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.
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: " 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.
Good read; Poetic
Robin Mckinley’s writing style never disappoints. This novel isn’t action packed; it’s verbose, deep, and reflective, and completely envelopes you. I couldn’t stop reading.
Unique and beautiful
A story of nature: fear, love, life, and death - like a painting that explains itself through time.