The Hero and the Crown
Open Road Integrated Media
Published November 18, 2014 (Orig. 1984)
Surrounded by royalty blessed with magical ability and rumors of her mother’s despised foreign ancestry, Aerin never felt at ease as the king’s daughter. Desperate to escape her loneliness, she befriends a retired war horse with a weak leg and stumbles onto an ancient recipe for a fireproof lotion. When rumor of a small dragon terrorizing pasture animals and children in a nearby village reaches Aerin’s ears, she decides to ride out from the castle alone and attack the beast herself.
Thus begins her reputation as a dragon-slayer, not a noble enterprise in her kingdom, but a place and an identity for Aerin. When a dragon emerges who is greater and more terrible than any she’s ever faced, Aerin bravely rides out to meet it. But the dragon proves to be only a small part of a grave evil which seeks to destroy her homeland forever. With a strange blond man from her dreams to guide her, Aerin begins another quest to save the people who do not love her from a threat they cannot understand.
I first read this story as a teenager and read it many times since. It’s been years since the last time I visited Damar and Aerin, so I was eager to see if the story was as great and engrossing as I remembered. It’s definitely still one of my favorites. I’d forgotten that there are some passages that leap from one point-of-view to another, causing some momentary confusion, but the characters are phenomenal. Aerin is the perfect misfit. Her horse, Talat, has enough character for three companions, and he doesn’t even speak! Great stuff.
As often happens in the way of fairy tale romances, Aerin has two admirers, one familiar and the other mysterious. For myself, I felt like there wasn’t enough virtue in the mysterious guy to make him worthy of her. He is powerful and handsome, but sort of aloof and selfish. I much preferred the other guy. The preference didn’t cheapen my experience reading the story, though.
Also – side note – I love the new cover!
Aerin spends nights with her traveling companion and accepts his invitation to “not sleep” one night. Their intimacy is hinted at but not described in any way.
Brief mentions of religious icons or priests of Aerin’s people. Many people claim that Aerin’s mother was a witch. (She was indeed a student of a mage.) Trouble from the north is referred to as demon mischief. It’s not precisely described as to whether it’s a creature or more of a spiritual problem.
Brief descriptions of battles between men and beasts.
Aerin hallucinates and suffers physical ailment after eating leaves from a surka tree.