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The Blue Sword (Newbery Honor Roll) by Robin…

The Blue Sword (Newbery Honor Roll) (original 1982; edition 2000)

by Robin McKinley

Series: Damar (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,173921,200 (4.35)378
Title:The Blue Sword (Newbery Honor Roll)
Authors:Robin McKinley
Info:Puffin (2000), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library, 2006 or earlier, 2008, 2011
Tags:genre: speculative fiction, format: y/a fiction (teen), format: y/a fiction (preteen), box: fantasy

Work details

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley (1982)

  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
    The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce (Jenson_AKA_DL)
  4. 41
    Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith (shoujo85)
  5. 30
    Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce (one-horse.library)
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 42
    Sunshine by Robin McKinley (lavender81)
    lavender81: A young adult meets a vampire ... a magical tale!
  9. 11
    Jaran by Kate Elliot (PhoenixFalls)
  10. 13
    The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones (LiddyGally)

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» See also 378 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
I wish I loved this, but I don't. I love Robin Mickinley's stuff don't get me wrong, but this was not enough on the right side of good that I could enjoy.

So Harry, who seems cool, interesting spunky character gets kidnapped and thrown in to the world of Hill-folk & its master Corlath. (Corlath seems hunky when he flashes his golden eyes..)
She takes this a bit too easily. No struggles, just 'OK, yeah cool, I've been kidnapped, must stay stoic...oh I love this place...yeah Im great at dealing with this stuff...wow...'yeah..
There is not realistic growth, she just seems to swim perfectly into the mold that is expected of her from a prophecy via kelar and float until suddenly whoom she fells some mountains and beats a giant army easy peasy (after all that bloodshed..) Totally fine with that -_-

The whole story was so solemn, though I loved the descriptions and customs and reading about her experiences in the new world, I couldn't really connect with anything. McKinley seems like she was delving deep into the world of Hill-folk and showing how much Harry absorbed but it felt like we were just skimming the surface.

I enjoyed the characters until she got kidnapped then somehow everyone was behind this glass wall I couldn't touch, acting on their best behaviour, even their outbursts too solemn to be taken seriously.

That romance, where the HECK was that romance? It was like the elephant in the room, no scrap that, the elephant that ran away leaving a hole in the wall T_T
I almost flew through the chapters trying to get a glimpse of more than the overly subtle barely there hints that they MIGHT have feelings for each other. And then wham bam they declare their SOLEMN feelings for each other in front of everybody. Ugh the proposal...was..SOOO...solemn.
I'm overusing that word -_-

I liked Jack. Yep Jack was a cool guy. Btw the brother was pretty non existent. But when he did appear he suddenly did a 180 turn no hard feelings. Everyone was totes on her side, no questions asked.

I think there are great aspects to this books, it had potential to be written better.
Overall didn't leave me satisfied.
3.5/5 for me.
( )
  JazMinderr | Jul 31, 2014 |
This is a little different than Robin McKinley's typical fairy tale rewrites, but in my opinion much more captivating and enjoyable. McKinley easily creates a world that you want to join. The first couple of chapters can be a bit slow, but if you hang in there, I promise you won't regret it. There is plenty of action, wonderful characters, and a love story that isn't overdone or cliche. ( )
  Tigerlily12 | Jul 8, 2014 |
Listed as YA but not really in my opinion.  Well written, with lots of non-stop action and surprises. Character development was nicely done, and the world building and descriptions were gripping.

I could barely put the book down, I was so eager to see what was happening next. ( )
  majkia | Jun 25, 2014 |
It was wonderful. ( )
1 vote | Laella | Jun 14, 2014 |
In my reviews of Robin McKinley's other books, I have described her writing as gentle, pleasant, charming, graceful, cozy. In this, her third publication, she abandons the fairytale roots and lush woodland settings of Beauty and The Door in the Hedge for windswept deserts and invading demon armies, yet somehow she manages to retain that sense of coziness and domesticity, so that it is not surprising to hear people refer to The Blue Sword as a comfort read.

Our heroine, Angharad or—as she prefers to be called—Harry Crewe, is an orphan who has left the Homeland to live with Sir Charles and Lady Amelia at an outpost in Daria, a colony of the Homelander empire where her brother Richard is stationed with the army. Unlike most of her countrymen, Harry is drawn to this barren and strange land. But all is not well there. The Hillfolk, last remnants of the ancient kingdom of Damar, come to warn the Homelanders of a great army of Northerners marching on their border. The well-meaning Homelanders cannot help, and most (like Sir Charles) are skeptical of this so-called threat, but the meeting has another fated but unexpected outcome. For when the golden-eyed king of the Hillfolk, Corlath, sees Harry, his kelar—the magic in his Hill blood—directs him to steal her away. So Harry finds herself swept off and burdened with a destiny she never expected.

One doesn't really read Robin McKinley for fast-moving plots, and it took about half the book before I really became involved, even though I'd read it before, as a preteen. Those who dislike lengthy descriptions would best look elsewhere as well. Where she excels is in her creation of imaginary cultures, her soothing narrative voice, and the little touches that make her worlds come to life. There is not a person, a landscape, a building, an animal in this book that I could not see as clearly as if I were there myself.

Harry is, refreshingly, not conventionally beautiful or "sexy," nor does she have the trademark clumsiness that has become such a hallmark of YA heroines. (I'm looking at you, Bella Swan.) Instead, she is oversized, lanky, sensible, and dreamy. She is far more unique and memorable than all the women of Spindle's End put together, which is the last McKinley book I read. Corlath is fascinating too, both as a person and as a ruler, but their romance is so subtle as to be almost nonexistent—and certainly not racy, which I remembered it being for some reason. Ha. Luthe plays a much smaller part than I recalled as well, to the point where one questions why he's in the book in the first place. He dispenses a little wisdom but doesn't advance the plot really. My favorite characters weren't actually human: Aerin's faithful Hill horse Tsornin, or Sungold, and the hunting cat Narknon. McKinley's animals are always winning.

The clash of cultures is what really makes the book live and breathe, mostly because they parallel our own history. The expanding Homelander empire is clearly modeled after Imperialist Great Britain, while Damar distinctly resembles North Africa. It's fun to have a world where guns and Edwardian manners meet ancient traditions and magic.

The book really begins to heat up as Harry disobeys orders and goes her own way, and the Northerners approach. The final face-off is thrilling, but Thurra, the sorcerer-king of the North, is built up as so powerful (while remaining veiled in mystery) that it's hard to accept he'd be so easily defeated. And when I turned the last page, I felt strangely empty. The book takes us to a fascinating new world, but very little happens; it could easily be half its length and still retain all the major plot points and character development. When I first read it, years ago, I had just finished its Newbery Medal-winning prequel, The Hero and the Crown, and I found it disappointing in comparison. Though I did enjoy The Blue Sword, I now see why. Luckily I read the books in publication order this time, and thus still have Hero to look forward to. ( )
1 vote ncgraham | Jun 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robin McKinleyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:56 -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.

(summary from another edition)

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