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"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!