Monday, October 5, 2015

The Hero and the Crown

by Robin McKinley

Summary from GoodReads

Aerin could not remember a time when she had not known the story; she had grown up knowing it.
It was the story of her mother, the witchwoman who enspelled the king into marrying her, to get an heir that would rule Damar; and it was told that she turned her face to the wall and died of despair when she found she had borne a daughter instead of a son.
Aerin was that daughter.
But there was more of the story yet to be told; Aerin's destiny was greater than even she had dreamed--for she was to be the true hero who would wield the power of the Blue Sword...

Thoughts on the Book

I keep thinking of this book doing the Top Ten Tuesdays, it's one of my favorite books ever.  It might actually beat out Watership Down as my all time favorite book, it's that good.  I was sitting at my end of summer party staring at the bonfire and all I could think about was what it would be like to put the kenet on my finger and stick it into the flame.  Weird thought, right?  At that point I said alright, I'm re-reading The Hero and the Crown,  it's been too long since I last read it.

My Review

This book is about Aerin finding herself.  Aerin is the king's daughter but she is not your typical princess (or Sola as they're called in Damar), she wants nothing to do with court life and typical woman's activities.  Naturally this leads to dragons and epic battles.

The first time I read this book I was probably around 10, then I read it when I was 11, then 12, then 13, then 15, then 18, and then college and life happened so I hadn't picked it up since then.  But I'm happy to say it really really stands up.  It was my favorite book as a kid, and it's still definitely right up there.  

Aerin is probably my all time favorite female protagonist.  She's so realistic, she's this sad lonely girl who's picked on and disliked by 90% of the population.  In response she hides herself away.  She then becomes obsessed with mixing a potion which leads to her doing stupid reckless things which in the end help save the kingdom.  She's not quite the reluctant hero, but she's the hapless naive one that ends up kicking so much ass.  It isn't until the end that she really becomes comfortable in her own skin and finds her place in the world.

Tor is another great character, he's one of the few people that likes Aerin.  He is the first Sol, meaning the heir to the throne, and also Aerin's first cousin who is about 10 years older than her.  Whenever anything happens to Aerin Tor is right there to help her or comfort her.  Even if all that means is he's there to talk to her.  He cares for Aerin deeply, first as a cousin, then a friend, then more than a friend.  Everyone in the kingdom notices this and some, like the King, are happy about it, others, like practically everyone else, isn't.  The only one that doesn't have an opinion on the matter, or even notices it is Aerin.  Even so Tor remains devoted to her and always there for her.

Talat is also one of my favorite characters.  Yes, Talat, her horse.  He's so loyal and he really has a great personality.  Aerin had to earn his trust and encourage him when she was a young girl and in return Talat saved her life many times.  He's also pretty funny, in his horsey way.

Luthe was an interesting character.  He kind of comes out of nowhere and in his half-assed way saves Aerin's life.  He trains her and sends her off to fulfill a prophecy, which only he and his peers knew about, then rescues her again at the end.  I wish we could see more of her time in Luthe's hall, really see how they began to fall for one another.

As for the story itself, it spans Aerin's life from her early teens through to her mid/late twenties.  It's set up into 3 basic parts, growing up, fighting dragons, and fulfilling the prophecy.  I loved the first two parts, but I wish there was more to the last part.  More of Luthe, more of the God Who Climbs then Falls.  I felt like they spent more time with Maur's head than with the tower.  But that could have just been the speed in which I read, and how much I got interrupted while reading.

Overall I give this book a 11/10.  I love this book so much, especially since it really stands up to time and rereads.

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