In the blockbuster tradition of Diana Gabaldon, award-winning author Glenna McReynolds makes her stunning hardcover debut with a wondrous and wholly original tale. Shimmering with breathtaking romance, fantasy, and adventure, The Chalice and the Blade sweeps you into a rare world of ancient magic, fierce passion, and evil intention--a world that once entered will not soon be forgotten.
The place is twelfth-century Wales, a land of forbidding castles and ferocious knights, sacred prophecies and unholy betrayals. In the bowels of the earth, deep in the caverns below the towers of Carn Merioneth, dragon nests await the arrival of one who holds the key to an ancient legacy.
She is Ceridwen, daughter of a Druid priestess, unaware of her immense power--until fate leads her from the safety of a secluded abbey into the unbreachable tower of a feared sorcerer. Dain Lavrans knows he has no magic in himself, only the secrets of medicine he uncovered while a soldier in the Crusades. But with the appearance of Ceridwen, he will finally behold true--and terrifying--magic.
For there are many who seek the maiden, none for her own good and all meaning to use her. Carodoc, the dreaded warlord whose father slaughtered her people and left her orphaned, wants her as his bride so he can claim the riches rumored to lie beneath Carn Merioneth. Helebore, a depraved ex-monk once sentenced to death for his sins, wants her blood so he can unlock the dark mystery of time. Rhuddlan, leader of the wild folk of the woods, wants her to take her rightful place as decreed by ancient prophecy. Dain simply wants the ethereal Ceri, for himself alone. Now a battle of epic proportion is about to take place. And at the center of the clash of power stand Ceridwen and Dain, struggling to escape the dangers and snares set by friend and foe alike, while discovering that neither can resist the love that promises to bind them forever.
Weaving a spell of fantastical imagination and the all-too-human world of passion and evil, The Chalice and the Blade is unique and unforgettable, a sumptuous novel by one of today's most stirring storytellers.
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Edition description:||BANTAM PBK|
|Product dimensions:||4.50(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.50(d)|
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Catch the knife, Ceri." The smile turned sly. "If you dare."
She looked at the dagger, and Dain tossed it higher than before, making it spin in the air. Sunlight burst upon the blade and blazed along the sharp edge from hilt to point, but only for an instant. Quicker than not, the whole of it fell into shadow, then completed its next arc and caught the light once more.
He had dared her to put her hand into that dangerous whirl and snatch the blade before it could fall back into his hand. She wished she did dare.
He had cheated her. Not while playing his damned game of chess, but that they played it at all when there was so much else for them to do. She had less than a fortnight to glean what knowledge she could from him. They should be in his lower chamber, concocting magic potions for her to use.
She watched the knife flip hilt over point and wondered when a person should make her move, if she was going to try for the Damascene.
"If I catch it, can I keep it?" she asked, her gaze not leaving the dagger. Every flight of the blade was like the last, the rise, the hilt over point flip, the instant of stillness at the top, then the descent.
"Yes," he promised, "but only if you do not cut yourself in the catching of it."
Aye, there was always a trick with him.
She watched and waited, biding her time and calculating her chances. 'Twas a good knife, and she needed a good knife. The thought of escape had been growing ever stronger in her mind. With the return of her health, she had no reason to stay unless he taught her something besides chess, and she had many reasons to leave.
To look upon him the way she did was a sin, remembering the feel of his mouth on hers, the taste of his kiss. Her mind strayed too often to the night of his bath, to the water streaming down his body and the soft, guttural sounds of pleasure he'd made. He had given the carnality of her nature a face.... To remain with him was a weakness of both the flesh and mind, and could come to naught but damnation, no matter that her heart yearned along with her body.
The Damascene rose and flipped and fell, over and over. He never missed. The ivory grip ended in a hilt worked in both gold and silver, the metal chased and crosshatched to look woven, or braided. The design was familiar, strangely so, and not because she knew the dagger.
Then she remembered where and when she'd seen the hilt before.
"I had a dream about you," she said, and the knife clattered to the floor. He jerked his hand back and swore, but 'twas too late. He'd been nicked by the blade. "At least I thought it was you but maybe it wasn't," she mused. The knife was in it for sure, except it wasn't a knife, but a sword." He bent over to pick up the Damascene, still muttering obscenities. "It had the same ivory hilt, though, the same gold-and-silver pattern, and we were on a beach by the ocean, except it wasn't the sky above us, but the earth. There was more that is harder to remember, and all of it feels more like a memory than a dream, which I know sounds odd, but that's exactly what it's like."
He had stopped swearing and was looking at her, his gaze far too serious for what she had in mind next.
"You had this dream?" he asked.
"Yes. When I fell asleep in Madron's cottage." If he wasn't going to get on with teaching her magic, then she needed to get on with her own preparations. To that end, she gave him what she hoped was a wistfully charming smile. "Since you cut yourself, does that mean I get the knife?"
Without a word, he handed her the blade. His lack of hesitation surprised her, but neither did she hesitate in the taking of it.
She fit the dagger to her hand, liking the weight and the balance of it, as always. A smile came to her mouth. There had been a helper in the abbey garden, a boy who had liked knives. He would have loved this one, except she doubted if anyone used such a fancy piece for playing mumblety-peg. Childhood games were long past her, but a woman still had need of a knife. She was glad to have this one as a gift instead of having to steal it again. Her sins were mounting at an alarming rate as it was.
"A sword as fine as this dagger would cost a man's whole fortune," she said, rubbing her thumb along the haft.
"Or a man's life."
She glanced up from beneath her lashes, distracted from her new treasure by the sudden weariness in his voice. "You've seen one?"
He nodded, swearing softly and bringing his hand up to rub his temples. Was a move he'd made often in the last few days, one indicative of a throbbing head. He was prone to the malady.
"Lavrans?" She leaned forward and put her hand on his cheek, giving in to a wayward impulse she immediately regretted. To touch him was to remember him not as the cynic he played so well, but as the Prince of the Light-elves, he who enchanted demons and saved maidens. 'Twas that part of him that made her yearn for love.
He looked up, over the top of his hand, but not at her. She followed his gaze across the room to the oak-and-iron chest chained at the foot of his bed, then brought her attention back to him. He swore again, closing his eyes and lowering his head, and the tips of her fingers slid into his hair. She caressed his temple with her thumb, another impulse she could not resist.
"Are you well?" Concern made her voice gentler than she liked. At least she told herself it was concern and not the slow ache she felt building inside.
"Aye," he answered, not sounding at all truthful. With the slightest of movements, he turned his mouth into her palm, flooding her senses with awareness. His lips were soft, his breath warm against her skin.
Heat poured through her. She wanted to lean closer and take him in her arms, cradle his head next to her breast; to glide her fingers through his hair dragging the long, dark strands away from his face, then bend low to kiss his brow. When he'd kissed her, he had kissed her as a man as well as a sorcerer, and after her dream of him as the savior with a sword, she'd had no more fear of him. She had only the want of him, a need unlike any she'd felt before, undeniable. Thus compelled, she did lean closer, bringing her face ever so much nearer to his.
His breath grew shallow, and slowly his eyes opened, the gradual lift of his lashes mesmerizing her with hope and promise. Her heart pounded. Surely he would kiss her again.
Yet when their eyes met, it wasn't longing she saw in his gaze, nor weariness, but a regard so cool, she felt the icy chill of it.
She quickly pulled away. 'Twas what came from being raised in a nunnery, she thought with disgust, this inability of hers to understand or predict him, or to keep herself from her own awful foolishness.
"Forget this dream you had," he said. "It can do neither of us any good."
"Dreams cannot harm you, magician." Damn him. He had felt nothing, and she could scarce see straight for still wanting him. He was more changeable than the weather. She should have more sense than to think of him the way she did. She should have more sense than to think of him at all.
"Mayhaps," he agreed. "But for some, the whole world is a dream, and who can deny that there is harm in the world?"
"Do not speak in riddles to me." She would not cry. She'd had enough of tears. He was the one who had kissed her, was he not? She had not gone out of her way to kiss him. But then it never stopped at kisses for a man. A sister at Usk who had been widowed twice before taking her vows had told her so. With Dain, the kisses she longed for would no doubt turn into something beastly that she dared not desire.
"You do not want riddles?" He reached for his cup of wine. "Then hear the truth, Ceridwen. I also dreamed in Madron's cottage."
She stopped her silent railing and glanced up at him. "A dream like mine?"
"Enough so to make me wary."
This excerpt from THE CHALICE AND THE BLADE ©1997 by Glenna McReynolds is published by arrangement with Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group. All rights reserved.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I like romances that have more than the ordinary characters in them and this one, dream stone, and prince of time certainly have that in abundance. I also love the detail with which she brings this world to life. I believe I had read through them all twice and will probably do so again! Its definitely not too mushy, but alot more real to me. Just the right amount of romance and fantasy...
When I first started reading this book, it was a little hard to follow and I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into. After the first chapter I put it down and didn't pick it up for two weeks. I found it again and decided to give it another chance. By then I was on the path to no return. It was exciting, suspenseful, and a thrill of a read! As soon as I was a quarter of the way through, I finished the rest of the book in one Saturday! Honestly, for a person looking for a juicy and spirit touching novel has got to pick up The Chalice and the Blade!
This book was so good. The characters were so well developed and real. I got really attatched them all and the plot was wonderful and intriguing. And the romance! I loved it! It was so sweet and as believable as the rest of the story. A great book. A must read.
I absolutely loved this book! I was expecting this book to be like other romances I've read but it wasn't. It had an almost Fantasy feel to it. This book has romance, adventure, mystery, lore, magick and much more!
I loved this book so much. It is a very sweet romance book but also a great fantasy book. The characters were so real and Ceridwen was the best. I recommend this book to people who love fantasy/romance. Be prepared not to sleep!