by Robin Mckinley

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780441018741
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/24/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About 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.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

-High fantasy as perfectly shaped and eloquently told as Beauty and The Hero and the Crown. A lavish and lasting treat.+ -Publishers Weekly, starred review

-Readers 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.+ -School Library Journal

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Chalice 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 132 reviews.
PhoenixFalls More than 1 year ago
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.
Booktastic More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Found this to be a really interesting read. I can see how other reviewers might have found the single view storyline to be a but unfulfilling, but I enjoyed it. Definitely wish the ending was explained a bit more because the climax would have been a little more satisfying. But I guess if the main character doesn't quite know what happened, then the readers don't either.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
MBMullin More than 1 year ago
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.
Book_Lover09 More than 1 year ago
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.
dholland08 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Wonderful fantasy with a different point of view. Great characters.
shadowseer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very good. I really enjoyed it, and I got through it fairly quickly. I'm not 100% certain how I feel about the ending, except that it's not at all surprising for Robin McKinley.
jjmcgaffey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nice. An interesting world, a very interesting magic system, and a good story to hang it all on. The story was rather confusing at the start - the back cover blurb was a bit of a spoiler, or necessary data, or something. I understood what was going on in the first few scenes mostly because of the blurb - while the book presented a vivid scene, I had no clue of what or why or time sequence for a while. The flashbacks and flash-forwards got seriously confusing. But I did finally settle into the book, and Mirasol's problems became both understandable and interesting. Ditto for the Master. Though I still don't understand why he gave up near the end - he kept being able to do things and saying it was because Fire helped him, but we never really saw him fail at anything so his surrender didn't ring true. And partly because of that, the end felt like a cop-out - he'd been improving and succeeding and managing, and suddenly all his work was unnecessary. Not bad (though the rules about Master and Chalice marrying may make for problems - and why is it necessary, anyway?) but not a wonderful ending. And did all her special big bees die, or only most? I'd be interested in reading another book set in the Domains, but not a sequel - someone who's heard the story and can refer to it, but has their own concerns, would be great. The next set of problems for them seem to be a lot of small, niggling ones - what will the Overlord do, does Liapnir (boy, that sounds Damarian) regret losing the Fire, the rules about marrying, finish patching their Domain¿like that.
ninjapenguin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of Robin McKinley's fairy tales, so it's no surprise that I loved this book. It was a bit shorter than I would like, however. Chalice mixes together the Beauty and the Beast story along with land-rule and a few of her own touches of magic. In this country, the health of the land and its people depends on the magic and strength of the land-ruler and his Chalice. Chalices mix together liquids (usually water) with various herbs, stones, and prayers to bind the people and land together. Unfortunately, our titular chalice hasn't had any training in her role, and is the only known honey chalice. Even worse, the new lord had been sent off to the Fire Priests by his wicked brother years ago, and now everyone, including him, fear that he is not fully human again. The feeling may be a bit YA for some, and, as to be expected from a story based off of Beauty and the Beast, there is a healthy dollop of romance, but primarily this is a story about gaining courage and believing in yourself. It's cute and sweet; the perfect little fairytale concoction to leave you with a smile.
Herenya on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Chalice is just gorgeous. I read somewhere, that someone had mentioned seeing a certain similarity between this and Sunshine, and the author responded saying, yes, she keeps telling the same story "over and over and over and over". I could definitely see that in Chalice, to the point where I tagged it "fairy-tale-retelling" , even though it, well, isn't.It had that mythical, rural fairy-tale quality to it, but also a pervading sense of realism. (It deals with politics and power, duty and responsibility, and the burdens of difficult inheritances.) The world felt both original and vividly realised - the writing is beautiful. While the story unfolds slowly at first, I found it increasingly difficult to put down. It was just what I needed to read - it was like honey - sweet and golden and soothing, and yet still a good novel.My only real quibble is that the ending was too readily resolved, with too little explanation. An Amazon reviewer put it well when they said that the characters had proved that they were strong enough to cope with not everything being happily ever after. I would have been better satisfied with a more bittersweet ending, but I am reluctant to complain; I liked the story too much.
readinggeek451 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Until a year ago, Marisol was a beekeeper and woodswoman. Now she is the Chalice, second in power in the demesne, who has to keep the land together in support of her Master. But she had no apprenticeship, no training, and she may not have the strength--or the power--to save the land.
OctButterfly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I felt like this book was too wordy and repetitive. There isn't much dialogue, it's just a lot of what the main character, Marisol, is thinking. I feel like the novel could have done with more character development and a more direct approach at explaining the setting other than Marisol's rambling thoughts.
little_prof on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a beautiful book. The story opens with Marisol, who is a beekeeper and woods-woman who has recently had to take on the weighty responsibility of being Chalice, responsible for witnessing ceremonies and binding her demesne together. The new Master of Willowlands is a fire priest who has taken so much fire into himself that he can no longer touch anything without burning them. How can such a Master help the land heal from the damage inflicted by the previous aster? How can such an untried Chalice soothe that hurt? But Marisol is strong. She refuses to give up her bees or her cottage. She finds it in herself to embrace her new Master and do her best to bind him to the land and to the people despite their own fears and external pressure
jedimarri on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Chalice" is the second book I've read by Robin McKinley, and I'm quickly falling in love with her work! The first book I read, Spindle's End, was a fanciful retelling of the story of Sleeping Beauty. This story, Chalice, is completely it's own story, and the depth of her imagination amazes me!In "Chalice" we meet a young woman named Mirasol. Mirasol has been a beekeeper and a woodsmen, and now she finds herself being chosen unexpectedly as the Chalice of the land. The position of Chalice is a sacred one of power, and one that requires a special person. The Chalice must have "landsense," in other words, they must be able to sense the power lines that run through the land, and thus have a very close connection to the land. The Chalice works with the Master of the land, and the Circle, and together they keep the land whole, safe keep the people, and govern. Mirasol faces many challenges that are above and beyond what a normal Chalice would face. The previous Master and Chalice died suddenly, and the land was already in distress when they died. Plus, it's very unusual for a Chalice to come to her position without first being the apprentice to the prior Chalice, but the prior Chalice had never taken an apprentice. On top of all that, the new Master is in a bit of an unusual situation himself. Both the new Master and Chalice have power. He of Fire, and her in honey, and some how they must find a way to heal the land together. It's a beautiful story steeped in magical lore that will keep you turning pages until the very end!
foggidawn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mirasol is Chalice, a member of the ruling Circle of the Willowlands demesne, second in importance only to the Master. All is not well in her demesne, though -- the previous Master and Chalice died in tragic and somewhat shocking circumstances, so Mirasol never had the chance to apprentice and learn the work of the Chalice. The Master's younger brother has been called home from the Elemental Priesthood to take his place as the new Master of the demesne, but it's rumored that he went so far into the Elemental Priesthood that he is somehow no longer human. Moreover, there are those, both with and outside of the demesne, who would like to see the new Master fail, and Mirasol with him. Can an inexperienced Chalice and Master work together to save the demesne -- or did their respective positions come to them too soon, or too late?There's not a lot of action in this book, and while there's definitely conflict, it's generally interpersonal and running under the surface. The world-building is really interesting, though it can also be just a little bit confusing at times. This was my second time reading this book, and I enjoyed it just a much this time as last time. McKinley's writing has its flaws (it tends to wander a bit) but for me, her books stand up well to rereading. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this as a point of access to McKinley's works, but for fans of hers, it is certainly a worthwhile read.
thelorelei on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a lovely, unique tale with which Robin McKinley has blessed her readers. Instead of adapting an existing fairytale, she built this tale from the earth up, and the result is an utterly believable, living, humming story of the struggle to heal and redeem a scarred and frightened land. Mirasol is the new Chalice, second only to the Master in the Circle which holds together their home, the Willowlands. However, the Master has only lately been recalled from the priesthood of Fire to replace his late brother, who nearly destroyed their demesne through his careless and destructive ways. No one has ever returned from the Elemental priesthood successfully; the new Master wills himself to try anyway, but his people fear him and what he has become, for he no longer looks or indeed IS quite human and his touch burns.Bees and honey play a central, nearly religious role, and they lend themselves to an intensely vibrant atmosphere. McKinley is always a superb storyteller, and this book is no exception. Mirasol is a wonderfully empathic protagonist and the reader struggles along with her to support the new Master against those who would take the delicate situation to their advantage.I highly recommend "Chalice;" it is such a pleasure to delve into McKinley's creations, and this book is so beautifully constructed and imagined that I cannot help wanting to immediately re-read it.
allthesedarnbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an enjoyable young adult fantasy novel. It's not McKinley's best (see Beauty or The Hero and the Crown), but it's a good read nonetheless. Sometimes the details of the society she constructs are a little overwhelming; I found myself getting bogged down in etiquette or customs for entire sections. My favorite part of the story was the beautiful relationship that Marisol, the main character, has with her bees, and the descriptions of beekeeping and honey are beautiful. When I was through I had such a honey craving! Recommended for fantasy fans.
SunnySD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
New Chalice Mirasol knows bees and she knows her small holding. What she doesn't know is nearly enough about her duties as Chalice. He position is made more difficult by a new Master no longer quite human, whose years of study to become a fire priest have left him less than suited to hold the demesne of Willowlands secure. Somehow the two of them will need to learn to work together if the land itself is not to rip asunder.Slowly paced and gracefully told. The shifts between past and present are occasionally disconcerting, but ultimately don't detract at all. I stayed up much too late to finish this one.
callmecayce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I was younger I read a lot of Robin McKinely. But then I grew up, discovered science fiction and basically gave up fantasy because I just didn't have time for all the sword fighting and dragons and you get the idea. But after reading McKinley's book Sunshine, I thought I'd give this book a chance. And I'm extremely glad I did. It's fantastic, well written, and completely engrossing. I throughly enjoyed reading it.
rachelick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Robin McKinley has created another world of natural beauty. The title character, Mirasol, holds the position of Chalice; her magic, through various ceremonies, is responsible for the well-being of her region. But Mirasol is inexperienced and untutored; the land is ripped apart after the catastrophic loss of the previous Master and Chalice; and the new Master, also untutored, had progressed so far in the rites of his temple that he is now scarcely human. Thus the situation is ripe for disunity within and danger without. Fans of McKinley's other tales, as well as the uninitiated, will certainly enjoy watching Mirasol grow into her responsibilities and her self. The prose is personable and elegant, able to transfix and transport. Highly recommended.
hoxierice on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think this happened to me with another Robyn McKinley book. The world is so complete and rich that at first it takes me a while to fully understand and appreciate the story. Then I totally get sucked in and am sad when the story ends. I want them to have more adventures and I want to read about them. I loved how Marisol's learns all she can about Chalice by reading.
mmillet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lyrical writing from one of my favorite authors. McKinley has such a unique imagination where she creates these places full of people who leave you thinking about them for days. I was completely engrossed by the story of a young girl who must find a way to unite her 'town' as a new master is appointed.Filled with magic, regret, hope and love - I was entranced by Marisol's journey to become a uniting factor in the land. McKinley never disappoints and 'Chalice' is such a fresh and beautiful story. I loved it.
silentq on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mirasol is beekeeper who was unexpectedly raised to be the second in the Circle, the one who mixes draughts and holds the chalice. The new Master is drawn back from being a Fire priest and burns her at the welcoming ceremony, and he also has to learn how to take up his unexpected duties. He's a cipher, though, the book is too short in terms of not spending enough time exploring his character, or their relationship. Marisol is decently fleshed out, but her story is told heavily in flashback scenes, since the action starts at the welcome ceremony. The ending was foreshadowed but not really explained very well. I'm kind of disappointed, McKinley has been a favourite author of mine for years and this one didn't feel a rich as her best work.