Up next: “The Hero and the Crown” by Robin McKinley.
One of the books in McKinley’s Damar world. A prequel to “The Blue Sword.” Technically can be read in either order, but I suggest “The Blue Sword” first.
A prequel to “The Blue Sword”, this book gives voice to the legend of Damar– Aerin Dragon-killer, the bearer of the sword Gonturan.
Aerin is the daughter of the King of Damar, but born of the King’s second wife. That alone would have made her unusual, but her mother was also not Damarian. Rumor whispered that she was a witch from the North, who had come to ensnare the King and bring ruin to Damar. Fear and mistrust shadowed Aerin as she grew up, made worse by her own peculiarities.
Wishing to make a place for herself, Aerin realizes that she had the skills and the equipment available to try her hand at dragon-slaying. When a desperate message comes from a village that is being terrorized by a dragon, Aerin rides out before her father’s soldiers, beating them to the village and killing the dragon, and its mate, herself. She becomes Aerin Dragon-killer, but that is not the extent of her fate. Aerin will not only become a hero, but a legend.
Damar here is very different from the Damar we see in the first book, “The Blue Sword,” but we actually see the path to that book begin in this one. There are quite a few references to events and people in “The Blue Sword” here, so it really is best to read them in the order of publication.
I liked the first part of the book better than the second. I think the confused sense of time in the second part was intentional– some time-stuff was briefly discussed by the characters– but it and some spatial vagaries made it a little hard to follow what was exactly going on. I wasn’t sure if events had occurred, if time-rewrote itself, if I’d interpreted events correctly, or what. I was also a little upset over how the romance had turned out.
Aerin was an okay main character. I felt sometimes as if she were a little too focused on her own situation, to the point that she was completely oblivious to the people around her. Most of the time, she’s alone, or just with Talat, and then when she is with other people, she’s either ignoring them or leaving the situation as soon as she can. Understandable considering her outsider-ish status, but Tor is supposed to be her best friend and she frequently ignores him as well.
Overall, it was a pretty good book. I didn’t enjoy it as much as other McKinley books, and “The Blue Sword” is my preferred Damar book. It is worth it to see the Aerin legend we heard of in that book, though.