Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher, Year: Ace Books, 1987
Other Works: Beauty, The Hero and the Crown
Rating: A, or Great Read
Challenge: Book Awards III
Premise: Harry, a young Homelander woman, finds herself in a new world when the Hill leader, Corlath, kidnaps her in the middle of the night. She soon learns that her new life will lead to her destiny.

I read this book as part of a Book Awards challenge (Newbery Honor). I also loved Beauty by Robin McKinley, so I thought this one would be a slam dunk.

The story begins with a young woman, Harry (short for Angharad), who has recently moved to an outpost of her country (Home) in a foreign land (Daria/the Hills). When Harry has a brief encounter with Corlath, king of the Hillfolk, her life changes forever. A magical force called kelar prompts Corlath to kidnap Harry, take her back to his country, and train her in the ways of his people, as a war is brewing with the North. Harry learns that the many mysteries that lie around her in her new country are nothing compared to the secrets held within her, which she is about to unlock. +/-

It took me a couple of chapters to get “inside” this story. I don’t read a lot of fantasy, so sometimes I have to remind myself to continue to suspend my disbelief, but once you buy into Harry and Corlath and Home and Hills, you will not be disappointed. McKinley takes the reader deep within a magical and mysterious fantastical world, which is so well defined, it feels as if you’ve been there and walked the sands of the Hill country yourself. Harry is a wonderful character: a strong woman, though not without insecurity. As is Corlath: a responsible and humble leader, but not without fallibility. As Harry learns to accept her new land and people and to channel and control her new-found gifts, we see a hesitant girl turn into a dignified woman, embracing her destiny as the hope of not only her adopted people, but her own Homeland as well. An adventure story not to be missed!

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