Book - 2008
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The earthlines speak to Mirasol, but her family has lived in the demesne for centuries, and many of the old families can hear the land. She knows that the violent deaths of the last Master and Chalice have thrown Willowlands into turmoil; but she is only a beekeeper, and the problems of the Circle that govern Willowlands have nothing to do with her--although she wonders what will become of her demesne, because the Master and Chalice left no heirs to carry on their crucial duties.

And then the Circle come to Mirasol, to tell her that she has been chosen to be the new Chalice; and the Master she must learn to work with is a Priest of Fire, a man no longer quite human, whose touch can burn human flesh to the bone.
Publisher: New York : Ace Books, c2008
ISBN: 9780441018741
Branch Call Number: FIC McKIN
Characteristics: 259 p


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Oct 16, 2019

I am a real fan of Robin McKinley, but I listened to only about half of Chalice on audiobook, read by Rachael Beresford, and would not recommend it in this format. The various voices were not easy to identify and the transitions were also unclear. Actually, I didn't much like the character either, but I will give the story another try, in print this time, and update my report then.

Mar 22, 2018

It's true that this story is told in a meandering way that moves about through time, but for me that only adds to the mythic, fairy-tale quality that McKinley excels at. I love Mirasol and the bees and the magic, and deeply feel her doubts and confusions about how to be the Chalice. In a way this is a book about imposter syndrome and how to function in a crisis when you doubt yourself--or maybe it's about being burned to the ground and then what comes after, as you come back from fire.

Either way, I love it. My one complaint is the way both magic and land are tied to bloodlines. I know hereditary magic is a common trope in fantasy, but I'm not a fan of the way that can sound really eugenic really quick with the marrying people together for the sake of their lineages and the idea that some people just aren't connected with the land and so don't belong in a place because their parents weren't born there. Not my cup of tea.

May 22, 2016

I like Robin McKinley's books, but this one I didn't enjoy as much as the rest. For one, I found it really confusing to follow. I liked the characters, especially Mirasol and the Master and their struggles, but the overall plot was kind of vague and I didn't understand the magic at all. I just kept reading and went with it, but I would have liked more explanation about what the heck a Chalice actually is and what she was doing with all that honey and water. Maybe I just didn't read it closely enough.

forbesrachel Jun 02, 2013

A land united to its people in close bonds has approached the point of breaking and it is up to an untrained Chalice, and a Master who is not confident, to restore it. Both struggle with the new roles they have been forced into, and must grow together to overcome them. With a strong theme of bonds, you can truly feel their separation gradually change into connection, not only between themselves, but between the land, it's people and them too. Chalice is gnawed at by worries, but she is determined to do right. The Master is insecure, and fears his nonhuman form, but has great kindness. These two make the core of this experience, and within the setting, add a certain fairy tale charm to it.The layout is made from circular patterns; Chalice is in the present, she reflects on the past for a bit, then moves forward in the present for a good while. Fortunately the author handles this well, and you are able to learn things gradually, while still moving the plot ahead. The only major fault is that the deus ex machina at the end, is barely explained.

Apr 27, 2012

I really enjoy Robin McKinley - and this book was no exception. In fact, I think it might be one of my favorites of hers. Has a feel of Beauty and the Beast, but with lots of original and unusual creations and ideas filling out the story.
Also I love bees. This book has bees.

Sep 18, 2011

Very nice read, and fairly quick. Makes you truly contemplate what we can overcome and become if we do our best and ignore what other people think is our spot. I highly recommend.

Jan 30, 2011

I had mixed feelings about this one. I really didn't like the idea that the land had to be managed through human magical intervention. I found myself thinking that if a plague carried off all the humans, the streams and woods and even the bees would be just fine. The main character takes on her duties as Chalice untrained, so I understand the mix of frantic research, instinct and raw talent she uses, but there was far too much magic through sheer force of will for my taste. The passivity and fatalism of the two main characters as the story reached its climax also bothered me, although the resolution was interesting. I enjoyed the interactions between the characters and the unusual aspects of bee/honey magic and fire priest magic, and thought the book was good, just not great.

Oct 12, 2010

Robin McKinley made her name writing beautiful re-tellings of familiar fairy tales. Chalice reads like her previous novels but is in fact a story of her own making. I found it quite charming. It succeeds because it doesn't try to be anything more than a simple, stand-alone story.


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Jan 30, 2011

One of the things she'd learnt on her own ragged, bemused, zigzag way was that the best sources of useful information were often in strange places . . .

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