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Literature: The Blue Sword
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley is a fantasy novel that follows Angharad "Harry" Crewe as she adjusts first to life in the Homelander colony of Daria — called Damar by its native inhabitants — and then to being kidnapped by the Damarian king, Corlath. There is also a prequel, The Hero and the Crown, which tells the story of Lady Aerin, Dragon-killer, one of Damar's greatest and most legendary heroes, who is mentioned with some frequency in The Blue Sword. There is also a midquel short story, "A Pool In The Desert," which has less swords and horses than the other two.

McKinley has said she wrote the book after reading (and being completely horrified by) The Sheik. She's referred to it as 'the anti-Sheik'.
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    Tropes in The Blue Sword 

    Tropes in The Hero and the Crown 
  • Action Girl: Aerin.
  • Artifact of Doom: Maur's skull, which radiates depression over the whole city, almost causing them to lose the final battle against the Northerners.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Aerin is implied to do this at the end of her reign, to become a sort of patron spirit for Damar.
  • Break the Haughty: Galanna, who is widowed and very much subdued by the end of the novel.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Aerin suffers a great deal through her heroics. After the fight with Maur, she was severely burned and would have died from the aftereffects if Luthe hadn't turned her immortal.
  • Black Sheep: Aerin. The only people who don't dislike her for her mother's sake are her father, cousin, and nurse.
  • Body to Jewel: The last drop of a dragon's blood shed when it dies becomes a gemstone. In the case of most dragons, it's too small to bother looking for, but one that comes from a great dragon is a very valuable treasure.
  • Cool Horse: Aerin inherits her father's retired cavalry charger, Talat. Somewhat played with in that she only gets him because he's crippled and useless to everyone else. At first.
  • Death by Childbirth: assumed to be the reason behind Aerin's mother's death.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Aerin's uncle Agsded.
  • Fantastic Racism: Against the Northerners. Aerin's Northern heritage on her mother's side is often held against her; and sure enough, in The Blue Sword nobody in Damar even remembers that their national heroine was related to their worst enemies.
  • Gentleman Snarker: Perlith.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: The cousinly version, with Galanna.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Aerin and the royal family, Luthe.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Agsded does his level best to destroy Aerin's confidence by telling her that her people despise her, her father finds her merely a useful tool, and Tor only loves her because she bewitched him without knowing it. When he starts belittling Luthe, however, who Aerin knows perfectly well is a great wizard, she sees right through him and delivers the following retort:
  • The Horde: The Northerners
  • I Fell for Hours: Aerin climbs an insanely long staircase, then falls back down. Both the climbing and the falling take quite a long time.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Aerin, after her lungs are burned in the fight against Maur. She survives, but at a high price.
  • Immortality: Luthe has either Type I or Type II.
    • Aerin might possibly have Type XI following her dip in the Lake of Dreams.
      • It might also be Type II, depending on how you interpret her climb and fall.
  • The Jeeves: Teka, Aerin's maid and the closest thing she has to a mother, who feels free to scold and fuss over her mistress even when the rest of the court reveres her as a heroine.
  • Important Haircut: After Maur scorches most of Aerin's hair off, it grows back thinner and darker. Teka cuts it shoulder-length and it stays that way.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: It's Agsded who first points out to Aerin that Tor is in love with her.
  • The Kingdom: Damar
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Aerin kills a dragon.
  • Love Triangle: A rare example in that Aerin actually gets both men: first an ordinary lifetime ruling Damar with her husband Tor, then an immortal one with Luthe.
  • Magic Warrior: Aerin
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Aerin tweaks this, reflecting that the only evidence that she's her father's daughter is that her father's wife bore her — but not even Aerin's worst enemies think that badly of her mother.
  • Mayfly-December Romance: Aerin and Luthe, which makes his Anguished Declaration of Love particularly touching.
    Luthe: "I will love you until the stars crumble, which is a much less idle threat than is usual for lovers on parting."
  • Mushroom Samba: non-comedic version. Aerin is tricked into eating the herb, which is supposedly poisonous to non-Royals, and spends several months being frightened of purple smoke demons.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Used, in that most Damarian dragons are little more than dumb beasts which are considered pests (although they do breathe fire). Averted by the great dragons, which are evil, ancient, and generally fit the description of classic Western-style dragons, although without the piles of gold or kidnapping of maidens.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Aerin's hair is originally around knee-length (actually, it's ankle-length when wet). Galanna also has waist-length hair.
  • Rebellious Princess
  • Red-Headed Hero
  • Secret Legacy
  • Sleep Cute: Aerin watches Luthe this way during their last night together.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Aerin versus her cousin Galanna.
  • Time Abyss: Luthe.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Aerin and Tor.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Aerin and Tor both feel this way about King Arlbeth, although in Tor's case it's "well done, nephew".

     Tropes in "A Pool In The Desert" 

The Tillerman Family SeriesNewbery MedalThe Wish Giver
Blue RabbitFantasy LiteratureBone Dance
Blood MusicLiterature of the 1980sThe Bone People

alternative title(s): The Hero And The Crown; A Pool In The Desert; The Blue Sword; A Pool In The Desert; The Hero And The Crown
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