Iben asked:

Which should I read first, this or The Blue Sword?

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Lizzie Blue Sword first. Definitely. It was meant to be read in that order and it's way more fun going back to Hero and the Crown and discovering little answers and subtleties explained for the Blue Sword.
Melissa I read Hero first because I found it first and had no idea there was another book. An ad at the end was how I found out about Sword. I confess Sword disappointed me, it is a good book but I preferred Hero and I felt the two stories didn't mesh well, especially in terms of Aerin's less than mortal fate. Where was she during Sword? The beach? Possibly I would have liked Sword better had I read them in the correct order, or maybe I would still be annoyed at the discrepancies. Robin McKinley claims you are supposed to see that Harry was trying to live up to a legend who wasn't that much of a legned in her own day, but, again, it just seemed to me like gaps in the writing.
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 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."
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 sense later.
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