February 8, 2016

FOF Book Club: Damar Series

The first month of our Flights of Fantasy Book Club is officially over! In January, we invited you to read The Hero and the Crown & The Blue Sword along with us. Today, both Rachel of Hello Chelly and I will be sharing our thoughts on each book, as well as answering three questions - and we're asking those who read the books to share their own answers, whether in the comments or in a post of their own. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on these two Robin McKinley novels! (P.S. You can still sign up for Flights of Fantasy!)

The Hero and the Crown book cover
The Hero and the Crown is the first McKinley novel I’ve ever read – and it certainly won’t be the last. This book tells the tale of a girl named Aerin, born of a king and his second wife (who many say was a witch who ensnared the king through enchanted means). Aerin’s identity has been defined by what others think of her mother, and she finds herself at home in the shadows where she can remain unnoticed. But destiny has different plans, and soon, Aerin discovers that she is stronger and more capable than she could ever have believed possible. While I won’t go into further detail about the plot, trust me when I tell you that this story is epic. There are fierce battles and intriguing magic, fearsome dragons and complex relationships. It’s a richly detailed, vibrantly narrated tale, and I was invested from start to finish. It helps, of course, that Aerin is the kind of gal I love reading about – compassionate and kind, smart and determined, occasionally impulsive and undeniably stubborn. Everything that happened to her, whether good or bad, was of interest to me, and it was a true joy to witness her character growth. For, at its core, that is what The Hero and The Crown is: the story of Aerin’s personal transformation. It’s definitely a story that’s well worth the read!

The Blue Sword book cover
While I can say with confidence that I prefer the first novel, The Blue Sword was a pretty damn good read too. This story takes place years after Aerin's time, and focuses on the journey of a girl named Harry Crewe. Forced to leave her Homeland after the death of her father, she finds herself living in the last eastern outpost of the Homelander empire - which just so happens to have been a part of Damar years ago. Like Aerin, Harry longs for something she cannot name and discovers that she is capable and strong and meant to wield the blue sword Gonturan. What I love most is how the writing style remains so consistent. Everything is still laid out clearly, if a little bluntly, and we're given fluidly written descriptions. The characters are such interesting individuals, particularly Harry. She was a lot like Aerin - smart, strong, stubborn, and so, of course, I was absolutely drawn to her as well. And in terms of plot, it's quite similar to its predecessor. Harry is forced to go on a journey that challenges, educates and strengthens her, and I was quite invested in discovering what would happen in the end. The Blue Sword is a fascinating companion sequel, and it definitely makes me feel like I'll enjoy reading more of McKinley's work in the future.

Every time we share about our book club reads, we'll be answering these three questions below! We'd love for you to join us and share your answers in the comments or in your own post. Don't forget to leave a link in the comments or in the monthly link-ups.

1. Who is your favorite character? I'm hard-pressed to choose a favorite, as I loved both Aerin and Harry dearly. But in the end, I'd have to go with Aerin. She's capable of acting like royalty, a true princess of her line; but she's also got a warrior's spirit and strength, and is willing to do her own dirty work without hesitation. I also really liked seeing her inner strength surface, especially when she was faced with unfair prejudice and judgmental people.

2. Which is your favorite book? Oh, it's definitely The Hero and the Crown! I was completely swept up into the epic circumstances of Aerin's life, particularly when she decides to take matters into her own hands and do things that felt right to her. Plus, it was my first McKinley, and you know they often say that you'll never forget your first!

3. Would you read more books by this author? Absolutely! In fact, I'm already eyeing Sunshine (recommended by Kristin!) and Beauty, both of which happen to be Beauty & the Beast-inspired stories. I do love that fairy tale, so I'm curious to see McKinley's take on it.


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