June 2024
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The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley

I wasn’t expecting much from The Hero and the Crown.  I didn’t really like Sunshine by the same author very much and I couldn’t figure out why everyone has always loved Robin McKinley.

I get it now.

Aerin is the daughter of the King of Damaria, but her position has never been comfortable.  For as long as she can remember, there have been many rumors floating around about her mother; that she bewitched the king, that she wasn’t entirely human, that she was a witch.  The situation isn’t made any easier by the fact that Aerin’s hereditary magic hasn’t developed.  She longs to be of use somehow, and with the discovery of kenet, a fire-proof salve, she discovers her calling when she begins to kill dragons.  Her skill doesn’t save her, and before the end she must learn a great deal about herself in order to save her country.

This book brought me straight back to my childhood, even though I’d never read it before.  It reads like a fairy tale and reminded me a great deal of one of my favorites, Princess Nevermore by Dian Curtis Regan, although they have very little in common except for this fairy tale tone.  McKinley’s writing spoke to the little girl in me and I fell totally in love – with Aerin, with Tor, and perhaps especially with her horse, Talat, who may be my new favorite fantasy companion.  (It’s between Talat and Pantalaimon from His Dark Materials.)  Aerin’s journey was wonderfully done and I was very happy to allow myself to sink into this world.  Perfect escapism.

There’s very little else to say about a book I loved so much.  This is an ideal book for young adults, in my opinion, and I’m not at all surprised that it won a Newbury Medal.  I’m sorry I didn’t discover it sooner! Buy this book on Amazon.


4 comments to The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley

  • So now you have to read The Blue Sword, too! (And for grown-up McKinley fairy tales, may I highly recommend Deerskin, one of my all-time favorite books?)

  • I discovered this book and The Blue Sword via LibraryThing last year, and I’m sad to say that they’re both still sitting on my shelf, unread. I really want to get to both of them before 2008 is over.

  • I didn’t realise that you hadn’t read McKinley before!! Oh wow. Sunshine is not brilliant but I enjoyed it because McKinley wrote it, but Hero and the Crown and Blue sword–I love them as much if not more than the LHM*. And once you’ve read Blue Sword, you should read her short story “A Pool in the Desert” which also fits into Damar.

    I don’t know if you have her YA novel Dragonhaven on your list, but I just recently go through it and it was….different. She writes it from the perspective of a modern teenage boy, and though I did eventually get caught up in the story, the first 50 pgs or so took considerable effort.

    *my standard for everything in life :D

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