Robin McKinley is probably one of my top five favorite authors and Chalice did not dissapoint. In Willowlands, there is always a Master (male) and a Chalice (female) who together are charged with bringing balance the land and taking care of its people. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. Marisol, a beekeeper, becomes the Chalice when the old Master and Chalice die in fire. The new Master is a priest of fire and though he has good intentions, can sear human skin to the bone if he accidentally touches it with his bare hands. As Marisol tries to learn her new duties as a Chalice (difficult as she has no one to train her and also because she is the first Chalice of honey), she does not have the full support of the other members of the governing body. Marisol is loyal to the Master who she believes is the true Master of Willowlands but there is a plot to have him removed and have an "outblood" heir put in his place, and this would have almost unthinkable consequences for Marisol.
Wow I loved this book. A lovely fairytale that feels completely new. The only thing that ever makes me sad about McKinley's books is often the romance isn't fully realized until way too close to the end! But Marisol is a fantastic character and, happily a bibliophile like me.