Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Chalice-Nancy Bilyeau

The Chalice

Nancy Bilyeau

Touchstone, Mar 5 2013, $26.99

ISBN: 9781476708652

In 1528 teenager Joanna Stafford acts lifeless ever since George Boleyn tried to rape her. Her worried mom takes her teenage daughter to see seer Sister Elizabeth. The seer says Joanna will stop evil after she meets two other prophets.

In 1538, Dartford Sister Joanna worries about the future since King Henry VIII broke the church. Her cousin Marquis Henry Courtney and his wife Gertrude take her to their estate. Gertrude says Lady Mary sent her and rumors fly that the Pope will excommunicate the king; followed by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles and the French king François invading England. Meanwhile the king executes Sister Elizabeth for predicting his death if he weds Anne Boleyn. Gertrude blackmails a reluctant Joanna into meeting with Orobas the seer. Though fearful of Boleyn sorcery, Joanna hears Orobas speaking with a buried Sister of Dartford who says there are two possible futures: Mary on the throne or the king’s second son; she also tells Joanna to find the third seer. Dudley arrests Montagu and Courtney while Joanna and her friend Edmund seek the third seer hoping to understand the prophecy.

The fresh prophesy premise during the reign of King Henry VIII is brisk and fascinating with two strong late twists enhancing the exciting tale that also provides a deep look at the impact of the religious changes made by the monarch. Joanna is a terrific protagonist keeping the plot moving although the storyline slows down at times. Historical fans will appreciate this unique Tudor thriller.

Harriet Klausner

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