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3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  11,693 Ratings  ·  1,317 Reviews
Beekeeper Marisol has been chosen as the new Chalice, destined to stand beside the Master and mix the ceremonial brews that hold the Willowlands together. But the relationship between Chalice and Master has always been tumultuous, and the new Master is unlike any before him.
ebook, 272 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Ace Books
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Upping my rating from 2 stars to 3 on reread.

This YA fantasy has distant echoes of Beauty and the Beast, a favorite theme of Robin McKinley, but only in the most general sense: a young woman has to figure out how to save a worthy man who is caught in a magical bind.

Mirasol, a beekeeper, is the "Chalice" for the Willowlands demesne. The Chalice is one of the most important roles of the Circle, the group of people endowed with magical powers to protect their land. She binds the land, the people an
Jun 22, 2008 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the type of Robin McKinley book I like -- sweet yet powerful female main character with a job to do, an otherworldly land, and an understated but moving romance. It's not her best book ever, but it's a return to the kind of book she used to write in the days of my favorites, THE BLUE SWORD and BEAUTY, and I enjoyed it. The bees were a wonderful touch.
Mar 25, 2012 Nikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, favourites
I always rather suspected I'd reread this book, and now seemed like a good time, when I'm doing a lot of revisiting of other books. It stuck in my mind for a long time, in a way not many books do. I found myself still wondering how Mirasol would deal with certain situations, how she and the Master would get on.

I found the worldbuilding fascinating. The idea of a Chalice, the idea of the earthlines, all the roles of the Circle... I still think it would be fascinating to see the Circle functioning
Sep 26, 2008 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-uns, ya
Robin McKinley knows first lines. You read just the first sentence and immediately feel like you've entered a world entirely complete and utterly its own. And you want to sit down and stay awhile. Chalice is no exception to the rule. The world reminded me a bit of the kingdom in Spindle's End, both of them deeply entrenched in a sticky sort of magic with a heritage and weight to it. The characters reminded me a bit of those in Rose Daughter, purposefully a bit vague and left up to your imagin ...more
Nov 28, 2008 Bonnie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was too much in need of a good editing for me to enjoy it. I sat down with it 6 times, and only got to page 34...and then I quit.

What the book really should have done was have the beginning section, up until she gets burned, and then go back in time and talk about how she becomes Chalice, and then go on with the story.

Instead, there's a line of dialogue, such as "are you warm enough?" Then 6 paragraphs of something that reminded her of, and things she did in the past, and then finally,
I'd go 3.5 stars, with a big buzz for novelty! My first fantasy by Robin McKinley, this is a unique rendition of Beauty and the Beast.

Mirasol, humble beekeeper, newly promoted to the position of Chalice, who nurtures the lands.

"She thought, I need no cup. I am Chalice. I am filling with the grief and hurt and fear of my demesne; the shattered earthlines weigh me down; I am brimming with the needs of my people.”

The "beast" (our hero), is a human who has been transformed almost completely in
Jan 21, 2009 Mfred rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
I did not like this book as much as I had hoped I would. Robin McKinley is one of my favorite authors and I was eagerly anticipating this release, as it seemed a return to the types of stories she did with The Blue Sword, Hero & the Crown and her fairy tale retellings.

The story was pretty good, but kind of uneventful. The language was lyrical, but without punch or impact. I was immediately drawn into the connection between Chalice and Master, but didn't see enough of them together over the c
Oct 23, 2016 Nikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I don’t know why I keep coming back to this book — one I originally gave just three stars — but I think this is probably the fourth time I’ve read it. This time, because I saw a copy for three euros in Dublin and just had to, had to, had to; up to now, I didn’t actually have my own copy, which you can imagine was annoying and of course I had to rectify it.

I think the thing is, it’s such a warm story. Mirasol and the Master’s relationship is so tentative, so careful; their attempts to reach out t
Oct 13, 2014 Nikki rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favourites
For a book that I originally gave three stars, and found somewhat... disappointing, it probably seems weird that I've come back to it for a second time. But actually, I've grown very fond of it. I love the fact that it isn't just a generic medieval Europe, but something that has some of those aspects while having rules, rituals, histories and roles of its own. And yet at the same time, it's still rooted in the earth: in the common elements, in water and milk and honey, in the straightforward cle ...more
Oct 27, 2008 Cecelia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You know that one author whose books you reach for when you need the equivalent of a reading hug? Or maybe it’s just one book, but the prose somehow exudes cozy? Yeah. I have a whole shelf of those, and the name on the spine is Robin McKinley. Her books are great for anytime (they’re almost all about girls doing things), but I find my eye catching on that particular shelf most often whenever I’m in a rough patch. I’m in the midst of one right now – first I fractured my face playing hockey, then ...more
Oct 24, 2008 Wealhtheow rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: mistful
Shelves: fantasy
Mirasol is a happy beekeeper in a little cottage in the Willowlands--until the Chalice and her Master die. First, her goats suddenly must be milked thrice a day and her bee hives are literally overflowing with honey. Then, the Circle tells Mirasol that *she* is the new Chalice, even though she had no apprenticeship or training, an unheard of disaster. And *then*, the new Master arrives--and he is no longer human. He has trained for seven years to become an Elemental priest of Fire, and returning ...more
Jul 29, 2009 skein rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-star
Enjoyable - but so confusing and so slow (see: confusing) that I only really had a grasp on the world & its politics after a hundred-some pages. And now that I understand, I feel like I ought to read it again.
McKinley does an admirable job of creating a totally distinct world & immersing us in it, as usual, but I swear at one point I was going to give it up, just to get away from 'but she was Chalice', or 'the Chalice must' or 'this, too, was Chalice'. And then she started on with honey.
Feb 02, 2009 Cait rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, don't get me wrong, I am all about the girl-power-plus-magic genre, and this had added beekeeping, so extra points, but I've discovered that I have a problem with Robin McKinley.

She builds these fantastic worlds... populates them with interesting and well rounded characters... there is a dramatic build up... and then the book is over.

It feels like once she sets everything in motion, she feels it can all be concluded in, you know, four pages. While this is technically true, it feels like a
May 24, 2009 Shomeret rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As I read, I compared McKinley's approach to Stephen Donaldson's in the Thomas Covenant series. I think that Donaldson portrays the land as an object that is acted upon and magic as largely dependent on artifacts that must fall into the proper hands. In Chalice McKinley portrays the land as alive and reacting to human events. Magic in this novel involves speaking directly to the land. Donaldson's heroes are forever fighting villains over artifacts. McKinley's fight villains with their minds and ...more
Jan 20, 2009 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Let me first say that I love Robin McKinley. I think she is an excellent writer. I loved Beauty and many of her other works. I don't know if it was my mood, but I just couldn't get into this book. I kind of felt that the editing was not clean enough- first of all, the whole setting is a new world, and was explained so slowly as to be excruciating. I felt the book kept going from present to past in a way that was distracting. I wish that the world would have made sense quicker and that the book o ...more
C.E. Murphy
Jan 25, 2013 C.E. Murphy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, my. I knew early on how it would end, more or less (Robin McKinley is, after all, the writer who said perhaps we all have only one story to tell, and everybody knows which one is hers), but that didn't stop me from devouring CHALICE. It's up there with THE BLUE SWORD and SUNSHINE for me.

Also, as a writer, I admire the passage of time: the book takes place over a year and a bit, and she moves through weeks and months at a time with a few elegant sentences. It's not easy to do well, and I lov
Oct 15, 2008 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: youngadult
A beautiful book. The simple, yet lyrical style of the writing reminded me of McKinley's "Door in the Hedge" stories, or her phenomenal "Beauty." I loved every minute of this book, which was romantic and suspenseful, with her trademark humor as well. Charming.
Yeah! Robin McKinley is back in fine form after the disappointing Dragonhaven. I loved this story. Sort of a Beauty & the Beast but with a lot more fire and honey.
Aug 17, 2008 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-books
I love pretty much everything Robin McKinley writes and Chalice is no exception. It is clearly her story with all the original world building, interesting characters, and unique situations we expect of her. But it also has her flaw – which is the long, long, long passages on things that don’t really move the story forward (in Sunshine this was cinnamon rolls, with Chalice it is beekeeping).

Chalice is the story of a beekeeper that becomes second in command of a ‘demesne’ (I’d liken it to a barony
Sherwood Smith
I so looked forward to this book, but it was so disappointing to me. Yet another iteration of Beauty and the Beast, this one with the Beast character even farther away, so we rarely hear him speak, just get pages and pages and PAGES of Chalice talking to herself about him, and asking herself questions she couldn't answer. What little action there is gets mostly fed in flashback form.

It felt like a short story stretched out over endless paragraphs of verbiage that never quite added up to more tha
Jan 12, 2009 Rachael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave this four stars not because it was the best Robin McKinley book I've ever read, but because I was so pleased to see her returning to what I think of as "classic Robin McKinley." I hated Dragonhaven--it was this rambling mess. And I really didn't like Sunshine either. But this--it made me hope for another Damar novel. The only thing that frustrated me is that it felt a little too light--there wasn't really as much substance to it as I would have liked (and she did that frustrating thing wh ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 05, 2008 Jackie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite it's intriguing premise, the first half of McKinley's book struck me as rather confusing and not at all engaging. The book opens with the arrival of the new "Master," who, because he was given to the priests of Fire as a young man, is no longer quite human. The opening sections then move back and forth in time, in the third person but limited to the point of view of the main character, Mirasol, who has been thrust into the role of "Chalice," adviser to the Master and second authority in ...more
Mar 23, 2009 Hayden rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen, fantasy
I loved McKinley's The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword. They were fun fantasy adventures starring badass warrior ladies. But I really hated Chalice.

For one thing, the first 100 pages (and most of the rest of the book) are all about the intricate rules and procedures of a magical, medieval-ish government. In those first 100 pages, there is only one conversation. I guess this is what separates the real fantasy fans from people like me, because I was bored out of my gourd.

But my real criticis
Megan Lillian
I know that Robin McKinley fans are absolutely in awe of her writing, and even though I haven't been wowed by her work, I keep reading reviews and being hopeful... She writes books that I want to read, want to love, and secretly want to write myself - she just doesn't write them well enough in my opinion. This book is a case-in-point. The idea is fascinating: a "kingdom" with a council-type ruling structure, filled with pagan-like rituals, a strong female protagonist who makes magic with honey b ...more
Gail Carriger
Nov 22, 2009 Gail Carriger rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, fantasy
In Robin McKinley's Chalice, Mirasol the beekeeper holds her alternative medieval manor house together through the rituals of Chalice.

Not quite McKinley's usual funny witty retold fairytale, the pacing is a bit slow and repetitive at times, but the writing is stellar and very lyrical, almost as though McKinley has her McKillip hat on.

It's now been a few years since I first read this book and the memory of it still lingers on, but I do continually forget that it's not a McKillip offering. I wond
I put off getting this book for two reasons: the price, and the fact that some reviews suggested it was slow-moving. When the first factor shifted, I picked it up, and was very glad I did.

As I'd expect from Robin McKinley, it's beautiful, reflective, and original. The setting is an estate in a world where a number of ritual roles, including the Chalice and the Master, work together to protect the land and make it flourish. It's a wonderful extension of the idea of ritual kingship and the king a
Nov 23, 2009 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I was quite doubtful about Robin McKinley's Chalice, initially. It took a while to really get going, and while it did, there was a lot of skipping around between time periods, which I found a little confusing. I read it on my ereader, which made it a little more difficult to just turn back a few pages and reread stuff to connect up the dots and sort out my confusion, which might have helped -- but at the same time, I should've been able to read the story linearly.

I did enjoy it quite a lot, thou
Sep 19, 2008 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
Mirasol was raised to be a beekeeper and to care for her family's small plot of land, so she is completely unprepared when she is chosen as the next Chalice, the position second only to the Master of the land. Not having had the usual apprenticeship, she has to figure out her role as Chalice on her own, learning what she can from books. She can't even be helped by the new Master, who, banished years before by the old Master, his brother, has gotten so far into his training as a priest of Fire th ...more
Merrie Haskell
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Born in her mother's hometown of Warren, Ohio, Robin McKinley grew up an only child with a father in the United States Navy. She moved around frequently as a child and read copiously; she credits this background with the inspiration for her stories.

Her passion for reading was one of the most constant things in her childhood, so she began to remember events, places, and time periods by what books
More about Robin McKinley...

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“And if my choice is to sit graciously in my best robes and accept the inevitable or to bail a sea with a bucket, give me the bucket.” 71 likes
“Laughter went on and on, like sunlight and stone, even if the human beings who laughed did not.” 49 likes
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