CHALICE: Robin McKinley: G. P. Putnam's Sons: Fantasy: 263 pgs.
Mirasol has a woodlot in her demesne, Willowlands, where she also raises bees. When the current Master and Chalice of the demesne die, Mirasol is chosen to be the new Chalice (the Chalice, who is second in the Circle, binds the Master and the demesne together). Confused, lost, and bewildered by this turn of events, Mirasol struggles to learn her new duties and to work with the new Master, a former Elemental priest of Fire, who was called back from his priestly life when his brother, the old Master, died. The new Master is not quite human and the people are frightened by him. Mirasol is not scared of him, but is determined to help him bind himself to the demesne and the people. She works her power with the help of and honey from her bees. Mirasol journeys the entire demesne to try to save it and the Master when the Overlord of the demesne challenges the Master’s fitfulness to serve.
This well-written book is so different from any other that I have read recently and is beautiful. I was drawn into it and didn’t want it to end.