troyes-le-Mont, the fortress featured during the climactic Battle of Troyes-le-Mont in Kushiel's Dart.
With her chevaliers, Remy, Fortun and Ti-Phillipe (see Phèdre's Boys), and her lover and protector Joscelin Verreuil, the former Cassiline brother, Phèdre returns to the City of Elua, to resume her life as a Servant of Naamah in the hopes of discerning where Melisande is and what she plans. Unfortunately, the return to Namaah's service causes an uncomfortable rift between her and Joscelin Verreuil, who is becoming increasingly interested in the Habiru religion of the Yeshuites.
One of her assignations is the half-d'Angeline Prince, Severio Stregazza. The Stregazza family are the family of the Doge in La Serenissima and are allied through marriage with House Courcel. Phèdre also has an assignation with Nicola L'Envers y Aragon - a cousin of the Compte Barquiel L'Envers and married to the brother of the King of Aragonia - to whom she gives the Lover's Token. Nicola in return gives her the password of house L'Envers, a command that goes above all others and must be followed without question by all persons of House L'Envers.
La Serenissima & the Missing Guardsmen
Finding only dead ends, Phèdre decides to travel to La Serenissima in Caerdicca Unitas, in order to track down the missing guardsmen of Troyes-le-Mont. While there she is again courted by Severio Stregazza and learns of corruption within the temple of Asherat-of-the-Sea. Phèdre also learns that Prince Benedicte de la Courcel has re-married. His wife is a D'Angeline woman whose entire family died in the war with Skaldia. She has taken the veil of Asherat-of-the-Sea, the religion of La Serenissima, as a symbol of her constant mourning of their loss. She and Benedicte de la Courcel have a new-born son together and both live in "The Little Court" - the Terre d'Ange Embassy and residences in La Serenissima. Phèdre also learns from Prince Benedicte's children that his marriage abroad has made him bitter. He dislikes that Queen Ysandre will taint the royal blood-line with Cruinthe blood and sees all non-pure-D'Angelines as barbaric and inferior.
Upon realizing some crucial information, Phèdre decides to go and tell Prince Benedicte de la Courcel what she has learned and that there may be a plot against the Queen. The evening before her meeting the uncomfortable rift between her and Joscelin finally snaps and he leaves her. In the morning, at her private meeting with the Prince she learns that the mysterious new, young wife of Prince Benedicte is Melisande herself. Melisande tells Phèdre that she will kill Queen Ysandre when she comes to tour Caerdicca Unitas later in the summer. This will mean that Benedicte de la Courcel, as the next member of the royal house, will inherit the throne. Prince Benedicte will then declare his pure-blooded D'Angeline son as heir to the throne, thereby purifying the royal blood-line. In order to stop anyone from refusing their rule, Melisande has also blackmailed the Duc Percy de Somerville and his men to support them with military force.
La Dolorosa & Escape
Phèdre's discovery makes Melisande send her to the prison on the island of La Dolorosa, where the mourning of Asherat-of-the-Sea will eventually drive her mad. During her imprisonment, Melisande visits her and offers her a new prison: her own personal dungeon. Phèdre is left one night to contemplate the prospect when the alarm is raised. The island fortress is being attacked by Joscelin Verreuil, in an attempt to save Phèdre. Unfortunately, Phèdre falls off a cliff of La Dolorossa and is washed into the sea. While drowning in the incredible waves she vows to Asherat-of-the-Sea to clean her temple of its corruption in return for her life. The sea then throws her back to the surface with a plank of wood to hold on to.
In the morning she is rescued by an Illyrian pirate ship with a cursed capitain, Kazan Atribades, and suggests to them that they can ransom her to the D'Angeline throne. The pirates try this but are intercepted by La Serenissima patrols, told to watch for Phèdre. The patrols take half of the crew hostage and send the others back with a meeting date to trade over Phèdre. Phèdre is kept unawares of this and only learns she has been betrayed when she is forcibly put on the Serenissiman ship at the excahnge. During this exchange, the pirates get their crew back and a significant reward, however, the Serenissimans have ships hidden and are about to kill Phèdre right then and there. Knowing it a trap and having come to care for Phèdre, Kazan betrays the Serenissmans, taking Phèdre back and fleeing with the reward.
While fleeing the Serenissman ships, all but the lead pirate ship enter Epidauro, the capital of Illyria. The lead ship, carrying Phèdre and Kazan are forced to flee south on the tail end of a very strong storm. The storm blows the ship to the Temenos in Kriti where both she and Kazan undergo the Thetalos. Phèdre then travels to the capital of Kriti where she meets the Kore (the King) and asks his aid. While he is unwilling to take the risk of standing up to La Serenissima and, if Phèdre is unsuccessful, Terre d'Ange, he does agree to send letters to the Marsilikos. Phèdre writes letters to the Lady of Marsilikos, warning her of the plot, and Barquiel L'Envers, using the word of his house (given by Nicola L'Envers) to close the City of Elua so that it can not be taken by treason while Ysandre is in La Serenissima.
Phèdre, Kazan, and other pirates of the lead ship then sail back to Epidauro where she asks the aid of the Zim Sokali (King of Illyria) for aid. Kazan states that he will take Phèdre to La Serenissima regardless but doubts his success without help. The Zim Sokali agrees to smuggle Phèdre in a trunk with a false bottom as part of the tribute gift he is sending to La Serenissima on the morrow. Kazan and his trusted pirates will pretend to be sailors on the ship so that if Phèdre is found on board, the sailors can claim that the pirates overtook them and forced them to do so.
The ship makes it into La Serenissima without issue and Phèdre, accompanied by Kazan and his men, manages to find Joscelin Verreuil in the Yeshuite quarter of the city. Together, they manage to learn of a secret underground entrance into the temple of Asherat, where the ceremony of investitute of the new Doge will take place. Phèdre also learns of how Melisande plans to kill Queen Ysandre: Melisande has gotten one of the Cassiline royal guards to kill Ysandre in retribution for Ysandre's mother, Isabel L'Envers, allegedly having killed his sister, the late fiancee of Prince Rolande, Edmée de Rocaille.
With the help of Kazan and his crew, Joscelin and his Yeshuites trained to arms, and Ti-Phillipe - who has been living in hiding with Joscelin - sneak their way into the temple hours before the investiture. During the ceremony, Phèdre interrupts it pretending to be the voice of Asherat and causes confusion and mayhem among the attendees. At the same time, a riot breaks out in the square - no doubt staged by Marco Stregazza and Melisande - outside the temple and rioters enter the temple. With all the distraction, Joscelin manages to kill the assassin-Cassiline before he is able to murder the Queen. Phèdre also succeeds in revealing Melisande as Prince Benedicte's second wife and that Marco and Marie-Celeste had suborned the Temple of Asherat.
Once the riots are quenched and order is restored, we learn that Prince Benedicte de la Courcel sustained deadly wounds in the fighting and that Melisande has been granted asylum in the Temple of Asherat.
All is not yet solved though. Melisande has already sent riders on a relay of fast horses to secure the City of Elua and tell Percy de Somerville that Queen Ysandre is dead and he should take the throne for Prince Benedicte's return. In addition, the infant son of Melisande and Benedicte, Prince Imriel, who is third in line for the throne, is missing.
The Queen, her entourage, Phèdre, Joscelin, and Ti-Phillipe rush back to Terre d'Ange to try to reclaim the throne. They enter by way of Camlach, where Phèdre convinces the Unforgiven (troops dedicated to atoning for their sins in the Battle of Troyes-Le-Mont) to ride with them. Upon entering Terre d'Ange, they learn that Phèdre's message had been successful and that Barquiel L'Envers has closed the city. However, Percy de Somerville has claimed the all of its surrounding area though has not yet besieged it.
As the Queen's forces march toward the City of Elua, Percy de Somerville puts out the rumour that they are imposters - the Queen is dead and someone is trying to take advantage of this by pretending to be her. Upon Phèdre's suggestion, the Queen's forces then toss coins bearing the Queen's image on their way. This convinces many and when they do so at the gates of the city, the soldiers pause and then realize that they have been duped. Ysandre marches through the soldiers, fearless, and reclaims the throne of Terre d'Ange, putting Percy de Somerville in custody.
The novel ends with a large party in Phèdre's honour and where Joscelin is named by Ysandre as the Queen's Champion. At the party, Joscelin asks to be Phèdre's formal consort, which she accepts gladly.
Awards and nominations
- "2003 Locus Awards". The Locus Index to SF Awards. Retrieved 2006-12-28.