The Blue Sword
Robin McKinley

Morality: B-
Writing: A

In this sequel to The Hero and the Crown (written several years before that book), the action takes place in the same universe as in the former story, but in a very different environment. The events of The Hero and the Crown are the stuff of legend for Harry and her companions (although Luthe the wizard, being immortal, does come into the story, and Harry sees visions of Aerin). Harry moves from the Homeland to live with her aunt and uncle in the borderland desert country of Damar, where she is prepared to be bored and miserable until Corlath, the king of the Hillfolk who live in the nearby mountain ranges, comes to ask the settlers for help in fighting against their enemies. The help is refused, but Corlath and Harry are drawn to one another, and before long Harry finds herself with him trying to help in the fight against the evil demonkind northerners.

This book is, like all McKinley’s fare, well-written; the world is believable and the cultures of the Homelanders and the Hillfolk well-drawn. The magic is of the traditional fantasy type, centered in the magical Blue Sword and the ‘kelar’, a sort of second sight which is “given” to those of royal blood. There is action enough to please anyone, as Harry, a bit of a tomboy from the start, turns out to be an astoundingly good warrior. The perspective moves occasionally to Corlath’s point of view, providing interestingly contrasting views of some of the characters and events.

Morally, the book is again average. At one point it is very subtly implied that Corlath and Harry sleep together, but it’s quite vague, and although the implication is before the event, they do end up getting married.

Posted by Sasha | May 15, 2003

4 Responses to “The Blue Sword”

  1. Just wondering if you’ve got the morality and writing ratings swapped, perhaps, because they don’t seem to quite match with the comments.

  2. Heh, good catch. We just manually ported all the reviews to a new server, so . . . sometimes I may have been getting a bit dazed. It’s fixed now.

  3. I’ve been reading a few of these reviews out of curiosity. I’m a young (female) pastor serving a small rural church, and spend quite a lot of my time reading. I am concerned about the morality rating system. My concern is that it seems to hinge upon sexuality but doesn’t address other moral issues. Like, how in the Blue Sword, Harry is led to a “third way” that ends the war with the demon king that is not in a blood and steel battle. To me, this is also a moral high point – that war isn’t always (never?) the answer and that other creative options can and should be found . I think Sherwood Smith does a particularly good job of this with Wren and Connor in the Wren books.

    Morality isn’t just about sex, but about violence and the way we treat others. I am re-reading several of my beloved fantasy tales with new, theological eyes and am questioning the glorification of swords and fighting and wars that I once prized. But a battle in a fantasy land with swords is still a war. Perhaps in future reviews, this element of morality can play as much of a role as sexuality. Just a thought. 🙂

  4. Thanks for your comment! I hope the reviews on the site in general don’t give the impression that sexuality is the only aspect of morality that we are assessing. I certainly don’t consider it that way. I think if you read a few more reviews you will see that we discuss many other aspects of Christian morality just as much as we discuss sexuality. I just glanced over the last six reviews I’ve posted on the website, and only in one of them was sexual morality a significant part of my moral assessment of the book.

    To be honest, it’s been a long time since I’ve read The Blue Sword (I posted this review ten years ago!), so I can’t address the content directly, though you make what sound like some good points. Also, I noticed that this review is pretty short; when I first started writing here, I didn’t go into as much detail as I try to do now.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WP Hashcash