The Blue Sword

The Blue Sword

by Robin McKinley


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Harry Crewe is an orphan girl who comes to live in Damar, the desert country shared by the Homelanders and the secretive, magical Hillfolk. Her life is quiet and ordinary-until the night she is kidnapped by Corlath, the Hillfolk King, who takes her deep into the desert. She does not know the Hillfolk language; she does not know why she has been chosen. But Corlath does. Harry is to be trained in the arts of war until she is a match for any of his men. Does she have the courage to accept her true fate?

"McKinley's spare and eloquent prose is sheer delight... a compelling portrait of the vibrant, wryly humorous Harry." -School Library Journal, starred review

"This is a zesty, romantic heroic...." -Booklist, starred review


( A 1983 Newbery Honor Book
( An ALA Notable Book
( An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780141309750
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 10/01/2000
Series: Newbery Honor Roll
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 443,796
Product dimensions: 5.13(w) x 7.81(h) x 0.73(d)
Lexile: 1030L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Robin McKinley has won various awards and citations for her writing, including the Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown and a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword. Her other books include Sunshine; the New York Times bestseller Spindle's End; two novel-length retellings of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Beauty and Rose Daughter; and a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, The Outlaws of Sherwood. She lives with her husband, the English writer Peter Dickinson.

Table of Contents

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The Blue Sword 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 270 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thought it was a great book. It had a plot and setting that gave it the inch of believability it needed to indulge the less fantastical of readers, while still redeeming its magic and originality. Kept a good pace, and had enough going on to surprise you on the next go 'round. Great characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first read this book in high school and I fondly remember it as one of my first encounters with a book that changed what I percieved books capable of. I have read more books than I can begin to count, and I read them all in the hope that they will transport me as The Blue Sword did so many years ago. The characters are well developed, the landscape and history lush with detail and enchantment, and the plot is well written and tight without unintelligible tangents. I highly, highly recommend.
Kaitlyn Burke More than 1 year ago
I reread this book about every two years and Hari's character inspires me every time. Who says girls can't rise above what's expected of them and surprise everyone around them with what they can accomplish? Robin Makinley, you challenged me to show the world my best through your work. As I accomplish each of my goals, I reread this book and celebrate Hari's joyous successes as well as my own. J Waldrep
Guest More than 1 year ago
My sister gave this book to me when I was in junior high. I read it and was immediately enchanted by it. It is an adventurous love story with a heroine any girl can admire. I have reread this book dozens of times and it is always just as good as the first time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recently picked up this old favorite of mine for the first time in many years. I'm 30, an attorney, and my tolerance for poor writing has dwindled since I was a teen. I love this book. I still love it. McKinley builds a complete world, with coherent characters and an edge of mystery, without page puffing. (One note: it's not screenplay-type writing (every little visual detail described) and the magic, such as it is, is not reduced to numbing detail (author falls in love with own ideas). A lot of fantasy these days seems to fall into those categories.)
Guest More than 1 year ago
And Harry is so awesome! She's has a great personality, and I like that guy she ends up with--I don't remember his name, though. I thought this had a really good story-line, was well-written, and what some people would call slow paced, I call CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. The author made time to develop the characters, but didn't let the story drag out, either. I loved this book so much! I read it in one day or so.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read this for the first time in middle school. And let me tell you, I hated to read. But this turned my view on books around.  McKindley has a certain way of writing that grabs you in her world and make you fell like you're there. Everything was spot on with this book including character development, culture and environmental descriptions, and story line development.  It's just the right amount of magic, danger, and romance that an adventure book needs. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are some books you read and can walk away from. There are other books like the Blue Sword that you can read over and over again. I first read this book when I was 13 and I have am now 26 and I will pick it up every  couple years and fall in love over again.I have reread this book at least 100 times in the 13yrs I have owned it. It is wrinkled and torn and I recommend it to everyone. I also recommend the other Robin McKinley books especially .... lol well all over them :)
SunakiaPrincess More than 1 year ago
I first read this book when I was about 11 and loved it. 14 years later it's still one of my favorites
Katastrofi More than 1 year ago
I first read this book almost 20 years ago, and I reread it at leas twice a year still. Harry Crewe's adventures fueled many a daydream for me and I hope that her sense of adventure and honor fill your life as they have filled mine.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book. Action, romance, a new and mysterious land...what more could you ask for?!?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books i have ever read. i love the fact that there is a strong female as the main charater.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was really good. Not for you if you do like the quick-read, i-wanna-know-what-happens-NOW!-book person, because it is kind of slow, but it is still reasonably so. It was extremely Robin McKinley-ish, and that is what I love!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book for the first time in the 5th grade for the Battle of the Books competition and Ive reread it many times since. Robin McKinley has a gift for storytelling, and every time I read, I can see the beautiful horses, the colorful clothing of the Hill people, and their beautiful city. I can hear the clamor of battle and can feel Narknon's purrs. Everything in this book is so... real. The imagery alone is enough to bring tears to my eyes. The story is masterfully told, and I can't wait to read another one of her books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has that page turning thing about it that you always hear people talking a bout.Robin M. is able to write like she is there and is feeling what the people are feeling.I read this book in school and I loved it so much that I got in troble for reading when I was suposed to be waching the teacher. Robin has a great way of bringing two stories together and then intertwining them. This is the most inthrolling book ever.
BookWrangler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I first read The Hero and the Crown and adored it until I read The Blue Sword, which I loved even more. A great strong heroine, a quiet romance with both a king and his country, horses, giant cats, magic, battles, friendship...what's not to like? I reread this book more often than almost any other out of pure joy.
bell7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Harry Crewe's (don't ask her real first name) parents die, she has to move closer to her brother Richard, which means becoming the ward of Lady Amelia and Sir Charles. She falls in love with this wild Hill country and becomes embroiled in the political climate when Corlath, king of the Damarians, comes to parley with Sir Charles. Corlath's magic won't let him forget her, however, so he kidnaps her knowing she has some sort of part to play in the coming war with the Northerners.I have no real complaints: the characters were interesting (especially Corlath), the story well told. But I never felt fully invested in the story, nor did I feel compelled to read if the book were not already in my hands.
heidialice on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Harry Crewe is uprooted from her birth home and transplanted to the desert, where she finds a strange kinship with the natives. When she is kidnapped, she becomes one of them.This is a book I remember from my own youth with a great deal of fondness. Harry is a strong heroine, tough and feisty. It lives up to all my recollections of it. My only criticisms are of the long ecological and political descriptions (a la Dune!). Also very strange is Harry¿s quiet acceptance of being kidnapped explained weakly by ¿fate¿ or kelar. The romance is understated and very well-done.
Januaryhat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I discovered this book as a preteen and though I loved my flimsy paperback copy to tatters, I don't think I've read it again since I was 15 or so. My original copy came to light this morning, complete with highschool homework bookmarks; we spent the afternoon getting reacquainted. The Blue Sword is a lovely little adventure tale: misfit girl gets a horse, an army and a sword and ultimately finds her place in the world. Not a new formula, but still fun, sweet and charmingly written.A book I love not just for the content, but for the memories that come along with it.
MuseofIre on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sweeping and romantic in the best sense of the word. The world of Damar is utterly real, and so are the people who inhabit it. I admire Harry's inner strength, determination, and self-confidence, and Corlath is one of the sexiest heroes I've ever come across; I've been in love with him for years.
jjmcgaffey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite books. Oddly enough, although Harry herself feels like she's being pushed around and 'ridden' by...something...that lets her learn all she needs to know, she doesn't feel as passive as Aerin. Possibly because she thinks about her situation more, and considers alternatives even though she doesn't take them? I don't know. Actually, part of it may be the Homelander aspect, since I grew up in Afghanistan and have always loved tales of the Raj, which is why I love Damar stories. It's not the Raj...exactly, but the attitudes of those involved are quite similar. The only problem with Damar is that there's so little of it - only two novels and a short story, that I know of. OK, love LT again - _several_ short stories.
aapike on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Harry is a girl unlike any other. She is taller than most men, loves the desert setting that she is currently living in, and bravely meets the eyes of a king that most men are uncomfortable being in the same room with. So when this king kidnaps Harry, she is thrust into a world unlike any she has ever experienced before-a life in the Hills, where strange powers and seeing water guides peoples' actions. What Harry does not know, is that her ancestors are from the Hills, and it is her destiny to become a part of their culture, and possibly save them all from destruction.
atimco on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Blue Sword is one of my ultimate comfort reads, the rare sort of novel that you first encounter in your teens that only gets better every time you revisit it. Of Robin McKinley's fine body of work, this novel is arguably one of the best, and proves her place as one of the best fantasy authors writing today. A young woman named Harry ¿ short for her hated name, Angharad ¿ has come to the border town of Istan in Damar, a possession of the Homeland crown, as a charity case. Her brother is a subaltern in Her Majesty's army, and when their father died he was left with an entailed estate and an unmarried sister on his hands. Harry is extremely tall and awkward, lacking the beauty that might have made her position easier. Though Lady Amelia and Sir Charles are kindness itself to Harry, her real comfort in her new life is derived from a secret joy in the harsh, beautiful desert. Little does she know that she is about to involuntarily make its acquaintance on much closer terms ¿ and join a desperate attempt to save Damar from the onrush of the demonic Northern army.What a brilliant idea, to model a fantasy world from life during historical British imperialist rule. "Homeland" is very similar to England, and its characters are properly British in their ideas and manners. Damar's desert culture provides a lovely backdrop for the action of the story, and becomes more than that over the course of the story. It is almost a character in its own right, and forms a large part of the characters' motivations. This is definitely a fantasy novel to read for its world-building.The characters are wonderful. Harry is fascinating because she is very observant and stubborn, though she tries to meet the expectations of those around her. Her wry sense of humor makes the events of the story feel believable, and she is a good judge of character. But we also get to see her insecurities and fears, which make her accessible and well rounded. I love the snippets of magic and history that we get, that are later explained in The Hero and the Crown. Corlath is also well written, and of course Tsornin and Mathin and the others all have distinct personalities conveyed well in a few words. McKinley's economy of language is so precise and tight. Every word adds something meaningful to the story, lets us in a little closer to what is happening both externally and within the characters. This isn't always the case with her work ¿ the denouéments of several of her novels are so wildly descriptive and powerful that they are sometimes unclear as to what is actually taking place ¿ but this doesn't happen here. The end of the story is as satisfying as the language in which it is told. And as I was rereading this time, I couldn't help but wish for a really faithful film adaptation of this story. It would be amazing onscreen if it were done well, if the actors could convey all the unspoken undercurrents in the relationships. With its tight plot, compelling characters, authentic cultures, and deft writing, The Blue Sword is a wonderful example of top-notch fantasy writing. It's one of my all-time favorite books, and I can't recommend it highly enough.
janemarieprice on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A noble woman is kidnapped by a strange people but comes to understand and champion them. I had a hard time engaging with Harry because she was so withdrawn; however, I think this was appropriate given the plot. I prefer The Hero and the Crown to this which is a bit more straight forward narrative.
veevoxvoom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: Harry is a Homelander, a part of a group that has been colonizing a new land. The Homelanders have a tense relationship with the natives of that land, the Damarians. During a diplomatic mission, the king of the Damarians kidnaps Harry, and as she tries to find a new life among a new people, she also learns she is heir to a legend that can bring the two groups together.Review: This is a classic in young adult fantasy. I remember in grade six, another class read this book for a project and I was really jealous because I wanted to read it too. Well, now I have, and I think overall it¿s a pretty good book. It does interesting things with the rarely explored subject of colonialism in fantasy novels, and how the colonizer and the colonized interact. It admirably avoids racist implications, and is actually a subversion of the trope where the Sheik kidnaps the blonde, blue-eyed woman and makes her his slave. However, I¿m not too fond of stories where people do great things just because it is their destiny to do so, and I¿m afraid that was the case with Harry. She wasn¿t a weak character, but nothing in her ever made it believable that she would be the one to carry Lady Aerin¿s torch and become a great warrior. I mean, yes, she does have a learning curve (not all novels do, unfortunately), but for a girl who has never really fought to suddenly defeat the king in combat? It felt too easy. I wanted to see her struggle more. The same with her acceptance of Damarian culture. Harry starts the novel as a bit of an outcast from her own culture, which makes it easier for her to become Damarian. But with her quick change, I think we lose what could have been a more poignant exploration of what it is like to go from one culture to another. Harry never really had a moment where she was too alienated or questioned Damarian morals or practices. I am a first-generation immigrant, so I thought her experience was somewhat idealized and unrealistic.Also, I wish we could have learned more about the Northerners. They were the bad guys that the Homelanders and the Damarians teamed up against, but sometimes it felt like they were just a scapegoat, conveniently evil so that they don¿t have to be subject to the same cultural analysis that the Damarians were treated with.And I never fell in love with either Harry or Corlath, and they were the main characters. They were certainly better than some characters I have read, but they didn¿t get me excited to read more.Conclusion: An even-handed exploration of culture clashes and imperialism, but there were some things that kept it from being fantastic rather than merely good.