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The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
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The Hero and the Crown (original 1984; edition 1987)

by Robin McKinley

Series: Damar (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,76198982 (4.25)318
Member:ghilbrae
Title:The Hero and the Crown
Authors:Robin McKinley
Info:Ace (1987), Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Your library, Bookmooch, Fantasy
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Fantasy, Bookmooch

Work details

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley (1984)

Recently added bylesmel, ringman, ESchraer, souloftherose, private library, amanda4242, RedQueen, wpwhite, cushion, djfiander
  1. 121
    Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Aerrin99)
    Aerrin99: Aerin and Katsa are both gifted women who struggle to find the line between respect and fear. Also, they kick butt.
  2. 30
    Chalice by Robin McKinley (Aerrin99)
    Aerrin99: Outside of the author, both books also share a similar feel and feature an interesting and strongly-written female character struggling to deal with her given role.
  3. 41
    The Oathbound by Mercedes Lackey (Nikkles)
  4. 20
    When the King Comes Home by Caroline Stevermer (wisewoman)
    wisewoman: Both stories are well written and feature an unconventional heroine who works hard in her chosen field of study and is instrumental in saving a kingdom.
  5. 01
    Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey (SunnySD)
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» See also 318 mentions

English (97)  All (1)  All (98)
Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)
A very clunky book. It begins in the middle of the action. Then the events leading up to the middle are told, then the events following. The pre-story is actually kind of good; but the post-story is awful. A YA novel that couldn't be read by adults, and maybe shouldn't be read by impressionable YAs either. Dragonsong is a far superior girl-power with dragons novel, even if the dragons aren't really dragons. ( )
  themulhern | Sep 16, 2016 |
This was a very well-written book, but I had a problem with the plot. I apprecite that Aerin was "not quite mortal" at the end, but it really bothered me that she fell in love with Luthe but married Tor because she loved him, too. I kept think it was like (in a not as well written book)Bella deciding that she would take Jacob until he died, and then go be with her immortal true love. Other than that, it was really good. Lots of adventure, maybe a little too much exposition. ( )
  bburton131 | Jun 19, 2016 |
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 rumored 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 over her late mother's evil brother seems like she lucked into it. She literally wins by accident. It's frustrating! That said, I can see where McKinley subverts fantasy tropes more clearly now. It's Aerin's perseverance and hard work, not what she's born with, that make her a hero. The most beautiful girl in the kingdom has dark hair and skin. The heroine loves two people at once, and no one thinks it weird or wrong. There's infrastructure to rebuild after the climactic battle. Instead of showing how foppish and out of touch the court is, their council meetings about provisions and treaties are actually important. etc.

And the writing is, at times, truly fantastic. The descriptions of Maur, so huge he is indistinguishable from his mountain, so malevolent that even keeping his skull as a trophy brings despair to the kingdom, stuck with me all this time. Aerin's relationship with her nurse/maid, Teka, always feels real. The battles with the dragons kept my eyes glued to the page.

I only wish that McKinley had let herself write more of this book. Time and time again, summaries of what Aerin learns or does are provided in place of the action. Aerin's education and love affair with Luthe seem to take place in 10 pages, when they could be 100. This book is only 227 pages long; if it were twice as long, it would only be better. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
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 more 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 more 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.
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I could have sworn I read this back when I was younger. However, the more I read, the less I find I remember. I must have been REALLY young. More details as I complete...

-----

Yeah, okay, didn't remember any of this after I finished reading it. It told me the female as a lead protagonist isn't a new concept, as this came out back when I was young. The world felt well built. It felt complete. You sensed that everything that happened would effect not just the central characters, but the entire world.

Magic seemed limited, though building. Or perhaps rebuilding. Reading it felt weird, on one hand, but on the other, it felt perfectly natural. Right genre. I feel the need to find the rest of the books in the series... ( )
  gilroy | Feb 8, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)
Miss McKinley, the author of ''The Blue Sword,'' a 1983 Newbery honor selection, has in this suspenseful prequel, which is the 1985 Newbery Award winner, created an utterly engrossing fantasy, replete with a fairly mature romantic subplot as well as adventure. She transports the reader into a beguiling realm of pseudomedieval pageantry and ritual where the supernatural is never far below the surface of the ordinary. For those who like fantasy fiction, as I do, ''The Hero and the Crown'' succeeds.
 

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robin McKinleyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Craft, KinukoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Craig, DanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnston, David McCallCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorn, LoriCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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She could not remember a time when she had not known the story; she had grown up knowing it. She supposed someone must have told her it, sometime, but she could not remember the telling.
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Book description
Robin McKinley's mesmerizing history of Damar is the stuff that legends are made of. The Hero and the Crown is a dazzling "prequel" to The Blue Sword.

Aerin is the only child of the king of Damar, and should be his rightful heir. But she is also the daughter of a witchwoman of the North, who died when she was born, and the Damarians cannot trust her.

But Aerin's destiny is greater than her father's people know, for it leads her to battle with Maur, the Black Dragon, and into the wilder Damarian Hills, where she meets the wizard Luthe. It is he who at last tells her the truth about her mother, and he also gives over to her hand the Blue Sword, Gonturan. But such gifts as these bear a great price, a price Aerin only begins to realize when she faces the evil mage, Agsded, who has seized the Hero's Crown, greatest treasure and secret strength of Damar
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0441328091, Mass Market Paperback)

For over a decade, Robin McKinley's richly woven saga has gripped the imagination of readers and caused critics to hail her as a master of fantasy. It is the story of Aerin, haunted since childhood by the legend of her mother-a "witchwoman" who enspelled the king and then died of disappointment after giving birth to a daughter, rather than the heroic son the kingdom needed. But little did the young princess know the long-dormant powers of her mother would wield their own destiny. For though she was a woman, Aerin was destined to be the true hero who would one day wield the power of the Blue Sword....

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:23 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Aerin, with the guidance of the wizard Luthe and the help of the blue sword, wins the birthright due her as the daughter of the Damarian king and a witchwoman of the mysterious, demon-haunted North.

(summary from another edition)

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