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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Harry Crewe is an orphan girl who comes to live in Damar, the desert country shared by the Homelanders and the secretive, magical Hillfolk. Her life is quiet and ordinary-until the night she is kidnapped by Corlath, the Hillfolk King, who takes her deep into the desert. She does not know the Hillfolk language; she does not know why she has been chosen. But Corlath does. Harry is to be trained in t…

The Blue Sword

by Robin McKinley

Overall Book Review:

A Newberry Honor book, an ALA Notable Book, and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword is a winner indeed. The land, the people, and even the language are all the wonderful imaginative inventions of the author, but don’t let the foreignness of these things inhibit you from reading this remarkable book. McKinley’s descriptive, almost lyrical writing style will have you diving into the world of Damar and experiencing Harry’s adventure as if it were your own. the way Harry is a girl! I like to consider myself open minded, but Harry? Must be short for Harriet, right? You’d be wrong! OK, enough about the name, because Harry is so much more than her name. She’s smart, stubborn and a bit unconventional to be considered “proper” by social terms. She’s a girl who is restless and longs for adventure, and oh boy, an adventure is exactly what Harry gets when she’s introduced (introduced is a bit of a stretch- read the book to find out what I’m talking about.) to the, may I have a drum roll please, the Hillfolk King Corlath! Oh, how to describe King Corlath?–Smoldering, perhaps? Yes, I believe smoldering describes him well.

Call me crazy but I found The Blue Sword slightly reminiscent of Harry Potter, and no, it’s not just because the protagonists have the same first name. Though the writing styles differ as well as the settings, Harry (Potter) and Harry (Crewe) reminded me of one another: both orphans living with their Aunt and Uncle; both feeling trapped in their current society and yearning for more; both received into a magical world that is strange but for them feels like home; both being helped out by friends to become the person they were always meant to be. Anyways, I’m not going to give you complete plot summary.  Get up and read the book already! If you like The Blue Sword, give McKinley’s The Hero and The Crown a spin because that’s exactly what I’ll be doing.
Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  12 religious exclamations; 6 mild obscenities; 2 anatomical terms.

Violence/Gore:  Character would like to burn down house; reports of death, no details given; mention of sword fighting; extended scene (6 pages) of characters fighting one another, non-life threatening injuries occur, little blood mentioned; report of blood when characters intentionally cut their hands with sword; implied occurrence of violence when character “sees” themselves on fire; mentions of humans and animals hunting for food, no details or blood mentioned; brief scene (about a paragraph) of second hand report of violence when a story is told of a character intentionally injuring themselves and being taken and tortured by enemy, non-graphic in detail; mention (2 times) of corpse; second hand report of violence when a character recalls guns backfiring and exploding; characters briefly discuss the possibility of dying in battle; brief story told of a boy being attacked by a wild boar; extended battle/war scene (4 pages) characters and animals fight, blood mentioned when characters incur injuries; reports of death from battle/war; injuries attained during battle are briefly mentioned such as limps, broken bones, trauma, bloody bandages; mountainside crumbles causing mass death, no graphic details mentioned; demonic powers mentioned.

Sex/Nudity:  2 brief incidents of character needing to undress to bathe; 5 non-descriptive sexual references where the words “lover”, “ravished”, “seduced”, and “share a bed” are used; infidelity implied; few (less than 5) instances where adults kiss on cheek and mouth and embrace.

Mature Subject Matter:

War, parent(s) death, social conflicts, kidnapping.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Brief incidents (2) of adults drinking wine and beer; herbal stimulant added to food; character fears they may have been drugged.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I appreciate books of all genres, but my main squeeze is fiction. Depending on my mood it could be romance or suspense; lately I’ve been courting fantasy. When I don’t have my nose in a book, I am locating tasty paleo recipes, writing in-coherent poetry, and crafting with paper.