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The first Robin McKinley novel I read was 'Beauty' and I loved it. I mentioned it to a friend who had 'The Hero and the Crown' so we swapped novels and read, and then it was a race to see who was able to get 'The Blue Sword' first. When I read 'The Blue Sword', I was completely entranced. I really liked the characterisation I read recently of 'The Blue Sword' being 'yellow like the desert' and 'The Hero and the Crown' being red. For me, 'The Blue Sword' was a wonderful, exhilirating read - almost like having your own adventure. 'The Hero and the Crown' has never been a favourite, but that has not been because it was a bad book. It's a much darker book, when I think about it. We have a land of demons to the North, a woman who is willing to sacrifice her life to bear an all important child. This is a woman who is bitterly disappointed with the child's sex, and the story has elements of extreme isolation, humiliation and loneliness. Coupled with that, evil pervades the book. 'The Blue Sword' is an optimistic book, Harry and Corlath were unshaken in their resolve. 'The Hero and the Crown' on the other hand has moments where the characters are shaken with incredible self doubt - for instance, Maur's dark and subliminal influence, Aerin's inner struggle when confronting her uncle, and also her own choices about staying with Luthe or returning to Tor and her mortal responsbilities. Harry has always seemed much more *likeable* and fallible to me, whereas Aerin's 'hero' status, separated her from ordinary people. Combined with that, I've always disliked love triangles, Arthurian or otherwise.
I think that I'll always like 'The Blue Sword' more. Even when I'm re-reading, I read every single word, but in 'The Hero and the Crown', I am conscious of moments where I'll hurry along and skim parts of which I am not particularly fond. 'The Blue Sword' also had a number of very likeable secondary characters - Senay, Terim, Colonel Dedham, Mathin, Kentarre and Senay's little sister Rilly who I imagine would have grown up to be a Damalur Sol herself.
One thing that has nagged me about the ending of 'The Blue Sword' and it's just a silly little thing:
"They took the children with them - Aerin was followed by Jack, and Jack by Hari, as the years passed - for Luthe was fond of children."
What about poor little Tor Mathin? Didn't he get taken to the valley as well? *Grin*
Another thing sometimes makes me ponder, is the eventual fate of 'Damar'. The Damar mentioned in 'The Blue Sword' as a result of colonisation by the Homelanders is a much smaller and limited Damar than the one that existed in days of old. While conquest may have been traded for treaty, the eventual encroachment of the Homelanders seems inevitable when you think about the path of most colonies, so I'm wondering whether the pitiful remains of Damar in the Hills would have existed for much longer. Would a third book about Damar be about its end? Damar is only likely to get smaller rather than larger, and perhaps Damarians themselves would eventually become extinct. What a depressing thought. Hmm, these are Stupid Thoughts and as Christine Lavin says: 'I'm a prisoner of these Stupid Thoughts which is worse than being a prisoner of my hairdo'. =)
From: Clara Duong
Saturday, May 31, 1997 at 02:58:14 (EDT)