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Publisher's Summary

Newbery Medal Winner, 1985

Uncertain of the past, Aerin-sol, daughter of King Arlbeth, decides to forge her own future by challenging the lashing tongues of the dragon’s fire. Aerin’s proficiency as "the Dragon-slayer" sets her on a quest for the stolen Crown of Damar, believed to be in the hands of rebellious northerners who threaten to destroy the Damarian people and their home forever.

©1984 Robin McKinley (P)1992 Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Hero and the Crown

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Second only to Blue Sword

The prequel to Blue Sword, it matters not which book you read first. The story is fabulous, and the readers of both books do a wonderful job. I had been requesting these books from Audible for years as they were only available from the publisher at about $80 or so. I finally broke down and purchased Blue Sword a couple of years ago, and was about to buy this book too when Audible released it! Thanks a million! These two books can be listened to again and again.

27 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Love this story. Not a fan of the narrator .

Loved this story for years. Just listened to it for the first time and had a hard time staying with it. The narrator's voice kept pulling me out of the story, She didn't sound like a young woman. The protagonist starts out at 18, goes to about 15 then up to 20. There's a creaky quality to the performers voice that his r wasn't suited for this story.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

hello old friend

Any additional comments?

the hero and the crown is an old favorite of mine from my child hood, along with redwall and a wrinkle in time. i was over joyed to find it in this digital form and even happier that it was the same recording i'd grown up with. on the whole Robin Mckinley is a hit or miss writer her books are ether really good or just ma, hero and the crown and it's sequel blue sward are definitely hits and examples of some of her best work

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Disappointed by the narrator

I love this book, so I was really excited to hear the audiobook. But I just had trouble getting into the story - I felt like the narrator was just reading SO. SLOWLY. AND. WITHOUT. ENTHUSIASM. The heroine is young and impulsive and her reading style just did not convey that at all. If I didn't know I love the book, I would think the story just drags. And I know that the story is wonderful, so I was really disappointed in this performance.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Nothing Makes Sense in This Book

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

This book may be suitably enjoyed by 10-13 yr olds. However, nothing makes sense and it might damage their brains.

What was most disappointing about Robin McKinley’s story?

I really remember enjoying this book as kid. It's about a hero slaying dragons, right? Wrong, it's about a woman (she's 18) who hates herself. There is sooooooo much boring stuff about how this woman can't handle social situations and people tease her. It's baffling since it's completely age-inappropriate. Maybe if our hero were 11 it would make sense that she spends all her time alone because a mean cousin calls her names but ... she's 18! Instead it reads like a complete weirdo doesn't have the ability to rise above petty juvenile behavior. I almost turned this off because it took what felt like hours to get to any of the interesting parts.

The most disappointing thing about this is that our hero does not go through a clear character arc. At several points you might think she will finally have risen above the self esteem issues but ... no ... more annoying stuff about how she hates herself ... The mean cousin has a clearer and more satisfying story arc. I enjoy fantasy YA, but the pacing and story structure of this were just soooooo awful

I think this book has achieved such acclaim because it was relatively unique to have a female hero when this was published. I appreciate that the hero is not sexualized and is portrayed as physically strong. However, the rest of the depiction of an 18 year old girl is horrible - boring and emotionally inaccurate. If you're looking for some enjoyable YA or want to recommend a fun fantasy novel with strong female leads to young readers I would go with anything by Patricia Wrede or Tamora Pierce instead. I'm not sure what's out there that's contemporary, but there have to be better more interesting female heroes these days.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Roslyn Alexander?

Anyone. She lent a particularly annoying middle-school vibe to already terrible dialogue. The one love-making scene made me want to retch.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

I was extremely disappointed with this. I guess that all I remember from reading this as a kid were the cool action sequences, which are pretty great. I think I might have literally flipped past a bunch of pages. It's about 85% boring nonsense and 15% cool dragon fighting.

Any additional comments?

Aside from the petty uninteresting middle-school drama, the thing that really prevented me from connecting with this book was the fact that NOTHING AT ALL MAKES SENSE. This book will not let you into its world because your brain will constantly be reeling with confusion.

As a reader I had to constantly second guess things like physics, scale, and emotional stakes. The protagonist is the only child of the king; he loves her very much, she's the only heir, and yet no one seems to care at all if she lives or dies. There's a heartwarming scene in which the father connects with the daughter, and less than a minute later he has no problem sending her out into a very dangerous situation completely alone. Wait, is there another heir? Does it not matter AT ALL if she dies? Does the father not really care that much? In what world would the only direct blood relative of a monarch go out into a war-torn countryside alone and no one give a single sh*t? What world???

Simple logic also fails at many points during the book. The second main character is a horse. Cool, horses are great and since this is for kids, why not have a pet sidekick. However, the horse has at one point survived a SEVERE leg injury and specifically managed to walk home hundreds of miles with said injury. Ok, suspending disbelief, barely. Then the horse manages to make a MIRACULOUS rehabilitation, not only to live, but to jump, gallop, pivot etc. This horse becomes the most agile healthy horse ever and the reason for this recovery is apparently that the horse just didn't WANT to recover before. ????? Why??? Why put our brains through this? Other weird animal logic: there are many animal sidekicks. Our hero has no specific ability to communicate with them and we never hear an animal thought process but when it's convenient to the plot the animals understand EXACTLY the words she is saying. I'm all about magic and fantasy, why not a simple sentence explaining that a) these are magic animals or b) our hero has the ability to communicate with animals?

Other ridiculous logic fails: Our hero is testing a theory. She purposefully burns her hand in a candle. Then she burns her hand THREE MORE TIMES before deciding that it would work just as well to put a small stick in the fire instead to test her theory. Is she stupid? Why do we like her? Oh, yeah, we probably don't. Our hero goes through a LONG period of illness and partial blindness. However, during this time she simultaneously has trouble balancing, but also becomes a master swordsman and horse rider. Also, she's partly blind at the same time. The. Same. Time. How? Why? ??? It's like the author was like, "I don't know, you figure it our reader. I'm done trying."

More weird logic fails: Our hero is fighting a dragon who is described as being mountain-sized, yet the dragon has managed to hide behind a piece of rock described as being the size of the horse. Our hero goes through a lot of effort to disguise herself in order to interact with common townspeople. However, it is noted often that they know it's her, and she knows they know it's her. Everyone knows it's her going down into the town, so much so that rumors make their way back to everyone she knows in the castle ... but she keeps wearing the disguise. Same thing with her "sneaking" out. Everyone knows, and she knows they know! Why? Who cares? Nothing makes sense! If anything it's like this meaningless plot device were inserted to keep all the boring rumor/teasing/middle school drama aspect of the book going. There are so many more weird and completely unnecessary logic gaps I can't even begin to remember them all. There is not a big enough sigh in the world ...

8 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

ok, not a fan of the narratoe

I've loved this story since childhood. However, the narrator made it harder to get through than reading it myself. sometimes the words were hard to hear as the narrator spoke softly and trailed off the sentences. other times the narrator was unwontedly loud.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • MR
  • 08-18-14

longtime favorite

Any additional comments?

I've had a paperback copy of this since the 80's. I love this book - it's the sort you can re-read and revisit. I was excited to see it in audible format - because hearing the book often gives a different perspective.I'm not sure I would have chosen the narrator. She was great - but didn't quite match the story. Aerin is a young woman and the narrator is an adult. I think I would have preferred a younger voice to match the protagonist.Again, the narrator did a lovely job - but I had a little disconnect between the voice and the tale. I'd still recommend the book - in any format - to lovers of fairy tales.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Favorite enough to ignore narrator

The narrator on this performance is horrible. But I love the story and the characters so much that I was able to ignore her voice and performance to at least enjoy the story. Aerin is a young woman in this story - it should be performed by a younger-sounding narrator. Alexander has a voice that I associate with my creaky aunt who read stories like a robot. Not an enjoyable listen, but still a good story and character. I much prefer to read the novel myself.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

This is one of my favorite fantasy stories!

Strong female protagonist. Decent world-building. Exciting plot. Some romance. It is well worth listening to!

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great story, annoying editing

I enjoy this prequel to The Blue Sword. The narration is good (though often sounds as if the narrator is telling a story to young children), but the editing managed to cut off the final “s” of a plural word at the end of a sentence so often that is was terribly distracting and jerked me out of the story countless times.

1 person found this helpful

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