Review: Chalice, Robin McKinley

So this is my adult fantasy or science fiction book for Jeane‘s DogEar Challenge, and I have managed to finish it before the end of November, which I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do, what with all the applying to grad school I’ve been doing and whatnot.  Chalice!

I have figured out the key to Robin McKinley, and I will tell you what it is.  In each of her books, she has a world that she’s created, and she plops you down right in the middle of the world.  By and large, her books are not enormously long on plot, and this is fine as long as you think her world is interesting, and you continue to think it’s interesting.  Dragonhaven, I did not enjoy.  I have never been a big fan of dragons anyway.  But Sunshine, now – the world of Sunshine was all desserts and shiny sharp edges.  When plot wasn’t happening, I was happy just wandering around in Sunshine’s world.

I do not like honey.  Because it’s sticky, and I am tactile-defensive.  I don’t like sticky things or greasy things – when it comes time to clean a butter dish, I’d just as soon buy a new butter dish.  If there were honey dishes, I’d have the same issue.  I’m shuddering thinking about cleaning a honey dish.  Chalice came out ages ago, and I never read it because I don’t like honey.

Chalice is about a girl called Marisol with bees who makes honey.  Following a cataclysmic event that leaves the current Master of the land and his second-in-command, the Chalice, dead, Marisol is chosen by the earthlines as the new Chalice.  Uncertain of herself, trying to teach herself all the rituals she needs to know as Chalice, she is put further off balance when the new Master is named.  Brother of the old Master, he was sent to the priests of Fire, and after seven years is no longer quite human.

Overall, it was better than Dragonhaven, not quite as good as Deerskin, and not within miles of Beauty or Sunshine.  The world was interesting, with the rituals and the magic, but the characters didn’t have much to do throughout the book, up until the anticlimactic, rather too tidy final conflict scene.  If I had to put my finger on a problem, I’d say it was that Marisol was too isolated for too much of the book.  Not just that she had very few allies, but that she had very few interactions with anyone at all, and that made her difficult to know.

I am very full of food right now.

Here is what other people thought, and if I missed your link tell me! and I will add it:

DogEar Diary
Angieville
Em’s Bookshelf
Charlotte’s Library
bookshelves of doom
Once Upon a Bookshelf
Andrea’s Book Nook