This was my introduction to Robin McKinley, and I couldn't have asked for better. I did love Sunshine, but goodness that one took a long time to get going--more than one friend of mine gave up on it. The Hero and the Crown is different. Not breathless, but certainly not slow-paced, and in Aerin McKinley created one of the great heroines in high fantasy--a princess and a dragon slayer no less. A lot of reviewers seemed to have discovered this book as a child, and I can see this as a YA book, Aerin is young and this is a tale of the ignored child coming into her own, dealing with her gaining (mostly) self-taught skills in fighting dragons. With a horse, Talat, that is one of the most memorable characters in the book you could see this as just that perfect book for young girls. I discovered this as an adult though, and was completely enraptured. McKinley's writing has a beauty and underlying sophistication to satisfy even an adult palette.