Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The Hero and the Crown
By Robin McKinley
Lexile = 1120
This book is one of the great classics.... really. Not really an easy book; in fact, there were parts that I didn't skip exactly, but I hurried through and just got the gist of it. I read this years ago and I had great fond memories of it, but when I have tried to "sell" it to a student, I found that I couldn't remember it well. (Maybe because I hurry through and get ONLY the gist of it!)
The sequel to The Hero and the Crown is the Blue Sword, which I remember REALLY liking. These epics came long before the current fantasy frenzy that we have in kids' books since Harry Potter, and really laid the ground work for current authors. I don't consider myself fantasy reader, but this is a great book. Here's the story:
Aerin is the only child of the King of Damar, but because her mother was the second wife and called the "witch-woman", Aerin will not inherit the throne. In fact, she doesn't fit in at all in the kingdom. One of her cousins, Tor, will inherit the throne. Tor and Aerin are great friends; Tor has taught Aerin some sword skills and other useful things.
Aerin discovers a recipe for fire-proofing herself... a useful thing when fighting dragons. Without her father's knowledge, Aerin combines her skills to fight and kill a small dragon in a nearby village. While her fame spreads throughout Damar, this doesn't increase her value in the eyes of the people. They continue to see her as a person unworthy of her station.
Aerin will find her place in the kingdom when she finds out the truth about her mother.
McKinley has given us an admirable heroine in Aerin. She is not perfect; just plucky. One of my favorite lines from the book occurs when Aerin is about to face the most evil of foes and is distracted by an itch. She says to herself, "This is typical. On my way to gods know what unspeakable doom, and I break out in a rash." Aerin is someone I could hang out with.
Enjoy the book and consider it an accomplishment when you finish.