Newbery Honor Book, 1983
ALA Best Book for Young Adults, 1982
ALA Notable Children's Book, 1982
- "A new language, a new landscape, and a new people -- all unforgettable!"
- Horn Book
- "Any book that, at one point or another, reminded me of The Sheikh, Gunga Din, Islandia, and The Lord of the Rings, can't be anything but a true original."
- Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
- "McKinley knows her geography of fantasy, the nuances of the language, the atmosphere of magic..."
- The Washington Post
- "This is a zesty, romantic heroic fantasy with an appealingly stalwart herione, a finely realized mythical kingdom, and a grounding in reality that enhances the tale's verve as a fantasy."
- ALA Booklist (starred review)
- "McKinley has reworked many familiar mythological motifs into a tale that is completely fresh; her spare and eloquent prose is sheer delight. The novel succeeds not only as a fantasy/adventure, but also as a compelling portrait of the vibrant, wryly humorous Harry."
- School Library Journal (starred review)
- "It is a fresh and interesting setting for a novel of high fantasy.
Like the desert air, the tone is open and bright and brilliant."
- Marilyn H. Karrenbrock, Dictionary of Literary Biography
This story was inspired by John Huston's film The Man Who Would Be
King, which was based on Rudyard Kipling's story of the same name.
(From the back cover of the Ace paperback edition)
This is the story of Corlath, golden-eyed king of the Free Hillfolk, son of the sons of the Lady Aerin.
And this is the story of Harry Crewe, the Homelander orphan girl who became Harimad-sol, King's Rider, and heir to the Blue Sword, Gonturan, that no woman had wielded since the Lady Aerin herself bore it into battle.
And this is the song of the kelar of the Hillfolk, the magic of the blood, the weaver of destinies... THE BLUE SWORD.
"What have swords and -" Harry gulped, for she loved the horse Sungold already - "and war-horses to do with me?"
"When you tasted the Water of Sight you saw a war-party coming to battle," replied Corlath. "I and all my Riders heard you cry out - in the ancient tongue of our forebears, the tongue that was spoken when Damar was one land, a great and green land, before . . ."
Before my people came, Harry thought, but she was not going to say it aloud if he was not.
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