The Blue Sword

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The Blue Sword
The Blue Sword.jpg
Cover of first edition
AuthorRobin McKinley
Cover artistDavid McCall Johnston
CountryUnited States
PublisherGreenwillow Books
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
LC ClassPZ7.M1988 Bl 1982k

The Blue Sword is a fantasy novel written by American author Robin McKinley. It follows Angharad "Harry" Crewe, a recently orphaned young woman, to a remote military outpost in colonized Damar where her brother is stationed. When she meets Corlath, the mystical king of the Damarian Hillfolk, Harry discovers her own magical powers and a destiny that leads her to save Damar from invasion.[1]

The Blue Sword was first published in 1982 by Greenwillow Books.[2] It received the Newbery Honor Award, the Horn Book Fanfare award, the ALA Best of the Best Books for Young Adults award, the ALA Notable Children's Book award and the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults award.[3]

McKinley published The Hero and the Crown, a prequel to The Blue Sword, in 1985.[4]

Plot summary[edit]

From the publisher[edit]

This is the story of Harry Crewe, the Homelander orphan girl who became Harimad-sol, King's Rider, and heir to the Blue Sword, Gonturan, that no woman had wielded since the Lady Aerin herself bore it into battle.[5]


After the death of her father, Angharad "Harry" Crewe joins her brother Richard in Istan, a remote military outpost of the colonial power known as the Homeland. Soon after her arrival, she is kidnapped by King Corlath of the independent Hillfolk people of Damar.

Corlath had intended only to warn the Homelanders of an impending invasion by the demonic tribes of the North. After his warning is ignored, his "kelar" (a hereditary magical power) compels him to take Harry captive. Corlath does not understand what purpose Harry will serve, but commands his people to treat her as an honored guest. Harry soon adjusts to life with the Damarians. She learns their language and customs and begins to train as a warrior. After demonstrating her horseback riding and combat skills in a tournament, she is made one of the King's Riders. Corlath also presents her with a blue sword that had belonged to the legendary Damarian hero Lady Aerin.

As the Northern invasion approaches, Harry feels torn between loyalty to Homeland and her new-found love for Damar. She must defy Corlath and use all her skills—including the power of her own kelar—to bring Homelanders and Damarians together and defeat the Northerners.

Major Characters[edit]

  • Harry Crewe (protagonist): A penniless orphan who is sent off to the remote colony of Daria to be near her brother Richard. Proud, stubborn, and willful, she clashes with many personalities around her. Because of her magical Gift and willingness to learn, she finds her place among the Hillfolk while still holding on to the culture of her homeland.
  • Corlath: King of the Hillfolk of Damar and one of the few who still possess the magical gift. Though he is loved by his people, he too is proud and stubborn in acting in what he believes to be his people's best interests.
  • Colonel Jack Dedham: A Homelander and military commander of the outpost in Istan. He is one of the few Homelanders who bothers to learn about the Hillfolk and grows to love their culture.
  • Mathin: One of Corlath's Riders and Harry's teacher of warfare as well as the Hillfolk's language and culture.


  1. Newbery Honor Award[6]
  2. ALA Best Book for Young Adults[7]
  3. ALA Notable Book[8]


  1. ^ McKinley, Robin (1982). The Blue Sword. New York: Greenwillow Books. ISBN 978-0441068807.
  2. ^ McKinley, Robin. "The Blue Sword". Amazon. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  3. ^ McKinley, Robin. "The Blue Sword". Harper Collins. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  4. ^ Rosenberg, Merri (January 27, 1985). "Children's books: The Hero and the Crown". The New York Times. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  5. ^ "The Blue Sword Blurb". USA Penguin Group. Retrieved 2012-01-22.
  6. ^ "Newbery Honor". Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  7. ^ Cullinan, Bernice E. and Person, Diane Goetz. The Continuum Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2006, p. 537.
  8. ^ McKinley, Robin. The Blue Sword. HarperCollins, 1982, Contents.