Monday, April 19, 2010


Mirasol was a beekeeper, good at it and happy in it, when the mantle of the Chalice unexpectedly fell on her with the death of the previous holder.  Without training, without help outside of books, she fought to hold the province together--literally, in some cases, as she has to close a crevasse in a neighbor's farm when his cows start to fall into it--until the true Master of the province could return and take control.  But the previous Master's heir was sent off to become a Priest of Fire, and has gone so far into Fire that he may not be able to live among humans again; and though a new, unrelated candidate for Master is waiting in the wings, the transition to a new ruling family could be disastrous.

Robin McKinley turns from more contemporary fantasy to a fairy tale setting.  The system of land magic, where the Master and the Chalice are roles in a ruling Council responsible for the maintenance of the land itself as well as for the good of the people living on it, is never fully explained; the reader finds out about it piecemeal, much as Mirasol is forced to piece together her own training for the job.  I really enjoyed it, but then I like the kind of story where not everything is spelled out for me.

Originally posted at MySpace 11/24/08

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