Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Book Review: The Chalice, by Nancy Bilyeau @Tudorscribe

I enjoyed The Chalice as much as The Crown, but it is such a detailed story that I'm going to do something I never do. I'm going to include the summary from Amazon.

In the midst of England’s Reformation, a young novice will risk everything to defy the most powerful men of her era.

In 1538, England’s bloody power struggle between crown and cross threatens to tear the country apart. Novice Joanna Stafford has tasted the wrath of the royal court, discovered what lies within the king’s torture rooms, and escaped death at the hands of those desperate to possess the power of an ancient relic.

Even with all she has experienced, the quiet life is not for Joanna. Despite the possibilities of arrest and imprisonment, she becomes caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting Henry VIII himself. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna realizes her role is more critical than she’d ever imagined. She must choose between those she loves most and assuming her part in a prophecy foretold by three seers. Repelled by violence, Joanna seizes a future with a man who loves her. But no matter how hard she tries, she cannot escape the spreading darkness of her destiny.

To learn the final, sinister piece of the prophecy, she flees across Europe with a corrupt spy sent by Spain. As she completes the puzzle in the dungeon of a twelfth-century Belgian fortress, Joanna realizes the life of Henry VIII as well as the future of Christendom are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lies at the center of these deadly prophecies. . . .

Just like The Crown, The Chalice is well researched and full of wonderful historical details. Maybe too many details for my brain to handle. At least, too many characters. The lineage of Henry VIII and Joanna's family is very complicated and we learn about a lot of characters -- good and bad. I found them all hard to keep track of. There are even two Catherines. However, I found that this didn't deter my enjoyment of Joanna's story at all.

This IS Joanna's story -- and she is a wonderful character. So principled, loyal, and not nearly as naive as she was in The Crown. We get to experience a bit of romance -- although the turns that her love life takes ere not my favorite part.  I enjoyed the characters she met, and how when you really come down to it, no matter how it appears, they are all out for themselves. What a crazy time in history. The fear that everyone was feeling is palpable. I would much rather have been a poor servant than part of the aristocracy. Because chances are, your head will be detached from your body -- or you may just spend years in the Tower of London!

If you are interested in this period of time, I would definitely put The Chalice on your list. It isn't necessary to read The Crown first, but I actually enjoyed that one a bit more, so it is definitely recommended as well.

Published by Touchstone, March 5, 2013
eBook, purchased
496 pages

Rating: 4/5

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1 comment:

  1. I just read this a couple weeks ago and enjoyed it! I really liked Joanna as a character and I was a bit more invested in her love life than you I think. :) Definitely there were many twists and turns and this was a great read!


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