Publication Date: March 5, 2013
In the next novel from Nancy Bilyeau after her acclaimed debut The Crown, novice Joanna Stafford plunges into an even more dangerous conspiracy as she comes up against some of the most powerful men of her era.
In 1538, England is in the midst of bloody power struggles between crown and cross that threaten to tear the country apart. Joanna Stafford has seen what lies inside the king’s torture rooms and risks imprisonment again, when she is caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting the King. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna understands she may have to assume her role in a prophecy foretold by three different seers, each more omniscient than the last.
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 lays at the center of these deadly prophecies…
Layered Pages Comments and Review:
When I was asked to participate in the historical fiction virtual book tours for, The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau, I was so delighted! I have been anxiously awaiting for this novel! The Chalice is the sequel to Nancy’s debut novel, The Crown. To give you a little back ground to the story. I would like to share a little to you about, The Crown.
The protagonist, Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun in the sixteenth century discovers her cousin is sentenced to burn at the stake at the orders of King Henry VIII. She leaves the priory to go to her cousin to show her support and she is arrested along with her father and they are sent to the Tower of London. Joanna is forced by Stephen Gardiner to spy for him and to find a relic. He believes this relic, a crown is at the Dartford Priory where Joanna is a nun. She is sent back to Dartford along with two monks.
Joanna starts to unravel the history of the crown and as she discovers the mystery little by little things become very dangerous for her and the Priory. Who can she trust? Who can she turn to for help? Will she be able to save the Priory and the people she cares about including her father’s life?
Joanna is also member of the aristocratic Stafford family. She is loyal to her family, her faith and she is courageous and strong-willed. She tends to put in her trust in the wrong people at times, but that is because she has been a bit sheltered I think. It’s truly amazing how she gets herself into these situations and yet she comes out so strong.
The Chalice has all the elements for a thriller a reader would want! Intrigue, murder, betrayal, conspiracy, romance, suspense, well-developed characters who will captivate you! Bilyeau also gives you a wonderful blend of history throughout the story. One can tell she has done her research and knows quite a bit about Tudor history.
As the story unfolds, Joanna is caught up in a plot that targets King Henry VIII and she finds herself in a web of lies and betrayal. In this daunting position she has been forced in making a decision that could change her life, those around her and England, forever. There were many times throughout the story I wasn’t sure how she was going to get out of the mess she was caught up in. This is a story that is so well written and evenly paced that one must really read for themselves to discover how enthralling it really is. It’s not too often I’m left almost speechless to describe my feelings for a story. I highly recommend this brilliant series and want the readers to come away with as much enjoyment as I did.
The beginning of the story really sets the tone for this powerful and compelling tale. In chapter one of The Chalice the story begins ten years earlier. Joanna is seventeen years old and making a journey to Canterbury from her home, Stafford Castle with her mother. They are going to Canterbury in the guise of her mother wanting Joanna to use the healing waters to cure her melancholia. But her mother has other plans for her that are unknown to Joanna and others in their household.
When Joanna assumed they would be heading back to London, her mother made arrangements to see a nun instead. She thought nothing of it because in Spain, her mother’s family spent time with nuns and monks. As they were getting ready to go, her mother was telling her about a nun, Elizabeth Barton that she wanted Joanna to see. When she meets Elizabeth, she realizes that she is no ordinary nun. I believe Joanna’s whole life changes from that moment on…
I rated this story five stars!
About the Author:
Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown, is a writer and magazine editor who has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. Her latest position is features editor of Du Jour magazine. A native of the Midwest, she graduated from the University of Michigan. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.
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