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Chalice [NOOK Book]


Beekeeper Marisol has been chosen as the new Chalice, destined to stand beside the Master and mix the ceremonial brews that hold the Willowlands together. But the relationship between Chalice and Master has always been tumultuous, and the new Master is unlike any before him.

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Beekeeper Marisol has been chosen as the new Chalice, destined to stand beside the Master and mix the ceremonial brews that hold the Willowlands together. But the relationship between Chalice and Master has always been tumultuous, and the new Master is unlike any before him.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Fans and new readers alike will greedily devour McKinley's latest, a high fantasy as perfectly shaped and eloquently told as Beauty and The Hero and the Crown. Humble beekeeper Mirasol has been chosen to take on the key ceremonial role of Chalice, the woman charged with maintaining the province's well-being by communicating with the (sentient) land. She is keenly aware of the suffering brought on by the misrule of its former Master: "[The province] Willowlands was restless, hurt and unhappy... delirious as a child with a bad fever." Hope flickers when the former Master's brother returns and assumes the role; but because he is now an Elemental priest of Fire, he may not be able to perform the duties. Mirasol and the new Master are drawn to each other, even though she suspects their union is prohibited, and their smoldering attraction-plus the gorgeously evoked magic and the escalating threat that Willowlands will be usurped-gives this tale its sizzle. In the best McKinley fashion, the fantasy realm is evoked in thorough and telling detail, with the energy of the narrative lending excitement to descriptions of even the most stylized rituals. A lavish and lasting treat. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
. . . a narrative that is a sensory delight, laden with tangible tastes and scents.
VOYA - Mary Arnold
McKinley's latest high fantasy is another winner. The well being of the demesne of Willowlands depends on maintaining balance for its populace and the sentient land they call home. Each member of the Master's Circle plays a crucial role, none more than the Chalice, whose ceremonial rituals bind the Circle, the land, and its folk under the Master. Young, orphaned, beekeeper Mirasol struggles to rise to the task following the sudden deaths of the former Master and his Chalice, under whose dissolute rule Willowlands is nearly destroyed. To ensure success, the former Master's younger brother is recalled from his training as an Elemental Priest of Fire, but his touch burns and it is apparent that he may not be equal to the task. His young Chalice is determined that together they will find a way to thwart the villainous plots of the Overlord and preserve their beloved Willowlands. Rich and complex in characterization and description, McKinley's entire world is filled with rituals and nature lore, steeped in cultural history and tradition but with room for new responses and new roles for both Chalice and Master. It is a coming-of-age tale of a thoughtful, honest, and committed young woman, a true heroine whom readers will cheer. Reviewer: Mary Arnold
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up

The demesne of Willowlands is in a state of upheaval-great fissures in the earth have opened and swallowed livestock, fires have broken out across the land, the earthlines rumble in disquiet, the people are unsettled. The former Master of Willowlands, a reckless tyrant who reveled in his power and neglected his role, died heirless. His younger brother was sent away many years earlier to become a fire priest-a calling from which none return to the mortal realm. Yet, he is one year from completing his apprenticeship, and the Circle sends for him to heal his troubled land. Mirasol is the young beekeeper called to become Chalice, to bind together the Circle, the people, and the demesne into a unified entity. She has no training or experience, and the realm is so fractured that uniting it under the rule of a Master who is no longer completely human, and who can touch nothing without burning it, seems an impossible task. As delicately structured as the chambers of a honeycomb, this novel begs to be read slowly. The people of Willowlands are interesting and well crafted, and despite a conclusion that seems rushed and incomplete, this novel is a delight. Because this story is slow paced and does not happen in complete chronological order, reluctant readers will struggle with it. However, mature teens who long for beautiful phrases and descriptive writing will find themselves drinking in this rich fairy tale as if it were honey trickling down their throats.-Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO

Kirkus Reviews
This may not be Innisfree, but Yeats would recognize the "bee-loud glade" within its pages. McKinley's latest depicts vividly a rural world rooted in the earth and its powers-forces that are regulated by the concerted efforts of an estate Master, his Chalice and their Circle of advisors. In this world, the role of the estate Chalice is to provide balance to the earthlines and to bind Master and Circle to serve the land. Mirasol, a beekeeper, has assumed this role on an estate that's been driven to the verge of destruction by its former Master and his weak Chalice-with a new Master who is no longer fully human. McKinley is a master of fantasy writing: Elegant prose and lyrical descriptions capture reader interest while an increasingly tense plot maintains it. Primary characters, especially Mirasol and the new Master, are limned with care. The narrative's climax and resolution are satisfying and not at all pat. This tale will go down with fans like a spoonful of honey while attracting new readers to McKinley's previous works. (Fantasy. 12 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101208953
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 9/18/2008
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 96,801
  • File size: 325 KB

Meet the Author

Robin McKinley has won various awards and citations for her writing, including the Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown and a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword. Her other books include Sunshine; the New York Times bestseller Spindle's End; two novel-length retellings of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Beauty and Rose Daughter; and a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, The Outlaws of Sherwood. She lives with her husband, the English writer Peter Dickinson.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 99 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 100 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 10, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Another excellent Robin McKinley Book

    I'm biased in that I love almost every single Robin McKinley book there is. But this book shot to the top of my list. This book exists in a very unique universe and has an interesting format for magic. I love the way that she describes her characters doing the best they can in confusing or difficult to understand situations, and using sheer will and determination and creativity to win the day. Be warned, this book will make you crave honey and possibly want to become a beekeeper.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A curious throwback novel from a fantastic writer

    Through the first three quarters of this novel, I was very much enjoying it. It seemed a curious throwback in McKinley's cannon, more akin to The Hero and the Crown than more recent works like Sunshine or Dragonhaven. It was again in a sort of distant third-person limited replete with lyrical imagery, and very much like The Hero and the Crown it completely ignored the convention of telling its story linearly. It was also set in a beautiful imaginary world that felt small but deep -- geographically it covered maybe 50 square miles (minuscule for a fantasy novel) but it felt like there was history there going back hundreds of years.

    I loved the political system McKinley imagined, magically tied to the land and thus chosen by the land itself. Again very much like The Hero and the Crown, very little about the setting is ever spelled out for the reader: we see the role of the Chalice because Mirasol spends the novel trying to embody it, but the Master, the Grand Seneschal, and the rest of the circle are left in shadow. All we know about them is what we are able to glean from the corner of our eyes and our common sense knowledge of language (the titles are, after all, descriptive). I found this refreshing; it's wearying at times to read modern fantasy novels that spend page after page lovingly detailing their world but without actually using that world in their plot. None of the Circle had a major role, so giving the reader a prosaic job description for each of them would have broken the point of view (Mirasol knows what they do, so she doesn't need to think about their day to day tasks at any point) and would therefore have been pure indulgence on the author's part (a way of saying "look at what I made!").

    And of course, like all McKinley novels, it is a Beauty and the Beast tale.

    Unfortunately, while in The Hero and the Crown all the digressions and flashbacks subtly build to a climax that is moving and wondrous, in Chalice the ending feels abrupt, almost anti-climactic. Just as we are fitting the characters into their world and feeling the tension starting to rise toward some final showdown, the showdown is over and we are given a happily ever after that doesn't feel deserved. Mirasol never has to make a hard choice like Aerin does, her beast is magically transformed back to a man, and we are left saying "huh?" It really feels as though McKinley simply didn't know how to end her story, so she pasted some images together and sent it off to her publisher.

    Still, none of McKinley's writing is ever unpleasant to read, and even if the ending fell flat, the rest of the novel was very much McKinley in top form. Like all McKinley novels it also leaves the reader wanting a sequel, wanting many sequels really, so we can peer longer into all the delightful little corners we glimpsed here. A sequel is highly unlikely, given McKinley's track record, but that craving indicates how good a writer she is, even when the novel isn't her best.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Enjoyable Fantasy

    Chalice was a great book, even if it was slow in the begining. Mirasol was just an ordinary bee keeper and woods keeper in the demesne of Willowlands. After the Master and Chalice die under horrible circumstances, Willowlands is thrown into chaos. Mirasol has problems of her own, her bees hives are pouring honey and her goats are fountaining milk, making her work harder. She was never expecting to become the next Chalice, in charge of binding the lands. The dead Master's younger brother must now govern Willowlands, despite the fact that he was a priest of fire who can easily burn human flesh. Mirasol, now Chalice, struggles to bind the demesne with her new Master, discovering that he may be more human than everyone believes. The plot meanders and you never really identify with some of the characters. The descriptions are beautiful though and the climax is nail-biting. Chalice does leave you longing for more. It's shorter than most of McKinley's novels, and it shows in the hasty ending that lacks a feeling of closure.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2008

    callin all book lovaz!!!!!!!!!

    this book waz really good and i liked reading it cuz it waz a good mix of adventure mystery and romance an those r my 3 fav kind of books reed it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    High Fantasy on a Local Scale Meets a Bee Keeper's Magic

    Robin McKinley has created an entirely new world for this tale, one in which the land is close to its magical roots and must be nurtured by a Circle of experts: Master, Chalice, Grand Seneschal, Landsman, Talisman, etc. As the story opens, both the previous Master and Chalice have died unexpectedly without Heir or apprentice, leaving the broken and anguished land in the care of two flawed and completely untrained replacements. The protagonist, Mirasol, is the new Chalice, feeling her way into the leadership of the demesne even as she cares for her bees and the woods that had previously been her responsibility. Because she is so familiar with the art of beekeeping and honey making, honey becomes a key element of her nature-based magic.

    McKinley has done what she does so well - thrust the reader into a confusing time in the protagonist's life and revealed things to the reader at the same moment that they are revealed to the main character. This can lead to a confusing reading experience if you're a person who wants a good feel for the setting & problems, as well as a sense of how the problems might be revealed. However, Mirasol is so compassionate and resolute that I wanted to keep reading, to discover how she'd overcome the barriers created by strict feudal roles and strong traditions.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 24, 2009

    I Also Recommend:


    I'm a very big fan of Robin Mckinley and was very excited about this book. When I read it, it felt very drab and a bit boring at times. But the more i read, the more i started to like it. I just couldn't put it down. It had a lovely little romance. I recommend this to any one who doesn't mind a few slow moments. If you like action, adventure, and steamy romances then this is NOT the book for you. This is just a book to relax to.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2013

    Avid Fan

    I have loved this author since I was a young child. She does not disappoint.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2013

    Fresh approach to medieval-inspired fantasy

    A quick enjoyable read set in a world I'd like to learn more about. Grabbed in impulse while travelling and it made the time fly by.

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  • Posted April 5, 2013

    Not her best

    I'm a HUGE Robin McKinley fan, but this is not one of her better books. Very slow beginning and I found Chalice to be rather whiny and annoying.

    Just my opinion, but I didn't find it as magical and encompassing as "Beauty", "The Hero and the Crown", "The Blue Sword" or "Sunshine". I'd definitely recommend those McKinley titles over this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2012

    I want Honey.

    After reading this book I startedcooking with more Honey, bought Honey perfume, and a great Bee Bar Lotion.

    Besides the urge for honey, this a fun story. It is a quick read, but enveloping. There is not a lot of dialogue, and it follows the characters in a third person, almost stream of consciousness. But it has a good ending, which is always important.

    As with most Robin McKinley books, she creates a vivid and colorful world that we are sorry to be done with when the story comes to an end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2012

    I wanna see more

    I want more f her books like hero and crown and the blue sword never got to read the blue sword though beauty outlaws of sherwood forest sumshine etc

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A good read.

    I've really come to love Robin Mckinley's protagonists - always humble pragmatists. I thought the Chalice and Master was a very original concept and would have liked to read more about it. Actually, I would have really liked to know more about the world of this book in general. The Master is revealed to be a fire mage, but the reader never learns very much about the magic of the mages at all. I thought this book moved very fast for this author (it's been my experience she takes her time introducing her characters and universe). I still enjoyed the story very much and was just as emotionally attached to the characters as I usually am. A good read!

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  • Posted January 18, 2011

    Just a tad slow

    It is a great story and good book. My only complaint is that the small amout of dialogue makes it a bit biring and seem slow

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  • Posted January 9, 2011

    Beautifully crafted tale

    Robin does it again with this lovely piece of poetry. The tale reworks ideas about Beauty and the Beast in a while new world. With a touvh of classic fantasy, a hint of McKinnley's whimsy, and a large dose of the unexpected, this book draws be back again and again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2009

    Good book

    At the end of this book I was sad that it ended, and that is my definition of a good book. At the beginning/ middle it was a bit slow and it was never a book full of action. It was kind of difficult to identify with the characters. I really liked the underlying meaning of this book, but it is not for all readers. If you hav a short attention span, you may never finish it.

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    Posted July 16, 2010

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    Posted July 22, 2011

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    Posted October 1, 2013

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    Posted September 4, 2010

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    Posted April 10, 2011

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