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The Hero and the Crown (Damar #1)

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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  33,813 ratings  ·  1,375 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)
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L. Read this one first! It's the prequel to the Blue Sword, even if it was written later, and makes a few references to the other book that will make…moreRead this one first! It's the prequel to the Blue Sword, even if it was written later, and makes a few references to the other book that will make sense later. (less)
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Community Reviews

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Sean
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
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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
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Melanie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tatiana
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
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Wealhtheow
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
Emily Michelle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cait
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.
Eh?Eh!
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 emotion...it'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
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Nikki
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
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Althea Ann
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.

It's
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Chris
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
Jon
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
Melody
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
keidra
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
Kat
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
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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
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Terence
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
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Debbie
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
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Tracey
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-
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Anila
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
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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
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Karissa
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
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Delaina
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
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Diana
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
Priscilla
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
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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
K
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
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Hilary
This is one of those books which is so easy to overlook, and you kick yourself when you finally get round to reading it. Robin McKinley's wonderful prose, in her slightly archaic storytelling style, is perfectly executed and sets the scene for a historical not-fairy-tale. For those raised on Andrew Lang the words immediately draw the mind to the possibilities: the promise of adventure, justice for a beleaguered princess, hope from an unexpected direction, and strange magic. With McKinley's own s ...more
Christina Reads YA
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I like what this review points out about the book. I miss these old fantasy narratives; even though they break the axiom of "show, don't tell," everything feels so purposeful and beautiful and controlled in a way that's kind of rare to read nowadays. I also love getting to see the main character age in the same book, as she grows to overcome the trials presented.

If you're a fan of Kristin Cashore or Megan Whalen Turn
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Nikki (There were books involved...)
This review can also be found at my blog, There were books involved...

-----------------------------

First off, I have to thank Jessie for being a total sweetheart and gifting this book to me (along with the second book in this series, The Blue Sword, and a Beauty and the Beast retelling) -- my very first Robin McKinley books. She and Terri were the ones who convinced me I needed to read them, so thank you, guys!

I finally picked up The Hero and the Crown after a long string of very disappointing
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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
More about Robin McKinley...

Other Books in the Series

Damar (3 books)
  • The Blue Sword (Damar, #2)
  • Imaginary Lands
Beauty (Folktales #1) The Blue Sword (Damar, #2) Sunshine Spindle's End (Folktales #3) Deerskin

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“He laughed, tried to make it into a cough, inhaled at exactly the wrong moment, and then really did cough.” 80 likes
“He will apologize, or I'll give him a lesson in swordplay he will not like at all.” 45 likes
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