The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

"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 destiny - for she is to be the true hero who will wield the power of the Blue Sword..."

Sunday evening I asked my family what I should read next: Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry (the sequel to The Giver), (Book two of the Bartimaeus trilogy:) The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud, or The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley. Almost everyone "voted" for The Hero and the Crown, so I started reading it that night in Starbucks. (I finished reading it very early Friday morning.) It's a fantasy book and the 1985 Newbery Medal winner, so I was thinking it had great potential to be a book I'll love. It's a combination of my two favorite literary genres: children's literature and fantasy literature. =)

While reading the first chapter I was distracted by thoughts about reading The Golem's Eye instead. I was wondering what Nathaniel and Bartimaeus were up to. But I soon got caught up in the romantic story of Damar's dragon-slaying princess.

I have been reading a lot of the latest fantasy novels and I found The Hero and the Crown refreshing because it is a good old-fashioned fantasy story. (It reminded me of the kind of books I read when I was in elementary school - which makes sense because it is a book published in the 80's. Haha.) It's a very detailed sword and fantasy (I think that the fantasy part is subtle) story (that I think can also be considered a feminist text). It's a real page-turner! It's the kind of novel that makes you resent anything that keeps you away from reading it. ("Like Harry Potter," as my friend Corinne says.) I would look at my students and think, "Grrr, I could be home right now reading The Hero and the Crown." It's the kind of story that lingers with you and haunts you after you have finished reading it. You walk around in a dream-like state when you're reading it and after you've finished reading it. (Again, "Like Harry Potter," as Corinne says.) It's the kind of book that has you wanting to take your time reading it so you can really savor it and you don't want the experience/the story to end but you're torn because you also can't turn the pages fast enough, you're always excited about what's going to happen next, and you can't wait to know how it all ends. (Once again, like Harry Potter.)

The romantic parts of the story made me kilig (loose English translation: giddy). =D I'm wondering though about one part of the novel that is the start of an, um, ahem, intimate scene between two characters. After reading that part I was thinking, "This is children's literature?!" I think people of all ages will enjoy reading The Hero and the Crown, and that particular part of the novel made me doubt a little its being categorized as children's literature.

The story is also sad. =( =( =( I wonder why a lot of fantasy novels are sad or have melancholy undertones. Is it part of good fantasy? Is it part of the nature of fantasy? Can that be traced to the roots of fantasy literature?

I found out that The Hero and the Crown is the prequel to The Blue Sword. Yay! I know what book to buy next. =)


Chachic said…
It does have a little sadness thrown in, right? Maybe that's why I loved The Blue Sword more than this one. Although both are very good and I'll read anything by Robin McKinley (except Dragonhaven because it doesn't seem like something that I'd like). We should've gushed about Robin McKinley during the meet up! Michelle (Artseblis) and I did when we first talked about her books. :)
Tarie said…
Haven't read The Blue Sword yet. But I want to!