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The Chalice

The Chalice

A Novel

  • reading group guide
In the midst of England’s Reformation, a young novice will risk everything to defy the most powerful men of her era.

In 1538, England’s bloody power struggle between crown and cross threatens to tear the country apart. Novice Joanna Stafford has tasted the wrath of the royal court, discovered what lies within the king’s torture rooms, and escaped death at the hands of those desperate to possess the power of an ancient relic.

Even with all she has experienced, the quiet life is not for Joanna. Despite the possibilities of arrest and imprisonment, she becomes caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting Henry VIII himself. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna realizes her role is more critical than she’d ever imagined. She must choose between those she loves most and assuming her part in a prophecy foretold by three seers. Repelled by violence, Joanna seizes a future with a man who loves her. But no matter how hard she tries, she cannot escape the spreading darkness of her destiny.

To learn the final, sinister piece of the prophecy, she flees across Europe with a corrupt spy sent by Spain. As she completes the puzzle in the dungeon of a twelfth-century Belgian fortress, 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 lies at the center of these deadly prophecies. . . .
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 496 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476708676 | 
  • March 2013
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List Price $11.66
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THE CHALICE by Nancy Bilyeau

In this sequel to Nancy Bilyeau’s acclaimed debut The Crown, novice Joanna Stafford continues her adventures.

Read an Excerpt

Chalice PROLOGUE
When preparing for martyrdom on the night of December 28, 1538, I did not think of those I love. Hiding in a narrow cemetery with seven men, all of us poised to commit violence at Canterbury Cathedral, I instead stared at the words carved into the tombstone I huddled behind: “Here lieth interred the body of Brother Bartholomeus Giles, of Christ-Church Priory, Canterbury, who departed this life on the sixteenth of June, 1525.”

How fortunate was Brother Bartholomeus. He prayed, sang, labored, and... see more
Chalice 1 CANTERBURY SEPTEMBER 25, 1528
Before the lash of the wind drew blood, before I felt it first move through the air, our horses knew that something was coming.

I was seventeen, and I had made the long journey down to Canterbury from my home, Stafford Castle. At the beginning of each autumn my father traveled to London to attend to family business, but he had not wanted me or my mother to accompany him. A bout of sweating sickness struck the South that summer and he feared we’d lose our... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Gold includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Nancy Bilyeau. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction

In 1538, as England is torn apart by violent power struggles between crown and cross, Joanna Stafford, a young novice whose monastic life has been dismantled, finds herself unwittingly drawn into a dark plot targeting King Henry VIII. With great reluctance, Joanna assumes her role in a prophecy foretold by three different seers, each providing another vital piece of this strange, otherworldly puzzle. Ultimately, she is swept up into an international intrigue against her King and country. 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 foretellings.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1) What role does prophecy play in The Chalice? How does this idea of prophecy drive much of the book? What are your beliefs regarding seers and prophecies?

2) Why do you think Bilyeau uses a young novice like Joanna Stafford to carry out such important historic weight as to save Henry V see more

More Books from this Author

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About the Author

Nancy Bilyeau
Photo credit Joshua Kessler

Nancy Bilyeau

Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown and The Chalice, is a writer and magazine editor who has worked on the staffs of InStyleRolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. She is currently the executive editor of Du Jour magazine. A native of the Midwest, she lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Visit her website at NancyBilyeau.com.

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