Harry Crewe is a Homelander orphan girl, come to live in Damar from over the seas. She is drawn to the bleak landscape, so unlike the green hills of her Homeland. She wishes she might cross the sands and climb the dark mountains where no Homelander has ever set foot, where the last of the old Damarians, the Free Hillfolk, live.
Corlath is the golden-eyed king of the Free Hillfolk, son of the sons of the legendary Lady Aerin. When he arrives in Harry’s town to ally with the Homelanders against a common enemy, he never expects to set Harry’s destiny in motion: She will ride into battle as a King’s Rider, bearing the Blue Sword, the great mythical treasure, which no one has wielded since Lady Aerin herself.
Legends and myths, no matter how epic, no matter how magical, all begin somewhere.
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Although it had been mostly deserted since the Voodoo Wars, there hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake for years. Rae Seddon, nicknamed Sunshine, head baker at her family’s busy and popular café in downtown New Arcadia, needed a place to get away from all the noise and confusion—of the clientele and her family. Just for a few hours. Just to be able to hear herself think.
She knew about the Others, of course. Everyone did. And several of her family’s best regular customers were from SOF—Special Other Forces—which had been created to deal with the threat and the danger of the Others.
She drove out to her family’s old lakeside cabin and sat on the porch, swinging her feet and enjoying the silence and the silver moonlight on the water.
She never heard them coming. Of course, you don’t when they’re vampires.
Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sookie Stackhouse will cheer for this tough and quirky heroine. In Sunshine, which won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature, McKinley has a vampire novel that is “a smart, funny tale of suspense and romance” (San Francisco Chronicle).
Aerin is an outcast in her own father’s court, daughter of the foreign woman who, it was rumored, was a witch, and enchanted the king to marry her.
She makes friends with her father’s lame, retired warhorse, Talat, and discovers an old, overlooked, and dangerously imprecise recipe for dragon-fire-proof ointment in a dusty corner of her father’s library. Two years, many canter circles to the left to strengthen Talat’s weak leg, and many burnt twigs (and a few fingers) secretly experimenting with the ointment recipe later, Aerin is present when someone comes from an outlying village to report a marauding dragon to the king. Aerin slips off alone to fetch her horse, her sword, and her fireproof ointment . . .
But modern dragons, while formidable opponents fully capable of killing a human being, are small and accounted vermin. There is no honor in killing dragons. The great dragons are a tale out of ancient history.
That is, until the day that the king is riding out at the head of an army. A weary man on an exhausted horse staggers into the courtyard where the king’s troop is assembled: “The Black Dragon has come . . . Maur, who has not been seen for generations, the last of the great dragons, great as a mountain. Maur has awakened.”