I read The Hero and the Crown last month and loved it and I knew I needed to read more of McKinley’s work. It was natural that I start with the sequel to Hero.
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
My Edition: Paperback – 272 pages – 2000 – Puffin Books – ISBN: 0141311886
Centuries after Aerin wielded her legendary sword Gonturan, Harry is an orphan sent to live in Damar, a desert country inhabited by Homelanders and Hillfolk. The king of the Hillfolk, Corlath, comes to the outpost where Harry lives to plead for help, but the two groups can’t seem to strike a deal. As Corlath is storming away, he notices Harry and is drawn to her. Both Harry and Corlath will learn of Harry’s power as they come to realize she’s meant to become a King’s Rider and wield the sacred sword once used by Aerin herself.
I’m glad I read Hero and the Crown first, though it seems to me you can read this duology in either order. For me, understanding the history of Damar, Aerin and the sword, helped me understand Harry’s world. Magic has changed since Aerin’s day, becoming rarer and seemingly only gifting those who wield it with destructive powers.
Harry is likable, though I wasn’t as invested in this story as I was Hero. Maybe because I read Hero first? But there’s a lot of depth and feeling here, like in Hero (which just made me want to re-read Hero) and I was happy to see Harry had a feline friend and a smart horse, much like Aerin.
McKinley has such a way with words. Yet again, we get a YA book with the ‘chosen one’ trope, but I loved it! Harry is sensible and calm, dealing with her struggles to find a place that feels like home in a way that made me feel for her. She’s tough and powerful, yes, but she has to learn to develop her powers properly, ride a horse, wield a sword. We get to see her become badass and self-aware, rather than just be told she is.
If, like me, you struggle with finding enjoyable YA fantasy, I highly recommend this duology!