A young adult fantasy read in which
Robin McKinley addresses a coming of age story in the land of Damar,
a country under potential threat of several other nations. Upon the death of
her father, Harry Crewe, is sent for by her brother Richard, a soldier in the
army. He has arranged for her to live with Lady Amelia and Sir Charles, the
people in charge of that region. After a brief attempt to get settled into her
new home, an envoy from the Hillfolk arrive, including the King himself,
Fearing an invasion from the
Northerners, yet another threat in that region, Corlath comes with a plea for
peace and aid for his people in defending against the impending onslaught. His
visit proves fruitless, until Corlath lays eyes on Harry, and realizes that day
that he must take her with him to his home. That night, Harry is “abducted” by
Corlath and taken away from Damar into the Hillfolk’s land.
Thus begins her journey. Upon
acceptance her situation she begins in earnest to learn the language and
customs of the Hillfolk and tries to push aside her Homelander instincts. As she
comes to accept the Hillfolk, her hidden power of kelar is discovered.
Upon the discovery Corlath arranges for Harry’s training in the art of war. She
is now called Harimod, and after extensive training, excels in her “exams”
during the laprun trials and is made a King’s Rider.
She gains the right
to wear Gonturan, a blue sword of legend, and begins preparations for the war
with the Northerners. She follows her new king, Corlath, along with the rest of
his Riders along his journeys gathering his people and building up his army’s
strength. Eventually, Hari’s kelar begins pulling her in another
direction from the main host of the army. She runs off on a personal mission
along with her horse, her pet hunting cat, and two friends made during the
Similar to most young adult books,
it has a happy ending. Upon completion of her quest, Hari and Corlath have
saved the day. Since the book caters to a younger audience the small amount of
character development is acceptable. Regardless, the book and story are riveting
and entertaining, a marvelous read. It is an original tale that can give young
girls a powerful role model whom they can care about and admire.