Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"The Hero and the Crown" By Robin McKinley

I love this book. I love the people who dwell in this book. I love the author of this book. I love almost everything about this book. I love that there is a girl with a sword slaying a dragon on the cover of this book.

One thing I do not love about this book? Er... well, the dragon looks kind of like an alien on the cover.

It should surprise you then, that the first time I read this book I thought something was really strange about it, and it was nearly relegated to the "donate" pile of books because of its strangeness. Why did I think it was strange? This was one of my first forays with true fantasy. Sure, I'd read about girls who rode unicorns, girls pretending to be boys to be apprenticed as knights or mages or some other trade. But I'd never before read a book where an author makes up words for things and uses the words in the book instead of the real word for it. Words for things like servants, degrees of royalty, and weird plants, that you had to remember in case the author mentioned that word again. That was a very foreign concept to me at the time, and it wasn't until later, when I reread the book I didn't understand, that I realized this was one of my favorite books I've ever read.

The Plot:
Our heroine is Aerin, a princess who is the daughter of a witch-woman and the king of Damar, though she is rarely treated like royalty. People think her mother meant to rule the land through a son, and so she died of despair when she had a daughter. Aerin is pretty much shunned by most of the royal family, save for First Sola Tor (inheritor of the throne, also her first cousin), who teaches her swordplay and whatever else tickles her fancy. This is an awkward thing, because they later have a kind of romance going on (though I really don't like Tor for her AT ALL) and he is her cousin. But, back in the day, Queen Victoria married her first cousin Albert, and it's legal in some of our very own States to this day.

Aerin is goaded into eating the leaves of the surka, a plant both poisonous and hallucinogenic to most people (royals can be killed by it, but not often), by her cousin Galanna (who hates her guts for many reasons). Aerin is sick for a long time, but finds solace in the library, and her father's former war horse Talat. She stumbles upon a book detailing a repellent for dragon fire, called kenet, and eventually lands the perfect ratio for dragon-fire-proof-ness. Thus begins her career of dragon-slaying.

While she has killed a small dragon, she hears rumors of the last of the great dragons, called Maur, harrying villages. She decides to go after Maur with her mad dragon-slaying skills, without her father's leave.

The Good Old-Fashioned Loverboy:
Luthe is a character you meet in Aerin's dreams. He is a healer, who eventually aids Aerin, when she finally gets around to meeting him, IRL. A tall blonde immortal with blue eyes, he enjoys long walks by the lake, and being heartbreakingly sincere in his love for Aerin. There's a scene near the end that emphasizes that, and it truly made my poor ten year old self cry. And I still cry when I read it. I have to admit, it was quite embarrassing growing up with a crush on a character in a book that none of my other friends had read, and so usually I kept my mouth shut (which wasn't difficult- I was a painfully shy kid). One time I did mention it, my friends said, "Who the hell is Luke? Like from Star Wars?" Needless to say, I died a little on that day.

The "My Best Friend":
Tor is, as I mentioned before, Aerin's first cousin. He enables her mannish behavior, and so I half like him for that. A black-haired mortal, he's heir to the throne, and fully supports Aerin in most things. He's an okay guy, the one she's expected to settle down with, and yet he isn't particularly my kind of hero.

The Ending:
I was disappointed, until I realized the ending isn't really the end of anything. Aerin is immortal. Robin McKinley also kind of talked about an extended ending. It is satisfying, though not what I wanted to begin with.

The Rating: 5 out of 5 stars! I loved this book. I dream of dragon-slaying, and my dreams were fulfilled when The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim came out. And also when I read this book.

Content: Implied sex scenes. I read this when I was ten and didn't catch on. Just for dirty minds...

Page Count: 246 pages

P.S. "Good Old-Fashioned Loverboy" and "My Best Friend" are songs by Queen. They also fit the characters to a T.


  1. Oh, I LOVE Queen! (Random comment, I know, but I couldn't help myself).

    "I love this book. I love the people who dwell in this book. I love the author of this book. I love almost everything about this book. I love that there is a girl with a sword slaying a dragon on the cover of this book."
    You're funny :). I mean it in a good way of course!

    1. Well, of course in a good way. Thanks for commenting... again!


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