For week 14, I read The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. A friend of mine, hearing about my quest to read more this year, shoved a pair of books in my hands and ordered me to read them. This might sound bossy, but it’s generally what it takes for me to read something in any sort of timely fashion, as general recommendations might not make their way into the bookish bit of my brain for months, when I stumble across the book on my own anyway. Given that these books were published some time ago, that seemed unlikely to happen anytime soon.
The Blue Sword is somewhere between fantasy and alternate history, but without the anachronistic attitudes, references or language that tend to crop up in fantasy and really ruin it for me. The narrative remains consistent, in a more formal literary style that matches the content, I think. Perhaps that’s as much due to the rather British heroine as the author; no waifish pining for the rippling muscles of the dimpled hero as she mashes turnips, or anything like that. It’s more high fantasy than the novels I generally get my hands on, so clearly this is the corner of the genre I should really be reading.
A minor flaw of the genre is that, in keeping the heroine in the dark, the reader is also kept in the dark about what is important, what is about to happen, etc. That made me a bit less enthusiastic about picking it up each time, but I think it makes up for it in staying power. The heroine herself was awfully stoic, which meant she behaved sensibly pretty much all of the time, and that did get a little dull while I waited for something significant to happen. Still, I liked it enough to consent to read another in the series. It’s a bit out of my comfort zone, where I have firmly ensconced myself in fast-paced fluff that generally doesn’t require much in the way of brainpower. I suppose this is one of the things I wanted to change with this challenge.