The Hero and the Crown (Damar, Book 2)
By: Robin McKinley
My Rating: Four out of Five Stars
Best for: 14 and up
When I read The Blue Sword, Robin McKinley’s pioneering YA Fantasy, I said any story that features a strong girl who wields a magic sword and rides a cool horse isn’t going to have to work very hard to win me over. Add dragons to book 2, and well…the book would have to be pretty bad for me to not enjoy it.
The American Library Association must like dragons too, because The Hero and the Crown won the Newbery Medal in 1985.
I think there are a lot of 80’s kids who read The Hero and the Crown years ago and loved it who still have an emotional connection to the book today. I can totally relate to that–we all have emotional connections to books! I thought both The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown were wonderful, but I found them just a tad too slow and introspective when compared with today’s YA offerings. The intensity doesn’t quite match what we’ve come to expect from the genre, either. BUT…it was awesome experiencing these stories that paved the way for the strong-female led YA fantasy adventures of today!
All the expected elements of YA are there. You could probably guess most of them: the dead mom, the ugly girl who doesn’t know she’s beautiful, a prophesy, an outsider protagonist, late blooming superpowers, strong female characters, a truly evil bad guy, a (tame) love-triangle…everything you’ve come to expect! And for good reason. These elements allow for fantastic character development and growth that turn our heroes into heroes!
Plus, there’s dragons.
The Blue Sword was published first, but The Hero and the Crown chronologically happens first. I maintained an internal debate about which is better to read first–and concluded that it doesn’t matter. They are separate stories about the same people and land but told generations apart, so really they are both stand alone stories that have references to each other.
No content concerns. Best for 14 and up…or 12 and up if your 12-year-old can handle a story that’s a bit slower paced than they might be used to.