Title: The Blue Sword
Author: Robin McKinley
What it's about: Harry goes to live with her brother Richard in the land of Daria, a province of their Homeland that's still being colonized. Most people hate the desert lands surrounding the small settlement of Istan, but Harry is drawn to them. The people of the settlement talk of the Hillfolk that live there, in the once-great kingdom of Damar. One day, the king of the Hillfolk, Corlath, comes to visit, looking for aid in the war against the demonic Northerners. He does not get any promise of help from the Homelanders, but he ends up kidnapping Harry after his magic alerts him that she will end up saving the day.
What I thought: Robin McKinley is an excellent writer. The story is full of subtle humor, enough to keep the characters human. The writing is vivid, giving a wonderful picture of Damar. The characters are sympathetic, and the Hillfolk culture is very well-developed. It's quite impressive. This is a long, deep, satisfying fantasy story.
Overall: This is a great book that I highly recommend.