Ode to Robin McKinley

My absolutely, positively favourite books of ALL TIME!!
Sunday, December 28, 2008 at 5:27am

I’ve read shitloads of books. I’ve loved a ton of 'em. But none, 20 or so years later, have come close to rivaling a certain pair of books I first read as a kid. Rereading them now at age 31 I am still amazed, awed, wowed, enamoured, enthralled by this most amazing of worlds, and most captivating of stories. Holy fuck is all I gotta say.

There are so many aspects of what I love about these stories, and reading them at this point in my life when I’m starting on my quest to become a warrior (or at the very least to play a warrior in film or on stage :) has made me realize what those aspects are, that made me love these novels for life. For forever. They are the literary loves of my life. May those dog-eared, fairly worn, taped up copies never leave my side. (For god’s sake they have book plates in their inside covers if you remember those!! haha! Where I wrote my name, painstakingly printed in one, and cursively written in the other!! And book plates of unicorns no less?! haha!)

So what are these most favourite of books you may ask?! The Blue Sword, and The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley. I cannot tell you enough how amazing they are. They are fantasy of course. And have undoubtedly set me on the path I am today. Why? Coz there’s a female heroine, not beautiful, and tall for a woman. Coz she painstakingly or with the help of the Gift, or kelar, learns to ride a warhorse and fight like a warrior. Who then goes on to slay dragons and/or defeat the demon-spawn Northerners that threaten her land. She has a magical blue-gemmed sword named Gonturan. Who has just the right amount of magic to make for a good story, that can only be used only in the most dire of circumstances. Her warhorse is her most loyal and trusted friend and fights as fiercely as she does. She is loved and followed by large hunting cats and dogs, as loyal and devoted to her as household pets. She has a supreme sense of honour that always leads her. There is a king, a warrior himself, that loves her and she loves back.

All I gotta say is what else could I possibly need in a good story?!?!??!!? :) But there is one more aspect! One I never paid attention to before now, but it obviously added to my enjoyment. What an amazing, wry humour!!!! Its subtle, it shows itself in the dialogue or the character's thoughts. The kind of humour where the characters themselves can't help but think WTF about the craziness they are in! (actually much like Joss Whedon’s writing!!)

I must comment on the large cat that follows our heroine in The Blue Sword... she reminds me of mine!! Maybe my cat isnt so weird after all?! ie. she always has to lie on me when I go to bed, she insists on nibbling on my fingers and even hair, and will scour my face with her sandpaper tongue. (“really i appreciate the gesture but could you spare my face?!” ;)

And how do the two books relate? The Blue Sword was written first, and our heroine is thrust into the land of Damar, and becomes the only hope for a land that has lost much over the years. She is guided by visions of the Lady Aerin, who was queen of Damar and a great warrior hundreds of years ago. The Hero and the Crown was wrtten a year later, and tells the story of Aerin.

And why am I writing this at 3am Banff time?! Coz I couldnt fucking sleep so decided to finish reading the book since I was in the middle of it. Then realized I still wasn't tired so decided to write this long-winded note!! My Ode to Robin McKinley and her world of Damar!!! :) ... To follow up in my “Ode” series that started with Guy Gavriel Kay!! haha! :P

ps. These are covers of the editions I have. I LOVE these covers. And I totally love the horse on the cover of The Blue Sword. I think its the best painting of a horse I have yet to see!! But browsing Amazon now for these covers, I noticed the other covers that have been done for these books SUCK!!! They are sooooo blech!!! And awful!! And gross!! etc!!