Hi, I am back. Sorry it has been a while but to make up for that I hope you enjoy this :).
As promised with my last review, THE HERO AND THE CROWN (this link opens in a new window), here is my take on THE BLUE SWORD by Robin McKinley. Before I get into the details of this review, I need to state per the FTC revised guidelines that I purchased this book many years ago.
THE BLUE SWORD is the first of two books by Robin McKinley set in an alternate earth. Just like our earth, McKinley’s world is divided into continents and oceans. THE BLUE SWORD is located on the continent of Damar, which has rich farming lands closer to the coastline. As you travel further inland towards the North and East, you will encounter rocky-cave-riddled desert highlands, windblown sand dunes and finally jagged mountains. Beyond those mountains live the northern demons which periodically make incursions towards the South. THE BLUE SWORD is set during a time frame that reminds me of the European Colonization era. The time in which we are introduced to Damar, it has been partially settled with families and merchants living in the “civilized” sections. Deeper into Damar, the population alters to small Army posts and a few diplomats trying to both protect the settled lands, and extend those settlements.
The heroine is a young lady named Angaharad Crewe. Growing up as a tomboy, she insists on being called Harry. Upon the death of her father, the now orphaned Harry was forced to move to Damar to live with her brother. According to the laws of Home, women are not allowed to own property or control money. Her brother, Richard, is in the military and stationed at an outpost on the northeastern edge of the Homelander territory. He arranges for Harry to live with the senior diplomat and his wife.
Since arriving in Damar, Harry has noticed a certain sense of restlessness in herself. She actually likes the desert but feels like she is waiting for something to happen. One morning she learns that the King of the Free Hillfolk, a man named Corlath — who happens to be a descendent of the Lady Aerin: heroine of The Hero and the Crown (SEE PREVIOUS REVIEW) — is coming to talk to the diplomats and senior military personnel stationed at the outpost. The morning after Corlath’s visit, Harry is shocked when she awakens and finds herself miles away from the outpost and thrust into a new life. From there her adventure truly begins.
Ms McKinley did her usual remarkable job of pulling me into the lives of her characters. I found that I really enjoyed learning the Hillfolk culture through Harry’s mind and eyes. There were times when I wanted to reach for a tissue and others where I found myself cheering Harry on during her struggles to learn and find a place amongst the Hillfolk. Even after I was familiar with her world building, Ms McKinley did not scrimp on her descriptions and continued to paint a very vivid portrait. I thoroughly enjoyed her careful word choice, which allowed me to experience Damar with Harry. I felt as if I could feel the rising sense of fate mixed with fear and anticipation that Harry felt as she struggled to fully understand and control her new role and her growing feelings for Corlath.
Harry captivated me as she learned how to ride a fighting stallion and wield a sword. I mourned during her mental anguish as she left Corlath and rode to warn her brother’s detachment. I made sure my room was brightly lit against her fear and trepidation as she led her army against the Northern demons. I hoped against hope that Harry would succeed. I will attempt to avoid any major spoilers and leave it to you to find out what happens.
As with THE HERO AND THE CROWN each time I re-read THE BLUE SWORD I am transported to a different world whose nuances never grow old. I hope you decide to join me in exploring Damar. I give this 4.5 stars 🙂