Friday, February 6, 2009

Chalice by Robin McKinley

Mirasol has been chosen as the “Chalice” after the unexpected and violent demise of her predecessor. In a society with a very hierarchical structure (Overlord/Master/Chalice/Grand Seneschal) her role is to ceremonially, psychologically and physically bind the land, the Master and the counselors together.

The Master of the land or “demesne” is also new and untrained. The younger brother of the now dead former Master had been sent off to be trained as a Priest of Elemental Fire, training which alters the acolyte physically into a Being a Fire.

The untrained pair work to fulfill their obligations never sure they are doing the right thing. Perhaps because they are in the same awkward, isolated position, they make extra efforts to work together and to find a way to heal their land.

Running through the narrative are bees. Mirasol was responsible for keeping an area of woodlands which has a small cabin and bee hives. The bees, like the land, respond to Mirasol. They produce honey for her in amounts and qualities such as has never been seen. Mirasol discovers that adding honey to her ceremonial healing chalices makes them more effective.

The storytelling, like the hum of bees on a hot lazy summer’s day was refreshing and relaxing. There is a great deal of power in celebrating the rhythm and cycle of life, nature and human relationships.

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