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25 November 2013

Paperback published ACE December 2009. (Not crazy about the quality of the actual book. The paper of the spine started peeling back right after I received it and before I’d even started to read the book. That really isn’t good…)

But the book is great, another of McKinley’s wonderful fantasies. I find that I either love her work, or really dislike it, and worked out that this is no problem of hers but of mine. I like a happy ending. I don’t mind all sorts of bad stuff and angst during the story, but it should end as moderately upbeat. The works of hers that I really dislike are those where the ending leaves me depressed and unhappy for the characters. So these days where possible, I pick up her books, check the ending, and buy only those where it seems that all has ended well. This one qualified nicely. (I also love her ‘one-liners.’ Currently re-reading her collection Fire, in which (in The Hellhound story) there is the throwaway information about a keeper in a dog-pound…”Ronnie had six dogs of his own, all from the pound. He tended to specialize in the hard-to-place ones, so he had three-legged dogs, blind dogs, old dogs, and hyperactive incontinent dogs. He also had a very patient wife.” That cracks me up every time I re-read the book. I can just see both Ronnie and his wife and each time I think that Ronnie’s wife has to be a dog-lover too, or even the most patient woman would start putting her foot down.)

But in Chalice – Marisol is a woodright, caring for her own section of land, and also caring for her beehives and their occupants. But on her demesne all is not well. The previous Master of the land and his Chalice died, his brother has been recalled from being a Priest of Fire and Marisol has been chosen as the new Chalice. So while she struggles to cope with her new powers and position never having been apprenticed as should have happened, and being untrained with little idea of what her job entails, the new Master must come home and struggle even harder since his training has moved him away from being human. Together Master and Chalice find that they don’t only face the difficulties inherent in this, they also have an Overlord who’d much prefer another Master and is actively working to replace the man who has given up what he was to become Willowlands’ Master. This is a story about people doing the right thing for the right reasons, but who are opposed by those who don’t understand, some who don’t believe it, and others who merely want power and position and don’t care what they have to do to obtain them. And it has a kick-ass ending. I loved it. Recommended.


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