Chalice by Robin McKinley.
Putnam Juvenile: NY, 2008.

The Master of Willowlands has died after seven years of misuse of the land, a few of his reigning Circle along with him, including his Chalice whose task it is to bind all agreements and bind the people and land together. His younger brother comes home from the priesthood of Fire to take his place, though no third level priest has ever been allowed to rejoin the human world. Both the people and land are in upheaval, not knowing if the new Master and Chalice can heal the damage done and be accepted.

Some of the Circle want a different choice for Master. They push for the naming of an outblood Heir, and they scheme to replace the Master who is not quite human, using his burning touch as an excuse. Some hope for the Chalice's support in deposing the Master; others expect she will do everything in her power to compensate for the risk of destruction attached to a change in bloodlines.

The new, untrained Chalice, Mirasol, gains her power through her beekeeping and the healing power of honey. Honey is the fluid that Chalice uses in all of her rituals. The bees protect her from harm, and likely, they are the source of her communication with the land. The Master uses the Fire within him in a similar manner, despite the need to become more human again. The use of these two components is the essence of the story. They are what makes it unique and compelling.

related-bees, healing, change of leadership

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