I remember reading “The Hero and The Crown” by Robin McKinnley, as a young girl, pre-teen if I remember correctly. I loved it. I loved it because it could have been about me. . .if I lived in a place where magic was real and dragons harassed neighboring villages. Which I did not. These things I did not have in common with Aerin, the young misfit daughter of the King of Daria.
But I did live in a place where I sometimes felt out of place, where other girls my age were sometimes mean and I desperately wanted to know that I was something or someone of value. These things I did have in common with Aerin.
And so I guess such things may be common to all young girls, which makes Aerin a relatable and enjoyable character. She is self-conscious and insecure, yet inquisitive enough to be determined to find answers to her questions. This determination leads her on an adventure of self-discovery as we see her come to know herself better as she discovers her destiny and rises up to face what fate demands of her.
The relationships between characters throughout the book were heart felt. Aerin’s father was well-drawn by McKinnley, as was the young girl’s antagonist at home, Galanna, full of jealousy and petty pranks. Tor, as the love interest, was strong and full of heart and heroism. And Luthe, well, I’m still figuring him out but I must admit, I rather enjoyed his relationship with Aerin as well.
The action scenes were well-written but at the same time, they sort of came upon me unawares. I always felt like I was surprised we were already at the climax of a certain adventure. And at times, I was confused by some of the magic (time-travel, mages, etc.) But I was not disappointed in the end. It was a grand adventure.
I would have to say that the highlight of the book for me was the coming of age of Aerin. Her discovery of finding what she is good at and then embracing it, even though it is against the common opinion of the society she lives in. I loved seeing her grow and understand and mature into the role her destiny required of her.
As a young girl, I loved the idea of doing something no one had done before. Nowadays, even as a grown woman, it seems like I’m always watching what other people are doing or what they expect of me. What kind of mother, wife, sister, friend, should I be? Well, if I follow Aerin’s lead, as I hoped to when I was young, I might turn out to be someone marvelous, that I never knew I was