Book Review: The Hero And The CrownPosted: February 20, 2014
I’ve been quite remiss in my book reviews lately. I’ve mostly been rereading my old books (Neither Here Nor There because I wanted some laugh, Austenland and Northanger Abbey because of the JJ Feild effect) and comics, but I did manage one new-to-me book – Robin McKinley’s “The Hero and the Crown”. It’s just too bad that I didn’t enjoy it.
It starts out quite promisingly. The main character, Aerin, is the princess of Damar, but the entire kingdom looks at her with distrust, because her mother was supposedly a witch who enchanted the king into marrying her. At best Aerin is ignored, at worst she is treated as a threat. So Aerin decides to prove herself by taking up the one job that nobody wants to do – killing dragons. In this world, dragons are viewed as pests, so hunting them is necessary, but there is no glory in it. Of course, that is until Aerin has to face the fearsome Black Dragon…
I really appreciate this story, even if I’m not crazy about McKinley’s prose. A fantasy with a female protagonist who takes up the sword instead of waiting to be saved? And she suffers great physical pains as well as some serious PTSD because of it? Yes please.
Except that’s just the first half of the book. It all goes downhill in the second half. My problem with the second half is that it completely ruins everything that has been set up in the first half. The first half is about Aerin forging her own destiny; in the second half she finds out her fate has been predestined. The first half is about Aerin working hard to become the best dragon-killer she can be; in the second half she suddenly “just knows” what to do. The first half sets up a sweet, realistically awkward romance between Aerin and her cousin Tor; the second half gives her a creepy love interest who totally had a thing for her mother (dude is immortal). Maybe it’s my screenwriting instinct, but when the author resolves the climactic confrontation by having the protagonist doing some random thing that happens to work, and explains it away as “Oh yeah, that’s some magic that I forgot to set up earlier”, it just seems like lazy writing to me.
This is the fourth Robin McKinley book I’ve read, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t like her. The only book of hers I truly enjoy is Sunshine, and even that doesn’t stick with me much.
As for the outfit, it’s inspired by Aerin’s look – she’s described as having “orange/fiery” hair and hazel eyes (but seriously, how many fantasy stories with a redheaded, green-eyed heroine have there been?). I picked the arrow pin because I thought it worked in a fantasy-inspired look, even though Aerin’s weapon of choice is a sword, not a bow. Aerin is a rider and good with animals too, so I figure the boots and the photo with my dog Taco are appropriate.
Shirt: Urban Outfitters, Sweater: Target, Jeans: Forever21, Boots: local shop, Pin: Etsy