Review: The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

The Blue Sword (Damar #1)
Robin McKinley
HarperCollins
Published April 26, 2016 (Orig. 1982)

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About The Blue Sword

Harry Crewe grew up a tomboy in forests, until her brother joined the Homelanders guarding the far desert reaches. Now an orphan, she joins him. Only a few months later, asking for military aid against advancing Northeners, comes Corlath, the Hillfolk King. After exchanging a single glance, his inner magic compels him to kidnap her, without knowing why. She does not know the Hillfolk language or why she has been chosen.

Renamed Hari, she sees visions, and brings one to all, of the Golden Age legendary Dragon-Killer Queen Aerin, who smiles upon her. Hari is trained in the arts of war until she is a match for any of the elite royal guard, and carries Aerin’s famed Blue Sword. Does she have the courage to accept her true fate?

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My Review

I feel like the first thing I have to address right off is the fact that there is a kidnapping which ultimately results in a romance, and though Harry has had her freedom for a long time before she falls in love, it’s still, er, perhaps a bit problematic? I like that she doesn’t fall in love as a captive. She’s won her own renown and has even broken away from Corlath and his riders before she examines her feelings. Still, just know that the story goes there, and if that’s going to be an issue that makes it impossible to enjoy the book, then you probably want to pass on this one.

The first time I read THE BLUE SWORD, I was probably twelve? So it’s hard for me to step back from my love for the story and see it the way that I might evaluate it now if I’d read it for the first time. I have read this book probably half a dozen times at least? I love that Harry becomes a warrior and sort of crafts her own role in her new life. The cat, Narknon is my favorite! I love that Harry becomes something of a bridge between the people she grew up with and the people she belongs to now.

I’m also really fascinated by the idea that this book was written before THE HERO AND THE CROWN, which is kind of a prequel (??) which follows the story of Aerin, the legendary dragon-slayer woman who appears to Harry in this story.

Some of the characters in the book have colonized some of the land of Damar. While they think of themselves Homelanders, as good people creating a life in a hostile desert environment, the Hillfolk think of them as Outlanders and invaders. I liked that the story showed a more balanced view of those things.

All in all, this is still one of my favorite stories. It’s probably the first book by Robin McKinley that I ever read. I can’t believe it was written almost forty years ago. Wowza! I think readers who enjoy fantasy with a strong female hero or enemies to lovers stories should check this one out.

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Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Representation
Corlath is the Hill King (King of Damar), described as dark-haired, brown-skinned desert people.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used briefly.

Romance/Sexual Content
A kiss between a boy and girl.

Spiritual Content
Harry sees visions and learns that she has the strange kelar magic that Corlath also possesses.

Violent Content
Corlath kidnaps Harry from her home. Some situations of peril and description of battle. No gory details.

Drug Content
None.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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