Friday, June 19, 2009

Book Review: Chalice by Robin McKinley

As the newly appointed Chalice, Mirasol is the most important member of the Master's Circle. It is her duty to bind the Circle, the land and its people together with their new Master. But the new Master of Willowlands is a Priest of Fire, only drawn back into the human world by the sudden death of his brother. No one knows if it is even possible for him to live amongst his people. Mirasol wants the Master to have his chance, but her only training is as a beekeeper. How can she help settle their demesne during these troubled times and bind it to a Priest of Fire, the touch of whose hand can burn human flesh to the bone?

The first thing I want to say about this book is that the beginning doesn't really explain anything. That's not to say the writing or the story were lacking, I just had a lot of "what is a ______" moments. For example, you aren't really told much of what a Chalice is until a little later in the story, nor do you really get a good grasp on who exactly the Master is (and what it means to be a priest of Fire). Once I got into the book, however, these things were explained a bit more (still, there was some detail left to the imagination). The Master could be described as a King, and the Chalice is sort of like a healer/witch who has a close connection to the current master.

The story is told from the point of view of the newly appointed Chalice, who feels unprepared for her prestigious role. Most girls who are meant to be appointed to the Chalice position spend years training just to understand how to control magic. Through Mirasol's eyes we see what exactly it means to be a Chalice, and also experience the change of the Master from someone who is quiet and withdrawn, to someone who truly cares for both Marisol, and the Willowlands.
Quite honestly, I was worried that I wouldn't finish it due to lack of any real action at the beginning. The story did eventually pick up, and by the end I was really interested in what would happen to the characters. It was an interesting concept, and I wish it had been longer, although it was 272 pages, I felt that if the story had been a bit longer we would have seen more character development, especially in the Master.

McKinley has also written retellings of fairy tales, such as: Beauty, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and The Door in the Hedge, which retells two different tales.

by Robin McKinley
272 Pages
Published by Penguin
Rating - C


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