In Damar once there was a princess called Aerin who was pitifully out of place, for she was the daughter of a woman who had long been branded a witch. With a vague sense that her destiny lay elsewhere compared to where a princess’s destiny generally lies, she set out to become the best dragon slayer the realm had seen, no matter that killing dragons was a thankless and ignoble task. But it turns out her destiny was far greater than that.
I remember I got a free copy of this book from Barnes and Noble when I was little, for participating in some reading program, and I read it so many times in my early adolescence that the back cover came quite off. For twelve-year-old Pooja, this book had a mysterious magic.
It still holds up quite well as an adult. Aerin is an easy heroine to root for, faced with difficult circumstances but still wry and hard-working, and her journey to become a dragon-killer and beyond is an engaging one. I also love her relationship with Talat – it’s a hallmark of McKinley’s, these human-animal bonds, but I think it was done best here.
The parts that I did not like so much remained unliked now though. I am no fan of Luthe, who I found boring then and a little suspect now. The face-off in the five-sided room is also too reliant on luck to really be enjoyable. However, everything looks up by the end with the final battle and the reunion with Tor, which is extremely satisfying.
Now onto The Blue Sword, the prequel which I read only once and recall very little of alas.