Review: The Blue Sword

Read: The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
Stars: Five

Drinking: India Spiced Chai Tea, Celestial Seasons (Iced)

The Blue Sword and it’s sister book, The Hero and the Crown (technically the prequel), are perennial favorites of mine.  I re-read them often and wish I were Harry or Aerin, off on a grand adventure to discover magic, swords, and handsome, mysterious men.  They are fairy tales, but with a heroine that

Harry Crewe is a young lady raised in a pseudo-Victorian time.  Orphaned, she is sent to Damar, at the outskirts of the Empire where her brother is stationed with the army, to live with a nice older couple.  Harry has never really fit in with her peers or “polite society,” and in many ways, the little frontier town is freeing for her.  However, when she is kidnapped by the Hillfolk King, Corlath, leader of the native peoples who live in the mountains, Harry truly comes into her own.

Harry is a true hero, in the Campbellian sense. She is a strong protagonist, not weak and underdeveloped as women in fantasy novels sometimes are.  Additionally, her relationship with Corlath is not the focus of the story, as it easily could be.  Instead, Harry fulfills her potential and her destiny with Corlath’s partnership – and later, on her own.  Their romance develops and deepens in a natural, rather than forced way.  McKinley’s strength is writing believable romances, and this is no exception.

I identified strongly with Harry as a teenager and young woman.  I longed for my life to be changed by a mysterious stranger who knew something about me that I had never suspected helping me to realize my full (badass warrior) potential. Now that I’m older, I don’t seek escape as much – I feel less “different” – but I still love to dream of far-off lands and mysterious, handsome kings.

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