Diana's Reviews > The Hero and the Crown

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
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Jan 04, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites-to-read-again
Recommended to Diana by: Heather Sehmel McGovern
Recommended for: any woman who needs a dose of empowering inspiration
Read in December, 2001 , read count: 3 so far

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 read it, I was thrilled and taken into McKinley's Damarian world the way I know I would have been if I had been 12 or 14. I wish that there had been books like this when I was that age (although I had my own favorites, there weren't that many with truly empowering female roles for young adults then, or, at least, not that many that I found). I have since become a major fan of Robin McKinley - I love her writing and the very clear purpose she has in providing empowering roles for young women. My all-time favorite is Deerskin, because the hero, Lissar, does NOT adopt or don male accoutrements to succeed, instead "winning" her quest through what can be called more "traditional" feminine traits - showing the empowerment that can also be achieved without having to "play like the boys." The Hero and the Crown, however, even though Aerin DOES learn to wield a sword, does not give us a female hero who loses her feminine aspects entirely - she relies on her inner strengths, learns to conquer her vulnerability, struggles with learning to fit in and being the "odd one out," and uses her BRAIN and intelligence rather than simply "brute" external strength in order to succeed. I love that McKinley has given young girls a model that can adopt and exhibit what can be called gender-flexible traits - women as well as men can be physically heroic and vulnerable and nurturing and prone to doubt. In The Hero and the Crown, Aerin is the full package, which is what I love about her. I gave this book along with The Blue Sword to my niece on her 12th birthday, and she loved them.
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