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The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

The Blue Sword (1982)

by Robin McKinley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Damar (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,5091071,075 (4.34)406
Recently added byaharey, eschaalman, private library, AmyCHouck, susiej, buddyralph, teknognome, aannbrr, mkunruh, bradylouie
  1. 70
    Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (lquilter)
    lquilter: Readers of The Blue Sword by McKinley should also enjoy Tamora Pierce's various Tortall adventures, among which, "Alanna: The First Adventure" (the first volume of the "Lioness Quartet"), is the first and best-known, but all of them are worthwhile.
  2. 71
    Graceling by Kristin Cashore (foggidawn, Aerrin99)
    Aerrin99: For stories that feature interesting and strong woman matched with equally interesting and strong men, with a dash of danger, adventure, and magic tossed in, try either of these books!
  3. 51
    Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith (shoujo85)
  4. 51
    The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce (Jenson_AKA_DL)
  5. 40
    Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce (TomWaitsTables)
  6. 52
    Sunshine by Robin McKinley (lavender81)
    lavender81: A young adult meets a vampire ... a magical tale!
  7. 31
    The Books of Great Alta: 'Sister Light, Sister Dark' and 'White Jenna' by Jane Yolen (lquilter)
    lquilter: Both McKinley's "The Blue Sword" and Yolen's "Sister Light, Sister Dark" / "White Jenna" feature young adult women, who have warrior attributes.
  8. 31
    Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan (flemmily)
    flemmily: Warprize is simpler than The Blue Sword, and the world is not quite as interesting as the unique and compelling Damar. But both books tell the story of a girl carried away by a barbarian culture.
  9. 21
    Jaran by Kate Elliott (PhoenixFalls)
  10. 13
    The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones (LiddyGally)

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» See also 406 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 107 (next | show all)
Clunky. Starts out as Kipling-lite, with a young woman travelling to the far flung outpost of a mighty empire, where she ends up dancing with young officers on station. Then she goes native, almost without noticing. Throughout the second half characters speak at great length, and pompously (occasionally jocularly), about nothing. Even in the direst situations, they never seem to have any urge to get down to business.

What this book does offer is lifestyle porn. First, our heroine lives the Kipling life, then she lives a thrilling nomadic existence in tents and the occasional castle, waited on by many servants. She also learns to ride an excellent horse without a bridle and only the most rudimentary saddle and get to take performance-enhancing drugs before an athletic competition. ( )
  themulhern | Sep 23, 2016 |
This is an old friend. I've worn out a couple paperback copies. ( )
  MuranoBlue | Sep 11, 2016 |
Review to come... ( )
  JSilverwood | Aug 27, 2016 |
This was a fun blast from the 1980s fantasy genre: full of long sentences and paragraphs, dense and wordy, with points of view all over the map. Even so, I admired the story and especially the characters, who shine with McKinley’s knack for vivid imagery and wry metaphor. And who doesn’t treasure an author who loves semi-colons as much as I do? Writing styles have changed; I have not read any of McKinley’s current works, but appreciate this flashback to the style that I grew up with. It certainly influenced the writing of many authors (and me, too). It proves the maxim: a good story soars above minor nitpicks. This is a good story, and it soars. ( )
  jennorthcoast | Aug 21, 2016 |
Re-read for book club.

I got this book when I was eleven, I believe, and that was the perfect age. I have read this book so many times that picking it up again, after many years, was like hearing an old favorite song come onto the radio... each phrase resonating clearly in memory, bringing with it emotional associations.

So - I can't claim to be wholly objective about the book. I can say that if I has read it for the first time now, it would not have been as meaningful to me. Interestingly, I re-read the sequel to this book, 'The Hero and the Crown' not so long ago. (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/538865678). When the sequel came out, I was mildly disappointed by it, but as an adult, I actually think that it holds up better over time.

Part of this may be that while 'The Blue Sword' is in many ways purely a romantic fantasy, it is also inspired by historical fact. When I first read the book I did know about British Colonialism (thanks, 'The Secret Garden'!) but I knew nothing about the Anglo-Afghan conflict, which the events here are based on. It's jarring to reconcile the essentially uplifting story here with the bloody, nasty, reality. Don't get me wrong, the book in no way endorses colonialism. The problems and ethical issues are all acknowledged here - but they're presented subtly, sometimes between the lines. Our main POV character is Harry, a young woman who's been brought up in a certain type of society, and although she is an admirable person, her perspective on things is realistically limited by her experiences and what she perceives as 'normal.' I actually think that the presentation of the political issues is just about perfectly handled for an audience of preteens and young teens.

The main focus of the story is not political, but is on Harry as a character. In many ways, Harry is a Mary Sue - a term that has been thrown around a lot over the past few years as a term of denigration. I am pretty much opposed to that concept. No, books with 'Mary Sue' characters might not be delving into the sordid depths of the human character or aiming for a Booker Prize, but I think that they are a valid and important type of literature. Sometimes, we need wish fulfillment. Having a wonderful character to project yourself into can be incredibly valuable.

Harry has always felt like an outsider in her stuffy faux-British society, which sees her as wild and headstrong. Orphaned, the responsibility for her lies on her brother, a soldier. He's relieved to have an aristocratic couple posted overseas in the diplomatic service agree to take her in. Harry is keenly aware of her position as a charity case - but quickly finds herself falling in love with the new country she's been brought to. It resonates with her on a deep level, and finally she feels that she might be somewhere that she belongs.

However, her life is upended once again when the king of the hilltribes, Corlath, comes to the house where she is living on a diplomatic mission. The mission might be a failure, but Corlath's 'kelar,' his hereditary magic, 'recognizes' Harry at first sight - and insists that he take her as a hostage.

Events unravel from there, and we see Harry progress from being a child, subject to the wills of others, to a person strong enough to do what she believes needs to be done, even directly in defiance of others' wills. And of course, to become a legendary hero and to save the day.

The writing is wonderful - I love McKinley's mix of down-to-earth, practical details and elevated, fantastic passages. Another notable aspect is the depictions of animals - both cats and horses feature prominently in the book, and are shown with a genuine love and affection. The book also has a well-balanced mix of action and romance. It's a wholly chaste romance, but emotionally intense, and again, it's just perfect for a pre-teen. If you know someone in that age group, don't let them grow up without reading this! ( )
  AltheaAnn | Aug 4, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 107 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robin McKinleyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Craig, DanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reinert, KirkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorn, LoriCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warren, DianeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Danny and Peachey, who first lead me to Damar
First words
She scowled at her glass of orange juice.
[Harry] had always suffered from a vague restlessness, a longing for adventure that she told herself severely was the result of reading too many novels when she was a small child.
The man's eyes were yellow as gold, the hot liquid gold in a smelter's furnace. Harry found it suddenly difficult to breathe, and understood the expression on Dedham's face; she almost staggered. Her hand tightened on the bridle, and the pony dropped its head and mouthed the bit uncomfortably. The heat was incredible. It was as though a thousand desert suns beat down on her. Magic? she thought from inside the thunder. Is this what magic is? I come from a cold country, where the witches live in cool green forests. What am I doing here? (p. 32)
"You have already begun to see the hardness of the choices that you will soon be forced to make; and the choosing will not be any easier for your not knowing why you must choose. Take strength from your own purpose, for you will know what you must do, if you let yourself; trust your horse and the cat that follows you, for there are none better than they, and they love you.. And trust the Lady Aerin, who visits you for your reassurance, whether you believe it at present or not; and trust your friendships. Friends you will have need of, for in you two worlds meet. There is no one on both sides with you, so you must learn to take your own counsel; and not to fear what is strange, if you know it also to be true. It is not an enviable position, being a bridge, especially a bridge with visions." [Luthe speaks, p. 164]
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0441068804, Mass Market Paperback)

Harry Crewe is an orphan girl who comes to live in Damar, the desert country shared by the Homelanders and the secretive, magical Hillfolk. Her life is quiet and ordinary-until the night she is kidnapped by Corlath, the Hillfolk King, who takes her deep into the desert. She does not know the Hillfolk language; she does not know why she has been chosen. But Corlath does. Harry is to be trained in the arts of war until she is a match for any of his men. Does she have the courage to accept her true fate?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:13 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Harry, bored with her sheltered life in the remote orange-growing colony of Daria, discovers magic in herself when she is kidnapped by a native king with mysterious powers.

» see all 2 descriptions

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