BOOK ⚇ The Chalice ♫

This novel is solid It has a well constructed unique plot with an equally unique heroine Joanna is a well constructed character, I simply need to know what happens next I want to know if she finds happiness, love, and if she ever gets to have a nice quiet life in the country with her tapestry loom This was an exciting read The Tudor period is such a stormy and unsettling time in history and what could be a better setting for a religious historic thriller The time period Bilyeau chose is so rich in history and just can never go wrong with the Tudor period when it comes to stories about corruption and treason.See my full review here Bilyeau s first book, The Crown, brought us the determined but na ve Joanna Stafford, Dominican nun and daughter of a disgraced aristocratic family, during Henry VIII s reign In The Chalice Henry s dissolution of the monasteries has sent a experienced but no less stubborn Joanna out into the secular world where she s trying to build a quiet life as a weaver of tapestries A mysterious prophecy and those who would like to use it to further their power and political desires drag her unwittingly into a bizarre plot against the king and his plans to undermine the true faith in England The most powerful people in England once again tug and pull at Joanna, alternately threatening her life and those she loves and courting her as an essential element to their plans Joanna s devotion to the Catholic Church and her abhorrence of Henry s destruction of the cloistered life make her willing to participate to a certain extent a dangerous vulnerability as it turns out but she becomes entangled in acts that she never anticipated and that violate her deepest beliefs Faith, its value, and the willingness of supposedly true believers to exploit faith for their own ends, become intriguing, multi faceted themes in this book Bilyeau continues from her first book the subtle, complex development of Joanna s character and combines that with a fast paced, unexpected plot to hold the reader s interest on every page From mystical prophets to court intrigue to the challenges of romance and love amidst those who had once sworn themselves to chastity, The Chalice is writ large across England and the Continent as history and supernatural mysticism combine in this compelling thriller. BOOK ⚒ The Chalice ☸ Joanna Zwischen Glauben, Macht Und LiebeIm Dritten Teil Des Romans Erlebt Joanna, Wie Heinrich VIII Das Aus Den Aufgel Sten Kl Stern Und Kirchen Zusammengeraubte Gold Verprasst Ein Aufwendiges Turnier, Verschwenderische Bankette Dienen Zur Belustigung Der Hofgesellschaft Zudem Erf Hrt Sie, Dass Ihr Besch Tzer Thomas Culpeper Einer Geheimen Okkulten Verschw Rung Angeh Rt Und Dass Ihr Jemand Nach Dem Leben Trachtet Nach Einem Zweiten Mordanschlag Kehrt Sie Unter Der Obhut Geoffrey Scovills Nach Hause Zur Ck Sie Genie T Die Ruhe Und Versucht, Sich Ber Ihre Gef Hle F R Geoffrey Und Den Verschwundenen Edmund Sommerville Klar Zu Werden Doch Dann F Llt Thomas Cromwell In Ungnade,der K Nig Heiratet Catherine Howard Und Joanna Steht Vor Weiteren Schweren Aufgaben The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau begins at what we assume is the end, the prologue telling us exactly where protagonist Joanna Stafford will be at the end of this long and arduous journey I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway, and immediately borrowed The Crown , Bilyeau s first Joanna Stafford novel, from my local library to familiarize myself with the setting and characters I enjoyed The Crown , and was very eagerly anticipating the arrival of my copy of The Chalice When The Chalice begins, Joanna is in a graveyard, preparing to save the bones of a saint from the clutches of King Henry VIII s guards This novel is set in the aftermath of Henry s divorce, subsequent marriages to Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour, and his separation from the Catholic Church and the establishment of the Church of England Henry is on a quest to remove all traces of Catholicism from England, including dissolving priories and monasteries all over the country, and forcing churches to turn over all relics and paint over murals and artwork depicting the saints Having pledged herself as a novice in the Dominican order, but never actually making the vows to become a nun, Sister Joanna resolves to live by the rules and morals of her order, even though it has been dissolved She joins together with a group of sisters from her priory, and a brother who had joined their community shortly before its dissolution, and tries to live her life in peace according to her beliefs. This is Joanna Stafford, though, and anyone who has read The Crown knows that trouble tends to come to her, even if she tries her best to avoid it This time, her troubles arise from a series of prophecies, known only to a select group of people that indicate that Joanna can be the only one to stop Henry VIII s reign of terror and restore peace and Catholicism to England Joanna tries her best to avoid both the people that are familiar with the prophecy and the implications of it, but eventually she can no longer avoid her fate Calling upon all of her strength and faith, Joanna embarks on a journey across many lands, putting herself directly in harm s way, until she decides to fulfill the prophecy on her own terms.I enjoyed this book, actually than The Crown , both because of the pacing and the eventual outcome Joanna Stafford is a realistic heroine, with flaws and doubts just like any normal person, but her unshakeable faith makes her a very strong character Her group of friends, including Brother Edmund, Sister Winnifred, Geoffrey Scovill, and Arthur, her ward, are well rounded and interesting, and contribute much, both to the story and to the reader s understanding of Joanna I call this series Tudor adjacent , because while the reader spends some time with King Henry VII, his wives, children, and courtiers, the main characters circle around the periphery of his world They are important enough that Joanna being near the King, or associating with his court, is not outside of the realm of possibility, but this is not simply another novel about Henry VIII All in all, a great read, particularly for fans of the Tudor era and historical fiction in general. This is one of those books, you know the one It s the one that very early on you stop for a sec and just sit in awe, marveling at the talent of this author You can just tell with the flow of the words, with the vivid pictures forming in your mind, that this is going to be one of those books that will stick with you long after you are finished Not just because of the wonderful story because this is a WONDERFUL story , but also because of the amount of work you know went into it The amount of research that had to be done and then writing the story made me realize that this is an author with some serious talent It s like a jigsaw puzzle, where every piece fits together perfectly with no bent corners, missing or forced pieces I can picture a huge bulletin board, full of sticky notes of who is who and who did what , then with string connecting the notes making sure each sticky note was put in the proper place With this book all those notes were perfectly positioned, there were no disjointed scenes or out of place story lines It flowed so nicely that I had a hard time putting it down.We all know the stories of Henry VIII and his wives, but with The Chalice set after the death of Queen Jane this was a story that showed a darker side to Henry VIII s reign, there was suspense, romance, religious, spiritual elements, mystery along with the supernatural stuff, action and so much packed into this book Not a small book, close to 500 pages, but worth everyone of them.The first book in the series The Crown was just as good and I am hoping that there will be a third because I miss Joanna I honestly don t understand all the positive reviews for this book I found the protagonist to be completely unbelievable the least nun y nun ever one minute bemoaning the destruction of her beloved religion, the next throwing herself at two different men, the next praying againcome on In fact, I didn t find any part of the book to be believable, especially not the characters or their motivations I understand that this is supposed to be of a historical fantasy than straight historical fiction, but I found it completely implausible and ridiculous I only finished it because I had to for book club. This is the second historical novel to feature Joanna Stafford, niece of the Duke of Buckingham and formerly a novice at Dartford Priory The first was The Crown, in which Joanna was forced into the service of the powerful Bishop of Winchester, Stephen Gardiner in order to save the life of her father.I don t think it s essential to have read that book first in order to fully appreciate this one, as the story stands alone, even though many of the historical figures we encounter appear in both I regret to say that I haven t read The Crown, but definitely intend to do so in the near future.In The Chalice the English Reformation has led to the destruction of the religious way of life and Joanna, while still referred to as Sister is no longer a novice nun She continues to reside in Dartford, intent on starting a tapestry weaving business but as a member of a prominent family, related to both the King and the Duke of Norfolk, the powerful factions around her are not willing to leave her to a peaceful life in obscurity.The story hinges on a prophecy made about ten years before the action of the book, in which Joanna was told that she would be the one to bring about a change in the fortunes of the Catholic Church in England and to undo all that Henry VIII had done to crush it Despite her devotion to her faith, or perhaps because of it, Joanna wants nothing to do with the prophecy and in any case, does not see how someone as insignificant as she could possibly be destined for such an act.The prophecy also tells that Joanna will need to meet with a further two seers in order to discern her course of action, something that she is determined never to do But as events ten years later bring her into contact with the Exeters, Norfolk, Gardiner and the Spanish ambassador, it becomes clear that she is never going to be able to escape her destiny.The plot is complex, but never confusing Bilyeau s writing is superb, and for the most part, well paced and in the character of Joanna Stafford, she has created an extremely likeable, multi faceted heroine who is shown to be fallible as well as heroic Joanna is devout, but it s clear that she would have probably had trouble with vows of obedience She has problems controlling her temper at times, and has an inquiring mind perhaps not the best qualities in one expected to conform and submit without question She is kind without being sugary sweet, intelligent, but not all knowing Her impetuosity and honesty lead her into dangerous situations and attract the wrong sort of notice yet she is brave, determined and self possessed.She has faults the way she continually denies her attraction to a man who loves her passionately and instead turns to one who, while also loving her, is a much less dangerous choice is a huge self deception on her part, as well as being somewhat frustrating for the reader But although there are strong threads of romance running through the book, it is not the main focus Joanna knows she has to do than fall in love and finally, having been rather beaten down by circumstances, she makes the decision to hear the final prophecy and meet her destiny The Chalice is a superb read, full of suspense and intrigue The author s attention to historical detail is excellent from the conventions of Court life to the day to day existence of the lower echelons, and she presents the reader with a fascinating glimpse of the intricate power struggles and politics of Henry s court She also raises an interesting question concerning the fate of those expelled from religious orders due to the Reformation no longer able to serve God in their chosen manner, they were also forbidden to marry and were forced to live on the fringes of society, banned both from a purely religious life and a secular one If I had an issue with the book as a whole, it was with the fact that the final section which deals with Joanna s journey to and escape from the Low Countries felt a little rushed, but that didn t in any way spoil my enjoyment of it I can think of no higher praise than to say that this was one of those rare occasions when the fact that the story is told in the first person didn t bother me in the least which just goes to show how gripped I was Highly recommended and I hope there are of Joanna s stories to come. Having gone straight from The Crown into The Chalice, I m remarkably impressed by how largely consistent the two books are in quality, and I had a very similar reaction to this installment, which is to say largely positive but lacking that spark that really makes it a me book In The Chalice, the stakes for Joanna Stafford are raised as it becomes about her and less about Catholicism in general Readers who loved The Crown will likely find that they are similarly thrilled by The Chalice.Perhaps what I enjoy most about this series is its unique perspective on a heavily documented, in both fiction and nonfiction, historical period We are obsessed with the Tudors, most specifically with King Henry VIII s reign The drama, the sex, the beheadings, and the betrayals make that period such ripe fodder for entertainment As such, it s been done to death, except that clever authors can still manage to put a unique spin on well trodden ground Rather than focusing on the usual suspects and court life, Bilyeau looks at this turbulent period in English history from the perspective of a novice nun, and puts the shift to Protestantism into sharp, personal relief.Though not of a religious persuasion myself, the way that Bilyeau confronts these issues is fascinating The former nuns, friars and monks are lost in this new world, the priories and monasteries having been dissolved at the end of The Crown Some of the former religious personages manage to establish fairly ordinary lives, marrying and finding professions Many, though, live together on their pensions, trying to keep life as much as it was before as is possible Others, desperate, wander the kingdom in search of God and a sign, beaten and battered by the judgmental and fearful Their world has changed so rapidly, which is all the upsetting for those who have been cloistered in places of routine and unchanging order.I still really like Joanna Stafford, but she wasn t quite as level headed in this one She waffles back and forth between her two love interests and the possibility of being single To distract herself from her indecision, she throws herself into absurdly idiotic schemes in the name of her faith without thinking them through She gets arrested so many times and saved by her connections, thus embroiled into another huge scheme where she s manipulated by other forces, wresting control for herself at the last minute through her badassery The way that all came out just felt rather contrived In addition, I wasn t a huge fan of the mysticism angle, though it was an interesting interpretation of King Henry VIII s difficulties fathering children.Like with The Crown, The Chalice was a bit of a slow start for me, though I did get quite absorbed at certain junctures The slowness was not aided by the one formatting change Bilyeau made, adding a prologue and epilogue to this installment I did not much care for these, as they, like most, are intended merely to drum up dramatic irony The prologue hints that Joanna might die, and then jumps back two months to wind the story forward I m not a fan of this narrative device at the best of times, but thought it particularly weak here, since the moment therein isn t even the culmination of the main plot arc, but a minor, stupid plan The epilogue just felt redundant and out of place, but is, likely, paving the way for book three.All in all, I m still quite impressed with this series and do plan to read the third book when it comes out They re definitely good reads for those who appreciate historical fiction with less of a focus on romance and sex scandals. Find the enhanced version of this and other reviews at admit it has been a while since I picked up a Tudor novel It is such a popular period and there has been such a slew of new titles in the last few years that I suffered a little bit of burn out This being the case, you can probably understand my initial trepidation at taking on Nancy Bilyeau s The Chalice Having finished the book I look back at laugh at my skepticism Bilyeau s writing is wonderful not to mention addicting She strikes the perfect balance between fact and fiction, never over burdening the narrative with dreary monologues or allowing the plot to diverge too far from historic events.Now as far as protagonists go, you d be hard pressed to find one comparable to Joanna Stafford She is intelligent without coming off arrogant and kind without coming off saintly She is incredibly dynamic, a personality I wanted to read about and at the end of the day a reader can t ask for than that Unfortunately I can t say how this its piece compared to its predecessor as I ve yet to read The Crown, but I will say I appreciated how Bilyeau approached writing a sequel in that she doesn t spend a lot of time rehashing Written as a standalone, The Chalice can be enjoyed by those with absolutely no knowledge of Bilyeau s work The Chalice is an intriguing suspense made all the fascinating in its focus on those individuals displaced by Henry s Reformation Refreshingly different from most Tudor pieces, it is a compelling page turner that is sure to satisfy. I ve had a hard time categorizing this series The Crown was nominally a historical mystery, which is why I had picked it up, but ended up being historical suspense Now The Chalice drops mystery altogether, focusing instead on a prophecy for Sister Joanna that throws her into danger So maybe historical suspense is the most appropriate label, at least so far The fact that it is difficult to categorize is one of the reasons I m enjoying the series The story focuses on a Dominican novice during the time when Henry VIII was dissolving the monasteries and priories and stripping the churches to fill his coffers Joanna, who took vows to avoid the tumult of politics, has been torn from that peaceful existence and is now trying to make a living in the village near her old priory A few of the friars and nuns remain together, attempting to continue their observances as well as they can while being reviled by the locals who once came to them for aid and education They find themselves at the mercy of petty authorities with the weight of King Henry behind them This is a great perspective on the time period It does not deal very directly with the Royals, instead showing how ordinary, loyal papists made their way through the tumultuous changes of the English Reformation From this angle, it was not a holy enterprise At the end of The Crown, I had an idea of where this sequel might be headed I thought that with the Priory closed and Joanna no longer a novice, she would settle down and find herself a new life most likely hopefully with Geoffrey She would maybe run into some new intrigues and mysteries related to his position as a constable In my experience of historical mystery fiction with a side of romance, this was the predictable route, and one that I would have been perfectly happy to explore.I was completely wrong There was very little about this book that I could have predicted Although there was part of me wishing for those next steps that I had envisioned, it was refreshing to find myself being led around by the nose without any idea of where it was going to end up The way that Bilyeau intertwines Joanna s life with actual events of the time, giving this insignificant woman an importance that few people are aware of, is brilliant.Joanna is once again caught up in politics against her will, dragged into matters beyond her understanding by family ambitions, and tossed about by forces beyond her comprehension She is confused and changes a lot during the book, betraying her sense of self and struggling with guilt The prophecy forces her into crises, muddies the waters of right and wrong, and inexorably drags her in a direction she does not want to go But rather than making the plot predictable, the prophecy plays out with enough twists to bring about a satisfying ending, so that you look back on what happened with new understanding.Both novels so far have been very well done I m looking forward to the next installment but I no longer have any expectations about where it could go next I still have hopes for where it might end up eventually.