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The Hero and the Crown Mass Market Paperback – April 15, 1987
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“Refreshing…[McKinley] writes a sonorous, deliberately repetitive prose that, in its somber rhythms, evokes the sounds of Middle Earth as well as of ancient bards. It sustains the otherworldly atmosphere she painstakingly creates through the judicious use of arcane and invented words, restrained descriptions, and interior monologues…[She has] created an utterly engrossing fantasy.” –The New York Times
“Confirms McKinley as an important writer of modern heroic fantasy, a genre whose giants include C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Lloyd Alexander.” –The Washington Post
“A work of considerable imaginative power.” –Philadelphia Inquirer
“I respect her writing and reread her constantly, finding new perception each time.” –Anne McCaffrey, bestselling author of The Dragonriders of Pern
“Extraordinarily fine fantasy…a spectacular read.” –The Raleigh (NC) News & Observer
“What Robin McKinley does to perfection in The Hero and the Crown is take some of the standard elements of fantasy and, with her uniquely personal vision, make them fresh and delightful again.” –The Christian Science Monitor
“McKinley has created an epic heroine in Aerin…a powerful fantasy.” –Fantasy Review
“Beautifully rendered…McKinley’s battle scenes are galvanizing and her romantic ones stirring.” –Booklist
“Robin McKinley’s Damar books are among the finest sword and sorcery being written today.” –Locus
About the Author
Robin McKinley has won various awards and citations for her writing, including the Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown and a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword. Her other books include Sunshine; the New York Times bestseller Spindle's End; two novel-length retellings of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Beauty and Rose Daughter; and a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, The Outlaws of Sherwood. She lives with her husband, the English writer Peter Dickinson.
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But first of all, this IS a story with an orphaned princess, a nice prince, some wizards, a couple of magical artifacts, dragons... - except it reads nothing like such books. The princess is tall, clumsy, red-haired with too big feet and she proves a disappointment (in her mind at least) to her family and her country. She decides to fight dragons, which is not a glamorous task, since dragons in her land are small and considered as oversized vicious rodents - nothing heroic.
She poisons herself, burns herself, does her best, goes into the wilderness alone, expects to die, climbs unending stairs, doesn't know what the hell she's doing...
And yes, indeed, very little is explained. As a young reader I found this frustrating - but just about as much as I did the 'real world'. Who is Aerin? Where did her mother come from? What are her powers? What happened before her birth? What does any of it mean?? Aerin herself asks those questions over and over, mostly gets no answers, is also frustrated (it's her life after all!) but she trundles on nonetheless and makes something of herself, something actually quite heroic after all, even though we get the nitty gritty and not the shining banners.
So okay, even though I wished for more background information, more rules, more knowledge of the odds, or even the mythology, I took it in stride - as I did life. For writers who provide all that, see the great John Ronald Rueul Tolkien!
There is something I very much liked in the book and that quite a few American commentators took exception to; Aerin is in love with 2 men, who are extremely different, and who hold widely different places in her heart, and times in her now almost immortal life Yes, she does have sex 'before marriage', whatever that means in such a different context. I found that prudery amusing. Aerin is a free agent, and her body and life are hers to do as she wishes. I remember liking this even as an 11-year old, I was glad the author trusted us with such complexity and not the usual saccharine fairy tale ending. I enjoyed Aerin's freedom, her capacity to live and love, and the knowledge that someone out there knew that life was never as simple as 'They lived happily ever after'. I certainly hadn't known anyone who did!
Only much later did I realize how strongly feminist this book was, and how much of a role model Aerin had become to me...
This book is well worth reading if you enjoy fantasy at all.
Most recent customer reviews
That was the book that broke me into the Fantasy Realm, and my Love of Dragons, and later love...Read more