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25 February 2013 @ 09:48 am
Recent Reads: The Blue Sword  

I had a hard time reading this for purely physical reason: my copy of THE BLUE SWORD is very probably 30 years old, and the fragile yellowed pages are losing their tenuous grip on the broken spine. I was afraid it would fall apart in my hands, and thus was weirdly careful with not only the book but the reading of it. I believe I’ll seek out Robin McKinley at the nearest possible opportunity, ask her to sign my beloved and battered book, and retire it with honors alongside my equally ancient and beaten-up signed copy of DRAGONSONG.

The truth is, had discussion about HERO in my last Recent Reads post not pointed it out to me, it probably never would have occurred to me how passive a character Harry is. She is (in essence) The Chosen One, just as Garion is, and throughout the book, the story impels her forward rather than her own choices driving the story forward. The major break from that is of course her departure from Corlath’s army, but with how it’s written, even that is arguably her kelar forcing her rather than her own will.

It doesn’t matter. Not to me, anyway. THE BLUE SWORD is very close to my heart, because it’s one of the very first books–possibly the first book–I read with an awareness of genre, with an awareness that I was reading A Fantasy Novel. I first read it when I was ten, the year after it came out, as one of the books for Battle of the Books, and it utterly swept me away. I was in love with Harry, I was in love with Corlath, I was, dear God, in love with Tsornin.

And I still am. I was right, in re-reading HERO: Aerin is the stronger heroine, and HERO probably the stronger book. And indeed, upon re-read I discover that Harry’s big magic scene at the end of THE BLUE SWORD is acid-trippy as well, though not as mind-numbingly weird as Aerin’s. As an adult, it’s easier to admire Aerin’s stubbornness and the trials and tribulations she goes through to achieve her happy ending, and to appreciate that Harry essentially gets it all handed to her on a platter.

But when you’re ten and you’re caught up as Harry was, stranger in a strange land, but a land that speaks to you, and you are taken away to be important in that world…well. Yes. It’s ultimate wish-fulfillment, and McKinley has said as much about that book, but it’s okay. And I think that will never go away, so I think THE BLUE SWORD retains its place of preference in my heart. After all, a little wish fulfillment never hurt anybody. :)

And speaking of wish fulfillment, *God* I wish there were more Damar books. I know she doesn’t write sequels, I’ve known all her reason for twenty years, I respect them, I’m not pleading with her to write more, but *oh* how I wish there were more.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

Megabitchmegabitch on February 25th, 2013 10:25 am (UTC)
*argle* I need them on kindle/ebook! My battered and worn copies are, with most of our books, being packed up for storage while we get the house decluttered, redecorated and ready for sale. I'll be glared at, hard, if I start pulling things out to find them :/
hegemony hedgehogagrimony on February 25th, 2013 12:10 pm (UTC)
I can't even count how many Ted I've had to replace these two books.
hegemony hedgehogagrimony on February 25th, 2013 06:35 pm (UTC)
How many times. Why autocorrect thought that should be Ted, I'll never know.
kitmizkit on February 26th, 2013 04:38 pm (UTC)
I don't know either, but I was amused by it. :)
Mary Anne: pixelpers1stence on February 25th, 2013 02:11 pm (UTC)
You've instilled in me an urgent desire to forget about all the books I'm in the middle of (two biographies, one Tolkein, and a knitting humor book) and go re-read teh belgariad, h&c and blue sword...... :)
kitmizkit on February 26th, 2013 04:39 pm (UTC)
I'm reading THE SECRET COUNTRY next. I said invitingly. :)
Mary Annepers1stence on February 26th, 2013 06:48 pm (UTC)
i don't know that i've ever read the Secret Country....

i am home sick and not feeling inspired to read any of the other things (except the fluffy knitting humor book which I finished), so maybe a re-read of Blue Sword is a good option. I did request the Belgariad from the library yesterday....
Mary Anne: pixelpers1stence on February 27th, 2013 04:17 am (UTC)
I did, in fact, re-read Blue Sword and H&C today in between feeling poorly.

Still love Blue Sword unreasoningly although I still find the "declarations of feelings" at the end to be clunky, and sort of out of the blue (not entirely but it has always sat oddly for me). And he always seemed to grown up for her...

Also, part of why I always wanted/expected more books is that, at least in the 1986 edition, in the bio it describes these books as the beginning of a Damar SERIES. ah well. at least both books stand alone.

i still mourn the fact that Elyse Gutenberg never got to right the other two books that were to have gone with Sunder, Eclipse and Seed
kitmizkit on February 27th, 2013 09:08 am (UTC)
Well, I think to a degree it was meant to be clunky. Corlath hadn't thought through what wearing her sash publicly would mean. But yeah. :) And he is too old for her, but I noticed this time that Tor is a decade older than Aerin, too...

I still remember the pure astonishment on Elyse's face when upon meeting her I went "...you wrote Sunder, Eclipse and Seed!" I wonder if I could find a copy of that to re-read...
Mary Annepers1stence on February 27th, 2013 12:16 pm (UTC)
They both speechify though and in more formal and fancy language than ever before. And in fluent long paragraphs of text which doesn't happen anywhere else in either book.

I love that they end up together but it goes from just seeds of love to fullblown marital declarations in a way that seems awkward in part because of the brevity of the relationship (starting with a kidnapping no less).

The age difference bothers me less with Tor and Aeronautics because they had known each other so long. And the status imbalance is not so great between them, whatever she feels.
No Xtink is Xtink.: readinggoingferal on February 25th, 2013 05:42 pm (UTC)
This may have been the first fantasy/SF book I ever read with a female heroine. And I read a lot. I started reading fantasy/SF when I was 10. I was 12 when this book came out. I'd already read a lot of Piers Anthony and started on the Thomas Covenant books. But there were almost no women characters of substance, much less central characters, much less heroines.

It's almost hard to imagine that, nowadays.