The Hero and the Crown (Damar #1) by Robin McKinley
A timely re-release of a classic fantasy and winner of the 1985 Newbery Medal.
I must confess though that The Blue Sword holds a dearer place in my reading heart. And don't even get me started on Deerskin!
About the same time Tamora Pierce's Allana was being told for the first time, so was McKinley's story about Aerin, the princess who was different. Aerin carries the burden of negative public opinion, being seen as less than adequate. What do these two have in common? Both are strong female leads who fights the odds and win through. Both move forward at great personal cost against seemingly hopeless situations, armed only with sheer grit and determination, and a lot of tears shed in quiet places.
In this tale of discovering one's abilities, Aerin is the princess who didn't inherit the family magical gifts. So to many there's obviously some fault within her. In fact magic done anywhere near Aerin makes her feel decidedly queasy.
Of course the nasty types say that's because her mother was a witch who ensorcelled the King. The King does not say that.
Aerin seems clumsy, inarticulate and insecure. I love that she eats off common clay plates as they can be easily replaced when she inadvertently drops one. No fine breakable china for her.
She's only happy when she's out riding her father's retired warhorse or working out how to fight dragons. She will become Lady Aerin, 'Dragon killer,' and that too will bring its share of physical and emotional pain.
Thirty years on and The Hero and the Crown is still an engaging fantasy novel.
The careless petty malignancy of Aerin's cousins Perlith and Galanna still stings.
The hurt of not belonging, of being invisible is still powerful in its telling.
Over the year's I've reread Aerin's story several times and am never disappointed.
A NetGalley ARC