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The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

Review by Caleyna

I must be very into children's books right now, since this is yet another Newberry Winner. I've got to admit that this isn't exactly a children's book though. It is not overly violent, or sexual or anything like that, but it just doesn't strike me as "kiddish" at all.

The Characters
Aerin is a wonderful heroine. She is a plucky princess who hides from the world, believing that everyone hates her. Sure, there are a couple of people who hate her, but in general she is well loved and has no idea that her father and others are allowing her to live how she wants. She totally misunderstands everyone's intentions, but just goes on with her life and tries to make herself happy. For some reason I totally fell in love with her character. I also loved her horse, Talat, and her cousin, Tor. Even her dad was a very nice guy. It was very amusing to see her interact with all these characters b/c she was just so darn clueless when it came to reading body language. Despite that, she is a worthy hero; a brave lass, willing to do whatever it takes to prove herself worthy in the world's eyes.

The World
The world is quite simple. It seems like earth, only with magic thrown in. There are little dragons that harass the villagers, there is a great evil out there somewhere, the royalty of the nation carry magic in their blood, and the grass grows purple in some places. McKinely really doesn't spend time developing the world. I imagine the book could be much, much longer if she did.

The Plot
For some reason, the plot is a little difficult for me to explain. The first part of the book is basically a flashback, explaining how Aerin came to be couped up in her rooms. It goes back into her childhood, detailing Aerins preceived mistreatment by members of the castle and the misadventures the poor girl went through. It also shows how brave and stubborn Aerin is; even though she is afraid of people she is willing to go and fight dragons all by her lonesome just to be "doing something". The second half of the book is much more confusing. I really think I should go back and read it when I am not full of Dayquil and Nyquil and my head isn't spinning out of control. I understood what was happening, yet I was confused as to why it was all happening. It seemed like the last 1/4 of the book or so dragged on a bit. Really though, I enjoyed the plot greatly. There were many adventures throughout the book, each one rather unexpected in my mind. I wasn't sure where the book was going for most of the time, though I KNEW how it would have to end. It did end that way, pretty much, though I really can't wait to get my hands on The Blue Sword (I found out from Rhoddy that this book is a prequel to TBS).

The Grade
I am going to give this book a 4 rating, b/c it seemed to be lacking *something*. I'm not really sure what that *something* is, but it seemed like it needed a little more. It did win the Newberry though, so who am I to judge? I would recommend this book, and in fact I hope to re-read it someday when I am in a state that is not so groggy and heavy-headed. Maybe then I can figure out one part that made me go "huh?".


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