The companion novel to The Blue Sword, The Hero and the Crown was/is one of my favorite fantasy novels as a teenager because it featured a girl as the protaganist and her "coming-of-age"-type saga as she teaches herself the skills she needs to become the heroine of her land. All of Robin McKinley books are awesome, but this one holds a special place in my heart.
Aerin has never felt complete at home among her fellow dark-colored Damarians. Fair-skinned and redheaded, Aerin prefers riding with her father's discharged war horse Talat instead of attending balls. People whisper about her being a "witchwoman's daughter," a reference to how her mother, a poor Northerner, supposedly enchanted Aerin's father the king and had a child with him, then died when she found out her child was a girl. Despite that, Aerin has no magical abilities, unlike all other members of the royal family, another reason why she thinks she does not belong.
One day, Aerin discovers an old recipe for an ointment that could keep the wearer safe from dragonfire. This starts her off on an incredible, legendary journey, where she fights one of the greatest dragons of all time and an evil sorcerer. Could it be that she really isn't as awkward and unmagical as she thinks she is?
Robin McKinley has written a splendid book, with breathtaking action sequences and touchingly romantic moments. Every kind of reader will find something he or she likes in this book that is every bit as legendary as its heroine.
Great fantasy for all ages!
Although she is the daughter of Damar's king, Aerin has never been accepted as full royalty. Both in and out of the royal court, people whisper the story of her mother, the witchwoman, who was said to have enspelled the king into marrying her to get an heir to rule Damar-then died of despair when she found she had borne a daughter instead of a son. But none of them, not even Aerin herself, can predict her future-for she is to be the true hero who will wield the power of the Blue Sword...
"Vibrant, witty, compelling, the story is the stuff of which true dreams are made."
"Splendid high fantasy... filled with tender moments, good characters, satisfying action and sparkling dialogue... superb!"
Winner of the 1985 Newbery Medal
An ALA Notable Book
Good book. I believe it is the background history for The Blue Sword (could be centuries?). It was good, but I liked The Blue Sword better. I got a bit confused at times about what was really happening, but some of that could be that I get just a little bit of time to read each night before I crash! I would recommend this book if you enjoy McKinley's books.
Fine book, great characters, good story. Magic, teen girl finding her heritage, standard stuff for McKinley in a way. Satisfying, and not dull. Mild sex scene in there, only a sentence or two. Enjoyable.
There were so many things to love about this book. First off, our young hero-in-the-making doesnt suddenly come into magnificent powers. No, she has to work for it, and overcome several obstacles such as poisoning, the hatred and distrust of her fathers people for her dead mother and her people. Over time, she bonds with the lamed war horse, Talet, and he becomes such an integral part of the story with his own personality. Equine lovers will especially enjoy Talet being treated as a full character in this novel.
With time and training, Aerin becomes an accomplished horse woman, sword master, dragon slayer, and herbalist. Yet, this is not enough. Her quest to save her fathers kingdom takes her far, and she looses much. Shes not invulnerable and when she is hurt, she is truly hurt, requiring mending and time before she can go out adventuring again. This tale was not about one single quest, but rather about several challenges a young lady faces as she comes of age.
The narrator, Roslyn Alexander, was an excellent voice for this story. She had the perfect auntie story-telling voice. I could almost see her with knitting needles in a comfy chair by the fire spinning me a yarn.
After I finished reading this I discovered that I had read it previously 16 years ago. I read the entire book this time without the slightest inkling that I had read it before. Obviously it didn't make much of an impression on me last time--although I guess enough of an impression to make me want to keep it with me for the past 16 years.
At any rate, this time it definitely did leave an impression. I loved the first half of this book. This won the Newbery Medal in 1985, but if I hadn't known better, I wouldn't have guessed that this book is targeted for younger audiences. This is the story of a king's only child, Aerin, a daughter from his second marriage. Rumor has it that his second wife was a witch who ensorceled the king into loving her so that she could bear his heir and take over his kingdom, but then died of despair when she gave birth to a daughter instead of a son. Aerin grows up in a court that never quite accepts her, knowing that her destiny lies elsewhere. This is the story of how she discovers exactly where her destiny lies.
Aerin's character comes as alive and as real as any I've read. The author pulled me into the story and had me caring a great deal for what was going to happen to Aerin. I didn't want to put this down.
But about halfway through the novel, things change a bit. All of the main battle scenes were ethereal and ambiguous and I didn't enjoy those parts. I felt like I was just slogging through those pages waiting for the story to rematerialize and get back on track. But once it did, the story picked right back up again. If it wasn't for these parts I would've given this 5 out of 5 stars.
I read the Hero and the Crown back in the early 90s for the first time...the book was first released in the 80s. Actually, I read this book many many times when I was in elementary and middle school (about 20 years ago). Open Road Media is releasing this as an ebook, so I was excited to get a copy for review. I was also interesting to see what I thought about the book reading it as an adult. I shouldnt have worried, it was still an excellent fantasy novel.
Aerin is the daughter of the King of Damar and one of the only nobility not to have the Gift. She is desperate to prove herself and finds solace in learning to hunt dragons. Then she is forced to face the greatest dragon ever. However, the dragons arent the only problem there is a deeper evil at work in the Kingdom of Damar...one that only Aerin can face.
This is an excellent fantasy novel. I still really enjoyed it a lot. Although I will admit I have read this book so many times it is hard to review it, I just have so much past linked with it.
Aerin is an excellent heroine. She is caring, tough, and struggling to find her place in the world. I love her determination and her strength. When I read books like Graceling by Kristin Cashore and The Glass Throne by Sarah Maas I always think about Aerin. In some ways I think Aerin is the YA fantasy heroine that a lot of characters that come after are modeled from.
The two male leads in the book, Tor and Luthe, are amazing. Tor is Aerins childhood friend and the one who teaches her swordwork and riding. Luthe is an amazingly mysterious mage that helps Aerin in a time of great need. And its not a love triangle! There is so much more to the story. Although I will admit I had a crush on Luthe in my preteen years and I still kind of do.
So much happens in this fairly short book. Dragons are fought, battles take eons, heroes are pulled through time, and kingdoms rise and fall. When I first read this book I was relatively new to the genre (and to reading in general) and I was worried that rereading it now would ruin it for me. It didnt, this is just a really well done fantasy book. A huge story is told in such a small space, it is amazingly creative and amazingly well done.
Overall this is an excellent fantasy with adventure, a brave heroine, and some romance. So much happens in this small book. I love the characters, the fast-paced adventure, and the battles with dragons. This is classic YA fantasy at its best. Highly recommended to fans of YA fantasy everywhere, I feel like this is where the YA fantasy genre started.
An absolutely wonderful novel! The Hero and the Crown follows the protagonist through greater, more complicated, and more plentiful trials and tribulations than most 3-7 book series. The character building is logical and beautifully executed. It has such wonderful writing style and beautiful voice that perfectly suits the setting and scenario as to make it a definite addition to the classics. Best of all, the plot is rich and complex, weaving love, adventure, and the hero's self development seemlessly into one story. Love.
Aerin could not remember a time when she had not known the story; she had grown up knowing it. It was the story of her mother, the witchwoman who enspelled the kning into marrying her, to het an heir that would rule Damar, and it was told that she turned her face to the wall and died of dispair when she found out she had borne a daughter instead of a son. Aerin was that daughter. But there was more of the story yet to be told: Aerin's destiny was greater than even she had dreamed - for she was to be the true hero who would wield the poer of the Blue Sword.
Excellent YA fantasy, can be read as a stand-alone or as a prequel to The Blue Sword. Aerin the young heroine starts full of self-doubt and gradually learns her strengths. I like that the big fight with the dragon Maur is not the finish, and has complications of its own.