1. This is one of my all-time favorite books – but I am a fantasy lover! I read it aloud to my little brother when he was 12, then to my husband, and have just started reading it aloud to my almost-11-year-old. I do love McKinley’s characters and writing style, though I could see how the fantasy would be harder to enjoy if you don’t enjoy fantasy to start with.

    • One of my all-time favorite books, along with the companion novel The Blue Sword. Try reading that one. You may enjoy it more. It’s a little more straight action/adventure with a little fantasy/magic thrown in. It takes place in the same world, just many, many generations after The Hero and the Crown. Again with a strong heroine who grows into her strength of character. Hmm…I may have to go reread these.

  2. I’ll third the recommendation to try Blue Sword; I liked both of them, but it’s Sword I find myself rereading more often, probably because the Harry-Corlath romance is so wonderful. Harry starts off not even believing in magic, so the fantasy elements are introduced slowly and are always subordinate to the adventure/politics/relationships plotlines.

    You also might like Dragonhaven: it’s less fantasy-like because it’s set in a world almost identical to ours, except dragons are real.

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