Author: Robin McKinley
Pages: 272 pages
Summary: Mirasol is the new and untrained Chalice of the Willowlands, and thus it is her job to bind the Circle, the Master, and the land together for the good of all. But the land is in dissarray, and she was not trained for this--no, she was a beekeeper and a woodtender. But when the old Master and his Chalice die in tragedy, and the new Master comes back from fire priests, a thing that has never before been done for he is no longer human.
She struggles to bind the Circle into a cohesive unit, which is hard when the members do not wish to be bound. She fights to learn enough to keep the Willowlands together and to help the new Master, who cannot touch without burning. It seems impossible--but as the only honey Chalice in the history of the lands, she tries anyway.
Notes: This is a singularly unique novel. Though rather short, it contains a lushly penned world rich in description and detail. It's not a book to rush through but rather one to savor and chew on thoughtfully for a little while. It can at times be a little repetitive, and yet somehow it works because Mirasol, the narrator and main character, is struggling to solve the problem facing not only her, but the entire land.
It is quite different than some of her other work, I think. It's not the action of The Blue Sword or the tale you can pull from the realms of history; in some ways it's similar to her Sunshine in its utter uniqueness.
It left me feeling thoughtful and I still cannot describe exactly how I feel about it. I don't love it the way I love so many books, but I'm very happy I did read it and I will most likely reread it again at a later point. I'm not sure what that says about it, but I'm sure it says something.
As always, though, McKinley is the master of world building. I can only hope I do as well with it.
Rating: Hmmm. This time it's hard, since I'm left in an odd state about it. Let's put it at 6.5 / 10, but see the notes about rereading at a later date.