The Crown is an amazing historical fiction novel set during the time of King Henry VIII, but follows the character of Joanna Stafford a novice at Dartford Priory. Joanna has snuck away from the priory to offer comfort to her cousin, Margaret Blumer when she is burned at the stake for treason. While at the burning, Joanna runs into trouble as her father arrives and tries to aid Margaret. Joanna and her father are both imprisoned in the Tower.
While imprisoned, Bishop Gardiner learns of Joanna's placement within Dartford Priory and negotiates her release back to the Priory if she will look for the mystical Crown of Athelstan. Meanwhile, Gardiner will hold her father in the Tower to make sure she complies.
This is a fast-paced historical fiction mystery. The writing takes you back to the 1500's and is a wonderful insight into the not-so-often explored realm of Priory life during the reign of King Henry the VIII when Thomas Cromwell was actively dissolving religious houses. Joanna Stafford's character is dynamic and heartfelt, she blends in seamlessly with the many real-life characters that make appearances throughout the book. The ending was brilliant, I really never saw it coming...
In The Chalice we continue to follow Joanna Stafford after her priory has been dissolved. We are given a glimpse into Joanna's childhood when her mother brings Joanna to see a Sister who has been given the gift of Sight. The Sister tells Joanna of a prophecy that she must fulfill. "When the raven climbs the rope, the dog must soar like the hawk...the chalice." Afraid and thinking that the prophecy is jibberish, Joanna tries to forget about the prophecy until she is thrown back into its path by those who want to take down Henry VIII. Joanna tries to decide whether or not she should try to bring down the King who destroyed her way of life at the priory and fulfill the prophecy, or make her own path and change the future.
Reading The Chalice directly after The Crown, everything flowed nicely. More is learned about Joanna Stafford and her past, developing her more as a character. There are many more layers of intrigue and espionage in The Chalice as well as many more characters that Joanna has to deal with. Some of the choices that Joanna makes in The Chalice are not quite smart and get her in trouble, but somehow she always finds her way out. I found it very interesting how The Chalice incorporated a lot more magic and mysticism, but still held true to many historical facts. Joanna also finds herself in a sort of a love triangle that added another layer to the story, but one that I, personally could have done without.
I will look forward to more Joanna Stafford adventures!
This book was provided for free in return for an honest review.