Published on drey's library: http://www.dreyslibrary.com/2013/04/12/blog-tour-58-nancy-bilyeaus-the-chalice/Oh, wow. I’ll nitpick first, because it’s such a small thing, but I noticed. It’s called The Chalice, and there is a chalice, but holy wow did we have to wait to get there…Ok, I’m done. The rest of the book – from the characters to the intrigue to the political wrangling, is pretty darn fabulous! I got sucked in from the prologue, wondering just who this Joanna Stafford was, what she was doing, and what would happen to her. What I got from The Chalice are the answers, embedded into a well-told story set during a time most of us have read about, but with more well-known casts of characters.Joanna’s quiet life as a Dominican nun is interrupted by a King’s whim, when all the monasteries are disbanded, its inhabitants turned out, and its treasures relocated to the King’s treasury. Now she has to figure out how to live out there, where monks and nuns are viewed with suspicion and derision. She isn’t doing too badly, having figured out what she needs to be able to set up her own income, but life throws a surprise in Joanna’s path – this one in the form of nobility who insist on Joanna’s living with them.She accepts, and finds that life can be a lot more dangerous than uncertain.Joanna is quietly strong, and stubborn. Well, mostly quietly, because sometimes her mouth opens and words pour out at inopportune times… She’s fiercely loyal, and tries to do what she thinks is right, not letting anyone – even the ever-capricious fates – push her around. Forget prophecy, she’s in control of her own destiny!Then politics rears its ugly head, and Joanna finds herself dragged into schemes conspiring against the King.Nancy Bilyeau packs a lot of information into The Chalice, yet it all flows together smoothly. I loved that Joanna is a non-player in the court by choice, and is insignificant enough to get away with it yet just important enough to have a few of the powerful in her corner. I liked the intrigues, but the story was focused more on prophecy than the back-stabbing power plays you usually find in historical fiction set in Henry’s court – it’s still there, but it was a side dish instead of the main course – which is a refreshing take on the genre and time.I really enjoyed The Chalice, now I have to go pick up The Crown to catch up on Joanna Stafford’s past… Pick this one up (or win a copy!) if you love historical fiction!drey’s rating: Excellent!