Robin McKinley – The Hero and the Crown
37. The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley (1984)
Length: 246 pages
Started: 26 April 2014
Finished: 01 May 2014
Where did it come from? BookMooch.
Why do I have it? Alyce’s fault.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 24 March 2010.
Tough break: the giant
dragon isn’t the biggest
threat facing your home.
Summary: Aerin’s the daughter of the king of the struggling kingdom of Damar, but everyone whispers that her mother was a witch from the North who bewitched the King, making Aerin not really a real princess. She grows up largely as an outcast from the royal court, much preferring riding her otherwise untameable horse to staying trammeled in the castle listening to the hum of gossip about her. But when Aerin rediscovers an old potion recipe for making a fireproofing spell, she realizes she can at least be useful to the kingdom in which she doesn’t really fit. She starts slaying dragons – a dangerous and thankless task, but one which must be done. But neither Aerin nor anyone else in the kingdom forsees the destiny that this choice has given her.
Review: Well, that’s it, I think I’m officially giving up on McKinley’s work. I just do not get along with her writing style, and this book was no exception.
Or rather, half of this book was no exception. The first half of the story – the tale of Aerin’s girlhood and teen years, up to the point where she fights the Big Dragon – is really quite good. It’s still not my favorite style of storytelling; it shifted through time, back and forwards through the story, in a way that I didn’t always follow or feel was necessary. But overall, it was a lot more personal, a lot closer to Aerin’s point of view, with realistic dialogue, some touches of humor, and a story that gave you a good feel for who Aerin was and how she got to be like that. But the second half of the book went from character focused to weirdly distant and epic in tone, even though it was still technically Aerin’s POV. There’s a lot of mythical questing and quasi-immortal beings and strange surreal battle scenes and magical McGuffins that are linked to the land and nature magic and that sort of silliness, and the whole thing loses the immediacy and intimacy of the first half in exchange for a lot of pretentious blather about destiny and mortal lifespans and blah. It really felt like there were halves of two totally different books only roughly joined together, and although I would have liked to have kept reading the book of the first half, the dry second half totally put me off. 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: I know a lot of people really like McKinley’s work, so I am maybe not the best one to judge. But even among the books of hers that I’ve read, this was not one of my favorites.
Other Reviews: Book Harbinger, Frances and Lynne, Into the Wardrobe, Stella Matutina and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: She could not remember a time when she had not known the story; she had grown up knowing it. She supposed someone must have told her it, sometime, but she could not remember the telling.
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