The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

The back of Pico's head...and a good book.
The back of Pico’s head…and a good book.

Why I Read It: Robin McKinley has long been a favorite.

Where I Got It: The library.

Who I Recommend This To: While I found it in the YA section, this book has lots to offer fantasy quest lovers of any age.

Narrator: Roslyn Alexander

Publisher: Recorded Books (1992)

Length: 9 CDs

We start with a young Aerin and her world of magic, dragon hunting, and castle politics. In fact her near cousin manages to poison her with a magical plant and it takes her years to recover. During her recovery, she spends time with her father’s lamed war horse, Talet. Talet’s rear haunch was sliced deeply while in battle and the King brought him home where he was treated and put to pasture. With time, both Aerin and Talet find friendship and healing. As she grows older, she delves into the herbal secrets of mythical paste that can protect tender skin from dragon fire. Eventually, Aerin will go on one quest after another, each time more insurmountable. Each time she must give up a little more of herself to accomplish the task.

There were so many things to love about this book. First off, our young hero-in-the-making doesn’t suddenly come into magnificent powers. No, she has to work for it, and overcome several obstacles such as poisoning, the hatred and distrust of her father’s people for her dead mother and her people. Over time, she bonds with the lamed war horse, Talet, and he becomes such an integral part of the story with his own personality. Equine lovers will especially enjoy Talet being treated as a full character in this novel.

With time and training, Aerin becomes an accomplished horse woman, sword master, dragon slayer, and herbalist. Yet, this is not enough. Her quest to save her father’s kingdom takes her far, and she looses much. She’s not invulnerable and when she is hurt, she is truly hurt, requiring mending and time before she can go out adventuring again. This tale was not about one single quest, but rather about several challenges a young lady faces as she comes of age.

The narrator, Roslyn Alexander, was an excellent voice for this story. She had the perfect auntie story-telling voice. I could almost see her with knitting needles in a comfy chair by the fire spinning me a yarn.

OnceUponATime7What I Liked: Lead female; when the characters were hurt, they didn’t miraculously mend in a night; Aerin had to earn her talents over time; Talet is a favorite character.

What I Disliked: The cover – for reals. That cover is not exciting.

The magic is thick in the air over at Stainless Steel Droppings where Carl is hosting the Once Upon A Time reading event, cerebrating everything fantasy. Join us in the fun!

9 thoughts on “The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley”

  1. Ah, I have this one on my list for Once Upon a Time too! I read it so long ago, I only remember snatches, but I remember liking Aerin very much as a character. Right now, I’m about to jump into The Blue Sword.

    1. After writing up my review, I saw somewhere that this book is Damar #2…is Blue Sword the first in the series? This book didn’t read like it was part of a series at all.

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