THE PRETENDER'S CROWN
This novel, the second in the the Inheritors' Cycle series, should appeal to fans of Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series. It continues the story of Belinda Primrose, a heroine who's not always likable. Murphy weaves politics, court intrigue, sex and magic into an intricate plot and does a fine job portraying the Elizabethan era. The lyrical prose often overshadows the action, but those who enjoy sensual historical fantasy will be entertained.
Belinda, the illegitimate daughter of Lorraine Walter, the Virgin Queen of Aulun, was trained as a spy from the age of 12. She possesses magical power inherited from her father, Robert Drake. Now, as one queen is murdered and another is suspected of killing her, armies are being raised on both sides, and Belinda learns she's being used as a pawn. Will the queen's loyal assassin turn away from her mother for the first time? (DEL REY, Apr., 480 pp., $14.00)