I loved this book as a kid and I love it still as an adult It s one of those books that s so much a part of my life that it s hard for me to believe that not everyone has read it Maur still creeps me out, Talat still makes me teary, and Aerin s surka rash as she climbs the tower remains the best thing ever. This is the third Robin McKinley book I ve read, and I ve come to the conclusion that I just don t like her I feel like this makes me a bad person I mean, nobody doesn t like Robin McKinley but although she writes beautifully about richly imagined worlds, I never like her characters.The Hero and the Crown was no exception Actually I loved the first half of this book, with the story of the princess Aerin who has never felt like she fit in with the royal court She s determined to find her place, though, and despite having little inborn talent or natural brilliance, she buckles down and applies herself to learning swordplay, horseback riding and herb lore, eventually becoming a famous dragon killer, all with the support of her best friend Tor, the future king, who s secretly in love with her Good story, right It s the second half where it falls apart for me, taking the story in a new and in my opinion less interesting direction Our heroine becomes immortal and is trained as a mage by a mysterious man who has a thing for her, in the same way he had a thing for her mother It s in the second half that lack of good characterization really kills the book for me Luthe, our mysterious man, is never really given much character or color, other than being a bit of a creeper, and then suddenly he becomes the romantic interest, and it s meant to be tragic that he and Aerin can t be together yet But if I m never given enough characterization to understand Luthe, how am I supposed to care about him The second half says less and less about Aerin s mind and character as well, until at the end I can t figure out why she does anything she does and why I should care In the end, I only finished because I wondered what would happen with Tor, the only character that I cared about And even he doesn t get a fabulous ending, because Aerin is waiting for him to die so she can get back to Luthe I suppose McKinley was trying to pull away from the fantasy cliche of finding your one true love and riding off into the sunset together, but if I m reading a fantasy book, it s probably safe to say that I m comfortable with fantasy cliches. Aerin Could Not Remember A Time When She Had Not Known The Story She Had Grown Up Knowing ItIt Was The Story Of Her Mother, The Witchwoman Who Enspelled The King Into Marrying Her, To Get An Heir That Would Rule Damar And It Was Told That She Turned Her Face To The Wall And Died Of Despair When She Found She Had Borne A Daughter Instead Of A SonAerin Was That DaughterBut There Was 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 Power Of The Blue Sword Like most of Robin McKinley s work, The Hero and the Crown is very hard to classify Its surface is high fantasy clich high fantasy, even but it s written like psychologically driven realistic fiction Our setting is the rather desolate kingdom of Damar, about which we know little except 1 The heirs to the throne are called sola male or sol female It should really be the other way around, or at least that would make it easier to follow for those of us who speak Latin.2 The Damarians have occasionally suffered dragon infestation Dragons in this world are unreasoning beasts Forget about bonding with one and riding it.3 They don t like witches in this land, or people from the North, and people from the North are often suspected of witchcraft without cause.One suspected witch was the dead second wife of King Arlbeth, who gave up on life after being delivered of a daughter, Aerin Princess Aerin s parentage is not the only strike against her She also is the only young member of the royal family whose magical Gift has never manifest Everyone in Damar is bronzed and black haired except our tall, awkward, fair skinned, redheaded heroine She feels terribly alienated at court, with no friends save her cousin Tor, the heir to the throne girls cannot inherit in this kingdom Tor is in love with her, but she s too immature to figure it out.Aerin took a dare from a mean female cousin to consume a plant that would supposedly kill anyone but a member of the royal family, and this made her sick for months While laid up, she discovered a book on dragon slaying that included a recipe for a balm that warded against dragon fire.Once she recovers, Aerin spends most of her time training, and bonding with, an old lamed war horse named Talat, who becomes her loyal steed when she finally tests out the dragon proof balm against a minor worm in a small village.Word of their first victory spreads, in spite of dragon slaying not being a proper occupation for a princess, and soon every village wants Aerin to deal with their scaly pests Meanwhile, their Northern neighbors declare war on Damar, and just when the whole army has marched out, a great dragon, the dread Maur, reawakes from a hundred year slumber or sulk Only Aerin is left to deal with him but he proves almost beyond her nascent skill and she only kills the Worm at great cost to herself.While recovering from great injury, a mysterious man begins to contact her in dreams She realizes that something has changed for good inside her, and seeks him, as he is probably the only person who knows what that is.Content Advisory Violence Lots of dragons burning people People get hurt, but there is little graphic description of killing or wounding Sex The book makes it clear that Aerin gave her virginity to Luthe, without ever stating as much There is no love scene We only see them kiss, and it s not written in a racy way There is no innuendo outside of a line about not getting enough sleep, which may or may not go over a kid s head but the cover said Ages 10 and up and it won the Newbery, which are usually G rated This plot development is even weirder because she view spoiler immediately marries Tor upon getting back to civilization, and the implication is that, since Aerin can no longer age, when Tor dies she will climb Luthe s mountain and become his wife hide spoiler The Hero and the Crown is a sort of distant prequel to Robin McKinley s Newberry Honor winner The Blue Sword For some unknown to me reason, this prequel received critical recognition, specifically, the book was a 1985 Newberry Medal winner IMO, this novel is weaker.Aerin is the only daughter of the king of Damar The problem is, she is also an offspring of a woman who was accused of being a witch and an enemy of the country Even , unlike all members of the royal family, Aerin possesses no special magic powers This, once again, brands her as an insignificant person unworthy of the status of the heir to the throne in the eyes of the Damarians Left to her own devices to prove her worth, Aerin dedicates her time to training herself to become a dragon slayer This occupation takes her on a path of discovering and awakening her dormant powersFirst of all, I admire McKinley s writing style There is no doubt she has a great command of English language Her writing is sophisticated to such a degree that I can hardly imagine young children and The Hero and the Crown is in fact classified as a children s book being able to properly comprehend it The world of Damar is described in rich detail I couldn t help myself thinking that McKinley has much story left to tell about this country I am also quite fond of the way the author portrays animals in her books She definitely has a lot of love for horses and knows them well.What I do not appreciate about this book, and maybe it s just a personal pet peeve of mine, is the romantic story line I love two men at the same time theme just doesn t jive well with me I guess I am old fashioned that way, but I do not approve of a heroine who is in love with an immortal guy and has sex with him, then days later marries the second who she also loves with a plan to go back to the first once the second mortal one is dead I have absolutely no idea why Luthe was even placed as a love interest in this book Another thing, I agree with those reviewers who have said that the story loses some ground in Part 2 This is where a lot of magical stuff happens that is not always fully explained The magic and the heroine s destiny take away from her personal development Nevertheless, The Hero and the Crown is a worthy contribution to YA fantasy literature and is one of a few books that portray strong heroines whose lives are not directed and defined by their hot brooding boyfriends but motivated by love for their country and loyalty to their people What a relief I read this when I was young and disgruntled, reading two or three books a day to avoid talking to my classmates It was basically the perfect time to read this story, which tells the tale of a young woman who is not understood by her people and is deeply unhappy about it And when I read this, it was one of very few books that spoke to me in a voice I could actually empathize with All the other fantasy I was reading featured boys tramping across pseudo English countryside before being crowned as kings and instead, here was an awkward, stubborn, hard working girl who wanted to be able to value herself and prove her worth Aerin grows up knowing that unlike her royal family, she s ugly, has no magic, and is distrusted by the people they rule She inherited her low born mother s looks but not her rud witching power the worst of both worlds When we first meet her, she recently cut off a spiteful cousin s luxurious eyelashes She tricks another cousin into teaching her swordplay, then spends hours upon hours practicing, knowing that she has no natural talent for it but refusing to give up She spends three years experimenting with potions until she finds one that protects against flame And then she goes out into the world to kill dragons But in this kingdom, dragons aren t monstrous beasts they re vermin Killing dragons is considered a bit like catching rats When she s called Dragon Killer, it s as much a taunt as a title Needless to say, tween me adored Aerin.Reading it now, after an extra decade of socializing and reading other fantasy books, Aerin and her lifelong quest to be a good and useful person is still wonderful, but less of a revelation I love how much of her success is due to sheer hard work and determination, an indomitable drive to prove herself that overcomes her innate flaws But although her early victories are her own stubborn will, her final victory view spoiler over her late mother s evil brother hide spoiler I got this book when it was first published, in hardcover.At the time, The Blue Sword to which this is a prequel was one of my most beloved books and, I have to admit, that at the time, I didn t feel the The Hero and the Crown quite measured up I liked it but just not quite as much It s not like I didn t read it several times, though Re reading, years later, I understand why I felt the way I did but I also kind of disagree with my youthful opinion This is a wonderful book It s a classic quest hero s journey tale, but it also incorporates some unusual elements very effectively.In The Blue Sword, Aerin is a legend of history, a dragon slayer and wielder of a sword of magical powers In The Hero and the Crown we meet Aerin and discover how she became a hero.The first half of the book is very self contained It introduces the half foreign, distrusted and ill used but still quite privileged and royal Aerin, a tomboy who insists on practicing swordplay I very much enjoyed how, in her country, dragons are small creatures, certainly pestilent, but just vermin to be exterminated Killing them brings no prestige it s just something that has to be done Aerin s doggedness and use of the scientific method in figuring out how to eliminate them efficiently is a rare and appreciated example of the value of methodical persistence in order to accomplish anything I also very much liked how, for all her efforts, she is consistently underappreciated but the value of her accomplishments stands on its own The big showdown with the dragon Maur is at once utterly realistic in detail and gloriously emotional it brought me to tears.The second half of the book is where, when I was younger, it lost my attention a bit It addresses what happens after one s most heroic act It takes someone completely outside Aerin s social circle to recognize her true value The mage Luthe calls her, and thus begins the classic magical studies part of the plot Aerin grows and matures, but at the same time begins to feel a little bit elevated and less accessible to the reader.However, the ending was rich and deeply satisfying It s rare that a story so successfully depicts how one person can love different people in different ways, with each love enhancing one s life in a deep and meaningful way.Many thanks to NetGalley and Open Road Media for the opportunity to read the ebook version of this title. Robin McKinley no es una autora para todo el mundo En su d a le Chalice , otra de sus novelas, y tuve sensaciones similares Sus historias de fantas a son intimistas, con poca acci n y pocos personajes pero con un gran desarrollo de los mismos Su estilo es una de las cosas que m s me gustan, es realmente po tico pero tambi n es lo que m s me cuesta a la hora de leer sus novelas, porque mi nivel de ingl s da para lo que da The hero and the crown es la precuela de otro de sus libros que pretendo leer m s adelante, The blue sword aunque por lo que he escuchado est n bastante distanciados en el tiempo , a mi me ha recordado a una especie de El se or de los anillos mezclado con Juliet Marillier, pero en realidad es algo totalmente distinto.Es el camino del h roe t pico, es la pelea con dragones y es la lucha con el maligno archienemigo, pero todo parece dado la vuelta, el h roe es una hero na, una princesa s , pero cuya madre se gan el despreci de la corte y se sospecha que hechiz al Rey para casarse con l As que nuestra protagonista no es muy querida, tiene pocos amigos y la relaci n con su padre es distante la vemos crecer y tratar desesperadamente de destacar y hacer algo por s misma para finalmente encontrar su lugar.Me encanta Robin McKinley porque no tiene miedo de hacer sufrir a sus personajes y mostrarnos las consecuencias de todos sus actos, durante una gran parte del libro la protagonista est enferma e incluso sufre una depresi n En cu ntos libros de fantas a podemos ver algo as Es una novela de fantas a diferente, con una magia de cuentos de hadas pero muy asentada en la realidad, con una atm sfera fascinante y un trasfondo muy s lido Hay cosas que quiz s hubiera preferido de otra manera, y alguna laguna en la que me perd por culpa de mi ingl s, pero en general me parece una historia enormemente original dentro del g nero tratando todos los t picos de una manera diferente Ojal ALGUIEN se anime a traducir sus libros, y por favor que pongan un buen traductor, porque la prosa de McKinley se las trae When I was a kid, I frequented two areas of the library the children s section and the adult fiction section The young adult shelves and the nonfiction shelves might as well have been made of glass for all I noticed them.One year when I was in my early teens, the family was getting ready to go on the dreaded yearly camping trip Dreaded because it meant a week in the outdoors, with no books Well, almost no books Mom s rule was that we each could take two only twoso we spent hours dawdling at the library making our choices It was important to pick the perfect books, ones that could stand up to repeated readings, since we would almost certainly finish them for the first time on the ride up the canyon.I looked all over the library for mine, or at least the part of the library I knew, and I couldn t find anything that had that coveted mix of exciting newness and safe, comfortable familiarity In desperation, I finally walked over to the young adult section And there it was Robin McKinley s The Hero and the Crown, screaming, Read me Take me Pick me And I did pick it, and I fell in love with it, and have loved it ever since.Now, as anyone who has read Robin McKinley knows, this is actually the prequel to The Blue Sword, but when I finally read that book a few years later I was so disappointed that it wasn t The Hero and the Crown all over again that it took me a long while to really warm up to it But it s good, too, though in a different way. This one isn t rated for a reason I don t really know what to rate it overall, and wish I could rate it in parts I suppose I could average it out and give it three stars, but that doesn t seem to fit.So I ll rate it in my review, which is very long and rambling The First Half I really liked it The characters were likeable or unlikeable if that s what they were meant to be and everything flowed nicely I really liked the main character, Aerin She had spunk, for lack of a better way to describe her She was different from everyone else, and it bothered her, but she didn t let it mess up her life She took pride in herself She had a short temper that got her in some minor trouble, and that made her interesting as far as princesses go.She handled the incident with the magic plant can t remember the name of it well Drawing on her stubborn nature and desire to prove she was than people thought she was, she recovered completely I love how she identified with her father s injured war horse during this and helped him recover too Talat was a pretty cool horse too She also took on a job that was far from glamorous because she knew she could do it better than anyone else, and she worked hard to get to that point.She was cool, and the story was nicely building around her ability to make the best of what she had to work with.Then came her battle with the MaurThe battle itself was fine, and the immediate aftermath was too It s when she gets home that I draw the line between the first half of the book and the second half, even though it might not be right in the middle of the book The Second Half Perhaps the reason the rest of this book made me so mad, is because the first part was really good I felt cheated.I ll start where I left off, when Aerin gets home from her battle with the big dragon Her personality totally changed after that She became all mopey and whiny and depressed I think that was supposed to have something to do with the dragon s evil taint or something, but why did it wait for her to recover before it kicked in She was nearly dead after the battle, but she managed get home, and then she recovered to the point where she could walk around without assistance, and her hair all grew back and she didn t even have any noticeable scars THEN she started getting all depressed to death And even after Luthe dunked her in his magic pond to cure her of the dragon s taint or whatever she was mopey She even frets about her hair several times during her boss battle.Then there s Luthe himself I know he s in some of McKinley s other books, so maybe there s to him than what you get in this one, but he just came across as such a jerk in this book He d been watching her all her life, but after he healed her and taught to use he magic he said he should have stepped in sooner but he figured she would have realized her ability to use magic before and used that on Maur despite the fact that she had never used magic at all before and didn t know she could. He constantly bashes her country and her family, especially Tor, who was always kind to her and loved her He even bashes her horse He has so much contempt for everyone that he just comes across as the most arrogant guy on the face of the planet He even sounds condescending when he talks to Aerin, remarking constantly about how simple she is and how he feels terrible about sending her to fight Whatshisbucket when she is but a child, when even he doesn t stand a chance.That brings me to Whatshisbucket Her evil uncle who is somehow the most evil bad guy in the whole land, yet she s never heard of him He was never even mentioned earlier in the book, yet suddenly he s the main cause for all the trouble If you walked up to someone in Middle Earth and asked if they d heard of Sauron, they d say the Middle Earth equivalent of well duh, who hasn t and look at you like you were some kind of idiot Everyone in the wizarding world in Harry Potter had heard of Voldemort Everyone in Narnia knows about the White Witch How the heck does Whatshisbucket manage to be the ultimate bad guy anonymously And how does she defeat the ultimate bad guy She accidentally throws a magic rock at him She wasn t even trying to throw it, and she didn t know it was magic anyway She had no clue what it was She was just carrying it around because it was an interesting shiny red rock she found after she killed the dragon What kind of climax is that The hero accidently kills the anonymous ultimate bad guy with a magic rock they just happened to pick up because it was pretty Hurray for deus ex machina Then Luthe shows up and informs her that she s actually taken a few hundred years to battle Whatshisbucket and he s come to take her back to her own time so she can end the war that s raging in her kingdom but not far enough back to prevent the war and stop her father and countless others from being killed But there s no rush, so they spend a few days strolling along through the woods together, making out, and sleeping under the stars They whisper sweet nothings to each other and are all kinds of mushy, and it really irritated me Why the heck did she fall in love with him Was it his arrogance The condescending way he talked to her The way he was constantly dissing her family and homeland and the nice guy back home who had always treated her like the princess she was Or maybe it was the way he sent her off to battle a super powerful bad guy and then showed up after the battle was over to walk her home It s hard to choose, they re all such charming things.So she goes home and uses a magic crown which was lost for centuries that she got from Whatshisbucket to help win the war And she marries Tor, even though she loves Luthe and looks forward to the day when she can go back to him.What do we learn kids Don t suddenly introduce a villain nobody has ever heard of and expect him to have an impact on the story.Don t introduce time travel for absolutely no reason other than to show off someone s ability to do it.Don t make your heroine fall in love with a total jerk, especially when there s a perfectly awesome guy back home that she could fall in love with.Deus ex machina is not a good thing.
Peter Dickinson also a writer, and with whom she co wrote Water Tales of Elemental Spirits in 2001 and two lurchers crossbred sighthounds.Over the years she has worked as an editor and transcriber 1972 73 , research assistant 1976 77 , bookstore clerk 1978 , teacher and counselor 1978 79 , editorial assistant 1979 81 , barn manager 1981 82 , free lance editor 1982 85 , and full time writer Other than writing and reading books, she divides her time mainly between walking her hellhounds, gardening, cooking, playing the piano, homeopathy, change ringing, and keeping her blog.
- Mass Market Paperback
- 240 pages
- The Hero and the Crown (Damar, #2)
- Robin McKinley
- 18 August 2017 Robin McKinley