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The Hero and the Crown (Damar #1)

4.21  ·  Rating Details  ·  41,289 Ratings  ·  1,683 Reviews
Although only child of Damar's king, and best friends with heir Tor, Aerin is "the only pale-skinned redhead in a country of cinnamon-skinned brunettes". When convalescing, she reads about fighting dragons, experiments with kenet herbal dragonfire-proof burn ointment, and learns to ride her father's old wounded warhorse Talat. After Tor gives her lessons and a sword, her o ...more
Paperback, 246 pages
Published October 2nd 2000 by Puffin Books (first published 1984)
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Popular Answered Questions

Reagan Long I really enjoyed it and would recommend you read it.
It has plenty of action that makes you want to keep reading, though not necessarily suspenseful.
I really enjoyed it and would recommend you read it.
It has plenty of action that makes you want to keep reading, though not necessarily suspenseful.
I first read it as a kid, and I have found it in the children and adult sections of book stores- while there is nothing in it that isn't appropriate for children, there are some things in it that I did not get as a kid and only picked up on when I was older. (less)
Katherine Actually the author meant for The Blue Sword to be read first.

McKinley had this to say:
"Also, there isn't anything I can do about this, but it makes…more
Actually the author meant for The Blue Sword to be read first.

McKinley had this to say:
"Also, there isn't anything I can do about this, but it makes me kind of nuts that the world keeps second guessing me. I wrote SWORD first and HERO second BECAUSE YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO READ THEM IN THAT ORDER, but because HERO is a 'prequel' lots of people, especially people like the marketing department of your friendly local publisher, and library and bookstore list-makers, think they're going to be clever and helpful and tell potential readers to read the books 'in order' ie HERO first. Wrong."(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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mark monday
First wave feminist novel The Hero and the Crown recognizes the intrinsic right for protagonist Aerin to have a say in the destiny of her country, regardless of her gender.

Second wave feminist novel The Hero and the Crown illustrates how Aerin is the equal of any man in the patriarchal land of Damar - indeed, she is the equal of any man, anywhere.

Third wave feminist novel The Hero and the Crown celebrates Aerin's sexuality, her ability to move beyond prescribed, essentialist notions of gender ro
Jun 19, 2007 Sean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: feminist, fantasy
When I was a kid, I frequented two areas of the library: the children's section and the adult fiction section. The young adult shelves and the nonfiction shelves might as well have been made of glass for all I noticed them.

One year when I was in my early teens, the family was getting ready to go on the dreaded yearly camping trip. "Dreaded" because it meant a week in the outdoors, with no books. Well, almost no books: Mom's rule was that we each could take two—only two??—so we spent hours dawdli
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 15, 2011 Wealhtheow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I read this when I was young and disgruntled, reading two or three books a day to avoid talking to my classmates. It was basically the perfect time to read this story, which tells the tale of a young woman who is not understood by her people and is deeply unhappy about it. And when I read this, it was one of very few books that spoke to me in a voice I could actually empathize with. All the other fantasy I was reading featured boys tramping across pseudo-English countryside before being crowned ...more
Jul 18, 2010 Tatiana rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of fantasy with strong heroines
Recommended to Tatiana by: Heather
Shelves: ya, fantasy, 2010, newbery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emily Michelle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Althea Ann
Jan 23, 2015 Althea Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got this book when it was first published, in hardcover.

At the time, 'The Blue Sword' (to which this is a prequel) was one of my most-beloved books - and, I have to admit, that at the time, I didn't feel the 'The Hero and the Crown' quite measured up. I liked it - but just not quite as much. (It's not like I didn't read it several times, though.)

Re-reading, years later, I understand why I felt the way I did - but I also kind of disagree with my youthful opinion. This is a wonderful book.

I loved this book as a kid and I love it still as an adult. It's one of those books that's so much a part of my life that it's hard for me to believe that not everyone has read it. Maur still creeps me out, Talat still makes me teary, and Aerin's surka rash as she climbs the tower remains the best thing ever.
young princess who feels like a misfit, teaches herself to fight dragons, befriends animals left&right, finds love twice, overcomes a villain from her family's past, follows her known duty rather than pursue unknown's really not as dry as I'm summarizing.

beautifully and dreamily written. I remember reading this and wanting to fight dragons. a big surprise when I re-read years later and still enjoyed it, still found the heroine a sympathetic character. good messages about not tak
I got a copy of this in 6th or 7th grade. I've read it so many times that it is being held together by a rubber band. I enjoyed it because it was the first real fantasy book I read where the hero is a young woman. She's not just the sidekick, but the hero. She's also flawed and not supergirl or ravishing beautiful. It's a wonderful book because of that. In many ways, it is the perfect book for any quiet girl simply because a loner, an outcast proves herself needed. Perhaps the success of the boo ...more
Nov 22, 2014 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Wow, I don't know why I didn't really like The Hero and the Crown very much on the first go round. It's full of all the kinds of things I love: love stories that aren't just simple love-at-first-sight or we-grew-up-together-and-now-we're-in-love, but something more complicated that that; a world with a history and a future, outside of what we've got; a heroine who works through flaws and barriers to become a hero. And the last sentences -- ach! Lovely.

It's not some straightforward children's sto
Jan 05, 2016 Jocelyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Despite the three star rating, part of me really, really wants to rant. I feel like I have something to get out of my system.

Yes, my status updates mostly indicated joy and contentment with this book. But notice, only for the first half! I liked the first half. I might even have loved it, because coming-of-age stories about nerdy, awkward girls who don't belong almost always resonate with me. I was a nerdy, awkward girl who didn't belong and I kind of still am. That bias is probably a huge part
Carol (StarAngel's Reviews) Allen
3.5 Dragon Killer Stars

Ehhh...I have such a hard time reviewing fantasy books ---- saying what I really mean, but I'll give it a try.

This book didn't knock my socks off but I didn't not dislike it. It was good ---- a few times I had a hard time understanding what was going on because it seemed like the author skipped around without explaining in detail.

Other than that - this was a good YA Fantasy book that read quickly.
Nov 02, 2010 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Science Fiction/Fantasy Book Club
Aerin may be the king's daughter, but you wouldn't know it from the looks, the stares, the snickers, the pranks, or the court gossip. Her father loved and married Aerin's mother after his first wife died childless. But being from the North, of unknown heritage and lineage, suspicions of witchcraft at worst and being a commoner at best, followed Aerin like a fog of misery. Her royal Gift failed to manifest as she entered and traversed adolescence, which further fueled the rumors of her inadequate ...more
Oct 27, 2008 Melody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never doubted for a moment where this book was going, but McKinley's hand at the wheel was so sure I didn't mind going along for the ride. Her characters were multi-faceted and enjoyable to read about. I especially liked the realistic portrait of love and the choices that sometimes come with it towards the end. The derring-do was great fun, and the plotting brisk. It felt like a fairy tale, an old tale many times told, with a certain underlying gravitas. Well-written doesn't exactly cover it. ...more
Mar 13, 2007 keidra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before she went crazy, Robin McKinley wrote some of the most awesome young adult fantasy out there. Her heroines were smart and plucky, with a bit of tasty pathos to keep things interesting. Aerin, the main character of HATC, is a dragon-slayer in training, while remaining decidedly introverted and bookish and not quite the most coordinated chick in town. She also has a love triangle (with SEX!)involving her second cousin and an immortal wizard dude. Needless to say, she was quite the hero for m ...more
I cannot be impartial.

There are many reasons why I love this book, not least among them being the fact that it was actually the first Robin McKinley book I ever read, back in the days when I browsed library shelves at random and begged my parents into buying books for me, before I knew much about what I was really doing, and I count myself eternally lucky to have stumbled upon this book because it is, it really is, writing as art. It is not writing for money, as some books targeted at my age gro
Jacob Proffitt
Aug 12, 2013 Jacob Proffitt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, fantasy
This is the first time I've read this book as an adult—mostly because I love, love, love The Blue Sword and this book kind of goes out of its way to undermine expectations set by that book for Damar's past. I didn't remember much of this book—mostly just a vague sense of this not being my expected Damar, really (because my memory really sucks, not because the book isn't memorable).

So I was gratified that the book holds up so well. Better, really, because I came away from it not only renewing my
Jan 08, 2010 H. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A reader might well leave this Damar prequel feeling dazed and uncertain of what to make of the jumble of rises and falls and meandering sidestories and climaxes, but a vigorous shake of the head will allow the book to be seen as two distinct halves: Part 1) The fantastic set-up. Part 2) The frustratingly sloppy, nonsensical, disappointing end/end? Until the story's first climax, McKinley gives us everything: a relatable, charismatic, admirable heroine who's so scrappy and determined we can't he ...more
Apr 16, 2014 Kat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Basic Plot: Aerin is the mostly-left-to-her-own-devices, unconventional daughter of the king. After discovering a secret formula that can make her fireproof, she begins hunting dragons, which takes her on a journey to save the kingdom.

I bought a paperback of this book when I was in elementary school through one of those school book order programs (I was ADDICTED to them), and it was the first Robin McKinley book I ever read. It is now so battered and worn that I have actually been thinking about
Mar 01, 2008 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anytime I read The Blue Sword, I have to read The Hero and the Crown right after. I suppose I am unwilling to leave Robin McKinley's world too soon, so I extend my stay as long as I can.

The legendary Aerin from The Blue Sword is a solitary young woman in The Hero and the Crown. She grows up in her father's castle surrounded by those who hold her and her ancestry in suspicion and must find her place among them.

McKinley has a gift for creating heroines who do great, heroic things in a completely h
I really enjoyed the first half. Someone had recommended it in part because the heroine gets the prince and the wizard as lovers. Though the wizard isn't in the first half, the world created in this coming-of-age tale and the characters who people it are interesting and likeable. There's a bit much girl-and-her-pony stuff for my interest, but I wanted to know what would become of these characters. The growing love that Tor feels for Aerin is infused with the right amounts of sweetness and forbid ...more
I LOVED the first 2/3 of this book. Then, it started to drag and I had a hard time finishing it.

Aerin is a princess in the city of Damar. Her father is a good, righteous king and her mother died shortly after giving birth to Aerin. The people love her father, but they believe her mother was a witch and they don't trust her daughter. As a result, Aerin becomes a bit of a loner, her only real friend is Tor, the boy who will inherit the throne. All members of the royal family should develop magical
Nov 02, 2011 Terence rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: My nieces
Recommended to Terence by: GR Friends' reviews
It's always a pleasure seeing an author get better. In our last episode, I gave a less-than-enthusiastic review to The Blue Sword and so was a little hesitant to begin this book. But there were enough good points about McKinley's writing that I wasn't dreading the experience.

As it turns out, I enjoyed The Hero and the Crown much more than The Blue Sword. The story revolves around Arlbeth's (the king of Damar) daughter, Aerin, whose mother was a woman from the North (in McKinley's world, the Nort
Jana Brown
This is not the first time I've read this book. Truth told I would be very hard pressed to pinpoint my first reading, though close to two decades might be pretty close, and there have been several readings since that time. Yeah, this is one of those kinds of books, a comfort book I come back to when I'm having those fits of not knowing what I want to read, but knowing I'll be satisfied when I'm done.

This read was fascinating to me because I've been doing a lot of editing lately and my brain kept
Aug 13, 2009 Tracey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dragon slayers
Recommended to Tracey by: GR reviews
I was at the used bookstore a few weeks back and was looking for The Blue Sword, and when I saw this book was by Robin McKinley, and was also the prequel to The Blue Sword, I thought what a great place to start. What a gem of a book.

I really enjoyed the way the author brought together this story of meaning and growth to a young girl’s life. Aerin at the beginning is a young women of 19 living in her father's castle surrounded by her cousins, some nice some not so nice. She is wracked with self-
C.E. Murphy
Feb 24, 2013 C.E. Murphy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first several times I read THE HERO AND THE CROWN, I really had barely any idea what happened in the whole post-Luthe tower fight (I said deliberately vaguely, on the off chance somebody hasn’t read the book and doesn’t want to be spoiled).

The truth is, I find that a dozen re-reads later, and with full adulthood under my belt, I *still* think that whole section is like a bad acid trip. And I think it’s supposed to be, but honestly I’m *still* not *absolutely* sure what (or perhaps more accur
Nov 02, 2014 Karissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the Hero and the Crown back in the early 90’s for the first time...the book was first released in the 80’s. Actually, I read this book many many times when I was in elementary and middle school (about 20 years ago). Open Road Media is releasing this as an ebook, so I was excited to get a copy for review. I was also interesting to see what I thought about the book reading it as an adult. I shouldn’t have worried, it was still an excellent fantasy novel.

Aerin is the daughter of the King of
Bill Tillman
I can see why The Hero and the Crown is a Newberry Award book. OWE TO YOURSELF TO READ THIS TALE.

This my second time reading Hero, I like even more pleased than the first. A girl who realized that she could be herself, and became a legend. Great stuff.
Barbara ★
Interestingly enough, I had the opposite reaction of almost every reviewer! I absolutely hated the first 1/3 of the book but maybe it's because I haven't read The Blue Sword yet. It's listed as book two in the series so I'll be reading it next. I totally hated how the people treated Aerin, the king's daughter. Granted she's the "witch-woman's" daughter but what had she ever done to deserve to be outcast and hated so openly and WTH didn't the king, her father do anything about it?

I finally got i
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Born in her mother's hometown of Warren, Ohio, Robin McKinley grew up an only child with a father in the United States Navy. She moved around frequently as a child and read copiously; she credits this background with the inspiration for her stories.

Her passion for reading was one of the most constant things in her childhood, so she began to remember events, places, and time periods by what books
More about Robin McKinley...

Other Books in the Series

Damar (4 books)
  • The Blue Sword (Damar, #1)
  • Imaginary Lands
  • A Pool in the Desert

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“He laughed, tried to make it into a cough, inhaled at exactly the wrong moment, and then really did cough.” 85 likes
“He will apologize, or I'll give him a lesson in swordplay he will not like at all.” 49 likes
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