Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Blue Sword

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
3/5 stars
Ace, 1987
Originally published 1982
248 pages
Adult Fantasy

Source: Received as gift.

I have read and loved several McKinley novels (most notably Deerskin, a very intense read not suitable for all audiences-read about it before deciding to actually pick it up!) and as I embarked on a mini-spree of reading my own books, I decided to finally give this one a try.

It ended up being a great example of how the way you're reading affects your overall reading experience. What do I mean by that? Well, this is a mass market paperback whereas I've been mostly reading books on my nook, in hardback or in ARC format. I found this kind of paperback very unwieldy and that it was impossible to read while eating unless I wanted to completely crack the spine (I didn't). Thus it took me much longer to read than it might have otherwise.

As for the story itself, I did not find it particularly gripping. Maybe it was because of the format. Maybe it is because I've read a lot of fantasy stories with similar elements over the years. That is not to deny the originality of this story as surely some were inspired by it. But since I read them first, they made more of an impression.

I did really like main character Harry and her journey in learning to wield the blue sword.  Most of the other characters weren't very strong to me. I'm already forgetting them. I do remember liking the hint of romance; it is definitely not overpowering if you're someone who might like a break in that regard.

Overall: I feel like this was really a case of wrong place, wrong time for me and this book. If I had read it, say, 10 years ago, it probably would have completely captured my imagination and sent me diving into other fantastical worlds. Instead I retreated into contemporary for more pleasant reads.


  1. When I was a young teen I loved The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown. I'm not sure how I'd like it now having read so many other fantasy books. You probably would have liked it more years ago too.

  2. I know what you mean about wrong place, wrong time with books. Sometimes, I'm not just in the mind frame for a book I have to review for a tour. Normally, I would just move onto something else, but with a tour, you know how it is. You have a deadline! I have to try really hard to be open-minded to give a fair review. I'm glad it's not just me who has outgrown certain styles and genre of fiction!

  3. Fantasy has been an iffy genre for me and this sounds like the type of book I would've liked before I read so many fantasy books I didn't like. Thanks for the honest review!

  4. I'm with Danna -- fantasy is kind of a hit-or-miss genre for me. But I've heard amazing things about this author.
    If I was going to pick a Robin McKinley book to try, which would you recommend??

  5. I loved the Blue Sword (and it's prequel, The Hero and the Crown) in my teen years. They've had special places on my bookshelf since then. I haven't read them in a while though, so I can see where you are coming from. Perhaps I wouldn't like them as much now. I'm tempted to test that theory ha

  6. Awww, that's too bad. I'm planning to read these classics at some point, because I heard how good they were. Hopefully, I'll be more in the mood for them when I get there.

  7. Oh, I'm so sad you didn't love this. I think of all the R-McKinley's this is my favorite. Wahh.

    Although, TBH I love your point about books and time and place. I think that's a huge factor in enjoyment of a book.

  8. hm, ok, I'll adjust my expectations to account for the predictable (worn? reverse worn?) nature of the plot. I think I can be ok with that, especially now that I know what to expect. I like that there is romance but that it's a small side thing. Totally understand where you're coming from about the format. Mass markets are my least favorite to read because they're so hard to read neatly without damaging them (and I hate damaging my books. No cracked spines here!).


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