The Hero and The Crown

The Hero and The Crown
Robin McKinley, 1984

Premise: Aerin, daughter of the King of Damar, has always lived under the shadow of her late mother, said by many to have been a witch. Did she inherit more than her hair color? She struggles to find a place in a society that distrusts her, but when danger and war comes to Damar, she will wield a power unknown for generations.

I really really enjoyed this book. It's a delightful fantasy that starts very grounded and grows into something completely epic and surreal by the end. Aerin is tremendously likeable, without being perfect or cliché. She is a practical and stubborn person in a world in which magic and dragons, etc. are real, which means that her practical pursuits include befriending an old war-horse and alchemical experiments.

The writing is easy to read, suitable for younger folks, while being beautiful prose: earthy, classic, stately and poetic. Graceful is a good word for it I think.

In the middle, about the time a less ambitious book would be done with its plot, the story takes a turn for the more fantastic. I was actually starting to wonder what the many pages left could be about as I was reading. Terribly wounded, Aerin follows a dream and an impulse towards great knowledge and great danger. I can't tell you most of the things I loved about this, because I don't want to give anything away. It's dreamy and surprising and frightening, and balances Aerin's innate humanity with a situation out of legend, out of poetry.

The very end takes a step back, both, I imagine, to properly end the story, (which in tone reminded me a hair of Stardust) and to remind us that this is actually a prequel to another book, The Blue Sword.

Overall, a wonderful read.

5 Stars – An Awesome Book


  1. Yay! I am so glad that you liked this. I would have been very sad if yet another of my favorite books from young adulthood failed to live up to expectations.


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