J. Aleksandr Wootton's Reviews > The Hero and the Crown

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
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's review
Jun 16, 2012

really liked it

The Hero and the Crown is the quintessential tale of dragonslaying, as good as but even more classic in its iconography than The Hobbit, and less whimsical than Farmer Giles of Ham. The high court of Damar, as seen through the eyes of an ugly-duckling princess, is delightfully portrayed; and the posthumous influence of the Great Dragon, Maur, lends the tale depth and meaning beyond the simple sword-and-sorcery quest structure. Even to succeed in facing down such a monster, McKinley suggests, is not enough; happily-ever-after cannot be realized until one has also dealt with who one became in order to achieve that victory.

Where McKinley falters a bit is with that part of the story taking place between Maur's deaths, in which the hero (Aerin) learns a bit of magic and must confront her uncle, the sorcerer who wakened Maur from his eight centuries of sleep and is actively working to destroy Damar. This section of the book happens too quickly, too ethereally (by contrast the rest of the story is told very concretely), and with oddly too little foreshadowing. Don't get me wrong - I love this book, this is my second time reading it - but I wish it could have been made long enough or otherwise altered to complement itself a little better.

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