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DOWNLOAD ⚤ The Hero and the Crown ⛄ Aerin could not remember a time when she had not known the story she had grown up knowing itIt was the story of her mother, the witchwoman who enspelled the king into marrying her, to get an heir that would rule Damar and it was told that she turned her face to the wall and died of despair when she found she had borne a daughter instead of a sonAerin was that daughterBut there was of the story yet to be told Aerin s destiny was greater than even she had dreamed for she was to be the true hero who would wield the power of the Blue Sword This is the first time I ve read this book as an adult mostly because I love, love, love The Blue Sword and this book kind of goes out of its way to undermine expectations set by that book for Damar s past I didn t remember much of this book mostly just a vague sense of this not being my expected Damar, really because my memory really sucks, not because the book isn t memorable So I was gratified that the book holds up so well Better, really, because I came away from it not only renewing my This is the first time I ve read this book as an adult mostly because I love, love, love The Blue Sword and this book kind of goes out of its way to undermine expectations set by that book for Damar s past I didn t remember much of this book mostly just a vague sense of this not being my expected Damar, really because my memory really sucks, not because the book isn t memorable So I was gratified that the book holds up so well Better, really, because I came away from it not only renewing my love for Aerin, but also feeling better about her fate than my previous vague unease McKinley goes way out of her way to play against expectations raised by The Blue Sword, even starting out with a warning up front that even the climate is different than you might expect it to be Aerin s Damar is courtly and well settled with a traditional structure of royalty and fealty that is very different than in Harry and Corlath s day Evensurprisingly, Aerin is a social outcast Daughter of the king, true, but the offspring of a suspect, foreign, mother and held in polite aversion when not actively hated Knowing that she will become the symbol of her people s strength and universally loved only intensifies my sympathy with her as she goes through the suspicion and open mistrust that even her loving father has to sometimes accommodate I have a hard time with this part of the novel, though the disconnect between my expectations and the story is only part of the reason why In addition, Aerin is kind of passive for this first part She has no aspiration, is withdrawn, and spends as much of her time alone as she possibly can even avoiding those who love her and wish to help if only they could think of how.And the pacing is slow to start, almost pastoral, really This isn t helped by the narrative taking a really large time jump so early in the novel We see Aerin steeling herself to request to accompany her father on his campaign against a rebel baron and then take a jump back three or was it six years We don t get back to that request for most of the rest of that section I didn t count, but it was a goodly chunk 60 pages 1 8th of the book Sizeable at any rate I m not sure what McKinley wanted to accomplish with such a large interval, but I don t think it really worked at least not for me.Anyway, Once Aerin starts taking charge of her own destiny, the book really picks up I already liked her for her quiet good sense and determination As she begins forging her own path, she clinches my sympathy and desire for her to succeed It s here that we begin to see that there isto her than we have suspected What in the later part of the book is flagged as her dual nature both of Damar and not of Damar becomesvisible even as her solitude becomespronounced solitude despite Tor s obvious desire to bea part of her life.And here s where the spoilers begin I ll still flag it, though, because even though practically everybody I know has read the book, it s just plain courtesy to do so view spoiler Having such a poor memory means that I was surprised afresh by Aerin falling in love with Luthe This is McKinley s biggest play against expectation because anybody who read The Blue Sword knows that she is destined to marry Tor who we already have seen loves her dearly and suspect that she loves him back The romantic in me lapped up this relationship as it built during Aerin s convalescence and culminated after defeating Agsded even as my heart broke knowing it to be a temporary idyll.This is also where McKinley s careful groundwork paid off because it is even possible for the reader to allow Aerin to love both Luthe and Tor,or less simultaneously That s extremely tough to pull off without alienating the reader s affection and or respect for her or one or the other of her loves i.e can you really respect King Arthur without hating Lancelot and what kind of inconstant bitch is Guinevere, anyway That I only just now realized there might be an Arthurian parallel is tribute to how adroitly McKinley pulls this off though I expect treading so very lightly over Luthe s emotions as they part was something of a cheat In the end, I can be happy for her time with Tor and, by extension, her time dedicated to Damar s needs , even as I anticipate her eventual reunion with Luthe hide spoiler So by the end of the novel, I mor less reconciled to Aerin as a solitary hero even though she ends up happily married I love her dearly and very much enjoyed seeing the beginning of many of the traditions that play such vivid roles in The Blue Sword And I have to accede McKinley s point in illustrating a character who overcomes by bridging her dual nature and synthesizing a whole that has to be acknowledged successful even by her strictest critics First wave feminist novel The Hero and the Crown recognizes the intrinsic right for protagonist Aerin to have a say in the destiny of her country, regardless of her gender Second wave feminist novel The Hero and the Crown illustrates how Aerin is the equal of any man in the patriarchal land of Damar indeed, she is the equal of any man, anywhere Third wave feminist novel The Hero and the Crown celebrates Aerin s sexuality, her ability to move beyond prescribed, essentialist notions of gender ro First wave feminist novel The Hero and the Crown recognizes the intrinsic right for protagonist Aerin to have a say in the destiny of her country, regardless of her gender Second wave feminist novel The Hero and the Crown illustrates how Aerin is the equal of any man in the patriarchal land of Damar indeed, she is the equal of any man, anywhere Third wave feminist novel The Hero and the Crown celebrates Aerin s sexuality, her ability to move beyond prescribed, essentialist notions of gender roles and to make decisions based on her own personal, individual needs and desires Standpoint feminist novel The Hero and the Crown understands that many of the issues that confront Aerin are intimately related to Aerin s mixed race and mixed class status and the ways that gender and race and class always intersect Post feminist novel The Hero and the Crown maintains that Aerin s struggle is not necessarily even a feminist struggle, that she has already achieved her oh never mind ugh, post feminism the stirring, highly enjoyable novel The Hero and the Crown rejects post feminism and hey, so do I When I was a kid, I frequented two areas of the library the children s section and the adult fiction section The young adult shelves and the nonfiction shelves might as well have been made of glass for all I noticed them.One year when I was in my early teens, the family was getting ready to go on the dreaded yearly camping trip Dreaded because it meant a week in the outdoors, with no books Well, almost no books Mom s rule was that we each could take two only twoso we spent hours dawdli When I was a kid, I frequented two areas of the library the children s section and the adult fiction section The young adult shelves and the nonfiction shelves might as well have been made of glass for all I noticed them.One year when I was in my early teens, the family was getting ready to go on the dreaded yearly camping trip Dreaded because it meant a week in the outdoors, with no books Well, almost no books Mom s rule was that we each could take two only twoso we spent hours dawdling at the library making our choices It was important to pick the perfect books, ones that could stand up to repeated readings, since we would almost certainly finish them for the first time on the ride up the canyon.I looked all over the library for mine, or at least the part of the library I knew, and I couldn t find anything that had that coveted mix of exciting newness and safe, comfortable familiarity In desperation, I finally walked over to the young adult section And there it was Robin McKinley s The Hero and the Crown, screaming, Read me Take me Pick me And I did pick it, and I fell in love with it, and have loved it ever since.Now, as anyone who has read Robin McKinley knows, this is actually the prequel to The Blue Sword, but when I finally read that book a few years later I was so disappointed that it wasn t The Hero and the Crown all over again that it took me a long while to really warm up to it But it s good, too, though in a different way This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here This one isn t rated for a reason I don t really know what to rate it overall, and wish I could rate it in parts I suppose I could average it out and give it three stars, but that doesn t seem to fit.So I ll rate it in my review, which is very long and rambling The First Half I really liked it The characters were likeable or unlikeable if that s what they were meant to be and everything flowed nicely I really liked the main character, Aerin She had spunk, for lack of a better This one isn t rated for a reason I don t really know what to rate it overall, and wish I could rate it in parts I suppose I could average it out and give it three stars, but that doesn t seem to fit.So I ll rate it in my review, which is very long and rambling The First Half I really liked it The characters were likeable or unlikeable if that s what they were meant to be and everything flowed nicely I really liked the main character, Aerin She had spunk, for lack of a better way to describe her She was different from everyone else, and it bothered her, but she didn t let it mess up her life She took pride in herself She had a short temper that got her in some minor trouble, and that made herinteresting as far as princesses go.She handled the incident with the magic plant can t remember the name of it well Drawing on her stubborn nature and desire to prove she wasthan people thought she was, she recovered completely I love how she identified with her father s injured war horse during this and helped him recover too Talat was a pretty cool horse too She also took on a job that was far from glamorous because she knew she could do it better than anyone else, and she worked hard to get to that point.She was cool, and the story was nicely building around her ability to make the best of what she had to work with.Then came her battle with the MaurThe battle itself was fine, and the immediate aftermath was too It s when she gets home that I draw the line between the first half of the book and the second half, even though it might not be right in the middle of the book The Second Half Perhaps the reason the rest of this book made me so mad, is because the first part was really good I felt cheated.I ll start where I left off, when Aerin gets home from her battle with the big dragon Her personality totally changed after that She became all mopey and whiny and depressed I think that was supposed to have something to do with the dragon s evil taint or something, but why did it wait for her to recover before it kicked in She was nearly dead after the battle, but she managed get home, and then she recovered to the point where she could walk around without assistance, and her hair all grew back and she didn t even have any noticeable scars THEN she started getting all depressed to death And even after Luthe dunked her in his magic pond to cure her of the dragon s taint or whatever she was mopey She even frets about her hair several times during her boss battle.Then there s Luthe himself I know he s in some of McKinley s other books, so maybe there sto him than what you get in this one, but he just came across as such a jerk in this book He d been watching her all her life, but after he healed her and taught to use he magic he said he should have stepped in sooner but he figured she would have realized her ability to use magic before and used that on Maur despite the fact that she had never used magic at all before and didn t know she could He constantly bashes her country and her family, especially Tor, who was always kind to her and loved her He even bashes her horse He has so much contempt for everyone that he just comes across as the most arrogant guy on the face of the planet He even sounds condescending when he talks to Aerin, remarking constantly about how simple she is and how he feels terrible about sending her to fight Whatshisbucket when she is but a child, when even he doesn t stand a chance.That brings me to Whatshisbucket Her evil uncle who is somehow the most evil bad guy in the whole land, yet she s never heard of him He was never even mentioned earlier in the book, yet suddenly he s the main cause for all the trouble If you walked up to someone in Middle Earth and asked if they d heard of Sauron, they d say the Middle Earth equivalent of well duh, who hasn t and look at you like you were some kind of idiot Everyone in the wizarding world in Harry Potter had heard of Voldemort Everyone in Narnia knows about the White Witch How the heck does Whatshisbucket manage to be the ultimate bad guy anonymously And how does she defeat the ultimate bad guy She accidentally throws a magic rock at him She wasn t even trying to throw it, and she didn t know it was magic anyway She had no clue what it was She was just carrying it around because it was an interesting shiny red rock she found after she killed the dragon What kind of climax is that The hero accidently kills the anonymous ultimate bad guy with a magic rock they just happened to pick up because it was pretty Hurray for deus ex machina Then Luthe shows up and informs her that she s actually taken a few hundred years to battle Whatshisbucket and he s come to take her back to her own time so she can end the war that s raging in her kingdom but not far enough back to prevent the war and stop her father and countless others from being killed But there s no rush, so they spend a few days strolling along through the woods together, making out, and sleeping under the stars They whisper sweet nothings to each other and are all kinds of mushy, and it really irritated me Why the heck did she fall in love with him Was it his arrogance The condescending way he talked to her The way he was constantly dissing her family and homeland and the nice guy back home who had always treated her like the princess she was Or maybe it was the way he sent her off to battle a super powerful bad guy and then showed up after the battle was over to walk her home It s hard to choose, they re all such charming things.So she goes home and uses a magic crown which was lost for centuries that she got from Whatshisbucket to help win the war And she marries Tor, even though she loves Luthe and looks forward to the day when she can go back to him.What do we learn kids Don t suddenly introduce a villain nobody has ever heard of and expect him to have an impact on the story.Don t introduce time travel for absolutely no reason other than to show off someone s ability to do it.Don t make your heroine fall in love with a total jerk, especially when there s a perfectly awesome guy back home that she could fall in love with.Deus ex machina is not a good thing