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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Mirasol is a beekeeper, a honey-gatherer, with an ability to speak to the ÒearthlinesÓÑthe sentient parts of Willowlands, where she lives. The concerns of Master, Chalice, and Circle, who govern Willowlands, have nothing to do with herÑuntil the current Master and Chalice die in a fire and leave no heirs to take their places. The MasterÕs closest relative has been a priest of Fire for the past seven years; he is not quite human anymore. And then the Circle comes to Marisol and tells her that she is the new Chalice, and it will be up to her to bind the land and its people with a Master, the touch of whose hand can burn human flesh to the bone. . .…


by Robin McKinley

Overall Book Review:

When the Master and Chalice of Willowlands both die in a fire, the entire demesne is in turmoil, the land itself showing its distress in sudden rifts and earthquakes. Beekeeper Mirasol’s quiet life is shattered when she learns she must join the governing Circle and take on the role of Chalice—with no apprenticeship, no guidance, only the knowledge she can search out in old books.

To make matters worse, the new Master of Willowlands is a Priest of Fire whose touch burns human flesh, and the Overlord wants to replace the Master with his own Heir, a move Mirasol knows will be catastrophic.

Mirasol doesn’t know what to do, but she knows she must do something.

The story, with its gentle romance, moves at a brisk pace, beginning with the arrival of the new Master; it slows only slightly in a few places and picks up quickly each time.

Reading Level: 7.7, range 6.3-9.2.

Of interest to girls.

This review has been acquired and adapted from

Content Analysis:

 This review was acquired from on May 15, 2014 and was not completed using Compass Book Ratings’ standardized checklist.  Nevertheless, it contains useful content information which is included here.  The overall number ratings have been approximated based on this information.

They say, “thank the gods” and “by the gods.”

One character challenges another to a duel; they are swarmed by bees, and one man dies—not graphic.

Mention of medicine that helps with “too-heavy bleeding during a woman’s monthly”; mention of a man producing heirs that would be bastards and unable to rule. 

Mature Subject Matter:


Alcohol / Drug Use:

Mead and honey brandy drunk by adults.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

On May 15, 2014 Compass Book Ratings acquired Many reviews were acquired from and these reviews were not completed using Compass Book Ratings’ standardized checklist. Nevertheless, the reviews contain useful content information which is included.