The Hero and the Crown

  • by Robin McKinley
  • Narrated by Roslyn Alexander
  • 10 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Uncertain of the past, Aerin-sol, daughter of King Arlbeth, decides to forge her own future by challenging the lashing tongues of the dragon’s fire. Aerin’s proficiency as "the Dragon-slayer" sets her on a quest for the stolen Crown of Damar, believed to be in the hands of rebellious northerners who threaten to destroy the Damarian people and their home forever.


See More Like This

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Second only to Blue Sword

The prequel to Blue Sword, it matters not which book you read first. The story is fabulous, and the readers of both books do a wonderful job. I had been requesting these books from Audible for years as they were only available from the publisher at about $80 or so. I finally broke down and purchased Blue Sword a couple of years ago, and was about to buy this book too when Audible released it! Thanks a million! These two books can be listened to again and again.
Read full review

- mkc "mkckechac"

Nothing Makes Sense in This Book

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

This book may be suitably enjoyed by 10-13 yr olds. However, nothing makes sense and it might damage their brains.

What was most disappointing about Robin McKinley’s story?

I really remember enjoying this book as kid. It's about a hero slaying dragons, right? Wrong, it's about a woman (she's 18) who hates herself. There is sooooooo much boring stuff about how this woman can't handle social situations and people tease her. It's baffling since it's completely age-inappropriate. Maybe if our hero were 11 it would make sense that she spends all her time alone because a mean cousin calls her names but ... she's 18! Instead it reads like a complete weirdo doesn't have the ability to rise above petty juvenile behavior. I almost turned this off because it took what felt like hours to get to any of the interesting parts.

The most disappointing thing about this is that our hero does not go through a clear character arc. At several points you might think she will finally have risen above the self esteem issues but ... no ... more annoying stuff about how she hates herself ... The mean cousin has a clearer and more satisfying story arc. I enjoy fantasy YA, but the pacing and story structure of this were just soooooo awful

I think this book has achieved such acclaim because it was relatively unique to have a female hero when this was published. I appreciate that the hero is not sexualized and is portrayed as physically strong. However, the rest of the depiction of an 18 year old girl is horrible - boring and emotionally inaccurate. If you're looking for some enjoyable YA or want to recommend a fun fantasy novel with strong female leads to young readers I would go with anything by Patricia Wrede or Tamora Pierce instead. I'm not sure what's out there that's contemporary, but there have to be better more interesting female heroes these days.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Roslyn Alexander?

Anyone. She lent a particularly annoying middle-school vibe to already terrible dialogue. The one love-making scene made me want to retch.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

I was extremely disappointed with this. I guess that all I remember from reading this as a kid were the cool action sequences, which are pretty great. I think I might have literally flipped past a bunch of pages. It's about 85% boring nonsense and 15% cool dragon fighting.

Any additional comments?

Aside from the petty uninteresting middle-school drama, the thing that really prevented me from connecting with this book was the fact that NOTHING AT ALL MAKES SENSE. This book will not let you into its world because your brain will constantly be reeling with confusion.

As a reader I had to constantly second guess things like physics, scale, and emotional stakes. The protagonist is the only child of the king; he loves her very much, she's the only heir, and yet no one seems to care at all if she lives or dies. There's a heartwarming scene in which the father connects with the daughter, and less than a minute later he has no problem sending her out into a very dangerous situation completely alone. Wait, is there another heir? Does it not matter AT ALL if she dies? Does the father not really care that much? In what world would the only direct blood relative of a monarch go out into a war-torn countryside alone and no one give a single sh*t? What world???

Simple logic also fails at many points during the book. The second main character is a horse. Cool, horses are great and since this is for kids, why not have a pet sidekick. However, the horse has at one point survived a SEVERE leg injury and specifically managed to walk home hundreds of miles with said injury. Ok, suspending disbelief, barely. Then the horse manages to make a MIRACULOUS rehabilitation, not only to live, but to jump, gallop, pivot etc. This horse becomes the most agile healthy horse ever and the reason for this recovery is apparently that the horse just didn't WANT to recover before. ????? Why??? Why put our brains through this? Other weird animal logic: there are many animal sidekicks. Our hero has no specific ability to communicate with them and we never hear an animal thought process but when it's convenient to the plot the animals understand EXACTLY the words she is saying. I'm all about magic and fantasy, why not a simple sentence explaining that a) these are magic animals or b) our hero has the ability to communicate with animals?

Other ridiculous logic fails: Our hero is testing a theory. She purposefully burns her hand in a candle. Then she burns her hand THREE MORE TIMES before deciding that it would work just as well to put a small stick in the fire instead to test her theory. Is she stupid? Why do we like her? Oh, yeah, we probably don't. Our hero goes through a LONG period of illness and partial blindness. However, during this time she simultaneously has trouble balancing, but also becomes a master swordsman and horse rider. Also, she's partly blind at the same time. The. Same. Time. How? Why? ??? It's like the author was like, "I don't know, you figure it our reader. I'm done trying."

More weird logic fails: Our hero is fighting a dragon who is described as being mountain-sized, yet the dragon has managed to hide behind a piece of rock described as being the size of the horse. Our hero goes through a lot of effort to disguise herself in order to interact with common townspeople. However, it is noted often that they know it's her, and she knows they know it's her. Everyone knows it's her going down into the town, so much so that rumors make their way back to everyone she knows in the castle ... but she keeps wearing the disguise. Same thing with her "sneaking" out. Everyone knows, and she knows they know! Why? Who cares? Nothing makes sense! If anything it's like this meaningless plot device were inserted to keep all the boring rumor/teasing/middle school drama aspect of the book going. There are so many more weird and completely unnecessary logic gaps I can't even begin to remember them all. There is not a big enough sigh in the world ...

Read full review

- Danica

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-11-2013
  • Publisher: Recorded Books