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.
I first read this book and The Blue Sword when I was a preteen and I still absolutely adore both and have them as keepers and often go back and read them when I just want to relax with an old friend.
I truly love Aerin, her stubbornness and the way she does what she knows is right and forget the consequences. Aerin and her faithful horse Talat are underdogs you can't help but cheer for.
This duology is one of the reasons I'm such an avid reader today.
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.
Absolutely love Robin McKinley-very desciptive-you feel like you are there. Characters are enjoyable to watch grow. Wonderful to have a strong heroine!!