~FREE PDF ☪ The Hero and the Crown ⚇ PDF or E-pub free

~FREE PDF ⚔ The Hero and the Crown ♶ Aerin could not remember a time when she had not known the story she had grown up knowing itIt 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 sonAerin was that daughterBut there was 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 1.99 Kindle sale, June 24, 2020 All the stars The Hero and the Crown is one of those YA fantasies I have loved so deeply and for so long that I m totally unable to view or rate it objectively So you ll have to put up with some fangirling here It won the Newbery Award in 1985.Aerin is a king s daughter, the heir and only child of the king of Damar But her mother, who died in childbirth, was reputed to be a witch, and when Aerin grows up not looking or acting like anyone else in the kingdom 1.99 Kindle sale, June 24, 2020 All the stars The Hero and the Crown is one of those YA fantasies I have loved so deeply and for so long that I m totally unable to view or rate it objectively So you ll have to put up with some fangirling here It won the Newbery Award in 1985.Aerin is a king s daughter, the heir and only child of the king of Damar But her mother, who died in childbirth, was reputed to be a witch, and when Aerin grows up not looking or acting like anyone else in the kingdom the Damarians all have dark hair and eyes Aerin has fiery red hair with much paler skin they all have magical abilities while she has none , she grows up teased and rejected Her only friend is Tor, a royal who s a few years older than her.In the aftermath of a long illness, Aerin manages to befriend a warhorse, Talat She decides that if she can t make her place as a normal princess, she ll take up killing dragons YES Most dragons are dog sized and once Aerin and Talat figure out what they re doing can be dispatched without too much danger, but then news that the last of great dragons, Maur, has reappeared after many years and is terrorizing the countryside And Maur is HUGE.It s a lovely and thoughtful coming of age story, with dragons, magic, danger and adventure, plus a little dash of romance Also, it s a prequel to The Blue Sword, set several hundred years later Do yourself a favor and grab both, if you enjoy YA fantasy Read count Too many times to even say This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here This one isn t rated for a reason I don t really know what to rate it overall, and wish I could rate it in parts I suppose I could average it out and give it three stars, but that doesn t seem to fit.So I ll rate it in my review, which is very long and rambling The First Half I really liked it The characters were likeable or unlikeable if that s what they were meant to be and everything flowed nicely I really liked the main character, Aerin She had spunk, for lack of a better This one isn t rated for a reason I don t really know what to rate it overall, and wish I could rate it in parts I suppose I could average it out and give it three stars, but that doesn t seem to fit.So I ll rate it in my review, which is very long and rambling The First Half I really liked it The characters were likeable or unlikeable if that s what they were meant to be and everything flowed nicely I really liked the main character, Aerin She had spunk, for lack of a better way to describe her She was different from everyone else, and it bothered her, but she didn t let it mess up her life She took pride in herself She had a short temper that got her in some minor trouble, and that made herinteresting as far as princesses go.She handled the incident with the magic plant can t remember the name of it well Drawing on her stubborn nature and desire to prove she wasthan people thought she was, she recovered completely I love how she identified with her father s injured war horse during this and helped him recover too Talat was a pretty cool horse too She also took on a job that was far from glamorous because she knew she could do it better than anyone else, and she worked hard to get to that point.She was cool, and the story was nicely building around her ability to make the best of what she had to work with.Then came her battle with the MaurThe battle itself was fine, and the immediate aftermath was too It s when she gets home that I draw the line between the first half of the book and the second half, even though it might not be right in the middle of the book The Second Half Perhaps the reason the rest of this book made me so mad, is because the first part was really good I felt cheated.I ll start where I left off, when Aerin gets home from her battle with the big dragon Her personality totally changed after that She became all mopey and whiny and depressed I think that was supposed to have something to do with the dragon s evil taint or something, but why did it wait for her to recover before it kicked in She was nearly dead after the battle, but she managed get home, and then she recovered to the point where she could walk around without assistance, and her hair all grew back and she didn t even have any noticeable scars THEN she started getting all depressed to death And even after Luthe dunked her in his magic pond to cure her of the dragon s taint or whatever she was mopey She even frets about her hair several times during her boss battle.Then there s Luthe himself I know he s in some of McKinley s other books, so maybe there sto him than what you get in this one, but he just came across as such a jerk in this book He d been watching her all her life, but after he healed her and taught to use he magic he said he should have stepped in sooner but he figured she would have realized her ability to use magic before and used that on Maur despite the fact that she had never used magic at all before and didn t know she could He constantly bashes her country and her family, especially Tor, who was always kind to her and loved her He even bashes her horse He has so much contempt for everyone that he just comes across as the most arrogant guy on the face of the planet He even sounds condescending when he talks to Aerin, remarking constantly about how simple she is and how he feels terrible about sending her to fight Whatshisbucket when she is but a child, when even he doesn t stand a chance.That brings me to Whatshisbucket Her evil uncle who is somehow the most evil bad guy in the whole land, yet she s never heard of him He was never even mentioned earlier in the book, yet suddenly he s the main cause for all the trouble If you walked up to someone in Middle Earth and asked if they d heard of Sauron, they d say the Middle Earth equivalent of well duh, who hasn t and look at you like you were some kind of idiot Everyone in the wizarding world in Harry Potter had heard of Voldemort Everyone in Narnia knows about the White Witch How the heck does Whatshisbucket manage to be the ultimate bad guy anonymously And how does she defeat the ultimate bad guy She accidentally throws a magic rock at him She wasn t even trying to throw it, and she didn t know it was magic anyway She had no clue what it was She was just carrying it around because it was an interesting shiny red rock she found after she killed the dragon What kind of climax is that The hero accidently kills the anonymous ultimate bad guy with a magic rock they just happened to pick up because it was pretty Hurray for deus ex machina Then Luthe shows up and informs her that she s actually taken a few hundred years to battle Whatshisbucket and he s come to take her back to her own time so she can end the war that s raging in her kingdom but not far enough back to prevent the war and stop her father and countless others from being killed But there s no rush, so they spend a few days strolling along through the woods together, making out, and sleeping under the stars They whisper sweet nothings to each other and are all kinds of mushy, and it really irritated me Why the heck did she fall in love with him Was it his arrogance The condescending way he talked to her The way he was constantly dissing her family and homeland and the nice guy back home who had always treated her like the princess she was Or maybe it was the way he sent her off to battle a super powerful bad guy and then showed up after the battle was over to walk her home It s hard to choose, they re all such charming things.So she goes home and uses a magic crown which was lost for centuries that she got from Whatshisbucket to help win the war And she marries Tor, even though she loves Luthe and looks forward to the day when she can go back to him.What do we learn kids Don t suddenly introduce a villain nobody has ever heard of and expect him to have an impact on the story.Don t introduce time travel for absolutely no reason other than to show off someone s ability to do it.Don t make your heroine fall in love with a total jerk, especially when there s a perfectly awesome guy back home that she could fall in love with.Deus ex machina is not a good thing Like most of Robin McKinley s work, The Hero and the Crown is very hard to classify Its surface is high fantasy clich high fantasy, even but it s written like psychologically driven realistic fiction Our setting is the rather desolate kingdom of Damar, about which we know little except 1 The heirs to the throne are called sola male or sol female It should really be the other way around, or at least that would make it easier to follow for those of us who speak Latin.2 The Damarians ha Like most of Robin McKinley s work, The Hero and the Crown is very hard to classify Its surface is high fantasy clich high fantasy, even but it s written like psychologically driven realistic fiction Our setting is the rather desolate kingdom of Damar, about which we know little except 1 The heirs to the throne are called sola male or sol female It should really be the other way around, or at least that would make it easier to follow for those of us who speak Latin.2 The Damarians have occasionally suffered dragon infestation Dragons in this world are unreasoning beasts Forget about bonding with one and riding it.3 They don t like witches in this land, or people from the North, and people from the North are often suspected of witchcraft without cause.One suspected witch was the dead second wife of King Arlbeth, who gave up on life after being delivered of a daughter, Aerin Princess Aerin s parentage is not the only strike against her She also is the only young member of the royal family whose magical Gift has never manifest Everyone in Damar is bronzed and black haired except our tall, awkward, fair skinned, redheaded heroine She feels terribly alienated at court, with no friends save her cousin Tor, the heir to the throne girls cannot inherit in this kingdom Tor is in love with her, but she s too immature to figure it out.Aerin took a dare from a mean female cousin to consume a plant that would supposedly kill anyone but a member of the royal family, and this made her sick for months While laid up, she discovered a book on dragon slaying that included a recipe for a balm that warded against dragon fire.Once she recovers, Aerin spends most of her time training, and bonding with, an old lamed war horse named Talat, who becomes her loyal steed when she finally tests out the dragon proof balm against a minor worm in a small village.Word of their first victory spreads, in spite of dragon slaying not being a proper occupation for a princess, and soon every village wants Aerin to deal with their scaly pests Meanwhile, their Northern neighbors declare war on Damar, and just when the whole army has marched out, a great dragon, the dread Maur, reawakes from a hundred year slumber or sulk Only Aerin is left to deal with him but he proves almost beyond her nascent skill and she only kills the Worm at great cost to herself.While recovering from great injury, a mysterious man begins to contact her in dreams She realizes that something has changed for good inside her, and seeks him, as he is probably the only person who knows what that is.Content Advisory Violence Lots of dragons burning people People get hurt, but there is little graphic description of killing or wounding Sex The book makes it clear that Aerin gave her virginity to Luthe, without ever stating as much There is no love scene We only see them kiss, and it s not written in a racy way There is no innuendo outside of a line about not getting enough sleep, which may or may not go over a kid s head but the cover said Ages 10 and up and it won the Newbery, which are usually G rated This plot development is even weirder because she view spoiler immediately marries Tor upon getting back to civilization, and the implication is that, since Aerin can no longer age, when Tor dies she will climb Luthe s mountain and become his wife hide spoiler Language Nothing but hells which is always plural Substance Abuse The surka leaves gave Aerin scary hallucinations, but no one uses them for recreation Anything Else It s implied that an evil spirit lingers in the skull of the dragon Maur, and that this demon contaminated the city when the army insisted on bringing the skull back as a trophy ConclusionRobin McKinley has two great strengths as a writer The first is the consistent magnificence of her prose The second is her character development.Her heroines tend to blend together they re all self sufficient and a bit misanthropic, with a strong sense of justice and racing, random thoughts This is a trait they all share with the author herself I have never seen so many parentheses and brackets and ellipses and dashes on a blog before and as someone with ADD I find it very relatable.The men in her books are wonderful too, always kind and gentle and devoted to the heroine Unfortunately this brings us to the major flaw of the book You can t have a love triangle where both rivals win That s just cheap.Love triangles have certainly been overused in YA fiction since Twilight, but sometimes and this is one of those times there s enough contrast between the suitors, or what those suitors represent, that it s permissible It s not the mere presence of the love triangle that bothers me, it s that this book resolved it in a way that struck me as cheap If you disagree, let me know why in the comments please be nice For what it s worth, both this and Tamora Pierce s Song of the Lioness series feature love triangles, and they predate Twilight by twenty years Aerin has two suitors Tor, her cousin and childhood friend, who is kind and understanding but a different manner of creature from her and Luthe, the mage of the mountains, who comes from the same Gifted stock as Aerin s dead mother and is, like Aerin herself, semi immortal and ageless During Aerin s long illness at the castle, view spoiler after having killed Maur but been badly injured in the process hide spoiler , Tor tends anxiously to his beloved cousin, but Luthe appears in her mirrors, her cups of water, her dreams, whispering to her Gosh, what does this remind me of Nor is Luthe the only handsome, blond magician hero to appear during this era And yes, they are all riffs on Hades and Persephone, and Luthe, being a McKinley male lead, is the nicest and least creepy of the four Unfortunately there is no mention of him for the first half of the book Tor is a major presence during those chapters, and there is no hint of any rival, so when Luthe first appeared I was startled even though I knew from the imagery and tropes used that he would be Aerin s suitor, and view spoiler ultimately she would return his love Their relationship, once it gets going, is sweet and symbolic enough that I was able to switch ships easily, but it would have been so much better if there had beenbuildup.It would have also been better if Luthe and Aerin hadn t randomly had sex on the mountaintop, especially given that this is a Newbery book and she s going to marry another guy as soon as she gets home.But the one who is the worst served by this is Tor His wife is just waiting for him to die so she can go back up the mountain and be immortal with her second husband Really, why couldn t Aerin just drop off the Crown and go back right then She had never really belonged in Damar, and she owed the people there absolutely nothing hide spoiler The book does have some excellent qualities, the best of which is probably Aerin s relationship with Talat the horse And as I said earlier, I enjoy McKinley s prose and the internal monologues of her awkward, brilliant, frustrated heroines Unlike many people here, though, I actually think she got better with age This book was good overall even though the solution to the love triangle was utterly stupid and the sexual subplot, while discreet, was unnecessary ButBeauty A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the BeastandChaliceare much better I still want to readThe Blue Sword I read this when I was young and disgruntled, reading two or three books a day to avoid talking to my classmates It was basically the perfect time to read this story, which tells the tale of a young woman who is not understood by her people and is deeply unhappy about it And when I read this, it was one of very few books that spoke to me in a voice I could actually empathize with All the other fantasy I was reading featured boys tramping across pseudo English countryside before being crowned I read this when I was young and disgruntled, reading two or three books a day to avoid talking to my classmates It was basically the perfect time to read this story, which tells the tale of a young woman who is not understood by her people and is deeply unhappy about it And when I read this, it was one of very few books that spoke to me in a voice I could actually empathize with All the other fantasy I was reading featured boys tramping across pseudo English countryside before being crowned as kings and instead, here was an awkward, stubborn, hard working girl who wanted to be able to value herself and prove her worth Aerin grows up knowing that unlike her royal family, she s ugly, has no magic, and is distrusted by the people they rule She inherited her low born mother s looks but not her rud witching power the worst of both worlds When we first meet her, she recently cut off a spiteful cousin s luxurious eyelashes She tricks another cousin into teaching her swordplay, then spends hours upon hours practicing, knowing that she has no natural talent for it but refusing to give up She spends three years experimenting with potions until she finds one that protects against flame And then she goes out into the world to kill dragons But in this kingdom, dragons aren t monstrous beasts they re vermin Killing dragons is considered a bit like catching rats When she s called Dragon Killer, it s as much a taunt as a title Needless to say, tween me adored Aerin.Reading it now, after an extra decade of socializing and reading other fantasy books, Aerin and her lifelong quest to be a good and useful person is still wonderful, but less of a revelation I love how much of her success is due to sheer hard work and determination, an indomitable drive to prove herself that overcomes her innate flaws But although her early victories are her own stubborn will, her final victory view spoiler over her late mother s evil brother hide spoiler seems like she lucked into it She literally wins by accident It s frustrating That said, I can see where McKinley subverts fantasy tropesclearly now It s Aerin s perseverance and hard work, not what she s born with, that make her a hero The most beautiful girl in the kingdom has dark hair and skin The heroine loves two people at once, and no one thinks it weird or wrong There s infrastructure to rebuild after the climactic battle Instead of showing how foppish and out of touch the court is, their council meetings about provisions and treaties are actually important etc And the writing is, at times, truly fantastic The descriptions of Maur, so huge he is indistinguishable from his mountain, so malevolent that even keeping his skull as a trophy brings despair to the kingdom, stuck with me all this time Aerin s relationship with her nurse maid, Teka, always feels real The battles with the dragons kept my eyes glued to the page I only wish that McKinley had let herself writeof this book Time and time again, summaries of what Aerin learns or does are provided in place of the action Aerin s education and love affair with Luthe seem to take place in 10 pages, when they could be 100 This book is only 227 pages long if it were twice as long, it would only be better This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here This is the third Robin McKinley book I ve read, and I ve come to the conclusion that I just don t like her I feel like this makes me a bad person I mean, nobody doesn t like Robin McKinley but although she writes beautifully about richly imagined worlds, I never like her characters.The Hero and the Crown was no exception Actually I loved the first half of this book, with the story of the princess Aerin who has never felt like she fit in with the royal court She s determined to find her pla This is the third Robin McKinley book I ve read, and I ve come to the conclusion that I just don t like her I feel like this makes me a bad person I mean, nobody doesn t like Robin McKinley but although she writes beautifully about richly imagined worlds, I never like her characters.The Hero and the Crown was no exception Actually I loved the first half of this book, with the story of the princess Aerin who has never felt like she fit in with the royal court She s determined to find her place, though, and despite having little inborn talent or natural brilliance, she buckles down and applies herself to learning swordplay, horseback riding and herb lore, eventually becoming a famous dragon killer, all with the support of her best friend Tor, the future king, who s secretly in love with her Good story, right It s the second half where it falls apart for me, taking the story in a new and in my opinion less interesting direction Our heroine becomes immortal and is trained as a mage by a mysterious man who has a thing for her, in the same way he had a thing for her mother It s in the second half that lack of good characterization really kills the book for me Luthe, our mysterious man, is never really given much character or color, other than being a bit of a creeper, and then suddenly he becomes the romantic interest, and it s meant to be tragic that he and Aerin can t be together yet But if I m never given enough characterization to understand Luthe, how am I supposed to care about him The second half says less and less about Aerin s mind and character as well, until at the end I can t figure out why she does anything she does and why I should care In the end, I only finished because I wondered what would happen with Tor, the only character that I cared about And even he doesn t get a fabulous ending, because Aerin is waiting for him to die so she can get back to Luthe I suppose McKinley was trying to pull away from the fantasy cliche of finding your one true love and riding off into the sunset together, but if I m reading a fantasy book, it s probably safe to say that I m comfortable with fantasy cliches This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here The Hero and the Crown is a sort of distant prequel to Robin McKinley s Newberry Honor winner The Blue Sword For some unknown to me reason, this prequel receivedcritical recognition, specifically, the book was a 1985 Newberry Medal winner IMO, this novel is weaker.Aerin is the only daughter of the king of Damar The problem is, she is also an offspring of a woman who was accused of being a witch and an enemy of the country Even , unlike all members of the royal family, Aerin possess The Hero and the Crown is a sort of distant prequel to Robin McKinley s Newberry Honor winner The Blue Sword For some unknown to me reason, this prequel receivedcritical recognition, specifically, the book was a 1985 Newberry Medal winner IMO, this novel is weaker.Aerin is the only daughter of the king of Damar The problem is, she is also an offspring of a woman who was accused of being a witch and an enemy of the country Even , unlike all members of the royal family, Aerin possesses no special magic powers This, once again, brands her as an insignificant person unworthy of the status of the heir to the throne in the eyes of the Damarians Left to her own devices to prove her worth, Aerin dedicates her time to training herself to become a dragon slayer This occupation takes her on a path of discovering and awakening her dormant powersFirst of all, I admire McKinley s writing style There is no doubt she has a great command of English language Her writing is sophisticated to such a degree that I can hardly imagine young children and The Hero and the Crown is in fact classified as a children s book being able to properly comprehend it The world of Damar is described in rich detail I couldn t help myself thinking that McKinley has muchstory left to tell about this country I am also quite fond of the way the author portrays animals in her books She definitely has a lot of love for horses and knows them well.What I do not appreciate about this book, and maybe it s just a personal pet peeve of mine, is the romantic story line I love two men at the same time theme just doesn t jive well with me I guess I am old fashioned that way, but I do not approve of a heroine who is in love with an immortal guy and has sex with him, then days later marries the second who she also loves with a plan to go back to the first once the second mortal one is dead I have absolutely no idea why Luthe was even placed as a love interest in this book Another thing, I agree with those reviewers who have said that the story loses some ground in Part 2 This is where a lot of magical stuff happens that is not always fully explained The magic and the heroine s destiny take away from her personal development Nevertheless, The Hero and the Crown is a worthy contribution to YA fantasy literature and is one of a few books that portray strong heroines whose lives are not directed and defined by their hot brooding boyfriends but motivated by love for their country and loyalty to their people What a relief I got this book when it was first published, in hardcover.At the time, The Blue Sword to which this is a prequel was one of my most beloved books and, I have to admit, that at the time, I didn t feel the The Hero and the Crown quite measured up I liked it but just not quite as much It s not like I didn t read it several times, though Re reading, years later, I understand why I felt the way I did but I also kind of disagree with my youthful opinion This is a wonderful book It s I got this book when it was first published, in hardcover.At the time, The Blue Sword to which this is a prequel was one of my most beloved books and, I have to admit, that at the time, I didn t feel the The Hero and the Crown quite measured up I liked it but just not quite as much It s not like I didn t read it several times, though Re reading, years later, I understand why I felt the way I did but I also kind of disagree with my youthful opinion This is a wonderful book It s a classic quest hero s journey tale, but it also incorporates some unusual elements very effectively.In The Blue Sword, Aerin is a legend of history, a dragon slayer and wielder of a sword of magical powers In The Hero and the Crown we meet Aerin and discover how she became a hero.The first half of the book is very self contained It introduces the half foreign, distrusted and ill used but still quite privileged and royal Aerin, a tomboy who insists on practicing swordplay I very much enjoyed how, in her country, dragons are small creatures, certainly pestilent, but just vermin to be exterminated Killing them brings no prestige it s just something that has to be done Aerin s doggedness and use of the scientific method in figuring out how to eliminate themefficiently is a rare and appreciated example of the value of methodical persistence in order to accomplish anything I also very much liked how, for all her efforts, she is consistently underappreciated but the value of her accomplishments stands on its own The big showdown with the dragon Maur is at once utterly realistic in detail and gloriously emotional it brought me to tears.The second half of the book is where, when I was younger, it lost my attention a bit It addresses what happens after one s most heroic act It takes someone completely outside Aerin s social circle to recognize her true value The mage Luthe calls her, and thus begins the classic magical studies part of the plot Aerin grows and matures, but at the same time begins to feel a little bitelevated and less accessible to the reader.However, the ending was rich and deeply satisfying It s rare that a story so successfully depicts how one person can love different people in different ways, with each love enhancing one s life in a deep and meaningful way.Many thanks to NetGalley and Open Road Media for the opportunity to read the ebook version of this title When I was a kid, I frequented two areas of the library the children s section and the adult fiction section The young adult shelves and the nonfiction shelves might as well have been made of glass for all I noticed them.One year when I was in my early teens, the family was getting ready to go on the dreaded yearly camping trip Dreaded because it meant a week in the outdoors, with no books Well, almost no books Mom s rule was that we each could take two only twoso we spent hours dawdli When I was a kid, I frequented two areas of the library the children s section and the adult fiction section The young adult shelves and the nonfiction shelves might as well have been made of glass for all I noticed them.One year when I was in my early teens, the family was getting ready to go on the dreaded yearly camping trip Dreaded because it meant a week in the outdoors, with no books Well, almost no books Mom s rule was that we each could take two only twoso we spent hours dawdling at the library making our choices It was important to pick the perfect books, ones that could stand up to repeated readings, since we would almost certainly finish them for the first time on the ride up the canyon.I looked all over the library for mine, or at least the part of the library I knew, and I couldn t find anything that had that coveted mix of exciting newness and safe, comfortable familiarity In desperation, I finally walked over to the young adult section And there it was Robin McKinley s The Hero and the Crown, screaming, Read me Take me Pick me And I did pick it, and I fell in love with it, and have loved it ever since.Now, as anyone who has read Robin McKinley knows, this is actually the prequel to The Blue Sword, but when I finally read that book a few years later I was so disappointed that it wasn t The Hero and the Crown all over again that it took me a long while to really warm up to it But it s good, too, though in a different way This is the first time I ve read this book as an adult mostly because I love, love, love The Blue Sword and this book kind of goes out of its way to undermine expectations set by that book for Damar s past I didn t remember much of this book mostly just a vague sense of this not being my expected Damar, really because my memory really sucks, not because the book isn t memorable So I was gratified that the book holds up so well Better, really, because I came away from it not only renewing my This is the first time I ve read this book as an adult mostly because I love, love, love The Blue Sword and this book kind of goes out of its way to undermine expectations set by that book for Damar s past I didn t remember much of this book mostly just a vague sense of this not being my expected Damar, really because my memory really sucks, not because the book isn t memorable So I was gratified that the book holds up so well Better, really, because I came away from it not only renewing my love for Aerin, but also feeling better about her fate than my previous vague unease McKinley goes way out of her way to play against expectations raised by The Blue Sword, even starting out with a warning up front that even the climate is different than you might expect it to be Aerin s Damar is courtly and well settled with a traditional structure of royalty and fealty that is very different than in Harry and Corlath s day Evensurprisingly, Aerin is a social outcast Daughter of the king, true, but the offspring of a suspect, foreign, mother and held in polite aversion when not actively hated Knowing that she will become the symbol of her people s strength and universally loved only intensifies my sympathy with her as she goes through the suspicion and open mistrust that even her loving father has to sometimes accommodate I have a hard time with this part of the novel, though the disconnect between my expectations and the story is only part of the reason why In addition, Aerin is kind of passive for this first part She has no aspiration, is withdrawn, and spends as much of her time alone as she possibly can even avoiding those who love her and wish to help if only they could think of how.And the pacing is slow to start, almost pastoral, really This isn t helped by the narrative taking a really large time jump so early in the novel We see Aerin steeling herself to request to accompany her father on his campaign against a rebel baron and then take a jump back three or was it six years We don t get back to that request for most of the rest of that section I didn t count, but it was a goodly chunk 60 pages 1 8th of the book Sizeable at any rate I m not sure what McKinley wanted to accomplish with such a large interval, but I don t think it really worked at least not for me.Anyway, Once Aerin starts taking charge of her own destiny, the book really picks up I already liked her for her quiet good sense and determination As she begins forging her own path, she clinches my sympathy and desire for her to succeed It s here that we begin to see that there isto her than we have suspected What in the later part of the book is flagged as her dual nature both of Damar and not of Damar becomesvisible even as her solitude becomespronounced solitude despite Tor s obvious desire to bea part of her life.And here s where the spoilers begin I ll still flag it, though, because even though practically everybody I know has read the book, it s just plain courtesy to do so view spoiler Having such a poor memory means that I was surprised afresh by Aerin falling in love with Luthe This is McKinley s biggest play against expectation because anybody who read The Blue Sword knows that she is destined to marry Tor who we already have seen loves her dearly and suspect that she loves him back The romantic in me lapped up this relationship as it built during Aerin s convalescence and culminated after defeating Agsded even as my heart broke knowing it to be a temporary idyll.This is also where McKinley s careful groundwork paid off because it is even possible for the reader to allow Aerin to love both Luthe and Tor,or less simultaneously That s extremely tough to pull off without alienating the reader s affection and or respect for her or one or the other of her loves i.e can you really respect King Arthur without hating Lancelot and what kind of inconstant bitch is Guinevere, anyway That I only just now realized there might be an Arthurian parallel is tribute to how adroitly McKinley pulls this off though I expect treading so very lightly over Luthe s emotions as they part was something of a cheat In the end, I can be happy for her time with Tor and, by extension, her time dedicated to Damar s needs , even as I anticipate her eventual reunion with Luthe hide spoiler So by the end of the novel, I mor less reconciled to Aerin as a solitary hero even though she ends up happily married I love her dearly and very much enjoyed seeing the beginning of many of the traditions that play such vivid roles in The Blue Sword And I have to accede McKinley s point in illustrating a character who overcomes by bridging her dual nature and synthesizing a whole that has to be acknowledged successful even by her strictest critics