Jacqueline Carey has a flair for creating Machiavellian plots. For the second Terre d'Ange fantasy, Phèdre nó Delaunay returns in KUSHIEL'S CHOSEN (4.5G). Phèdre and Joscelin leave their idyllic country estate when a cloak sent by the escaped traitor Melisande reminds Phèdre there's another conspirator close to Queen Ysandre. The only living anguissette, Phèdre's sexual proclivity makes intelligence gathering easy as satiated patrons divulge secrets. Evidence points to Melisande hiding in the canal-city of La Serenissima, and Phèdre travels there to expose Melisande. Compounding Phedre's plight is her infatuation for Melisande, and she ponders lifelong bondage in Melisande's soft dungeon or trying to save the D'Angeline queen. From the first page I shiveredwith anticipation, with delight, with awe that a new author could best her breathtaking debut novel. Ms. Carey's alternate Renaissance period is perfection. Can it be read as a stand alone? Yes, but why miss out on Phèdre's earlier days, in Kushiel's Dart. (Apr., 704 pp., $27.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kelly Rae Cooper