The Chalice and the Blade

Glenna McReynolds, Author
Glenna McReynolds, Author Bantam Books $16 (448p) ISBN 978-0-553-10384-7
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Filled with long passages of awkward prose strewn with passionate kisses and much ripping of chemises, McReynolds's hardcover debut, a historical romance with strong fantasy elements, may well please its apparent primary target audience of romance readers while leaving fans of Celtic fantasy befuddled. In Wales, during the period of Richard the Lionheart's disastrous Crusade, Ceridwen and Mychael, the twin children of the priestess Rhiannon (who traces her lineage back to the Mother Goddess), escape the destruction of Carn Merioneth with their druidic nursemaid, Moriath. Fifteen years later, headstrong, beautiful Ceridwen, fleeing her enforced betrothal to the monstrous Caradoc, lands in the arms of Dain Lavrans, a stunningly handsome sorcerer with a dark and tortured past. Ceridwen and Dain becomes pawns in a deadly game involving mystical creatures that reside in a maze of time centered under Carn Merioneth, a group of the Quicken-Tree (basically, elves) and the deadly politics of this barbaric period. McReynolds focuses less on plot than on the power of love, thus weakening both the fantastic and historical elements of her story. Readers who care more for steely blades than for rods of steel will want to pass on this one, but incurable romantics may find it to their liking, especially given the generously low cover price. (Sept.)
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