Elitist Classic: The Hero and the Crown

Posted: November 3, 2015 by in Elitist Classics Meta: Robin McKinley, Heroic Fantasy, Elitist University

With all the popular YA novels out there sporting wishy-washy teenage ‘heroines’, it’s time to introduce you to a classic that does it right. For the kids of my generation there was Robin McKinley’s THE HERO AND THE CROWN (Amazon), the winner of the 1985 Newbery Medal Award.

Aerin is the only child of the king. The problem? She’s a girl. Since her deceased mother was a foreigner (and it’s whispered she was a witch), and Aerin has inherited her pale skin and red hair, she’s snubbed and ignored. She discovers a book about the dragons that used to threaten Damar, and on her own learns how to make kenet, an ointment that protects the wearer from the effects of fire, and trains herself to fight dragons. When word comes that a local village is being terrorized by a small dragon, Aerin with the kenet and her father’s old war horse, goes to fight it. Unfortunately, it’s not only the smaller dragons who begin to return.

Aerin is the best kind of heroine because her abilities aren’t handed to her, they are are hard-won; for example, the kenet recipe does not have amounts, and she only discovers the correct mixture after much trial and error. After spending so long feeling clumsy and rejected, she succeeds because she works hard, and as a result affects her own fate. HERO is always in print, and in fact Amazon has several different editions available. You’ll have to look for it in the Young Adult section of the library, but don’t let its categorization fool you into thinking this is fluffy storytelling. It’s highly readable for adults, as well.

With all the popular YA novels out there sporting wishy-washy teenage 'heroines', it's time you read a classic that does it right: THE HERO AND THE CROWN..

  • Recommended Age: THE HERO AND THE CROWN is suitable for any age
  • Language: None
  • Violence: She kills dragons, so yes there is some, although there's minimal blood and gore
  • Sex: None

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