Happy Thursday friends,
Here’s a new review. I might get another up today if I can. I seem to be falling behind on these….
Harry Crewe is an orphan girl who comes to live in Damar, the desert country shared by the Homelanders and the secretive, magical Hillfolk. Her life is quiet and ordinary-until the night she is kidnapped by Corlath, the Hillfolk King, who takes her deep into the desert. She does not know the Hillfolk language; she does not know why she has been chosen. But Corlath does. Harry is to be trained in the arts of war until she is a match for any of his men. Does she have the courage to accept her true fate?
This is the second Robin McKinley book I’ve read and I am ever more enamoured with her writing. Sometimes I read books from the 1980s and earlier and realize that they are a league above their own.
The first of two books set in Damar, a fictional world that McKinley masterfully created, I actually read this one after the second because the first (Hero and the Crown) is actually a prequel published after The Blue Crown (have I lost you yet?). I am rather glad that I made this choice because it was great to see characters from the first mentioned. Do you have to read it in that order? Not at all.
As an avid reader of fantasy, I am always looking for a unique read that can pull me headfirst into a new world and keep me captivated within it. Well, The Blue Sword did that masterfully through intriguing characters, magical moments and stunning worldbuilding.
Harry is our protagonist, an orphan, who is captured by the king of the Hillfolk and made to adapt to the desert landscape as she discovers secrets of her past and becomes a formidable warrior. Harry grows from a timid creature to a fierce woman who is not afraid to form opinions and stand out, filled with courage and heart. There is no doubt that McKinley crafted a heroine who captures the essence of female empowerment, a precursor to today’s more renowned Katnisses and Hermiones.
Meanwhile, Corlath, the Hillfolk King, makes for a strong male counterpart, a man governed by a will greater than his own. He works perfectly in the story as someone for Harry to learn from and deviate from as she follows her story arc.
The overarching plot is one that draws parallels to Lord of the Rings, moving towards an epic battle to protect the Hillfolk and Damar. It is within this structure that Harry is allowed to grow and arguably flourish as her small world expands into something far greater than herself and she is called to rise to new challenges. It’s difficult to say much else without spoiling. At once a coming of age story and a quest narrative, the plot delights and satisfies throughout.
As brilliant as the characters and story are, it is the prose itself that seals the deal on this beautiful narrative. Much like favourite authors of mine, Kay and Jemisin, McKinley wields a mighty pen in crafting her sentences, using lyrical prose to ensnare the senses and captivate the reader in the story.
The worldbuilding is equally powerful, especially because of the way it’s written, with the setting coming to life on the page. The desert locations are beautifully described and masterfully come to play within the larger story itself.
An epic fantasy that ignites the imagination with its characters, worldbuilding and prose, The Blue Sword is one fantasy readers won’t want to miss.
Have you read this story or any other books by Robin McKinley? Have you enjoyed them? Let me know in the comments.
May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,