I packed three secondhand paperbacks and one paperback textbook from undergrad for my beach reading. I also loaded quite a few ebooks onto my iPad, but I obviously didn't want to take my iPad to the pool or the beach. Two of those paperbacks were rereads for me, The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown, both amazing fantasy fiction novels by Robin McKinley.
From the author's website: This is the story of Corlath, golden-eyed king of the Free Hillfok, son of the sons of the Lady Aerin. And this is the story of Harry Crewe, the Outlander orphan girl who became Harimad-sol, King's Rider, and bearer of the Blue Sword, Gonturan, the sword Lady Aerin carried, the sword only a woman may wield, for it will turn in the hand of a man.j
I first read both of these books my senior year in college, when my Little recommended them to me. The Blue Sword takes place in a fantastical, alternate European world. Harry Crewe's world initially sounds vaguely familiar, with military families and codes of conduct for ladies and all that. But quickly the reader realizes that this familiar world is one touched by kelar. As always, McKinley writes strong female characters, although in The Blue Sword, only the protagonist and a few minor supporting characters are female, the others all being male.
From the author's website: There is no place in the country of Damar for Aerin, the king's daughter, who is also the daughter of a witchwoman; and so she befriends her father's crippled war-horse, Talat, and teases her cousin Tor into teaching her to handle a sword. But it is Aerin who rediscovers the old recipe for dragonfire-proof kenet, and when the army is called away to the other side of the country, it is she who, alone but for Talat, rides out to confront Maur, the Black Dragon, the last of the Great Dragons, for centuries thought dead.
Words don't describe how obsessed I was rereading this. I practically ignored my new husband while finishing this book! The Hero and the Crown is actually a prequel to The Blue Sword, but I highly recommend reading them in published order, not chronological order. While the original novel is inarguably brilliant, the prequel is even better. I loved the adventure and character development, but the emotional journey for Aerin is what makes the book so beautiful. I cried several times while reading this, especially at the bittersweet ending.
What have you read lately? Leave your book recommendations (and links to reviews!) in the comments! Linking up for Book Club Friday.
Note: Post includes two Amazon Affiliates links, just in case I've managed to persuade you to buy some of the best children's fantasy fiction you'll ever read.