Author: Robin McKinley
Genre: Traditional fantasy, YA, fiction
Copyright Date: 2008
First Line: "Because she was Chalice she stood at the front door with the Grand Seneschal, the Overlord's agent and the Prelate, all of whom were carefully ignoring her."
Cover: Art Nouveau. A yellow background with a picture medallion - bees in a decorative border surround a girl with windblown hair picking flowers in front of a cottage.
Best part: The story is very engaging.
Worst part: The characters talk too much.
Recommended for: Fans of McKinley and YA. Anyone who is into bees.
I chose this one because I really like McKinley's work, especially her Damar books. I lost the copy I had bought about halfway through, which was very annoying. I finished up with a library version when it became clear the book was not going to come to light.
The humble beekeeper Mirasol has been chosen as the Chalice for her demesne, against all tradition and expectation. Without guidance or friendship or help, she must somehow hold the land together. She must help the Master, her counterpart, who is no longer entirely human after years spent being a Priest of Fire. Can they learn to trust each other before the challenges they face become overwhelming?
I am happy to find McKinley writing new books these days, and some of them are quite good. I liked this one a lot although it does not shine with inner perfection like The Blue Sword (which is one of my favorite books of all time). I like that not everything is explained (who are all the members of the Circle and what do they do? who exactly is the Overlord?) and that there is room for a sequel if desired. I like that the shy Mirasol reminds me of none of McKinley's former characters so much as the bookish Beauty. I will be returning to this book happily over the years and I do hope the copy I bought will turn up. It has earned a grade of B.