Harry Crewe, the Homelander orphan girl, is pleased with her new home. Life in Istan is certainly easy, but a voice in her ear whispers that the home of her heart is among the Hillfolk, among the descendants of Lady Aerin, who once wielded Gonturan, the Blue Sword.
©1982 Robin McKinley (P)1992 Recorded Books
In 1982, when this book was published, I loved it without reservations. It broke new ground mixing magic and alternate history, it had a capable, self-aware heroine, and it built an exotically evocative, engaging, and appealing world.
Thirty-one years later, listening to Diane Warren's excellent performance, I realized that all those things are still true--but there's more to it. Time has brought some disturbing threads and nuances to the surface of the story, as a whole body of other works grew up following in this one's footsteps, and as capable, self-aware heroines became normal instead of oddities. Noticing those disturbing threads adds richness and complexity that, if anything, reinforces simple enjoyment of the story.
To write this book with this heroine and this plot, McKinley had to fight her way out of confining cultural expectations and stereotypes. She succeeded amazingly well--but the lingering strands of those expectations and stereotypes still show. They certainly don't undermine the book's quality or the importance of what McKinley accomplished, but they do add a kind of fey light that casts odd shadows (rather like the heroine's dual vision in the story itself). The book, caught at the hinge of a literary turning point, is, honestly, rather odd.
In some ways, this is a book about possession. The main characters perform brave, unexpected, history-changing deeds--but usually when they perform them, their will and choice is compromised by being under the influence-compulsion-control of another force. In some ways, it's a book about abduction. The main character is kidnapped, and although McKinley carefully foreshadows and justifies the character's change of allegiance, there are still queasy echoes of the Stockholm syndrome in the shift of her loyalty and affection.
Ultimately, it's a tribute to McKinley's accomplishment that even today the book succeeds on its own terms despite the overtones that were invisible (though powerful) more than thirty years ago. One believes in the romance. One cheers the shift in allegiance. The possession is more enviable than creepy.
This isn't a simple book, but it's certainly an interesting, enjoyable, and worthwhile book to listen to.
Addicted to books, especially audiobooks. Read lots and prosper!
This has been a favorite young adult novel for over 20 years! I'm so happy to have it on my iPod now! Yay me!! The story is still excellent and satisfies many levels of story telling - who doesn't like war horses, swords and kings, challenges, magic and legends. If you love grounded fantasy and horses and magic swords then this will be a sure win. The narrator has a nice voice, pleasant to the ear.
This has been one of my favorite books for a long time, so I was delighted to get it as an Audible book. However, when I first downloaded it, the recording quality was awful. I contacted Audible, and they fixed it! All I had to do was delete my copy and download again and now it works great. So, if you previously bought this book with the recording errors, try again now, I think you'll be as pleased as I am.
As for the story, it's the story of Harry Crewe. When her father dies, is sent overseas to the care of her brother whom she has not spent time with in years and to the household of a childless couple. In her new country, she is drawn to the native people and their ways without knowing why. She finds herself thrown into entirely unanticipated adventures with equally unexpected joys and struggles. If you like this book, you should also look into the Hero and the Crown, which is a related story.
Learned to read at 3; any day I can't read at least 1 book is a day wasted. I earn my living with words as well (word processing/editing).
I loved the book and would think that anyone, YA or adult, who likes fantasy would enjoy it as well.
I don't think I can select just one scene as a favorite; I liked the entire book.
I have hoped for an Audible recording of this book, but I was very disappointed (along with most of the other reviewers) with the quality of the recording (pops and skips, etc.); I persevered because I do love this book, and parts were of better quality. However, overall it was a disappointment because of that problem.
Should it be recorded again (and I have NO problem with the reader, as Diane Warren did a great job!!), I would be interested in listening to this again.
Recently, I've begun listening audio versions of favorite novels to help me with a long commute to/from my job. The Blue Sword is the novel I read and re-read the most in my teen years, so I was excited to see an audio book existed. I began listening to it with childlike glee, only to stop listening after a few chapters.
For most titles, I have found the audio book experience only increases my already profound love for whichever novel I'm listening to. The Blue Sword, however, does not translate well to audio book for me.
For one, the back-and-forth between character thoughts, back story, and narrator description that worked well on the page instead interrupt the listening experience so that I find myself having to consciously remind myself of what's going on. Add the back-and-forth with a vocal performance that slows down the pace of an already slowish beginning, I find I cannot make it past the first few chapters of the audiobook.
For this one, I'll return to the old dogeared pages.
Soft, slow, invariable
Unlike others who have a sentimental attachment to the book from having read it in the past, this was the first time I read or listened to The Blue Sword. After reading that it was published in 1982, I got some insight into why I am so unimpressed.
The story is slow and repetitious, yet abrupt in some ways. For example, there isn't much justification for the main character, who was drugged and kidnapped, to feel "safe" almost immediately with her abductors.
But the real problem is the excruciatingly slow pace of the narration. For the first time ever, I had to raise the speed on my player. Even at 2x, it was easy to keep up. Long pauses between sentences, listening to the reader draw breath, the slow enunciation and lack of expression made for an aggravating listen.
I am very disappointed in this audiobook, both from the story and the reader's presentation.
I first read this story when I was about 12, and it was the first time I'd encountered a serious, female protagonist. I wondered whether the story would still strike me that way, so I grabbed the audio version. not disappointed in the least! the only down side is the delivery, which is a bit stilted at times.
The author's cadence was very unnatural, so I would have loved to have that smoothed out. Also, there was at least one instance where the same line was edited in twice, which was very jarring. And lastly, I could hear an echo at times, and even on occasion other voices in the background.
I adore Harry. She's the kind of girl who would see a tsunami coming and calmly gather a few things and shoo others along out of its path. She's spirited and determined without being overbearing.
It was very choppy, with many unnatural pauses. I'm not sure how much of that is her fault, or that of the post production crew, but it serious disturbed my enjoyment of the book.
None of them, I love them all (and there isn't that many anyway)
I am very disappointed with this audio book. I have bought many from Audible, and this is the first that I would say is very poor quality. Would not recommend buying it to listen, only to read.
I love this book and have since I was a kid. Narration was okay. I'd rather read the book again, but I rarely have time to sit around and read these days ;)
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