3.5/5 to be exact.
After a really long time I started and finished a book all in one day. That's how much this novel drew me in. This is my first Robin McKinley, and I quite enjoyed her writing. I have to admit, though, that at times the story seemed to move a bit slow, but the story telling was pretty good and quite made up for that bit of a drag.
The story itself is told to us from the point of view of the Chalice. The Chalice, in this novel, is a woman connected so much to the earth that she understands every nuance and sound it emits. She serves the Master, who, like her, is strongly connected to the land they belong to. Together, the Master and the Chalice bring prosperity and harmony to the land if all goes well and they take their duty seriously.
The Chalice, when this story begins, is a woodright and beekeeper called Mirasol. Unlike any Chalice in history she has been dragged into her new role due to the unexpected dual deaths of the previous Master and Chalice. Having never been apprenticed to the previous Chalice, Mirasol is in the dark as to what her duties are, and she has to fumble around and find her way through her Chalice-hood on her own. The new Master is also pretty much in the same boat as she is. But mainly because he was a Fire-priest who was called back to the demesne to take up the role of Master after the death of his older brother. They have only eachother to support the other for the common folk and the other officers of the Circle, alike, are very skeptical about the abilities of these two. There is a wee bit of intrigue thrown in and we watch as Master and Chalice struggle to save their heaving land and to win the trust and support of their people.
I was rather disappointed towards the end of the novel - not because I did not like the way it ended, but I did not like that something very crucial at the end had happened for which there was absolutely no explanation given, none whatsoever. It was puzzling, and makes me wonder if even the writer herself knew how it ended the way it did. It is for this reason this novel missed a 4 star rating from me. Did I miss something?
Overall, though, it was a really good read. I enjoy reading this particular genre of high fantasy, and I come across books like these very rarely. The last one like this II read was [b:The Seer and the Sword|420415|The Seer and the Sword (Healer and Seer, #1)|Victoria Hanley|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1322080876s/420415.jpg|1434221] by Victoria Hanley. I would really like to know if there are others like these worth the read.