The Hero and the Crown (Damar, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Hero and the Crown (Damar #1)

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  31,515 ratings  ·  1,299 reviews
Robin McKinley's mesmerizing history of Damar is the stuff that legends are made of. The Hero and the Crown is a dazzling "prequel" to The Blue Sword.

Aerin is the only child of the king of Damar, and should be his rightful heir. But she is also the daughter of a witchwoman of the North, who died when she was born, and the Damarians cannot trust her.

But Aerin's destiny is g...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 15th 1984 by Greenwillow Books (first published 1984)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Hero and the Crown, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Hero and the Crown

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jun 19, 2007 Sean rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: fantasy, feminist
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...more
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...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 18, 2010 Tatiana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of fantasy with strong heroines
Recommended to Tatiana by: Heather
Shelves: newbery, 2010, fantasy, ya
The Hero and the Crown is a sort of distant prequel to Robin McKinley's Newberry Honor winner The Blue Sword. For some unknown to me reason, this prequel received more critical recognition, specifically, the book was a 1985 Newberry Medal winner. IMO, this novel is weaker.

Aerin is the only daughter of the king of Damar. The problem is, she is also an offspring of a woman who was accused of being a witch and an enemy of the country. Even more, unlike all members of the royal family, Aerin possess...more
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
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.
Emily Michelle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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...more
Nov 02, 2010 Jon rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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...more
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
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
Jacob Proffitt
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...more
Nov 02, 2011 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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...more
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
Aug 13, 2009 Tracey rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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-...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...more
C.E. Murphy
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...more
Fans of McKinley's award-winning novel "The Blue Sword" learn in this story how the fabled magic sword found it's way into the royal family of Damar.
Aerin--clumsy, shy, and bullied (but not beaten)--is an unusual princess. She has none of the magic (called kelar) that supposedly courses in great waves through the large and extended royal family -- and she's the legitimate daughter of the reigning king! After her cousin taunts her into a magical dare that debilitates her for the better part of a...more
Jan 04, 2009 Diana rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any woman who needs a dose of empowering inspiration
Recommended to Diana by: Heather Sehmel McGovern
This book was first leant to me by a graduate school friend who had read it when she was a teen, and she just knew I'd like it. When we graduated and went off to our separate lives, she gave me the same copy of the book she had leant me as a gift. It is one of my prize possessions - one of those books I'll never part with and probably only very rarely lend out to others. It has pride of place on my shelves. This the first McKinley book I ever read, and, even though I was already past 40 when I r...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...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
This was my introduction to Robin McKinley, and I couldn't have asked for better. I did love Sunshine, but goodness that one took a long time to get going--more than one friend of mine gave up on it. The Hero and the Crown is different. Not breathless, but certainly not slow-paced, and in Aerin McKinley created one of the great heroines in high fantasy--a princess and a dragon slayer no less. A lot of reviewers seemed to have discovered this book as a child, and I can see this as a YA book, Aeri...more
Nov 10, 2007 K rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes fantasy, adventure
Shelves: teens, fantasyscifi
This book was absolutely wonderful, and is now one of my favorites. It is as good as any fantasy book I have ever read. Superb heroine, plot that weaves together sinister, beautiful, and mysterious elements, lovely storybook writing style that achieves poetic quality in places. Just magical and haunting and so well developed.

And somewhat of a surprise! I had not liked Sunshine very much and thought The Blue Sword was only "okay," but now I want to re-read Blue Sword just to appreciate better th...more
Richard Claypool
This book could have been better, but still well worth the read.

Good points. Rich and vivid descriptions of the land, animals, and people. A strong, imperfect female protagonist. I find flawed women more believable, and sexier than perfect ones .. think Rhapsody. Fighting for a dream, for country, and for the needs of her country against extreme odds.

Things I did not like in this book. Again, as in the sword and the crown, magic is, imho, overused to create an epic, unsatisfying conclution. Whil...more
I didn't really know what to expect, when I started reading this book, as actually no one had told me anything about it. The cover art led me to suspect dragons, but that was about all I knew. It's probably unfortunate that I was also reading Kushiel's Chosen at the same time, because that book is very, very rich in world building and so this book seemed to have very little in comparison. There was some, and I actually got quite interested in the world, but it didn't have the depth and richness...more
I couldn't put this book down! Aerin is one of my favorite characters ever; I found her heartbreakingly real -- full of flaws and fears and the courage to keep going anyway (and the whisper that creates in me to have courage as well). I loved how the differences of her world unfolded around me during the novel keeping me off balance and excited to see what was next. Since finishing, I have continued to think of Aerin, Tor, and Talat... and I'm secure enough in my nerdiness to confess that I miss...more
I probably wouldn't have stuck with this if it wasn't a Newbery, because in general I don't care for fantasy--especially books with dragons--but I liked it pretty well. I think the things some other people complain about in this book (Beauty, too)--not enough "world-building", "rules" that aren't constant--are exactly why I could tolerate it; it doesn't take itself too seriously. I liked all the characters, and I thought parts of it were a lot less predictable than many other fantasies.
This is the only book that I can think of that I barely liked for the first 100 pages, but that I ended up absolutely loving. Once I got past the first half, it became one of my favorite books ever. I'm a sucker for a good ending! She's one of my favorite authors, and I love her very detailed and wordy descriptions, but I know they're not for everybody. Prequel to THE BLUE SWORD, but they're only loosely connected by setting.
This is so NOT the type of thing I normally read: I'm a thriller/literary/women's fiction type of girl. I am very against names that I can't pronounce. And yet, upon the recommendation of my friend Martha AND a random person in the bookstore, I gave this a try. What a treat. It is total escapist candy with some girl power thrown in for good measure. Highly recommended.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Shen of The Sea: Chinese Stories for Children
  • Dobry
  • Roller Skates
  • Tales From Silver Lands
  • ...And Now Miguel
  • The White Stag
  • Gay Neck: The Story of a Pigeon
  • Waterless Mountain
  • Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze
  • Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women
  • A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers
  • Shadow Of A Bull
  • Daniel Boone
  • M.C. Higgins, the Great
  • Secret of the Andes
  • The Story of Mankind
  • The Dark Frigate
  • The Cat Who Went to Heaven
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
More about Robin McKinley...
Beauty (Folktales #1) The Blue Sword (Damar, #2) Sunshine Spindle's End (Folktales #3) Deerskin

Share This Book

“He laughed, tried to make it into a cough, inhaled at exactly the wrong moment, and then really did cough.” 78 likes
“He will apologize, or I'll give him a lesson in swordplay he will not like at all.” 45 likes
More quotes…