The Blue Sword
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.