I read and re-read The Blue Sword (1982) a thousand times as a teen. There weren’t many books for teens with a sword wielding female protagonist. I lost track of the book at some point and forgot the title and the author. Years later the characters would pop into my head, especially once I started reading fantasy fiction again. I found the book again last year in a Pajiba post.
The Blue Sword is a fantasy adventure set in a world with a thinly veiled British Empire. Angahard “Harry” Crewe has joined her brother in an colonial out post at the edge of the desert after the death of her father. Harry has never fit in, and struggles to maintain her decorum in her new home, though she has found friends. The desert calls to her, but exploring, or even expressing interest in the desert are frowned upon. Before she gets too much time to become bored, Harry is kidnapped by the king of the Hillfolk, Corlath. For reasons Corlath does not understand, his magic gift has selected her for a purpose he does not understand. Eventually it becomes clear that Harry has a destiny riding her and enabling her to learn faster than natural.
It was interesting re-reading as an adult. The story edges pretty close to the white savior trope without quite crossing over completely. A more in depth understanding of the impact of colonialism makes it a slightly more uncomfortable read.
But the characters! The characters remain worth the discomfort. I’ve read a lot of ordinary person turns out to be special fantasy adventures in the last 20 years. Harry Crewe remains one of the best. She is aware that while she is a participant in her adventure, there is a force shaping her. It gives her a more complex relationship with the events happening around her. She is a clear ancestor to the heroines of Tamora Pierce, among others.