Customer Reviews for

The Chalice: A Novel

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  • Posted June 8, 2013

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    Book of the year for me !

    Honestly I was not too excited about reading this book and I had for gotten how much I loved The Crown and I was tired of this time period but Nancy made me fall in love all over again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2013

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    Beautiful Historical Fiction!

    Author Nancy Bilyeau that takes us back to the reign of King Henry VIII in her novel The Chalice, book two in her historical fiction series, The Crown. Young novice Joanna Stafford, a distant relative of King Henry VIII becomes embroiled in a conspiracy that makes her an unwilling pawn when prophets and politicians face off against each other in this beautifully told historical work. Joanna is intelligent and strong-willed with a highly developed sense of duty and honor that take her on a journey fraught with danger and intrigue as opposing forces fight for power. Politics versus religious power, Joanna must decide which road she will take, because in the end, the choices are hers to make.

    The richly detailed scenes, the dialogue and the atmosphere created in The Chalice tells me that Nancy Bilyeau has made a commitment to her craft and is gifted with the ability to bring everything together into a riveting tale that transcends time! The brutality and inequalities of the era, the machinations of the royal court, as well as the struggles of life in general during a time where turmoil was the norm will draw you in and hold you to the very last page. For the historical fiction reader, this is a gem of a find!

    A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2013

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    The Chalice is the sequel to Nancy Bilyeau¿s debut novel, The Cr

    The Chalice is the sequel to Nancy Bilyeau’s debut novel, The Crown. It is a story about a young woman named Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun during the reign of King Henry VIII and the terrible period of Reformation that followed. As King Henry orders monasteries and convents closed down, it displaces Joanna along with many other nuns, monks, friars, and priests. As Joanna struggles to sustain herself, she finds herself caught in a dangerous prophecy that becomes entwined with a plot against the king himself. As the story progresses, so does the tension as Joanna finds herself inextricably trapped in one peril after another until its very satisfying ending.
    Sister Elizabeth Barton, a prophetic nun of the times, who was put to death by King Henry VIII plays a fascinating role early on in the story. This is one of the authors talents is to weave subplots and info about true historical figures into her stories. And his makes the story real, vibrant, and filled with curiosities. 
    Having read numerous Tudor novels, the historical details portrayed in this novel are accurate and well researched. This story has much to recommend it – prophetic seers, betrayal, murder, mystery, and intrigue are all prevalent here. Coupled with Nancy Bilyeau’s excellent writing style, the story is engrossing, even for those who are tired of the Tudors. Although this is a sequel to The Crown, the author’s first novel, it does stand alone very well. But I because both books are excellent reads, I do recommend you read them both and preferably in order. Very entertaining novels which I highly recommend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2013

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    Joanna Stafford, former novice, has escaped the Tower of London

    Joanna Stafford, former novice, has escaped the Tower of London while so many others have gone on to torture, beheading, and burning at the stake, all at the hands of King Henry VIII.  The year is 1538 and Joanna is trying to adjust to the life of a common woman, a difficult task given her noble background, all of which readers may have encountered in the prequel to this novel, The Crown: A Novel.   Having heard two prophecies about her role in the supposed downfall of the King, she wants no more knowledge as death has stalked everyone who is connected to her.  




    As the King is destroying more monasteries and carrying out the Reformation through Thomas Cromwell, Joanna now learns that others are conniving to have European leaders attack England in order to restore the Catholic faith Henry has so thoroughly worked at stamping out.  Meanwhile, two men love Joanna and the course of these potential romances is a lovely and frightening one indeed.  For Joanna is not trusted and spies watch her every move, while others are using everything in their power to get her to agree to hear the third and final prophecy.  This is the story of temptation in so many ways, with Joanna experiencing physical desire at the same time she knows horror of what the future could bring.




    For now Joanna is developing her talent as a seamstress, designing tapestries that awe all who see them.  Suddenly, her quiet life is shattered and after many fruitless arguments, she agrees to finish the task that seems to be divinely inspired.  She will travel to Belgium, be held prisoner when she once again refuses to cooperate with the powers that totally oppose the King, and then meet a famous seer who has just been accused of being a converso by the notorious Inquisition.  Finally, a revelation will clarify what she has struggled with for years upon years and she will embrace her task with faith.  Will she succeed?  How will England fare with so much division rife throughout the country and other nations?




    Nancy Bilyeau is a very talented writer who has spun a brilliant work of historical fiction, as well as a tense plot replete with complex, dynamic characters.  Obviously well-researched, The Chalice immediately draws the reader into the story, urging support and opposition at all the right places, crafting complexity to several riddles within the account, and inserting just enough levity and love to balance out the "humanity" of all the characters.  For motivations and outcomes do not always exist as pure and simple as one would want but follow the complexity of the times in which this story takes place.




    The Chalice: A Novel is finely crafted historical fiction.  It, as well as its prequel, deserves the status of "classic historical fiction." Congratulations, Nancy Bilyeau on an amazing, enjoyable and noteworthy series!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 3, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Nancy Bilyeau's debut novel, The Crown, released last year. Newl

    Nancy Bilyeau's debut novel, The Crown, released last year. Newly released is the second book in this series, The Chalice.

    The Crown introduced us to Joanna Stafford, a novice nun, in 1537 Tudor England. I was immediately captured by the character of Joanna in this first book, as well as Bilyeau's use of this time period as her setting.

    The Chalice picks up where The Crown left off (but new readers would be able to start with this book - a flashback chapter provides the needed background)

    It is a year later and the country is being torn apart by a power struggle between the King and the Church. Despite wanting nothing more than to live a quiet life, Joanna discovers that she herself must play a role in determining the outcome in the clash between Henry VIII and the Church. Her role in the country's future was foretold by a seer when she was still a young novice. And that seer also predicted that Joanna would hear two more prophecies from two other sages.

    Bilyeau has again proven what a stellar researcher she is. I am not overly familiar with this time period and often found myself heading to the computer to follow up on characters and historical facts. Bilyeau has done a fantastic job of weaving a fictional tale and the past together. The time period, the settings and the descriptions are just as much a character in the story as is Joanna. The prose are rich and full, immersing the reader in this tumultuous time period.

    Joanna continues to be a character that intrigues me. She is torn between her loyalties - to her country, her King, her family and her church. But in The Chalice she is also forced to look at her own desires - she has fallen in love. She is a stubborn, courageous woman determined to do what she must. Can this young woman truly alter the course of history or her own destiny?

    "Destiny. There is a destiny one creates. And there is a destiny ordained."

    Bilyeau weaves together history, adventure, intrigue and yes, romance to create a second tale that historical fiction fans will love. I look forward to the the next book in this series - Joanna's story is far from finished.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2013

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings The next adventu

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings
    The next adventure with the novice, Joanna Stafford as she tries to save the land from losing the ability to practice their Faith from the hands of evil men.  The story starts a bit in the future and then takes you back to find out how they all end up hiding around a church ready for an ambush - I thought this was the perfect way to set up and start the book.    

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2013

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    As you can already see Nancy Bilyeau is one of my favorite histo

    As you can already see Nancy Bilyeau is one of my favorite historical fiction authors.

    This dark and dreamy book of hers is just a scrumptious read. It carries us through the Tudor Reformation on the legs of Joanna Stafford a beautiful, aristocratic, displaced nun who is chased by prophesies. Like enticing pieces of dark chocolate, this book kept me hungry to read chapter after chapter into the night. It's one of those books that takes hold in an insidious way...before you know it, you're completely hooked.



    Nancy Bilyeau's writing is full of historical detail, but it isn't dry reading. Her work is like a tapestry that's interwoven with dark and light threads that balance the whole causing your eye to move easily throughout the story. It draws you along and keeps you intrigued. While Henry VIII is mentioned, he isn't a major figure in this book, but a shadow figure whose dictates play upon the central ones. A refreshing look on the Tudor period!



    Characters in "The Chalice" are alive and exciting! I loved each one in their roles. Joanna Stafford is a wonderful, strong young woman with a mind of her own and a little temper that walks her on the edge of real trouble, adding to the anxious elements of the story. Other characters are beautifully created, too. I enjoyed the love interests here, and their commitments to church and Joanna. Those involved in necromancy and prophecy are eye-opening!



    This is a book that stands alone in historical fiction today. It's a great read, and one you shouldn't miss. Although you can read it as a "stand alone," I would still recommend getting the first book in the series, "The Crown." Both of the books are rich in detail and storyline. Couldn't put this one down.



    A dark and rich mystery, and a story of the Reformation through the eyes of a very early feminist, "The Chalice" is one book to have this Spring!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2013

    You will like if you read "The Crown"

    As with most sequels this book is not as well written as the first, but you will enjoy if you like the characters. I personally did not care for the depictions of "seers " that were central to the plot. I also wish the love story had a resolution. Oh well, I guess that means I will have to buy the next book too.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2013

    The Chalice is the second book in the Crown series by historical

    The Chalice is the second book in the Crown series by historical fiction author Nancy Bilyeau that takes place during the reign of King Henry VIII. While I haven't yet read the first book in the series I can say that The Chalice can be read successfully as a standalone but it was so good I'm definitely going to have to borrow The Crown to get more of the author's writing.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Chalice. Historical Fiction is one of my favourite genres so it was a real treat to be invited to join the tour for this novel. Rarely have I read a novel that brings this era of England's dark history to life in such a rich and imaginative way that is both captivating and depending on the scenes, disturbing and dark as well.

    While I read about Joanna's tale I became completely immersed in the story. For me if an author is able to suck me into the story from the very beginning like Nancy Bilyeau did while I read The Chalice that's a sing that she's an author to watch and after finishing this book I can honestly that Nancy Bilyeau can write anything and I'll read it.

    I loved the characters in The Chalice. Joanna is probably one of my top 5 favourite historical fiction heroines ever. Her intelligence, cunning, caring and kind personality really counter balanced the dark undertone of the novel. I was surprised to find that rather than use the side characters more as props to the story the author used them to their full potential making them all integral to the telling of the overall tale which I loved. I love when there's a rich variety of characters that have some real substance to them even if they're the bad guys.

    I also learned a lot about being a lady in waiting and the customs of going to court as well as other things about life during the tumultuous time period The Chalice was set in. You could tell right away that the author takes her craft seriously and you can tell that she's researched the time period thoroughly and that she has a great passion for her work. The amount of detail in the novel was fantastic and was neither too much or too little and I feel as though I learned something reading The Chalice which is not something you can say about just any novel.

    The story itself though blew me away. The amount of intrigue and betrayal is potent and the plots abound in The Chalice. While there is the brief mentioning of events that have taken place in the first book I didn't feel like they spoiled the first book for me and I'm glad that I was able to take part in the book tour for The Chalice.

    Overall, Nancy Bilyeau wrote a fantastic piece of historical fiction that is both lovely and brutal. I would recommend this book (and the first one even though I haven't had the pleasure of reading it yet) to anyone who loves historical fiction. This is a fantastic novel to read and will such you in from the first page.

    *I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my free and honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are 100% my own.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Fantastical historical fiction. When I first started this book,

    Fantastical historical fiction. When I first started this book, I thought it would be the other side of the story between the Catholic-Protestant issues of Henry VIII's reign because so many books cover the Protestant point of view.

    Then, the plot delves into a mystical plot revolving around a prophecy. The royal court makes brief appearances; many historical figures appear but most remain in the background.

    This series is a good follow-up to any series that delves into the historical events of the time but this book felt like (very well-done) fan-fic. I have no complaints with the writing itself, it's well-crafted but, in the end, I wish the story revolved more around the actual history and less around the magical plot to usurp Henry VIII.

    I received a free advanced uncorrected copy in exchange for a review and there were a couple of editing mishaps but they should be fixed in the final product.

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  • Posted November 28, 2013

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    This book encompasses some of the best historical characters, th

    This book encompasses some of the best historical characters, the Tudors of course, and their wicked dirty secrets. As King Henry has rid England of the filthy Catholic Church, Joanna is in turmoil as she tries to assimilate into the world, as the priories are now closed and her world is changing before she knows it. Of noble blood, she decides to settle in the small village of Dartford, where her two close friends, Brother Edmund, whom she is about to marry, and Constable Geoffrey reside. It isn’t long before her family shows their face and demands she return to her rightful position in court with false promises and brimming with deceit, betrayal, and ulterior motives. Being so naïve to this world she left behind, Joanna is swept into a world of spies, espionage, and treason, of people with their sights on restoring their faith in defiance of the hated King Henry. Joanna must successfully complete the three psychic seeings to help her save Christendom, thus filling her days with life endangering tasks.
    "The reckoning is coming," cried John. "Armageddon is at hand. In the end it will devour you all!"
    Does Joanna have the strength, knowledge, and courage to play out her role successfully and stay alive through all the grisly and darkened days before her? Be prepared to set enough time to read this book all the way through because once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it back down. One of the best books on the Tudors I have read in a while for sure!
    *This book was provided in exchange for an honest review*   
    *You can view the original review at Musing with Crayolakym and San Francisco & Sacramento City Book Review

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  • Posted August 24, 2013

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    I really wavered back and forth on whether I wanted to review t

    I really wavered back and forth on whether I wanted to review this one. I was a little worried that I hadn't read the first. Plus, I just wasn't sure about the synopsis. Eventually, Henry VIII won out. I couldn't miss out on a different viewpoint!
    I'm so glad I decided to give this book a shot. It was completely not what I expected. First off, very little of what I have read concerning Henry VIII's reign talked about the dissolution of the monasteries. We all know know about making himself the head of The Church of England, thus separating for the Roman Catholic Church. But, I was unfamiliar with the extent he went to eradicate all traces of the faith from England. The cost to all the people that called this institutions their home was tremendous. Not only were they cast out of their way of life, the often were ridiculed by the people.

    Joanna was an great lead character. She lead the life of a sister, but she never really stuck me as such. I think she took this path to hide herself from the eyes of the court. She's much to close to the throne and she wants to make sure that the King never sees her as a threat. However, it's been prophesied that she holds the key to restoring England to the Catholic faith. I was extremely curious how this played out with what I know of English history.

    It was most enlightening to read about a different side of England in this time period. How everyone watched over the shoulders unsure who would be the one to bring the noose down around their neck. The monarchy seemed to be the laughing stock to the rest of Europe but yet everybody was afraid to step in obviously. Henry VIII must have been an interesting man to be able to exert his control the way he did.

    The prophecy concerning Joanna and the return to the Catholic faith was interesting. I obviously knew that it wouldn't play out the way everybody kept thinking it would or it wouldn't stick to history very well. But, yet I found the way it did happen to be completely plausible and perfect. A very riveting book from beginning to end! Now I need to go back and read The Crown.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    Recommended - interesting historical fiction

    I am coming to the conclusion of this book and it has interesting reading. A mystery based on England in the days of Henry the 8th.
    Definitely fiction but a good read

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  • Posted July 2, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Nancy Bilyeau in her new book, ¿The Chalice¿ Book Two in the Joa

    Nancy Bilyeau in her new book, “The Chalice” Book Two in the Joanna Stafford series published by Touchstone brings us another adventure with Joanna Stafford.




    From the back cover:   In the midst of England’s Reformation, a young novice will risk everything to defy the most powerful men of her era.




    In 1538, England’s bloody power struggle between crown and cross threatens to tear the country apart. Novice Joanna Stafford has tasted the wrath of the royal court, discovered what lies within the king’s torture rooms, and escaped death at the hands of those desperate to possess the power of an ancient relic.




    Even with all she has experienced, the quiet life is not for Joanna. Despite the possibilities of arrest and imprisonment, she becomes caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting Henry VIII himself. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna realizes her role is more critical than she’d ever imagined. She must choose between those she loves most and assuming her part in a prophecy foretold by three seers. Repelled by violence, Joanna seizes a future with a man who loves her. But no matter how hard she tries, she cannot escape the spreading darkness of her destiny.




    To learn the final, sinister piece of the prophecy, she flees across Europe with a corrupt spy sent by Spain. As she completes the puzzle in the dungeon of a twelfth-century Belgian fortress, Joanna realizes the life of Henry VIII as well as the future of Christendom are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lies at the center of these deadly prophecies. . . .




    Joanna Stafford is back and this adventure is even more dangerous than the first.  The quest is on!  It is a time of great religious upheaval.  King Henry Viii has ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  Now England is torn between the new religion and the one they grew up with.  Joanna is drawn into a shadowy international plot against the King himself.  History, danger, mystery, action, adventure and thrills abound in “The Chalice”.  Certain characters are full of deceit so we know that there is much more to the story than what has been told Joanna.  However, we only know what Joanna knows as she finds out because the story is told in her first person viewpoint.  Get ready for a page-turning, thrill ride.  Ms. Bilyeau gets us caught up in the story and the characters lives to the point that we actually hate to say goodbye to them when the book ends.  I liked this book very much and look forward to the next adventure from the pen of Nancy Bilyeau.




    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Touchstone.   I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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