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Publisher's Summary

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

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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Groundbreaking, interestingly dated, & odd

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.

23 of 23 people found this review helpful

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The BEST ever YA

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.

Enjoy.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Now, Improved Audio Quality!

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Narrator drives me mad.

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Works better for reading, not listening

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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.<br/><br/>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. <br/><br/>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. <br/><br/>For this one, I'll return to the old dogeared pages.

What three words best describe Diane Warren’s voice?

Soft, slow, invariable

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeanne
  • Kirkland, WA, United States
  • 03-20-13

Great story, good narrator, poor recording quality

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

I loved the book and would think that anyone, YA or adult, who likes fantasy would enjoy it as well.

Which scene was your favorite?

I don't think I can select just one scene as a favorite; I liked the entire book.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Blue Sword?

None.

Any additional comments?

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.<br/><br/>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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Great old story. Narration makes heroine seem dull

The Blue Sword was the fantasy novel of my childhood. It's one of those magical stories that just makes you sigh and wish you could be there. I accidentally ended up with two copies and wore through the covers on both of them from rereading them so often. Robin McKinley created such a vivid world in the Province of Daria/Damar.

That being said ...

Listening to the audiobook as an adult, I was disappointed to discover that Harry is not the plucky heroine of my memory. Rather she's a plucky woman who gets handed things on a silver platter and called a heroine for it. Everyone is just so gosh darn nice to her. The vivid descriptions of the desert and the lives of the Riders mask the fact that there's almost no conflict until the very end, which itself is abruptly resolved in a very impersonal manner.

This is compounded in the recording by a very slow-paced narration that doesn't do anything to capture Harry's temperamental nature. There are long pauses that make it a difficult audiobook to listen to.

I still love this book. However, I would recommend picking up a hard copy instead.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Dreamworthy

I love this story. McKinley admitted to some indulgence in this story and I see it. Harry's and Senay's hair fall past their wastes. Tsornin is a magnificent war-trained stallion who is incredibly well-behaved. Legends come to life at every turn and we see Damar for the first time. Who can read about Damar and not fall in love with the place. It's vibrant and gritty and more real than reality. This is McKinley's most indulgent story, I think. Her other books have more grit and terror, whereas this is all HEA.

The reader does a good job. Her voice doesn't fit with Harry, in my opinion, but it made me think the reader could've been a friend of McKinley's, or something. Definitely a storyteller sort of voice rather than the voice of adventure.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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it's because of this book that I started reading

this is one of the first books that I read cover to cover and found that it was an audible so I had to buy it I've listened to it 2 times and I love it

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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a classic come to life

I loved the reading and inflection in this audible book. It closely resembled what I have always read in my mind. This is one of my favorite authors and this book is a favorite as well. Enjoy!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful