McKinley, Robin: Blue Sword, The

I’d wanted to re-read Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword back when I was looking for anti-sexist fiction, but none of the libraries nearby had a copy (shock! horror!). (I reviewed it a couple of years ago.) This time I was struck by how easily the plot elements could have fallen into cliché; they’re saved as much by the understatedly wry narration, as by the carefully-built world and characters. I really like this, and hope that its repackaging as a YA novel doesn’t cause readers to overlook it.


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  1. *blink* “Re-packaging ” as a YA novel? It’s always been sold as a YA novel, hasn’t it? I ordered it from aone of those Scholastic catalogs they passed out in school, way back when.

    Anyway, The Blue Sword is one of my childhood favorites. I’ve always been a sucker for “plucky girl shows skeptical guys she’s just as good as they are” plots, and this is one of the best examples of that genre.

  2. Pam: The copy I have is not noticeably YA; it’s an Ace Fantasy mmpb with a cover blurb from the Washington Post. I’m pretty sure I got it off the SF shelves. The most recent reprinting is one of those not-quite-trade sized formats, by Puffin, and is explicitly shelved in YA (I’ve seen it).

    And I’d meant to say in my post and forgot: there is one place where the book clunks a bit, trying to use super-formal Tolkien-ese dialogue in a situation where I have trouble believing even Tolkien’s use of the language. It’s made more clunky by its contrast to the narrative style.

  3. I haven’t thought about The Blue Sword for ages… I read it when I was a “young adult”, as I was on a Robin McKinley kick at the time. Plus the cover of the copy in our library was very cool.

    I seem to recall it was very good – but I can’t quite recall much about it now.

  4. If you’ve gone allergic to “girl with horse” since, it might not work on a re-read for you; I read it first recently, but I’d venture to say that it would hold up pretty well for you now otherwise.

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