Does it count as a reread if you don’t remember anything about the books? These have been on my shelf for years, but I remembered nothing but dragons.
Aerin is a princess, but not the Disney variety. Her mother was a commoner and a witch, and the people of her father’s kingdom don’t like her much. She keeps to herself, feeling alone and useless, until one day she decides to take fate into her own hands and rides off to become a dragon hunter. She trains a trusty steed and earns a magical sword, then goes out to defeat evil, find her kingdom’s lost (magical, of course) crown, and save the day.
Generations later, Harry is an orphan, living with her soldier brother’s commanding officer. She finds being a charity case in a new land a little boring, but feels ungrateful at the thought. The Homelander fort that is her new home is part of a military operation to take over all the land they can, including Aerin’s country of Damar. When the current king of Damar, Corlath, comes to the Homelander fort to ask for aid against the vague but assuredly evil “Northerners,” he is rebuffed. However, the Gift/spark of magic in his blood coerces him into kidnapping Harry for reasons unknown. Harry gets her own training montage, falls in love with the land and the king, and becomes a hero to her new people.
I read these in chronological story order, even though they were written the other way, and I’m glad I did. I liked The Hero and the Crown muuuuuuch better. Harry as a character is great, and I liked her very much, but the rest of The Blue Sword was kind of maddening. Harry never asks questions about why she was kidnapped and what she’s doing in Damar. When it’s discovered that she also has the Gift, and likely very powerful, it’s completely ignored, even though they’re at war, and she gets a thorough training in swordfighting and warhorses. Why wouldn’t they talk about her magic? Why wouldn’t they train her? They basically say, “Hey, kidnapped teenager, here’s Aerin’s sword, the battlefield is that way. Good luck!” There are also two big magical items (the hero’s crown and the dragonstone) that should have been available to the struggling Damarians, but are never discussed, probably because McKinley hadn’t written them yet (the problems of prequels!).
So The Hero and the Crown gets a four, and goes back on my shelf. The Blue Sword gets a three, and is going in the pile to trade at the used bookstore.