A captivating tale that reveals the healing power of duty and honour, love and honey.
An interesting, but slightly confusing, book
Reader reviewed by Lizzy
first thing I want to say about this book is that the beginning doesn't
really explain anything. That's not to say the writing or the story
were lacking, I just had a lot of "what is a ______" moments. For
example, you aren't really told much of what a Chalice is until a
little later in the story, nor do you really get a good grasp on who
exactly the Master is (and what it means to be a priest of Fire). Once
I got into the book, however, these things were explained a bit more
(still, there was some detail left to the imagination). The Master
could be described as a King, and the Chalice is sort of like a
healer/witch who has a close connection to the current master.
story is told from the point of view of the newly appointed Chalice,
who feels unprepared for her prestigious role. Most girls who are meant
to be appointed to the Chalice position spend years training just to
understand how to control magic. Through Mirasol's eyes we see what
exactly it means to be a Chalice, and also experience the change of the
Master from someone who is quiet and withdrawn, to someone who truly
cares for both Marisol, and the Willowlands.
honestly, I was worried that I wouldn't finish it due to lack of any
real action at the beginning. The story did eventually pick up, and by
the end I was really interested in what would happen to the characters.
It was an interesting concept, and I wish it had been longer, although
it was 272 pages, I felt that if the story had been a bit longer we
would have seen more character development, especially in the Master.
McKinley has also written retellings of fairy tales, such as: Beauty, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and The Door in the Hedge, which retells two different tales.
Reader reviewed by Mairi
Mirasol, a beekeeper in the Willowlands, is distressed when she learns that the Master and the Chalice have died in a fire, but she imagines her life will go on as it always has, not that she will become the new Chalice. She is the first to great the new Master, who was sent to be a priest of fire years ago and, it is warned, will return something less than human. Indeed, he comes back to the Willowlands he once loved with red eyes and burning flesh.
I have read all of Robin McKinley's books, and I must say that this one stands out from her usual work- it is both more and less fantastical that I expected. At first I did not expect I would like it, but I was drawn in by the absolutely beautiful cover and layout- the bee motif suits Mirasol well, I think, for I imagine she was better as beekeeper than as Chalice. Mainly, it was Mirasol herself who made this book great- she wasn't anywhere near as prickly as some of McKinley's other heroines, and I cannot imagine anyone not liking her.
People who like fantasy, particularly girls, would probably enjoy this book very much.
Reader reviewed by Beth
This book is a return to the beautiful prose that made me fall in love with Robin McKinley's writing. After the ill-fated Dragonhaven, I was rather skeptical of this book. I needn't have worried. Although I was confused for about half of the book, the writing was so beautiful and the story so compelling that I just had to know more. I recommend this book for those who already know and love McKinley and for those that have not yet been introduced to her genius.