eBook Release Day Review!
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| Source: Publisher
| Author: Robin McKinley
| Series: Damar (Book 1)
| Genre: Heroic Fantasy
| Content: Dragons, Heroine, Adventure
| ISBN-10: 0441328091
| ISBN-13: 9780441328093
| Publisher: Open Road Media Teen/Tween (November 18, 2014) eBook edition
| Paperback: 244 pages
| Rating: 5/5 Stars
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Imagine a lonely young princess, pariah not because of who she is, but because of who she was born to. Now imagine an old warhorse, favorite of the King, put out to pasture while still in his prime because of an injury. Now combine the two, throw in a war, some dragons, plus an understanding father and you end up with a timeless classic.
Fantasy Book Review by Mulluane
♦ The Story. This story follows the life of Aerin, a lonely young girl and second heir to the throne of Damar. Almost immediately you feel a connection with her plight. I doubt there are too many of us who haven't felt -- at some point in our lives -- like we were on the outside looking in. For some of us those occurrences were infrequent, for others, a way of life. Either way you know on a deep level exactly what this child is dealing with and you admire her courage and patience as she endures living in the shadows. But Aerin has accepted her lot in life and instead of being a helpless victim, she grabs the reins and decides to make her own destiny.
It comes as no surprise that she eventually makes her way into the paddock of her father's lame warhorse Talat. Talat is, in his own way, just as lonely as Aerin, and feeling just as useless. (A state of affairs he doesn't handle nearly as well as Aerin.) The cantankerous old horse and the sweet young heir will become inseparable friends and may finally find acceptance together.
There are two secondary characters I want to mention because they add so much to the core of the story.
First is Tor. Her male counterpart and the first heir. He is her only real friend and the type of friend we all wished for as kids. He teaches her what little she knows about fighting, even though few women, if any, are warriors. He listens, really listens, when she talks. He supports even when he disagrees with her course. Unfortunately, he is often too busy being the crown prince to spend much time with her.
Second is her father, the king. He is even busier than Tor but it is obvious that he both supports and understands his daughter, primarily from behind the scenes. He lets her forge her own path, realizing that it will be an unorthodox one. Again the type of person that we as kids wanted for our dad.
See where all this is going? This book became such a lifelong favorite of so many because it spoke to the heart's deepest desires. It teaches that all things are possible with a little work, a little love and a whole lot of perseverance. Oh and it has dragons. That never hurts.
♦ My Thoughts. You know those books? The ones everybody has read but you? The words, "OMG! You haven't read The Hero and The Crown!!!" echoing in your ears?" Yeah, this is that book and I can't understand exactly how I ended up missing it in my youth, but I did.
Imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that Open Road Media was converting it into an ebook format. I don't normally request books for review but I jumped all over this one. And it is indeed as priceless as I had heard.
Hero and Crown is the type of book I would've loved as a kid and I still identify with as an adult! via @mulluane
♦ What I Liked. This tale is a classic in every way. A strong female lead whose best friend is an old, lame warhorse. Dragons to fight. A country to save. A hint of a budding romance but not one that has any sort of main focus. An understanding if beleaguered father. A drive to succeed despite considerable obstacles.
I also enjoyed the overall lack of "magic equals easy answers."
There is magic. All of the royal family except for Aerin has some minor degree of it, but its use is normally mundane. Break a dish and repair it type magic. Definitely nothing on the level of Gandalf waving his hand and whole armies fall over. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it is nice when hard work trumps waving an arm. And I don't want to give the wrong impression. There is plenty of powerful magic towards the end of the story. You might argue that it is a bit convenient at the time but the struggle to reach it creates a balance and I still would not call it an easy answer.
Best of all, the book's lessons are subtle but relevant for all ages tween to adult. It took me back to a time when I'd sit in the arms of a crabapple tree, book in hand and the world would simply fade away.
♦ What I Didn't Like. There is a bit of time jumping going on in this book that can, if you are not paying attention, throw you off stride. The story within this story is the key tale. We start out knowing that certain things have happened. What we don't know is how or when or why. That is where the time jumps come in. We get transported back into Aerin's past to get answers to those questions.
Now the only problem with this is that sometimes you crinkled your brow and wonder just how certain things came about, well before the next regression. This type of writing can often lead to skipping ahead because the answer becomes more important than the present events.
The good news is twofold. On the one hand, the way the 2 halves of the story fit together is seamless. Didn't help the need for answers, but you were never jarred by the change in time. The other good thing is that this -- for me -- was an ebook. That meant I couldn't just stick my thumb in the pages while I scanned ahead looking for answers. Sigh. I had to read it in order from start to finish.
You! Yeah you over there! Stop laughing... You know you've done it too... (chuckles)
Eventually, the backstory catches up with the present and then the book really starts flying by.
♦ Conclusion. Doesn't matter whether you want to visit an old friend or discover a new one, I highly recommend this book. Only thing I regret is that I didn't discover it back when I was fighting my own dragons.
Librarything 4.27 / 5
(315 customer Reviews)
What Should I Read Next?
|Kindle: The Hero and The Crown|
Newbery Medal (1985)
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee (1985)
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Robin KcKinley Quote
|About the Author:|
Robin McKinley is an American writer who has won many awards in the US, including the Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown, a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword, and the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature for Sunshine.
She lives in Hampshire, England with her husband, author Peter Dickinson, two hellhounds nicknamed Chaos and Darkness, an 1897 Steinway upright named Rhodanthe, and increasing numbers of rose bushes wedged into three [sic] tiny gardens. The view out her office window is her change-ringing bell tower and in the next village over is a paragon among horses whom Robin is so fortunate as to have permission to ride.
Robin McKinley on the Web: Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Blog ~ Forum
Fantasy Book Review of The Hero and The Crown by Robin McKinley
Reviewed by Mulluane on November 18, 2014
Rating: of 5
Reviewed by Mulluane on November 18, 2014
Rating: of 5