The Hero and the Crown

By Robin McKinley,

Book cover of The Hero and the Crown

Book description

A Newbery Medal Winner

Although she is the daughter of Damar's king, Aerin has never been accepted as full royalty. Both in and out of the royal court, people whisper the story of her mother, the witchwoman, who was said to have enspelled the king into marrying her to get…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked The Hero and the Crown as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This is a beautifully written YA fantasy that has the flavor of a traditional epic—like the Lord of the Rings—but also brings us intimately close to its characters, their individual cares, and their unique world. The story centers on Aerin, the king’s daughter, and her journey from being an outcast at her father’s court to becoming a hero in her own right—at the expense of a dragon, unfortunately. 

The Hero and the Crown is often praised as an example of classic feminist fantasy. It was one of the first stories I encountered where the goal of the female main…

From Leanne's list on girls and dragons, or girl dragons.

I read The Hero and the Crown as a socially awkward adolescent who, like Aerin, the protagonist, struggled to fit in. I loved how Aerin turned her back on social expectations and used her ingenuity to carve a place for herself, taking on a role no one else wanted—dragonslayer. The great dragons had long ago been hunted to extinction, leaving behind only their smaller cousins, mere vermin, that occasionally troubled the peasants, but were hardly worth the notice of the noble warriors. These were small battles, but they needed fighting. And through fighting the small battles, Aerin found herself prepared…

I like this book for a far more personal reason, you see, as an awkward young teen with red hair who was also adopted, I related to the main character of Aerin who had many of the same struggles. Throughout the story, Aerin carries a deep-seated desire to prove herself, not with the magic that she was supposed to have, but by using her knowledge and willpower instead. I learned from her strength of character that those who keep trying are the ones who earn the greatest rewards.

From Jodi's list on fantasy featuring drama and danger.

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