I have a special relationship with Robin McKinley’s Damar duology. Though these books were released in the mid 80’s (about 8 years before I was born), they were among my favorite childhood books? Why? I am Aerin Firehair. Ok, not really. But my mother named me Erin after the main character (with the Irish spelling because reasons). So as a kid reading The Hero and the Crown, I WAS the main character. I had red hair, I liked doing things that weren’t proper for a girl, and I was interested in dragons. Except I didn’t want to kill them.
These books are actually more like companion novels. The second book takes place many years after the first, with an entirely new cast of characters. Personally, the first book is my favorite, and not just because of Aerin. The world is a bit more fantastical, a bit more high fantasy. Book two is still good but has more of a historical fantasy feel.
As fantasies go these two books really stand out. Or at least, they did at the time. But I feel like they’re still pretty good representatives of the fantasy genre, especially for people who don’t really read fantasy. Each book is a self contained story of its own with its own arc. Neither is dependent on the other, though reading Hero will make Sword make a bit more sense.
These are books that are good for middle grade readers all the way up to adults. Reading them as adults, you don’t feel like you’re reading something juvenile. They may be “old” but they’re still good.
Did you ever read this pair? What did you think? Share in the comments.