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1. Pegasus
2. Chalice
3. Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits
4. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story
5. Sunshine
6. Rose Daughter
7. Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits
8. Dragonhaven
9. The Hero and the Crown
10. A Robin McKinley Collection
11. The Door in the Hedge
12. The Outlaws of Sherwood
13. Deerskin
14. The Blue Sword
15. Spindle's End
16. A Knot in the Grain and Other
17. Rowan
18. The Stone Fey
19. Imaginary Lands
20. Beauty (Orbit Books)

1. Pegasus
by Robin McKinley
Hardcover: 400 Pages (2010-11-02)
list price: US$18.99 -- used & new: US$10.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0399246770
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A gorgeously written fantasy about the friendship between a princess and her Pegasus.

Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pagasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own Pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially-trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication.

But its different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close-so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo-and possibly to the future safety of their two nations.

New York Times bestselling Robin McKinley weaves an unforgettable tale of unbreakable friendship, mythical creatures and courtly drama destined to become a classic. ... Read more

2. Chalice
by Robin McKinley
Paperback: 272 Pages (2010-09-16)
list price: US$8.99 -- used & new: US$5.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142417203
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Mirasol is a beekeeper, a honey-gatherer, with an ability to speak to the ÒearthlinesÓÑthe sentient parts of Willowlands, where she lives. The concerns of Master, Chalice, and Circle, who govern Willowlands, have nothing to do with herÑuntil the current Master and Chalice die in a fire and leave no heirs to take their places. The MasterÕs closest relative has been a priest of Fire for the past seven years; he is not quite human anymore. And then the Circle comes to Marisol and tells her that she is the new Chalice, and it will be up to her to bind the land and its people with a Master, the touch of whose hand can burn human flesh to the bone. . . . ... Read more

Customer Reviews (61)

2-0 out of 5 stars Felt like a draft, not a final novel
I was really disappointed in the first 75% of this book.I found myself staring at 1 sentence paragraphs that remind me of paragraphs I sometimes write -- and then go back and flesh out.That was not done.None of the characters except for Mirasol are anything but shadows, which makes the resulting love match completely unbelievable.The abrupt crescendo to the staccato ending is enjoyable, but also made me think how much better a book this could have been if it was fleshed out and fully loved to completion by its author.Also, the *bam* ending as if the author is saying "thank god I got to 50,000 words and can send this to the publisher" is a let down.

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointed Fan
I have re-read The Blue Sword and The Hero's Crownthousand times since I first picked them up as a child. In comparison, this book's world, characters, and plot are thin and uncompelling.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another gem
Another beautifully drawn world from Robin McKinley, with believable characters and a fully-fleshed out society. Part of my joy in McKinley's work comes from her ability to create an entirely believable world without explaining every last thing about it in Chapter 1--the world just IS, and we learn about it as the story progresses.I look forward to more stories in the world of Chalice!

5-0 out of 5 stars If SUNSHINE made you want cinnamon rolls, CHALICE makes you want honey.
I read this book when it first came out in 2008, and I *still* think about it whenever I buy honey, see a bee, or just burn myself on something. The story of Chalice and Master is another Beauty and the Beast in a different world, cast with different characters, but with the same sweetness and thoughtfulness of Robin's BEAUTY and ROSE DAUGHTER.

One word of warning: buy a big jar of nice honey before you start reading this. And fresh bread. You'll want it.

1-0 out of 5 stars Strike Two....
I haven't decided if I am going to finish this book.Robin McKinley was my favorite author as a girl.I grew up reading and rereading The Blue Sword and Beauty.They filled my dreams and fed my imagination.

I don't know what has happened, but I have been extremely disappointed with both Dragonhaven and now Chalice.I'm about 30 pages into Chalice, and it IS boring and tedious, just as others have mentioned.I was hoping it would get better, but it sounds like I shouldn't hold my breath.

If this is your only experience with Robin McKinley's writing, and if you are ready to forever shelve her books because of her more recent work...DON'T.GO GET BEAUTY!It's timeless and beautifully told.Then try the Blue Sword.They are her two best books in my opinion.Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast The Blue Sword ... Read more

3. Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits
by Robin McKinley, Peter Dickinson
Hardcover: 304 Pages (2009-10-29)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$6.68
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B003STCQZC
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Master storytellers Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson, the team behind Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits, collaborate again to create five captivating tales incorporating the element of fire.

In McKinley’s “First Flight,” a boy and his pet foogit unexpectedly take a dangerous ride on a dragon, and her “Hellhound” stars a mysterious dog as a key player in an eerie graveyard showdown. Dickinson introduces a young man who must defeat the creature threatening his clan in “Fireworm,” a slave who saves his village with a fiery magic spell in “Salamander Man,” and a girl whose new friend, the guardian of a mystical bird, is much older than he appears in “Phoenix.”

With time periods ranging from prehistoric to present day, and settings as varied as a graveyard, a medieval marketplace and a dragon academy, these stories are sure to intrigue and delight the authors’ longtime fans and newcomers alike. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

2-0 out of 5 stars Fire collection is half baked
I'm surprised at all the glowing reviews for this collection. Robin McKinley's and Peter Dickinson's Water collection was not perfect but a joy nonetheless, all the stories well crafted and full of interesting surprises. Fire, their latest installment in the projected elementals series, is not as strong. The stories suffer from being under- or overwritten, some confusing plot holes, and in some cases a real lack of cohesion. One by one summaries without giving away too much of the plot:

1. Phoenix by Peter Dickinson--an elderly man finds a phoenix and interesting things happen as a result. The story didn't particularly grip me but I realize this is more of a personal preference, so I will say it is at least well written. It also touches upon some thought-provoking themes of rebirth, hope, and religion.

2. Hellhound by Robin McKinley--a teen girl who works on her family horse ranch buys a new dog that is more than he seems. This one was also well written and easy to read. The hellhound was lovable, the family dynamic engaging, and the suspense really nail-biting at times. All in all a strong story.

3. Fireworm by Peter Dickinson--a young man in a prehistoric setting must fight off a fireworm that consistently steals the tribe's fire. The collection goes downhill from here. It's not the subject matter; I adore prehistoric fantasy, such as Maroo of the Winter Caves and Boy of the Painted Cave. The mythos in this story evoked Native American mythology. But I didn't much like that the women, even so early on in history, just sat around not doing or saying much of anything; they existed purely as possessions to the men. Surely every member of a prehistoric clan was important to the tribe's survival, yet here all the women do is cook and sit in the cave and wait for the men to barter them off in marriage. More to the point of the story, I don't have a clear sense of why the fireworm was such a danger to the humans. The whole story hinged on the need to kill the creature, but it never came across as a real threat to their survival.

4. Salamander Man by Peter Dickinson--a young man is sold to an enigmatic new master and the salamanders (mystical fire beings in this story) have a task for him. I was very invested in this story, in the touching relationship between the boy and his former owner, the strong characterizations. But it was much too short. A whole string of events happens, then the salamanders explain some hefty backstory, and just like that, the tale is over. Love is in the offing in the future, but it means nothing because I never spent enough time with these characters or saw much of their world.

5. First Flight by Robin McKinley--a young man accompanies his elder brother to the dragon riding Academy when he learns that his brother's first flight (a right of passage) may not work due to the dragon's injury. This is the longest story in the book at over 120 pages and it certainly lags in places. The world is enticing but haphazardly sketched, the characters largely peripheral. The only character I thoroughly loved was Sippy, the narrator's little pet dragon. The narrator himself has little backbone and his self-deprecating, deer-in-headlights behavior does not improve by the end, even when important things are at stake. Much of the really interesting material is told to us via the narrator's rambling style, rendering the tale static and distant. To be fully effective, the story needs either to be fleshed out into a full novel or cut all the filler and show us the important events in scene. When you feel that any of the characters would have made a better protagonist than the narrator, you know something isn't working for the story.

There are five stories and five stars. Two stars for the first two stories for being well written and plotted. Minus three for the story that was over before it started and the two that lagged. I hate to be so harsh on this book as I was really looking forward to it. Robin McKinley is a terrific author, and while the only Dickinson I've read so far were his Water stories, I enjoyed those just as much as McKinley's. In this collection, I feel both authors needed to spend more time on their stories.

4-0 out of 5 stars They are great together
The tales are both exciting and fun to read.Sometimes, I would stop and think, now is this Robin or Peter.I never read short stories much but I certainly make an exception of this book.It's a good book to pick up when you know you only have a short time to read.

5-0 out of 5 stars five fine fiery fantasy fables
"Phoenix" by Peter Dickinson.In Britain elderly caretakers Dave and Ellie begin to care for the ancient Egyptian Phoenix, who struggles with the change in climate; the pair is rewarded for their kindness in an unexpected way.

"Hellhound" by Robin McKinley.Miri rescues the red-eyed dog from a shelter; not anticipating her kindness will be reciprocated when her canine stands at her side during a confrontation with an evil spirit in a graveyard.

"Fireworm" Peter Dickinson.The fireworm threatens the Home Cave of the dwelling clan.Tandin challenges the beast on the spirit plain, but is stunned to realize the enemy has a mate that it protects from the cave-dwellers.

"Salamander Man" by Peter Dickinson.Tib the orphan is sold to a mage, which leads to his turning into a blazing giant freeing the salamanders and the city residents from the abusive magicians.

"First Flight" by Robin McKinley.Ern prefers to hide in the shadows as he is the subject of ridicule when he is out in the open.His extroverted brother Dag comes home fuming because an injured dragon is assigned to a task that the beast cannot accomplish, yet encouraged by a wizard Ern enables the beast to enter Flame Space.

The sequel to Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits contains five fine fiery fantasy fables that young high school students will enjoy.

Harriet Klausner

4-0 out of 5 stars I wish Robin's stories could have continued
A collection of short stories based around the magical element of Fire.A companion novel to Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits.

I should start with the fact that I fell in love with Robin McKinley's writing when I was first given her Blue Sword novels in 7th grade. This compilation is no exception, though my problem with her short stories is that I never want them to end... I also enjoyed Peter Dickinson's stories, though I've never read a full novel written by him.
Here are my thoughts on the five stories in the collection.
Phoenix by Peter Dickinson - A story about the way a phoenix changes the lives of the people it meets in England. While I enjoyed this story, I did find some of the dialect a bit difficult to follow. I also thought that all of the characters, with the exception of Dave to be a bit flat.
Hellhound by Robin McKinley - The adoption of a really ugly dog changes a young woman forever. I really enjoyed this story, with it's slight dip into the modern, paranormal world. I wish that the story could have continued and shown what other situations could have been conquered.
Fireworm by Peter Dickinson - In a time when fire is the greatest technology, an outcast young man must save his clan from a fireworm. My favorite of Peter Dickinson's stories. I really enjoyed the bittersweet aspects of the story, and that Peter allowed us to know the other side of the coin.
Salamander Man by Peter Dickinson - A young slave is taken from the only home he has known and left alone is a bare room. I enjoyed the interactions of the slave and his owner, but the middle of the story fell a little bit flat for me.
First Flight by Robin McKinley - Ern wants to heal and help people in a land where healers are considered disreputable because no one should admit to needing healing. When his brother, a dragon rider cadet, comes home with the news that he has been assigned to a broken dragon for his First Flight, Ern must stop hiding himself to help his brother and dragon, finding a place for himself in the process.
This is the longest story in the collection, and could have easily gone on to become a whole book. I definitely did not want this story to stop when it did, and wanted to know what kind of place Ern made for himself in the world. I loved it.

My Recommendation
I really enjoyed this book, and will read it again. The stories are all family friendly. If you enjoyed Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits you will also enjoy Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits.4/5 Wait for a coupon.

5-0 out of 5 stars Creative
Each of the 5 stories in this book are very different.

Pheonix - what if someone happened on the amazing creature from Egyptian theology after a museum burnt down?What would happen over time on the British countryside?

Hellhound - Robin McKinley embraces her dogs... hardworking girl adopts dog with red eyes who turns out to not be a dog, really, but is best able to handle inherent trouble...

Fireworm - Zip back in time, live in a cave w/ ancient beliefs and troubles where the unexpected raises to the challenge.Dickinson passes right by the obvious "save the humans" to examine the threat on a personal level, too.Thought-provoking!

Salamander Man - Totally trippy.From the perspective of someone seeing events as they happen and understanding afterwards.Become a slave in an old, magical world where nothing is as it seems.

First Flight - Wow!Dragon academy w/ beautiful, HUGE beasts working for the military... enter inconsequential boy w/ pet.The colors & scenes (and totally different world) are embedded in my memory forever!Not too surprisingly, this short story is 117 pgs. long... how was McKinley going to limit herself to "short"?!(In fact... I wonder if Chalice was supposed to be a short story for this book that expanded w/ a mind of it's own?There is an elemental priest of fire in it who sees bees as sparks... and core of the story is short if the diversions are intricate... ?) ... Read more

4. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast
by Robin Mckinley
Mass Market Paperback: 336 Pages (2005-08-01)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$3.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060753102
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

A strange imprisonment

Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.

When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, "Cannot a Beast be tamed?"

Robin McKinley's beloved telling illuminates the unusual love story of a most unlikely couple: Beauty and the Beast.

Amazon.com Review
This much-loved retelling of the classic French tale Beauty and the Beast elicits the familiar magical charm, but is more believable and complex than the traditional story. In this version, Beauty is not as beautiful as her older sisters, who are both lovely and kind. Here, in fact, Beauty has no confidence in her appearance but takes pride in her own intelligence, her love of learning and books, and her talent in riding. She is the most competent of the three sisters, which proves essential when they are forced to retire to the country because of their father's financial ruin.

The plot follows that of the renowned legend: Beauty selflessly agrees to inhabit the Beast's castle to spare her father's life. Beauty's gradual acceptance of the Beast and the couple's deepening trust and affection are amplified in novel form. Robin McKinley's writing has the flavor of another century, and Beauty heightens the authenticity as a reliable and competent narrator.

This was McKinley's first book, written almost 20 years ago. Since that time she has been awarded the Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown and has delighted her fans with another retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fable, Rose Daughter. Still, McKinley's first novel has a special place in the hearts of her devoted readers, many of whom attest to relishing Beauty time and again. (Ages 11 to Adult) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (279)

5-0 out of 5 stars I wanted more
As the title explains, this book retells the story of Beauty and the Beast. Since this is one of my all-time favorite fairy-tales, I was anxious for the author to get it right. I was not disappointed. I Loved it! My only complaint was the ending. It seemed to be cut a little short. I wanted to feel the arrival of all things wonderful, but instead, it just ended, and I was left feeling as if a rug had been pulled out from underneath me. Darn. Even so, I still highly recommend it. The imagery is really beautiful, the storyline is compelling, and the characters are endearing. Definitely a keeper. By the way, my daughter read it when she was fourteen and loved it too. It's a YA novel that appeals to both young adults and adults.

5-0 out of 5 stars The perfect novel
This is, quite simply, a flawless book.The characters live, the story sings, and your heartstrings are touched.It is my all-time favorite book of fiction.I reread it every now and then -- it bears rereading easily.
Robin McKinley rewrote this story twenty years later as "Rose Daughter", which she prefers.I like this one much better, though Rose Daughter is fine.Read them both and see which you like better....

5-0 out of 5 stars I fell in love again...
I read Beauty when I was a younger child in middle school, and I just now stumbled upon it again. It was even better as a senior in college than it was as a 7th grader. The book starts out with Beauty, a girl who feels ugly and awkward compared to her older sisters (Isn't that how we all felt as young girls?). Her family falls into misfortune, so they move far away to the country, beside a strange forest. One day her father gets lost in the forest on the way to town--and that is where he stumbles upon a castle that seems to tend him on its own. After a restful night, the father attempts to steal a rose for his daughter, Beauty. The Beast then demanded the father send Beauty to him. That's where all the fun begins!

Beauty connects to women so well, because Beauty feels how we often feel. The story is fast paced, but slow enough to enjoy it. You absolutely fall in love with the characters, especially the beast, and you can't help but routing for Beauty and the Beast throughout the whole book. Yet it isn't a one dimensional book, with a simple plot line and simple characters. The storyline gets tense at the end; the characters relate to people you know. When you put it down, you felt like you spent your time wisely.

I would highly suggest this book if you are looking for something amazing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beauty
I have read this book countless times and I never tire of it.Obviously this book is a retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast.In my opinion Robin McKinley couldn't have done better.The story is told in first person, from Beauty's perspective.Beauty's real name is Honour.Beauty is a name she received when she was very young and now she hates it.When her father goes off an a trip he comes across an enchanted castle.Little does he know it's enchanted.He never sees his host, but he is treated as a guest.Just as he is leaving he sees a rose and thinks of Beauty.With no other thought but of his daughter, he picks the rose.Suddenly a horrible beast comes to him demanding to know why he would steal.Beauty's father goes on to explain of how Beauty had only wanted rose seeds.The beast tells him in return for letting him live he has one month to bring back Beauty to live with him.Of course when Beauty hears the news she wants to ago against her family's wishes.

This truly was a beautiful tale and a wonderful romance.All of the characters are admirable and believable.I highly recommend this book to all.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beauty By robin McKinley
Beauty (A Retelling of The Story of Beauty & The Beast)
By Robin McKinley
Published by Harper Trophy

In this charming retelling of the famous fable, Honour nicknamed Beauty, the youngest of three daughters born to a wealthy merchant (and beloved mother since passed), has not yet grown into her lofty nickname. After the collapse of their fathers shipping business the family is forced to move away from the city and into the northern hill country to live a modest life.

Beauty takes to the country immediately though the work is hard and their means are limited. The only `rule' they are sworn to is never enter the woods. Unfortunately, a fateful error by their father takes him exactly there; and what he finds is an immense and enchanted castle. After receiving gracious hospitality and much needed rest, he begins to head home, but first cuts a rose from the garden to bring to Beauty; an unknowingly fateful move. The Beast appears immediately, and angered by this act, exacts an ultimatum, in one month either forfeit your life or send Beauty to live here forever.

Returning home, the father is resigned to living out the month with his family and then relinquishing his life. Yet Beauty demands that she be allowed to go to the Beast so that her father may live. What she finds when she arrives is wonder, enchantment and a lonely but kind Beast. A friendship is born and Beauty comes to rely on and enjoy the company of her Beast, but when she inadvertently delays a promise, she realizes her love may be lost forever.

Perfect for children, YA and adults alike, Beauty is a quintessential coming of age romantic fairytale. Filled with heartwarming morals and values, McKinley stays true to the original fable and enchantments that so delighted us as children. I would highly recommend this endearing novel to any parent as a bedtime story selection.
... Read more

5. Sunshine
by Robin McKinley
Paperback: 416 Pages (2010-04-29)
list price: US$8.99 -- used & new: US$5.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142411108
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
There hadnÕt been any trouble out at the lake in years. Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts for a minute. But then the vampires found her . . . Now, chained and imprisoned in a once-beautiful decaying mansion, alone but for the vampire, Constantine, shackled next to her, Sunshine realizes that she must call on her own hidden strength if she is to survive. But Constantine is not what she expected of a vampire, and soon Sunshine discovers that it is he who needs her, more than either of them know.

Originally published as an adult novel, but now in YA for the first time, Sunshine is an alluring and captivating vampire storyÑone that will ensnare fans of paranormals everywhere. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (407)

3-0 out of 5 stars Sunshine at dawn
...meaning the beginning was great and the end as well.The middle?Eh.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not for those who want explanation or closure
Everything is left hanging at the end. The book is divided into four parts, but for no apparent reason. The characters are introduced and wash away. I kept waiting for something to happen and was so unsatisfied at the conclusion.

4-0 out of 5 stars 3.75 Stars - Not What I Expected
I've read a lot of vampire books, and while taken at face value it would seem that Sunshine is another vampire book, those looking for a typical vampire romance or Buffy-type book will be disappointed, if they even get through Part 1.

The whole book is the internal struggle of Sunshine - meaning while there is action and dialogue, the book resembles more of a stream-of-conscious style that can take a bit to get into.It is a fairly long book, and most of it is Sunshine's thoughts, fears, and "coming to terms" with who she is and what she has to do. The action of the story, the resolution of the conflict, and the relationships between the characters are important to her realization, but play more of a supporting role.This leaves a lot of questions unanswered, questions that in other books would have been answered, or would have been fodder for book 2, but that is not the case here.

I wasn't really invested in the book until I started Part 2, but I was glad I did. Sunshine is not your typical book, but it slowly drew me in, and while I can't say I was satisfied by the ending, it was enough.I liked that it was so different from what I usually read.

1-0 out of 5 stars Couldn't dig through all the crap to get past page 50
I wanted to like this book. I wanted a new vampire book to read that didn't follow the familiar Twilight path. But honestly I just couldn't get hooked.

There's so much exposition by the narrator on every single page - pages and pages of her internal thoughts, and those thoughts come with so many names of other characters we haven't even met yet and are so jumbled and seemingly disorganized. I've never seen a book like this, and though I pushed to get to page 50, I just didn't have the energy to continue on in the same manner for the rest of the book. Thumbing through the book, you'll see there's hardly any dialogue, and there are huge thick paragraphs of the narrator thinking to herself. Picking up this book to read felt like a chore, and I opted instead for a much more readable book by another author.

I don't understand why the narrator can't just tell the story - is it really necessary to have all this detailed and sluggish information about every single detail of her history?

2-0 out of 5 stars I love Mrs. McKinley... usually
The idea was interesting, even though the "Look Inside" first pages were confusing, so I rented it from my local library.After all, how bad could it be?It was by Robin McKinley, after all.Ummm, let's just say, it wasn't worth borrowing?I couldn't really get into the book (much less, through it completely), much of Sunshine's inner monologue was babble and irritating after a while, and I don't know: I got the whole Buffy-Angel vibe, but Con was really not giving me a romantic vibe here.Just... be prepared and DO NOT judge Mrs. McKinley on this book!Try another- ANY other of her books- and you'll love them.Just hide this one.

Btw: this review refers to the first edition copy of this book, hardback version.Is there much difference? ... Read more

6. Rose Daughter
by Robin McKinley
Paperback: 304 Pages (1998-12-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$2.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441005837
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Twenty years ago, Robin McKinley dazzled readers with the power of her novel Beauty. Now this extraordinarily gifted novelist returns to the story of Beauty and the Beast with a fresh perspective, ingenuity, and mature insight.With Rose Daughter, she presents her finest and most deeply felt work--a compelling, richly imagined, and haunting exploration of the transformative power of love. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (168)

5-0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written book
I love almost everything Robin McKinley's written. It's too bad 99% of her books don't come in kindle edition, and whenever I try to hunt her down in a bookstore, the only book they have is Sunshine. Give this author some more credit!!

1-0 out of 5 stars A Shocking Disappointment Compared to "Beauty"
I adored McKinley's book "Beauty" and hoped this would be an expansion of that story (both are retellings of Beauty and the Beast)."Rose Daughter" fell terribly flat in comparison--a boring, unrelatable heroine, a sinister palace instead of the endearing enchanted "breezes" from her first book, and (spoiler warning) the beast stays a beast at the end!Nothing happens in the first half other than Beauty pruning roses and waking up to find her room covered in various creatures (frogs, hedgehogs, etc, which is never explained or given a purpose), and the last part is a confusing mash of three different stories of "what really happened to the beast" before Beauty defeats all the evil sorcerer's forces by saying "Go away!" (seriously).McKinley's descriptions in "Beauty" were vivid and creative, whereas "Rose Daughter" flounders with confusing, pointless descriptions that I couldn't visualize.I am utterly baffled, as "Beauty" is one of my all-time favorite books.As another reviewer said, "Rose Daughter" is just as awful as "Beauty" is wonderful.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great fantasy
This book is one of the best I've ever read. It's full of suspense, mystery, romance, and very believable characters. The story comes alive in new and exciting ways that I've never seen before. I've read it three times so far and will read it again and again in the future. If you have any interest in fairy tales, read this book! It's the best of the best. McKinley's other books are of the highest quality also and I recommend anyone who likes believable fantasy to read this and all of her other books.

1-0 out of 5 stars No Beauty
As wonderful as the book Beauty is, that's how awful this book is. I can't believe they even published it. It was long, boring, and pointless. It has none of the wonder and charm of Beauty, and all the characters have really annoying names.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must read for young women
I would recommend this book together with Spindle's End and The Hero and the Crown by the same author to any mother who wants to encourage daughters to become strong, courageous, self-sustaining individuals. The three sisters are such strong and good characters that raise above adversity and find their place in the world without the help of a handsome prince. We are so bombarded with images of thin, pretty, empty women who must use their looks to get the men provide for them that it is a relief and refreshing to come across books like this.

I read Rose Daughter right after I read Beauty: the Retelling of the Story and I am glad I did so. I was able to start with the simpler story line to the more complex, lush, detailed one. It sucked me in and I was reading in not to find out what next but just to be part of that world, immerse myself in the details and be part of the mystery without really wanting to know all the why's. Thank you for the wonder and the pleasure and for helping me discover great books that I will share with my daughters! ... Read more

7. Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits
by Robin McKinley, Peter Dickinson
Paperback: 304 Pages (2004-10-21)
list price: US$8.99 -- used & new: US$4.04
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142402443
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
What magical beings inhabit earth’s waters? Some are as almost-familiar as the mer-people; some as strange as the thing glimpsed only as a golden eye in a pool at the edge of Damar’s Great Desert Kalarsham, where the mad god Geljdreth rules; or as majestic as the unknowable, immense Kraken, dark beyond the darkness of the deepest ocean, who will one day rise and rule the world.These six tales from the remarkable storytellers Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson transform the simple element of water into something very powerful indeed. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fire and now water
These stories are exciting, funny tongue in cheek and derring-do.Best of all Robin gives us another Damar Story.

3-0 out of 5 stars Robin Mckinley
Robin McKinley is a very powerful man with magic. The author is Peter Dickinson. It was at a house.It was so night you couldn't spy thing.All of the boys and girls were going to plan to go to a Robin's house. The friends that were coming over were going to tell tales. The problem was the boys and girls wouldn't going to be able to go. Robin is a magical of the Earth. No one believes that right? That is why in page `'20'' it said it was called the``The Water Tales of Elemental spirits!'' The characters were Charity Goodrich, Robin, Mercy, Simon Naismith, Bennett, Hooke, Warrens, and Lyalls. It is entertaining for a young child to read. This book is great, because of it gives you details and explains how the book called `' Robin McKinley'' is related to another book they wrote. The characters do fit in the story, because this book is really creepy, and so the names were high -quality for the story.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book
I am not a short-story reader, but I am a long-time fan of Robin McKinley.I enjoyed how each story in this book was very interesting and complete in themselves.I felt the two authors blended their stories together well and added more perspective and interest.If I'd've known there were mermaids, I might have picked up this book sooner... and if I'd realized McKinley had thrown in a new one from Damar, well... now you know!I'm definitely getting Fire.

4-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable collection of fantasy short stories
This book consists of 6 short stories- 3 by Mckinley and 3 by Dickinson; as indicated by the title they all center around water.Mckinley is by far the better author, but Dickinson's contributions are worth reading as well.I always enjoy reading Robin Mckinley's short stories because they are self-contained and provide the reader with a full story.Many authors make the mistake of writing a short story as if it were a single chapter in a novel; Mckinley does not fall into this trap (which is odd, given the multitude of loose ends that exist in some of her more recent novels).This book is definitely worth the price, especially for a Mckinley fan.

4-0 out of 5 stars Strange and Fascinating
I picked up this book because it featured Robin McKinley's stories. She is a highly talented author.

Peter Dickinson's stories are on the most part drier and more brittle than McKinley's smooth, tautly woven prose. He lacks the beauty and mystery of McKinley's writing, but he introduced a fine piece in The Kraken, which is well worth the read.

McKinley, on the other hand, displays three well-turned stories that further her reputation as a writer. She never hesitates to flirt with old myths and legends, drawing on their ancient mystery, and spinning out new tales that combine old stories into her imaginative prose. Her writing is never forced or overdone. Each is seamlessly woven and smooth.

She features three stories, but The Pool in the Desert is definitely the gem of the entire collection. It tells of a girl's longing for a place she can visit only in her dreams. She falls in love with the dark sentinel of the desert, and yet she cannot stay in Damar, but is drawn back each morning to her dull life and her domineering parents. Her longing for Damar overcomes her humdrum life and she finds a way to journey to the place of her dreams. Overall, a strangely wistful but powerful story.

I'd say that the Pool in the Desert is probably the only one that shines. Water is definitely worth the read, if only as an introduction to Robin McKinley's writing. ... Read more

8. Dragonhaven
by Robin McKinley
Hardcover: 272 Pages (2007-09-20)
list price: US$17.99 -- used & new: US$5.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0017OFWJC
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Jake lives at the Makepeace Institute of Integrated Dragon Studies in Smokehill National Park. There are five million acres of the Smokehill wilderness, and the endangered dragons rarely show themselves. Jake’s never seen one except at a distance. But then, on his first overnight solo in the park, he meets a dragon—and she is dying. More than that, she has just given birth, and one of the babies is still alive. . . . ... Read more

Customer Reviews (61)

2-0 out of 5 stars Sadly disappointing
Thank goodness I checked this book out at the library. Like other reviewers, I had a lot of trouble getting through it. The only way I managed was to skip ahead to when something starting happening. Then I was able to go back and read through the whole thing. In other words, the plot was fine, but the length could easily have been cut by close to half to make a great book. McKinley also did a great job building her alternate world. Those digressions I did enjoy, learning about Smokehill's history, dragons, the political landscape, etc. The dragons were painted masterfully, intellegent yet very different from human beings. BUT--

The rambling, self-indugent voice got really, REALLY tedious. Yes, I know people can be self-absorbed and repeat themseves, and maybe this was supposed to show Jake's character, but that doesn't mean it makes a good read. As a reader, I don't need to be told something ten times to get it. Two, maybe three at most. This problem first cropped up in Sunshine. I loved Sunshine for its sassy, irreverent voice, but it also came to annoy me with its digressions and hammering certain plot elements OVER AND OVER.

It's great for writers to grow and experiment so we readers don't feel like we're getting the same ol' thing. But Dragonhaven felt more like a rush to get something written than an experiment. I have to admit, I hope this doesn't foretell a new direction for Robin McKinley, whose past novels have often ended up on my "keeper" shelf.

5-0 out of 5 stars Rescuing a Dragon
Dragonhaven (2007) is a standalone SF novel.It is set in Smokehill National Park, an isolated place far from any urban area.This park is a preserve for Draco australiensis, fire breathing dragons.They were brought into the area as eggs from Australia.Now these dragons are presumed to be extinct in the wild.

In the novel, Jake Mendoza is the son of the Director of the Makepeace Institute of Integrated Dragon Studies.He is nearly fifteen years old.His Mom had died in Kenya when he was twelve.

Martha is another child living at the Institute.She is twelve years old.Her mother is Katie.

Eleanor is Martha's sister.She is seven years old.She is aggressive and often gets her way by sheer stubbornness.

Billy is an Arkhola indian and a descendant of Old Pete, the founder of the sanctuary.Billy is married to Grace, another Arkhola.He is the head ranger at Smokehill.

Eric runs the zoo containing other Draco species.He also runs the orphanage for other creatures brought in by the rangers.

In this story, Jake is helping Eleanor clean the cages in the zoo. It is her first week on the job and she is impatient to get to work.Jake and Martha already have experience feeding the pseudo dragons and shoveling their crap, but it is all new to Eleanor.

Katie shows up later and Eleanor quits complaining about cutting up the celery.Then Eric appears and the enjoyment level drops.Jake has complained about Eric, but his father always says that he is a good keeper.Then he asks how many people want to live a hundred miles from the nearest real restaurant.

Most of the creatures in the zoo are behind bars, but Draco Odoratus is enclosed within glass.The males belch lots of stinky breath into the air.Jake is not as effected as others and Eric says that is because he is a teenage boy.

A crowd of young tourists are watching them clean the cages.Jake can readily hear what the teacher is bellowing to the students.Jake is getting very angry at the nincompoop's error filled comments.

The dragon nuts like to expound on the zoo animals not being dragons.Of course, they aren't, since none of them can breathe fire.Yet not many people have seen the real dragons since they were released from their cages after the fence was built decades ago.

The fence is more than a wall.The force field reaches up into space.Planes have to go around the whole area to avoid crashing against it.The only way into the Smokehill reservation is through the front gate.

Dead dragons don't leave many remains.Their flesh rots very quickly.Moreover, their scat doesn't last very long either.

The rangers know that dragons are still inside the reservation by the amount of game they eat.Since nothing large can get in or out of the reservation, the animal population depends on their birth rate.Although there are also wolves, bears, cougars, and other predators in the sanctuary, the rangers have a rough idea how much game they take.Besides, the dragons also eat the predators on occasion.

This tale takes Jake out on a solo hike deeper into the preserve than he has ever been.Billy escorts him to Northcamp and then he goes on alone toward Pine Tor.For some reason, he is in a hurry.

The next day he is pulled toward a particular spot.There he finds a dead man, a dying dragon, and six dead baby dragons. He is drawn toward the mother dragon and looks deep within her eyes.He knows that he is taking a chance on being instinctively flamed if she dies, but he can't help himself.

After the mother dragon is dead, Jake notices that one of the baby dragons is still alive.He seems to know that she is female, although she only looks like a gelatinous blob.He puts her inside his shirt next to his skim to keep her warm.The slime on her burns his skin, but she whines when removed from his warmth.

Unfortunately, this novel does not appear to have a sequel.However, the author's latest adventure -- Pegasus-- will be available soon.Read and enjoy!

Highly recommended for McKinley fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of wild country, exotic creatures, and young adventurers.

-Arthur W. Jordin

5-0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Work
I practically read my eyes out with this book. I do love dragon stories of late, and now I know I am on the other side of a divide. Having finished Dragon Haven, I feel I may never read another dragon story that comes anywhere close to this. She so deftly did so many things at once in this novel, I feel I'll be spluttering trying to enumerate them all. First, I loved, loved, loved how she got in all the bits about bureaucracy and laws and money talking, and how the media influences lives and decisions that get made -- that was brilliant in itself, and managed to do it without cluttering the story. And then the human/animal bond, a subject I am very interested in to start with, was upped a notch or two by having DRAGONS be the animal. And here we go into more very unique trailblazing by this amazingly talented writer: these aren't mythical dragons in a land far away, with people living a quasi-medieval life who interact for good or ill, with the dragons. And they aren't military dragons using their strength to burn and blast things. They are another species, just like us, on this very same earth we inhabit, and they were formed in the evoluntionary framework that pressed and molded everything else. And here I hesitate because I literally do not know how to describe the sweep of her artistry in getting the blood and bone, wing, skin feel of dragons down so that you practically have tactile sensations of what they are, how they smell and what they feel like. This woman is amazing. I read some other reviews that don't care for the POV, and have to say I just cannot imagine who else could've told this story! It all happened to Jake, and it was his to tell. I personally love the way she managed to make it sound like someone telling you what all happended, not someone writing a novel about what all happened.
While I already knew and respected McKinley from two other books of hers,(Deerskin and The Door in the Hedge) I just wasn't prepared for her range -- she has a totally different voice in this than in the other two I've read, and she sustains it without falter.
I got this out from my local library and noted I can't renew it: three years after publication there is still a waiting list on this one, and now I know why. Don't miss it if you love dragons, and the people who love dragons.

3-0 out of 5 stars I'm Disappointed
This novel just wasn't what I've come to expect from Robin McKinley.The prose was painful to read.I didn't enjoy the teenage boy point of view. I was not completely satisfied by the ending either.The dragons were interesting but the people not so much.I would highly recommend Sunshine, Rose Daughter, and Beauty, but Dragonhaven, not so much.It isn't terrible, it just isn't up to McKinley's usual standard.

4-0 out of 5 stars DragonHaven Review
*Spoilers below*

Fascinating book, albeit a bit awkward to follow at times. I got the distinct impression that the author is ever-so-subtley attempting to manipulate & expand your perceptions in order to appreciate the nature of communication with the dragons which is so central to the story.

It reads like a cross between a journal, a diary, a textbook & and storybook all at the same time. It didn't quite cause me a headache, but at times I had to go back and re-read a passage to make sure that I wasn't missing something. Despite the unique presentation, it was effortless to visualize the magnificent wilderness setting that is Smokehill. (I kept thinking to myself that it was reminiscent of 'Jurassic Park' - only less tropical).
I really enjoyed the Akohla characters, and Eleanor in particular. The rest of the cast were portrayed realistically, and the conflict with the Searles + illegality of raising a dragonlet kept the suspense at a palpable level.

Jake & Lois capture your imagination in a way that has to be read to be appreciated. If you aren't already a parent, it may not sink in at first, but by the end, there is no doubt that family is every bit as important to dragons as it is to us puny humans. It was very sweet how Jake and Martha got together and she gave birth to their daughter at Dragon Central, but I thought that throwing a relationship between Frank & Katie in at the end like that was over the top and sort of tarnished the memory of Jake's mother.

If you are looking for something interesting and different to read, give this book a try. Leave your preconceptions about the nature of life as we humans 'know' it at the door, and take a journey into Smokehill that you will not soon forget. ... Read more

9. The Hero and the Crown
by Robin McKinley
Paperback: 304 Pages (2007-01-02)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$3.92
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441013058
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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From childhood, Aerin had been haunted by the story of her mother-a "witchwoman" who enspelled the king and then died in childbirth, leaving behind a newborn daughter and an heirless land. Left to her own devices, Aerin grew up wild, doing her best to live up to her reputation as the disappointment of the realm. But little did the young princess know the long-dormant powers of her mother would wield their own destiny, and leave Aerin with a duty to her scornful homeland that she couldn't refuse. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (264)

4-0 out of 5 stars Not as good as "The Blue Sword"
The Hero and the Crownis a sort of distant prequel to Robin McKinley's Newberry Honor winner The Blue Sword. For some unknown to me reason, this prequel received more critical recognition, specifically, the book was a 1985 Newberry Medal winner. IMO, this novel is weaker.

Aerin is the only daughter of the king of Damar. The problem is, she is also an offspring of a woman who was accused of being a witch and an enemy of the country. Even more, unlike all members of the royal family, Aerin possesses no special magic powers. This, once again, brands her as an insignificant person unworthy of the status of the heir to the throne in the eyes of the Damarians. Left to her own devices to prove her worth, Aerin dedicates her time to training herself to become a dragon slayer. This occupation takes her on a path of discovering and awakening her dormant powers...

First of all, I admire McKinley's writing style. There is no doubt she has a great command of English language. Her writing is sophisticated to such a degree that I can hardly imagine young children (and The Hero and the Crown is in fact classified as a children's book) being able to properly comprehend it.

The world of Damar is described in rich detail. I couldn't help myself thinking that McKinley has much more story left to tell about this country.

I am also quite fond of the way the author portrays animals in her books. She definitely has a lot of love for horses and knows them well.

What I do not appreciate about this book, and maybe it's just a personal pet peeve of mine, is the romantic story line. I-love-two-men-at-the-same-time theme just doesn't jive well with me. I guess I am old-fashioned that way, but I do not approve of a heroine who is in love with an immortal guy and has sex (!) with him, then days later marries the second (who she also loves!) with a plan to go back to the first once the second mortal one is dead. I have absolutely no idea why Luthe was even placed as a love interest in this book.

Another thing, I agree with those reviewers who have said that the story looses some ground in Part 2. This is where a lot of magical stuff happens that is not always fully explained. The magic and the heroine's "destiny" take away from her personal development.

Nevertheless, The Hero and the Crown is a worthy contribution to YA fantasy literature and is one of a few books that portray strong heroines whose lives are not directed and defined by their hot brooding boyfriends but motivated by love for their country and loyalty to their people. What a relief!

4-0 out of 5 stars compelling story
This book has a compelling story that will stick with you.I read extensively, and I often forget books I've read, but this one dogged my thoughts for years until I finally bought it.

This is classic girl-power fantasy, and although I wish McKinley would have explained the magic system better, the story is a definite keeper.

4-0 out of 5 stars BOOK HARBINGER: Aerin is cool
Aerin-sol has a lot to live down.Story goes that she's the daughter of a witchwoman from the North who enspelled the King into marrying her so that she may bear a son and heir to Damar.All almost went according to plan until Aerin was born instead, and the witchwoman died of heartbreak.Worse still is that Aerin does not have the Gift, the knack for magic that all members of the royal family possess. So the rumors and wariness of the hafor, the household folk, and the daily mocking of her lower relatives remains in full force.But Aerin tries not to care, going about her quiet life avoiding the spotlight.Her swordplay, preference for horsebackriding and dislike of frills and lady charms doesn't escape the eye of the gossiping court, however.Nonetheless Aerin continues to practice and learn all she can. Because she knows she has a different destiny than most and one day she will prove their wagging tongues wrong and earn the honor the first sol and heir of the King deserves.

I wasn't too sure if I'd like this book, but I went in feeling fair and hoping that I would.After all those strong recommendations of Beauty and not loving it I was admittedly worried that Robin McKinley was just not for me and fearful of trying another title. It never set well with me because she's such a successful and beloved YA fantasy author.How could I not like her?It took Angie over at Angieville's carefully considered recommendation of The Hero and the Crown before I felt reassured enough to give McKinley another chance.The first few chapters were a little slow-going, due to the explanation of the political sol/sola hierarchy system and the endless terrorizing of Aerin by her jealous cousin Galanna.What stayed with me was that classic first line:

"Aerin could not remember a time when she had not known the story; she had grown up knowing it."

Awesome. Who could not be intrigued to read on? That I liked Aerin from the time she timidly but courageously asked her father in front of the court if she could go to the North with the army on their next expedition helped too.When she already knew the answer but still asked, I knew she was going to be my type of heroine.Alternately reserved and outspoken, at times uncannily resourceful and flawlingly human, in Aerin are the origins of the strong, plucky, and independent contemporary fantasy heroine, who isn't acted upon as she waits at home for the male characters to do the work.She's assertive; she acts to change her circumstances for the better.Even when she has a terrible rash and is climbing an infinite staircase.Especially when she's fighting dragons with no training or plan beyond her painstaking research into fire-repelling kenet.

As far as the other characters are concerned, they were just icing on the cake.Talat is more much than the average horse and is like Aerin in many ways. Courageous, loyal, long-suffering and a four-legged person who's come a long way to be the trusty steed of a hero.Aerin's cousin, lifelong friend, and heir to the throne Tor is very endearing. He loved her from the beginning, never thought Aerin was no one and went on to discreetly teach her swordplay and even give her a sword despite his misgivings, since he knew Aerin all too well.There are tender moments between Aerin and her father, King Arlbeth and a sweet relationship for Aerin with immortal mage Luthe. Honestly the whole Luthe part threw me for a loop and made me worry for Tor but I had faith that everything work in the end and it did. I also liked how McKinley didn't brush over the journeying and recovering. Aerin goes through a lot of physical and other pain, and that we experience it all with her makes it the more epic and rewarding. What's next for me? Another Robin McKinley? Didn't think I'd ever be saying that.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Enjoyable Read
Overall a very enjoyable read.The pace was very swift and really brought you into the action.However, I do agree with NAJ that there were many "missed opportunities."Even though the main female character is very strong, she still somehow allows the romances in her life to define her nearer to the end and gives up power seemingly on the sole reason that it is traditional for females to take the lesser roles.Additionally, this edition seems to have quite a few distracting typos.In spite of these misgivings, I still highly enjoyed this book and would recommend it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Goode's review
I had a hard time relating to the heroine at first but as the story progressed I became more sympathetic to her fate.
By the end of the book I became very involved in her adventures. ... Read more

10. A Robin McKinley Collection
by Robin McKinley
Paperback: 1008 Pages (2002-09-16)
list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$27.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142302333
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fabulous books by a talented writer
These are good quality paper back editions of The Blue Sword, The Hero and the Crown, and Spindle's End. These books are examples of strong female and male characters who work together and develop together throughout the story. I completely recommend these books to any and every age group! A great buy!

5-0 out of 5 stars Love Robin McKinley!
Reading The Blue Sword is what really got me into fantasy back in elementary school! I love all her works & this is a great collection at a good price.

5-0 out of 5 stars I LOVE MCKINLEY'S BOOKS!!!
What a GREAT collection!I had already read The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown, but I didn't have a copy and those two are MUST HAVES!Spindle was totally different than a simple retelling of Sleeping Beauty - in fact, TOTALLY different doesn't express the difference enough!The new world and characters are enjoyable and the friendships grow.The fast-paced parts are... really fast!Everyone should have these in their library.

4-0 out of 5 stars 2 books very good, 1 very bad
THE BLUE SWORD and THE HERO AND THE CROWN are wonderful books, they kept me glued to the pages, the stories are original and compelling, the heroines are interesting and charming.I liked the best THE HERO AND THE CROWN.

SPINDLE'S END is another story: It is a super modified version of The Sleeping Beauty, the narration was a chatterbox, too many unnecesary and annoying descriptions, too many unrelated comments in the middle of the narration, too unfocused, it deviates too much from the story.Besides once the princess was living with the fairies nothing happened, nooooothing happened, it was tedious and boring. In addition, the male counterpart was as charming as my shoe, there was no developing of the relationship at all.I would advise to buy the first books separated, and to do not buy SPINDLE'S END.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Teen's Point of View
These are so good! Though my favorite is Spindle's End, they're all great. They all have powerful, strong-willed heroines who fight for what they believe in.
These are right for those who like big books with long words and lots of action.
So well written! ... Read more

11. The Door in the Hedge
by Robin McKinley
Paperback: 224 Pages (2003-10-13)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$3.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0698119606
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Master storyteller Robin McKinley here spins two new fairy tales and retells two cherished classics. All feature princesses touched with or by magic. There is Linadel, who lives in a kingdom next to Faerieland, where princesses are stolen away on their seventeenth birthdays-and Linadel's seventeenth birthday is tomorrow. And Korah, whose brother is bewitched by the magical Golden Hind; now it is up to her to break the spell.Rana must turn to a talking frog to help save her kingdom from the evil Aliyander. And then there are the twelve princesses, enspelled to dance through the soles of their shoes every night. . . .These are tales to read with delight! ... Read more

Customer Reviews (31)

3-0 out of 5 stars Tales you'll fall asleep to
I was excited to read this collection of four short stories from Robin McKinley because I've heard so many good things about her and one of her novels is on my must-read list, but this book was ultimately underwhelming.

The Stolen Princess

In the last mortal kingdom bordering the lands of the faeries, children are stolen from the people on a regular basis. Baby boys and of-age girls are stolen away from their families and no one is safe- not even the royal family. First, the Princess Ellian was stolen at seventeen and her twin sister Alora barely recovered from that. Then Alora gave birth to her solitary heir Princess Linadel and on Linadel's seventeenth birthday, she too was stolen away by the faeries.

This story was 77 or so pages long and I didn't like it very much. It dragged on for too long and even for a fairy tale, the love-at-first-sight of Princess Linadel and Donathor wasn't very convincing. In the end, everything tied up in a pretty little bow so that the two could be together without one of them having to give up their own kingdom. I know it's a fairy tale, but this happy ending was just a teaspoon too sweet for my tastes. For one reason or another, the royal family seems to be having psychic dreams all over the place. Fantasy excuses that too, but it's still a little strange because there's no attempt at an explanation.

The Princess and the Frog

When Princess Rana receives a necklace from Prince Aliyander, she accidentally drops it in a special body of water near her palace and the malevolent magic that charmed it disappears. Knowing that she cannot return without the necklace, Rana enlists the help of a talking frog sitting by the lake. In return, the frog asks to live in the castle and because she knows that she must grant his request for helping her, she agrees.

This was a slightly darker retelling of the tale of the same title which most of us are familiar with, but instead of it being about a spoiled princess getting her ball back and learning a little bit of humility along the way, it's about a princess and a frog defeating an evil, magical prince. The loss of the great moral affects the story and while it's still enjoyable, it's not quite the same. At the end, Rana has the time to run all the way outside and get a "flagon" (whatever that is; I'm sorry, but I'm not quite educated enough to know that word) of water from the pond she dropped her necklace in, and pour it over Aliyander, which kills him. It's a stretch enough that she knew the pond water would defeat him, but the they hadn't moved at all when Rana got back. There's no way they would have paused to wait for her while she got the key to killing Aliyander.

The Haunting of the Hind

There is a horse running through the lands known as thee Golden Kind, one that is so beautiful that men will chase after it and if the come home, they are scarred and have lost their minds. When Princess Korah's beloved brother follows the Hind, he is one of the lucky ones and comes back with both his mind and his sanity, but he is slowly wasting away and dying. Willing to do anything to help the brother who has loved her unconditionally when so many people loved her half-heartedly, Korah sets out to find the Hind and save her brother's life.

I preferred this original story over "the Stolen Princess." It was shorter at about thirty pages or so, which meant it was more concise and concentrated on the present time instead of the history of the world. The beginningof it was good, but lost steam at the end. Princess Korah has to leave behind all of her feelings, face down the wizard that traps the hind- a horse who was originally a woman- and ask him to release the hind and her brother. Really? No tricks beyond that? You'd think a wizard would put up more of a fight than that, but he doesn't. The hind's brother- so unmemorable that I already forgot his name- got paired up with Korah at the last second. That was his entire purpose for existing, it seemed. Why did Korah have to be paired with a guy? Couldn't she have stayed single? That would have been a nice divergence from the previous two stories, where the princesses both got guys. It's okay to have some variety- really.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses

A middle-aged soldier, weary from fighting for his kingdom for twenty years, hears of a plea from the king: discover where the twelve princesses of the kingdom are going every night to dance, for the are bewitched and the only thing that can save them from the spell is for a man not of the princess' family to follow them to where they go and tell the King after the sun rises. He takes it and with the help of an invisible cloak given to him by an old woman he helped, he just might succeed.

And here was some of the variety that I wanted. Instead of having to read the princess's point of view, we are in the point of the of the soldier, who is never given a name. What's wrong with naming him? Then again, no one has a proper name in this story, so I'll let that slide. This one follows closely to the original tale while still adding its own twist and once again, the added twist kind of messes things up. You remember the old woman that gives the soldier the invisible cloak, don't you? In the original story, she only gives him the cloak and warns him not to drink what the princesses give him. In this one, she informs the soldier of exactly what bewitched the princesses, why, and what he must do to save them. Isn't that strange? In the original story, one can assume she would put together her warnings after hearing others who have taken on the task talking once they failed. How does she know so much in this tale?

Maybe I thought a little too much into these fairy tales, but they just didn't do it for me. The princesses all fell flat, the voice was long-winded in the worst possible way, and they weren't memorable at all to me.

Cross-posted from my blog, Ashleigh Reads (With a Ukulele), also appears on Goodreads.

5-0 out of 5 stars adults who enjoy fairy tales
I have gotten a number of books by Robin McKinley as she presents traditional tales in a slightly updated version.This one is particularly good considering the times we are in and the discussion of parallel dimensions and universes.

2-0 out of 5 stars Really Disappointed
I fell in love with Lackey's writing style, in-depth characters, and stories that really packed a punch (you couldn't stop reading them) with The "Oath" / Vows and Honor series. I have a weakness for fairytale adaptations, so I thought this book's story lines, plus Lackey's being the author would be the logical winner. I was wrong. Lackey has always been one for great detail, which usually adds to the story. However here, it borders on boring. The stories that I thought would be a great adaptation were almost too short, as the detail is about the surroundings, not the actual story. The stories rely so heavily on details that its more surreal than I expected, which in general I wouldn't mind, but it only serves to make a hazy picture that tries to cover its lack of depth. In general there is no backstory, no interesting tidbits that connect you to the characters at all and it is so very slow. I ended up almost wanting to just stop reading it altogether (I NEVER do that) but finished it, put it on the shelf, would not recommend it to anybody, and wouldn't notice if it was gone. I am so disappointed that the author I admired so much wrote this story, but I guess even the greatestwriters turn out a lemon every now and then.

3-0 out of 5 stars 4 Stories that range from Dull to Slight Potential
I became a fan of Mckinley when a friend lent me her copy of Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast. But the more I read of her work, the more I think she's eclipsed with "Beauty", The Blue Sword, and The Hero and the Crown. Nothing else she has written has been any good.I really think I am giving up on her.This book doesn't offer anything worth reading a 2nd time. I gave 3 Stars because her writing is great, but it doesn't help if there isn't a story to write. Also, 2 of the 4 stories are alright.

The Stolen Princess--BORING! Everyone is beautiful, caring, loving, perfect, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah.The Princess Linadel lives in the last Kingdom that borders Faerieland and where Princesses are stolen on the 17th Birthday.She's stolen and finds her true love who is Prince of Faerieland and all live happily ever after.I just didn't care.

The Princess and the Frog--This story had great potential! I actually was intrigued right away.Evil Prince Aliyander has subjected Princess Rana's kingdom to his malice and control.He gifts her a cursed necklace that she mistakenly drops in a pond.A talking frog helps her retrieve the necklace, but the pond water magically washes away the curse.This story had great potential to be a novel--there was actual character development and plot.

The Hunting of the Hind--YAWN!A young princess is the child of the little-loved 2nd Queen and usually forgotten by her own Father the King and his Kingdom.Elsewhere, a Evil Magician has cursed a young maiden to turn into a Hind (a deer) by day to lure men to their death or madness when they behold her jaw-dropping beauty.When the beloved Crown Prince turns mad for looking on the beautiful Maiden, the princess goes on a quest to save her brother.Talk about Anti-Climatic.

The 12 Dancing Princesses--Again, potential with this story, so much so that I actually wanted to keep reading this story.A soldier hearing of the King's sorrow over his 12 daughters who wear through their dancing slippers night after night as if cursed decides to try his hand at finding the source of the trouble.I enjoyed the story being told from the Soldier's point of view.I just think that McKinley needs to find a way to ACTUALLY end a story--she usually just does a big "Magic Poof!" and all is right in the world. Not so much in this story, but still it's there.

All in all, if your a McKinley fan, you'll probably want to read it because it's McKinley.If your not a fan, or a "fence-sitter" fan like myself, you'll just be bored to tears.

2-0 out of 5 stars Bedtime Stories -- They put you to sleep
This book has been sitting on my shelves for six years, hidden behind the other works of McKinley I actually like.By my old bookmark, I was on page 44 of the "Stolen Princess" the third time I tried reading it, but I dropped the book out of genuine boredom and fell asleep.

I remember skipping ahead to the "Princess and the Frog," a tale of nonsense.The princess somehow saves the day with pondwater-ex-machina (no clue is given to the reader that this will work) after two fighters pause in the middle of heated mortal combat for ten minutes while she fetches it.

At this point I put the book down for six years.I didn't get rid of it because two stories were left unread, and I do like McKinley.I found it yesterday while cleaning.So I finished the book at last.

"The Hunting of the Hind" is another Princess fairytale.In this story nothing is shown, everything is told, and the descriptions are florid.I managed to stay awake.

Finally "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" disappointed me.In some ways it is the best of the stories, as it's from a non-princess perspective.But no gripping action and little dialogue.

According to the author's notes at the end, this was McKinley's second novel, which explains why it was so bad.She was still finding her voice.Anyway, this book isn't for adults.I think it would be perfect to read these stories to a young girl at bedtime.They'd help her sleep, guaranteed. ... Read more

12. The Outlaws of Sherwood
by Robin McKinley
Paperback: 368 Pages (2005-10-04)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$6.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441013252
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
New York Times bestselling author Robin McKinley's vivid retelling of the classic story of Robin Hood breathes contemporary life into these beloved adventures-with Marian taking a pivotal role as one of Robin's best archers. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (68)

4-0 out of 5 stars almost perfect
This is one of the best stories I have ever lived. The weak point for me was that McKinley switched viewpoint characters for most of the end. I ended up missing Robin so much that I felt let down at the end instead of built up. Too bad books can't be automatically indivigualized for the reader because I would've been higher than the balloon I lost years ago if she had just stayed with Robin.

5-0 out of 5 stars Angieville: THE OUTLAWS OF SHERWOOD
I have a thing for Robin Hood. Specifically Robin Hood retellings. I love Robin, Marian, Little John, Will Scarlet, Much the Miller, Alan-a-Dale, and the whole merry crew. I read Ivanhoe (Penguin Classics) cover to cover just for Robin Hood's periodic appearances. And when I went on study abroad to England, I dragged my best friend all the way to Nottingham and Sherwood Forest as well so I could walk around in the woods and soak it all up. It's still one of the happiest, most golden days I can recall, that one. My first encounter with the tale itself was no doubt the Disney animated version (which I still love watching with my son), but I'm pretty sure the first actual novelization I read was Robin McKinley's THE OUTLAWS OF SHERWOOD. And it remains my very favorite to this day. Admittedly, I seem to possess the McKinley gene. I love her writing. I love the unexpected, twisty paths she takes, the obstinate characters, and the wry humor. True to form, her Robin is not the typical Robin of legend. If you cherish the strapping, dashing, swashbuckling hero a la Errol Flynn, then this version is probably not for you. But if you like an unusual, but beautifully wrought, take on a classic then you really ought to give this one a shot.

The story opens with the following lines:

A small vagrant breeze came from nowhere and barely flicked the feather tips as the arrow sped on its way. It shivered in its flight, and fell, a little off course--just enough that the arrow missed the slender tree it was aimed at, and struck tiredly and low into the bole of another tree, twenty paces beyond the mark.
Robin sighed and dropped his bow.

Robin is on his way to Nottingham Fair to meet his childhood friends Marian and Much and have a bit of well-earned frivolity. As an apprentice forester in the King's Forest, Robin barely scrapes by and his days off are few and far between. Unfortunately, while on his way he is ambushed by a few of the Chief Forester's men who have had it in for Robin for years. No one is more surprised than Robin when he wins the resulting archery contest and the skirmish ends in an attempt on his life and Robin's arrow buried in his attacker's chest. From this point on Robin is a wanted man. His friends convince him to go into hiding while they work up a plan to keep their friend alive and prevent the Norman overlords from raining down punishments on all the Saxons' heads as a result of Robin's "crime." Against his better judgement, Robin goes along with Much and Marian's plan and, in the process, he becomes a hero--albeit a reluctant one.

There is so much good in this book and it all centers around the characters. Either you will fall in love with Robin or you will not. And if you love Robin, then you will love all of the characters for they gather around him despite his adamant refusal that he is no hero because they need him. Marian and Much, his old friends, see this. They understand it and they try to help Robin understand it. Their love for him, their need to believe in him, and their willingness to walk away from their homes and their lives to follow him into hiding in Sherwood Forest reflect the desperate nature of the times and the ways in which this good man is able to inspire and take care of other good men and women like him who have been caught in the ever-tightening vise of Norman justice. I love watching this transformation, this coming together of such a motley band of comrades. Every time I read it I savor each one. And, as with any McKinley book, if you're a fan of strong female characters who do not do what they are expected to do, then this book is for you. Marian is awesome. It's Marian who is the excellent shot. It's Marian who has the vision and who knows Robin's potential before he does. It's Marian who risks more than anyone else to create the legend and keep it alive. There is one other standout female character, but I can't tell you any more than that as she is so excellent she must be discovered entirely on her own. Along with Deerskin, I think this is the most emotional of McKinley's works because it is as grounded in reality as any retelling I've read. THE OUTLAWS OF SHERWOOD is an emotional, subtly humorous, visceral take on the legend and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

4-0 out of 5 stars from missprint.wordpress.com
Despite my knowing of Robin McKinley for a number of years and even thinking I was familiar with her books, The Outlaws of Sherwood (1988) is the first novel I have read by her. It was also my first encounter with a retelling of the legend of Robin Hood (aside from the Disney movie).

Set in the time of King Richard the Lionheart, this story starts with a young man named, unsurprisingly, Robin. A forester working in the King's Forest (Sherwood Forest to be exact) to keep the land holding he inherited when his father died, Robin is looking forward to the festivities and diversion sure to be offered by the Nottingham Fair.

But, like many of the arrows he notches without accounting for vagrant breezes, Robin's plans quickly go awry. By the end of the day a man is dead in Sherwood and Robin has a price on his head.

Left with no other options Robin is urged by his friends Marian and Much to go into hiding and serve as a rallying point for other like-minded Saxons who are chafing under the oppressive Norman rule, and unjust taxes, throughout England.

Robin resists this plan at every turn trying to be pragmatic and responsible for the people who come to trust his leadership. But, as the number of outlaws hiding in Sherwood grows, he soon finds that he has a new name and has moved from mere mortal to a legend named Robin Hood.

McKinley takes an interesting approach here writing not only about the legend of Robin Hood but of how it was born. If one can use such terms with a legend, I'd say that McKinley's interpretation is very realistic. As her narrative suggests all too clearly, Robin is just a man. He only becomes a legendary figure through the help of his friends and because the Saxons need him to be so.

It was also interesting that the events of the novel do not, in fact, always center on Robin Hood. As the title, The Outlaws of Sherwood, suggests McKinley provides a variety of perspectives in the novel using multiple viewpoints to convey complex events while also examining the motives that led each of the outlaws to Sherwood. While she is clearly very fond of the characters and the legend itself, it seems telling that one of McKinley's principle characters in terms of plot and narrative point of view is one who was never mentioned in the original tales of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. (It might also be telling that my two favorite characters were Little John and Cecil, but that's a different matter entirely.)

In a way, Robin Hood is often not the focus of the story although he is inevitably the driving force behind the novel. McKinley offers enough of Robin's perspective to convey his character--a perhaps less heroic version of the famous archer than some readers might expect. McKinley shows how Robincomes to terms with his new-found fame and protecting the people that come to him seeking a new life away from Norman rule. Keeping Robin Hood at a remove, if you will, from the narrative allows McKinley to present Robin her way while also showing--via other characters--how Robin's status grew from mere outlaw to legend as well as why that might have happened.

The writing here is intricate with long sentences, elaborate wording, and dialogue that looks more like prose on the page than a verbal exchange. In relation to this particular book, all of those things work to the author's favor helping her to create a prose style that feels very authentic in relation to the time period of the story. The style will, however, likely bother readers looking for a quick read.

There are many reasons to like The Outlaws of Sherwood. It has eminently likable characters, action, romance, suspense, and even humor. And yet, after finishing the book, my feelings are lukewarm. I found the ending so wholly unsatisfactory that I immediately set out to research how the original stories of Robin Hood ended. I was dismayed to find that compared to some legends (where he is killed!) Robin and his fellow outlaws actually get off quite easy here. Thus I am obliged to lay some of the blame with the legend itself, rather than merely at the author's feet. This knowledge only confirms my strong conviction that sometimes heroes really do just need to ride (or walk) off into the sunset. That was not the case in The Outlaws of Sherwood and I have to say I think the story was the worse for it.

After doing my own research into the myth and characters, I can say that McKinley was as true to the facts as possible. In her afterword, McKinley admits that she was more concerned with writing a book that was "historically unembarrassing" than completely accurate. Nonetheless, most of her characters* do appear in the original legends.

*The characters that appear in both The Outlaws of Sherwood and the original tales of Robin Hood: Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Much the Miller's Son, Little John, Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck, Alan-a-Dale, Sir Richard of the Lea, the Sheriff of Nottingham, and even Guy of Gisbourne.

Also, if you want to hear Ms. McKinley's view on why things had to end so horribly, I stumbled upon this interview while trolling around earlier.

4-0 out of 5 stars Solid retelling
I like retellings and McKinley is usually a good author for such things. This is no exception.

This is a retelling of Robin Hood that holds some of the usual cast plus some new ones. It plays on the Norman/Saxton politics as well. People who are not familiar with the history might want some more explanation.

There are places that McKinley didn't go with the tale that I wish she had, thus the 4 stars. She mentions a legend of Robin Hood as a reborn pagan god, but leaves it as a rumor and does not flesh out that piece. I would have loved to know where that would have led.

4-0 out of 5 stars No Outlaw is Perfect
In this story, which some would call a retelling, Robin McKinley makes the hero Robin, son of Robert, out to be anything but the best.His archery is far from perfect, he is poor, and is nothing more than a pessimistic forester.But the morning of the fair, his lonely life is abruptly altered when he is confronted by a group of mischief-seeking foresters who want Robin-Hood out of their way.But their plans backfire, and one of the foresters meets his death, unluckily by Robin's arrow.

Forced into hiding, this "cataclysmic" death starts the beginning of the Sherwood outlaws, all having one thing in common: their hatred for the Norman ways.While the group broadens, the many false deeds of the outlaws precede them by their sly reputation, until there is only one thing on the mind of the slimy sheriff.Undoubtedly, it's Robin Hood.But until the dealings of Camp Greentree reach the ears of the King, there will be no aid for Nottingham.Not until Guy of Gisbourne arrives, at least.

Although some parts may seem dull, I think this book is a perfect blend of originality and tradition.I find it refreshing that Maid Marian plays such a strong role, and the return of characters like Little John and Will Scarlett keep it thriving.The only thing that I wish for is a sequel. ... Read more

13. Deerskin
by Robin McKinley
Paperback: 384 Pages (2005-05-03)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$8.27
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441012396
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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As Princess Lissar reaches womanhood, it is clear to all the kingdom that in her breathtaking beauty she is the mirror image of her mother, the queen. But this seeming blessing forces her to flee for safety from her father's lust and madness. With her loyal dog Ash at her side, Lissar will unlock a door to a world of magic, where she will find the key to her survival-and an adventure beyond her wildest dreams. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (179)

5-0 out of 5 stars Deerskin: One of the Best Books I've Read
For any dog lover and for any true fairy tale lover, who will not shy away from some of the ugly truths and violence many of the original tales have, this book is truly beautiful and amazingly written. One of my favorite's my McKinley. It can be hard to read as it doesn't shy away from the nature of the tale type "Donkeyskin/Allerleirauh" and deals with incest, rape and abuse as well as the mental, emotional and physical hurt that comes from such an experience and the time and healing it takes to endure such a thing.

Lissar is a young girl enchanted by the story of her parent's love and marriage only to soon realize that they are so wrapped up in each other that she is often forgotten. Her mother grows ill and dies, her last decree that her father marry again only if it is to a woman as beautiful as she. Of course, her father cannot find anyone and becomes mad with grief. In the mean time a prince from a neighboring kingdom sends Lissar a gift, a fleethound puppy named Ash, as she lost her mother. Ash becomes Lissar's best and only friend in a kingdom where she is isolated and ignored. A few years go by and Lissar grows to look more and more like her mother and suddenly her father seems to notice her for the first time. He announces she is to be married, and then announces that she is to marry him. Lissar pleads no, but her father announces his word is final and the court and his minister's think that Lissar, already an unnatural and quiet child, has bewitched him.

Lissar continues to deny her father, even barricading him from her rooms when tries to come one night and in his anger, the next night, he breaks into her room and rapes her. Lissar is left broken by the experience, with only a wish to die but is rescued by Ash's love for her, and her love for Ash and that very night she and her dog flee without any hope of where they are going or what will happen to them, Lissar has only the wish to forget herself. McKinley also entwines another folk tale here, that of the "Moonwoman" who acts as fairy godmother (but not in any traditional way)and helps Lissar transform herself into Deerskin. By transforming into Deerskin, Lissar can begin to heal by blocking her memories to find some form of self-acceptance. She finds work, dogs, love and the ability to confront her fears, her father and to remember herself when it is all said and done.

This book is seamless and well written, it will make you cry, and laugh and is one of the best modern interpretations of this fairy tale I have ever read.

4-0 out of 5 stars a great adult fantasy
The Setting -- is an old style kingdom, where magic is rumored but never seen.It begins in the court of Lissla's father who rules the largest, most powerful and rich country and is defined by being married to the most beautiful woman in seven kingdoms.But not all of the kingdoms are like his.There are the smaller, more personable kings who rub elbows with their people and endear them by their good hearts and honest concern.I loved the nod to her other books, namely The Blue Sword, which connects her other books and this into a sort of McKinley fairy tale world.

The Characters -- are not always alive on paper.Lissla as the featured character and narrator was alive.You felt her struggle.You knew her and you cheered her on.Ossin is the prince who falls in love with her because of their mutual love for their dogs, and while I will always treasure his character for that last, final chapter and his unfailing acceptance of what happened to her, I wish there was more chemistry on paper between them.Many of the characters though were merely defined by their office, such as doorkeeper, etc.

The Plot -- Deerskin for me is not an easy read.It's no secret I rarely read books that feature abuse of any kind as primary plot devices.But Deerskin is not just about the great evil that happened to Lissla, it's about how she conquered what happened to her through her love and devotion to the one creature that loved her unconditionally: her dog Ash.Lissla's relationship with the dogs teaches her to care again for others, and that is how she can begin the long process of learning to love another person.

Deerskin is a wonderful, adult, fairy tale.I read this in high school and remember being very uncomfortable with it.I reread it now and loved it for the growth and struggles.

5-0 out of 5 stars must love dogs
I'm begining to think that if Robin Mckinley published her grocery list I would read that to. Deerskin was a wonderful telling of a difficult journey. Like life itself, not everything is tied up in neat packages. I am so glad that I didn't listen to the negative reviews and read this book! This is my 5th McKinley book and I have yet to be dissapointed. I you love dogs and magical journeys don't miss this one.

3-0 out of 5 stars Okay, but not great
This is one of those mildly disturbing books.That aren't a bad read, but you're not likely to read again.It's well written, and enjoyable, but the subject matter is not for young kids.

3-0 out of 5 stars A great example of Robin McKinley's flaws
This book was simultaneously my favorite of Robin McKinley's books and one of the most disappointing and dissatisfying books I've ever read.After this, I've decided that I will not read any more of her books.I've read about 5 others and mostly enjoyed them, but this one really punched up the same flaw in all of her books, which is the ending.She always starts strong and gives you a great read, until somewhere, usually towards the end though in Deerskin it started in the middle, everything seems to go downhill.I am always left dissatisfied at the end of her books.They end with characters just sort of ending up together with no real feelings about it, or random magical happenings that rush to a final conclusion that doesn't really make sense or resolve anything.

In Deerskin, the first half of the book is SO well done that I stuck through the last hoping it would get better.I think it was really brave to take on a story with such painful events and themes, and I admire her ability to transition it from a fairy tale into a story of real human pain and perseverance, but all of that suddenly dropped away halfway through and the main character ended up wandering back and forth for no reason or purpose with random (and as far as I can tell, pointless) magical powers, with a final confrontation with the villain that went on and on and still made no sense and an end that fizzled at best.

When I first began reading McKinley's books I wondered why she wasn't a better known name and a bigger deal in the literary world, and now I see why.As a writer she's fatally flawed, and this book epitomizes that flaw. ... Read more

14. The Blue Sword
by Robin McKinley
Paperback: 320 Pages (2007-12-04)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$2.81
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441012000
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
From the New York Times bestselling author of Sunshine and The Outlaws of Sherwood-now in trade paperback.

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. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (244)

5-0 out of 5 stars An awesome book, especially for girls
The only drawback I can think of in this book is the "orientalist" plot, but fiction writers live by their own rules, and this is a tremendous book, which whips away the rug under your feet and keeps you spinning through changes, learning magic and of course true love.

The heroine in this book never backs down, never wins by submission, and gains the love and honor for her spark and courage.

One could wish for more wise-women in this book but let's not spoil a great read.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Blue Sword
I absolutely love this book and I thank you for having it so cheap and for sending it to me.

5-0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down! I want a sequel!
I shied away from reading this, thinking it was likely too slow for me. Was I wrong! The first ten pages or so were slow- and then the story picked up swiftly and galloped away- with me caught captive inside it! I began reading at one in the afternoon and stayed up until just after midnight, taking only a 20 minute break the entire day (to eat dinner, no less) because I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN! Now I wish I had read it slower and savored the moments longer. It really is that good! A romance that warms, a young woman who finds her inner strength, and some incredible mysticism all blend together to make a story I will read again- and recommend to everyone! And the writing is BRILLIANT...POETIC!...so beautiful you feel as if the author is there with you, her words blowing gently into your soul and seeping into your bones. I wish there was a sequel!

5-0 out of 5 stars Read through in one sitting!!!
I remembered from back in middle school when I had read "The Hero and the Crown", and recently re-read that and picked up this book as well. AMAZING STORY, I couldn't put the book down once I got past the slow chapters at the beginning. This book has become one of my top favorites now! Highly recommended!

5-0 out of 5 stars All-time favorite
I first read this book back in 6th grade - I was looking for more LM Montgomery, and the cover of both the Blue Sword and the Hero and the Crown caught me eye instead.This is one of the most amazing books I've ever read.I have read this book at least once a year since that time - giving me at least 17 years worth of reads, and yet I still find something new every time.Absolutely one of the richest, realest, best books I've ever read. ... Read more

15. Spindle's End
by Robin McKinley
Paperback: 384 Pages (2010-01-05)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.55
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441017673
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
The New York Times bestselling and Newbery Award-winning author tells a brilliant tale of a sumptuous world (New York Times Book Review).

All the creatures of the forest and field and riverbank knew the infant was special. She was the princess, spirited away from the evil fairy Pernicia on her name-day. But the curse was cast: Rosie was fated to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a poisoned sleep-a slumber from which no one would be able to rouse her.

Amazon.com Review
Renowned fantasy writer Robin McKinley, author of the lush "Beauty and the Beast" retellings Beauty and Rose Daughter, hasproduced another re-mastered fairy tale, this time about the dreamySleeping Beauty. Much like in the original story, the infant princess, herenamed Rosie, is cursed by an evil fairy to die on her 21st birthday bypricking her finger on a spindle. That same day, Rosie is whisked away intohiding by a peasant fairy who raises her and conceals her royal identity.From that point on, McKinley's plot and characterization become wildlyinventive. She imagines Rosie growing up into a strapping young woman whodespises her golden hair, prefers leather breeches to ball gowns, and cancommunicate with animals. And on that fateful birthday, with no help from aprince, Rosie saves herself and her entire sleeping village fromdestruction, although she pays a realistic price. In a final masterstroke, McKinley cleverly takes creative license when the spell-breakingkiss (made famous in "Sleeping Beauty") comes from a surprising source and isbestowed upon the character least expected.

Although the entire novel is well written, McKinley's characterization ofRosie's animal friends is exceptionally fine. Observations such as "...foxesgenerally wanted to talk about butterflies and grasses and weather for along time while they sized you up," will spark reader's imaginations. Itwon't be hard to persuade readers of any age to become lost in this marvelous tale; the difficult part will be convincing them to come back fromMcKinley's country, where "the magic... was so thick and tenacious that itsettled over the land like chalk dust...." Highly recommended. (Ages 12 andolder) --Jennifer Hubert ... Read more

Customer Reviews (152)

3-0 out of 5 stars Expected 'Beauty'
First off, this is a really slow read. And towards the end, it just gets slower. I skimmed a good deal of the last 9,000 pages. I haven't done that since 'Breaking Dawn.' I really wanted to enjoy this book, and I did for the first part - albeit the sluggish pace of everything. And towards the ending, the twists get stupider and less interesting. I still respect Robin McKinley, but really, just re-read Beauty. Like I did. For like, the eightieth time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Spindle's End
I will admit it took me a few tries to get into it.I'm very surprised it did.Robin McKinley is perhaps one of the most ardent authors, and this book was no exception.Spindle' End is the story of Sleeping Beauty.But this book doesn't follow the typical Sleeping Beauty story.Yes, there's a witch looking for the baby princess who's party she was not invited to.Yes, she is taken away, to safety.The girl who takes her is quite special.Katrinatakes her to her home which is in a small village easily overlooked.This first half of the book is Katrina's perspective and a beautiful one at that.The baby grows up to be not so beautiful and somewhat of a rebellious tomboy.The second half of the book is her perspective.This book was positively beautiful, and I don't believe there was one character I didn't like.The ending had a very interesting twist, one that I thoroughlyenjoyed.I recommend this book to all who have previously read Robin McKinley's books.

2-0 out of 5 stars Oh, how it dragged....
This book has one of those rare first chapters that completely pulled me in, even though it's all about describing the nameless country where the story takes place and its affliction with magic, and no main characters are introduced. I settled down for a fun, whimsical read. Alas, it was not to be.

Spindle's End is a "Sleeping Beauty" retelling, starring Rosie, an unlikely, energetic heroine who can talk to animals. I picked the book up due to fond memories of McKinley's YA novels (I highly recommend The Blue Sword). And for the first half of the story, I was charmed. I agree with other reviewers that we don't quite get to know the characters; most of the charm is in the quirky setting. Think of the first time you read about Hogwarts Castle, and you'll know what I mean. The character development is quite unimpressive as the story continues; particularly glaring is Narl, who makes the leap from never saying anything to anyone to saying things like "I don't know any reason why not" (where a shrug would do) all in the space of about two pages.

For me, the book took a sharp turn downhill about halfway through, when Rosie discovers her true heritage. When the plot takes over from the setting as the driving force of the book, when we go from a story about a girl growing up to a story driven by action, the book loses its charm and failed to hold my attention (I did finish it... slowly). Especially frustrating for me was that McKinley doesn't seem to realize where the true potential for drama lies. It's not just that there's little conflict, although that's part of it. Rosie's final decision, I thought, should have been the climax and was the most interesting thing that happened in the book, but it's treated as an afterthought, while pages upon pages of a ridiculous assault on a McGuffin castle take center stage instead. When the final confrontation with the villain is boring, you know you're in trouble.

Finally, the animal characters take up too much page time. There are dozens of them, thus none have time to be interesting or endearing. Besides, the unfortunate truth is that on the page, people are always going to be more interesting than animals; it's easy to love an animal you can see and touch and interact with, but hard for an author to translate that to the page in a way that makes readers care. McKinley does not do so here, so the animals provide merely an irksome distraction from the humans.

Although this book began well, sadly I would not recommend it to anyone.

1-0 out of 5 stars Borring Sleeping Beauty Retelling
I love retellings of fairy tales especially ones based on Sleeping Beauty, but this story was very borring. I once tried to read this book and I was barely able to make it to the ending and when I tried to read it for a second time I couldn't make it half way throgh the book. The characters are borring, especially Rosie the princess. She was portrayed as a tom boy who cuts off her hair and hates anything feminine, I like any princess as being portrayed as inependant, but I still think that it would good for them to still be feminine. The ending left me coufused. If you want to read a retelling of Sleeping Beauty I would suggest Briar Rose by Jane Yolen, it is different but it is also a very good book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing Retelling of Sleeping Beauty
I love this book! McKinley is one of my favorite authors, and this is mostly due to this single work. Though it is a retelling of a classic, well-known tale (we've all seen Disney's retelling), it is in no way a simple retelling with a few tiny details changed. Except for the beginning, and the part about the spindle, I probably wouldn't even recognize this as Sleeping Beauty. It's new, it's fresh, and it's completely intriguing - I couldn't put it down! The ending is also completely unexpected - it took me a few minutes to completely understand what happened. If you like fairy tales, or fantasy, or even books, you will love this! ... Read more

16. A Knot in the Grain and Other Stories
by Robin Mckinley
Paperback: 208 Pages (1995-09-30)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$75.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0064406040
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Lily. A woman with power to heal, but no powers of speech. Then she meets a mage---a man who can hear the words she forms only in her mind. Will he help her find her voice?

Ruen. A princess whose uncle leaves her deep in a cave to die at the hands of a stagman. But when she meets the stagman at last, Ruendiscovers fatehas a few surprises in store for her.

Erana, As a baby, she is taken be a witch in return for the healing herbs her father stole from the witch's garden. Raised alongsidethe witch's troll son, Erana learns that love comes in many forms.

Coral. A beautiful young newcomerwho catches the eye of an older widowed farmer. He can't believe his good fortune when Coral consents to be his wife. But then the doubts set in---what is it that draws Coral to Butter Hill?Annabelle. When her family moves, the summer befre her junior year of High School, Annabelle spends all her time in the attic of their new house--until she finds the knot in the gain which leads her on a magical mission.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (23)

5-0 out of 5 stars i adore this book
its a wonderful read ..so glad i purchased it

would highly recomend it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Fairy Tales by a Master Fantasy Writer
For those who love MiKinley, fairy tales, or fantasy will enjoy a Knot in the Grain.All the reviews who complain that it is not long enough are, well, stupid.Duh, its a collection of short stories, as implied by its name "A Knot in the Grain and OTHER STORIES".

In fact, I think of these short stories as fairy tales.They are just long enough to tell the story.I do think the reviewer mentioning depressed themes has a point, and would compare them to Grimm's fairy tales.Some have lessons, some with happy endings.If you can find it, buy it!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Knot in the Grain is awesome!
I haven't read this book yet, but I ordered it because I am a huge Robin McKinley fan!I love reading fantasy stories, and her books really hit the spot.
She even takes classic fairy tales and adds a new spin to it, something you can't put down once you start reading.I'd recommend this book to any fantasy lover!

4-0 out of 5 stars Too short
Very interesting stories, but not enough of them.I request the author expand and write more.

5-0 out of 5 stars Golden fields
A collection of Robin McKinley's finest tales!

Though I find myself ever coming back to "The Blue Sword," McKinley's quintessential work about the magical land of Damar, this collection of tales is quite a sterling example of the author's fine hand at descriptive imagry and evocative emotional response.

Why shouldn't people keep magic in their hearts, and enjoy a good book of fairy tales from time to time? ... Read more

17. Rowan
by Robin McKinley
 Hardcover: 1 Pages (1992-08)
list price: US$14.00
Isbn: 068810682X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A child and her new puppy work through the difficult initial adjustments and soon belong to each other. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars WONDERFUL book to prepare kids for owning a dog!
We read Rowan when we were thinking about having a dog---it was our "dreaming of dog ownership" book.We adopted a Racing Greyhound, and so the issues covered in Rowan are very similar to the initial "fish out of water" feeling that retired Grey's have.The story shows the little girl empathizing with the pup when it's removed from everything it knows. It's also honest about her expectations and how disappointed she may be feeling at first when her puppy is afraid instead of playful. At the end there's no "too-sweet" resolution, but there is a nice beginning... and the little girl is satisfied with that--a start, a promise of the dog Rowan will become in the hint of a wag from the puppy's tail.

5-0 out of 5 stars A sweet children's story
I read this book while desperately scouring my library for anything by Robin McKinley, and was mildly surprised to find that it was a child's picture book. Still, it was as well-written as anything by McKinley, and Iwould recommend it to anyone to read to their children. ... Read more

18. The Stone Fey
by Robin McKinley
Hardcover: 64 Pages (1998-09-01)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$30.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0152000178
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Maddy has been roaming the hills of Damar with her sheep since she was a girl. The Hills hold everything she desires: her family; her beloved dog, Aerlich - and soon, her fiancé, Donal, who has been away for a year. But one evening a lamb is lost. And when Maddy returns to the Hills to find it, she discovers something else the Hills possess - something that will change her forever...
Amazon.com Review
Maddy has lost her sheep and even her dog Aerlich doesn't knowwhere to find him. "It would soon be too dark to see anything, but asucculent young lamb would not survive the night in the wild rocky screebeyond the farm; if a foltza didn't get him, a yerig would. Damn." Okay, soNewbery Medal winner Robin McKinley's magical story The Stone Fey isno Little Bo Peep tale, and Maddy, the conflicted, passionate shepherdess,is no Bo Peep. One wild night in the Hills of Damar, a stone fey--a magicalcreature of the wilds--greets Maddy with her lost lamb in his musculararms--his skinwas gray, with "a rose-quartz flush across his cheekbones." After thatfateful night, she can't get him out of her head, despite her commitmentsto longtime sweetheart Damon, who is due to return from a year away. Withall the mist and mystery of a Mary Stewart novel, The Stone Fey issure to thrill young readers with wildness in their hearts. John Clapp'slovely watercolors perfectly capture the mood of this haunting, innocentexploration of the nature of romantic love. (Click to see a sample spread.Illustration from The Stone Fey by Robin McKinley, illustration© 1998 by John Clapp, reproduced by permission of Harcourt Brace &Company.) (Ages 10 and older) --Karin Snelson ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

2-0 out of 5 stars Love Robin McKinley but...
Robin McKinley is one of my favorite authors. Her prose, her characters, her worlds are all terrific. From her retelling of the story of Beauty and the Beast to her highly original vampire novel Sunshine, I've adored everything she's written. Until now. Somehow, McKinley completely missed out on having a real story with the Stone Fey. Despite the childish format (with wonderful drawings) it's too adult for children yet not long enough or deep enough for adults. Try one of her other wonderful books but skip this one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lovely. Just lovely.
Probably sounds like a bit of a cop-out, review-wise, when I say that you can't go wrong with Robin McKinley, but seriously, you can't go wrong with Robin McKinley. Her stories don't always end up just where you think they might, but they always seem to end up in the right place, which is difficult enough to accomplish. 'The Stone Fey' is no exception; strong characters, beautiful scenery, and the most graceful prose make this story a small marvel.

And I mustn't forget the illustrations, which are pretty darn unforgettable.I won't waste a thousand words failing to describe them; let's just say that they are worth seeing, and that John Clapp's talent ranks up there with McKinley's.

This book is worth every penny I paid.

5-0 out of 5 stars extremely difficult to describe
Like Orson Scott Card (particularly in Ender's Game), Robin McKinley here made my perspective/attitude/understanding expand, as this story included elements that I didn't want and certainly didn't expect, but ended up appreciating.The cussing probly wasn't necessary, but it did make Maddy seem more real and less idealized.McKinley never quite explains what a fey is (or yerig or folstza) but readers familiar with her other books will understand at least vaguely, and the way she leaves so much to the imagination is a skill too many fantasy writers have forgotten.The fey's actions are surprising and yet believable, and Maddy's responses are unexpected yet extraordinarily real.The result is a story that avoids predictability but feels neither cheap nor deceptive (as the film The Village does).Because of the cussing and sensual undercurrent I wouldn't recommend this book for children despite its format and apparent fairy-tale appeal, but mature young people (especially girls) should both appreciate and benefit from McKinley's intelligent, personal treatment of the classic human-falls-in-love-with-otherworldly-being idea.As a young adult (age 21) fond of McKinley's other books despite a few criticisms, I found this story passionate, haunting, riveting, puzzling, beautiful, and immensely satisfying in an unsettling sort of way.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written, Beautifully Illustrated
Really, they should have a separate scale for Robin McKinley._The Stone Fey_ is vividly written and illustrated, capturing one's imagination in the first page.It's particularly well suited for reading aloud &/or for a "coffee table book" -- eye catching, ear enthralling, and a dang good story.

3-0 out of 5 stars "Passionate and Haunting"
First off, this book is not for children. As another reviewer stated, it *is* convoluted, but I think McKinley wrote that way to give the book a slow, thoughtful pace appropriate to the plot and setting. The inside cover of the book called it "passionate" and "haunting". Those two words describe it better than any review I have seen up here. ... Read more

19. Imaginary Lands
 Hardcover: 256 Pages (1987-03-26)
list price: US$14.13 -- used & new: US$14.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0862032806
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars A good find
I have never seen this book in a store, and as a collector of Robin McKinley's many works, I had to have this anthology.It is a fairly quick read, as it keeps you turning pages.Of course, some of the stories are to be preferred above others, based on the tastes of the reader.McKinley's story in particular was haunting, much darker than her usual stories.I found this a great opportunity to find other fantasy and sci-fi authors to read.

2-0 out of 5 stars Imaginary Lands
Imaginary Lands is a collection of Fantasy stories .I think that it was a dull book, the sentence fluency was choppy and some of the words used I couldn't understand at all.I only read three stories which were kind of interesting, the first one that I read was about a man named Arram who helps an old woman see the inner beauty in herself with magic.I thought it was a nice story but there was too much information that was a waste of time to read and had no relation to the story line.The next story was a little better, it was Evian Steel.Evian Steel was about a girl named Elaine who is sent to become a magic sword forger and is befriended by a girl named Veree who is about to make her first sword.Veree knows a secret about the sword that Elaine hasn't learned yet, Veree has to cut herself and make her vein bleed into a basin, the blood gives the sword its uniqueness. Will Veree be able to do it?The third story I enjoyed quite a bit, it was the curse of Igamor.The story starts with a legend of a horse who steels children and evil,greedy adults, like the lord of Aigues Mortes, his Chancellor, and constable.Is Igamor as mean as he sounds?

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Author
This is one of the best books I have read. Robin McKinley paints such beautiful pictures with her words. I started reading her books for a book report, but now I read them every chance I get!If you need a book to keep you occupied, this is the one for you! ... Read more

20. Beauty (Orbit Books)
by Robin McKinley
 Paperback: 256 Pages (1986-01-23)

Isbn: 0708881726
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (25)

1-0 out of 5 stars EHHHH
As for the quality of writing - I'm not a fan. Very bland - back-and-fourth type writing. Nothing spectacular.

4-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Horse Story
I read this book for the first time when I was a horse-crazy little girl. I absolutely loved it then and I still enjoy re-reading it. It is a wonderful story, especially appealing to horse-crazy children.

5-0 out of 5 stars I LOVE this book!
I would absolutely recommend this book to everyone! :) This is one of my favorite books!

4-0 out of 5 stars Beauty is a book for all ages to read and enjoy!
Bill Wallace writes this book as though it's real life. Once you start, you an hardly put it down!
Luke, a young city boy, is the son of divorced parents. he lives with his mom on his grandfather's farm. because his mom lost her job. Luke never wants to do anything at the farm because his mom made him leave all of his friends when they moved.
After a long summer, Luke befriends an old horse called Beauty. They share a special bond with late summer walks and secrets. But when a terrible accident happens, Luke does something that may break that bond.
This book is great for children and adults. It has adventure, suspense, and funny, laugh-out-loud moments, too. It shows that when you have a bond with a clase friend, keep it for it will become one of your greatest treasures. I give this book a four out of five star rating.

5-0 out of 5 stars Indescribable -
This book is a lovely retelling of Beauty and the Beast.I collect fairy tales and happened across this one several years ago.It is told in the first person. The writing is absolutely sure-handed and the characterization is beautiful.I have read most of the author's other books but none of them come close to the heights of storytelling she reaches in this novel.It drew me in from page one, and I was overcome with a rush of disappointment when I reached the end because there was no more.
This is also a great read-aloud book.It is too bad that it is out of print because I often loan my copy to friends.Fortunately all of them (so far) have returned it - with great praise.Everyone who is a lover of fairy tales should give this one a try. ... Read more

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