I don't even know how to rec this book, because I honestly do not have the ability to describe how awesome it is.
HARRY: Here I am, a woman of the British Empire, on my way to the distant land of Damar, a desert city where my brother is stationed.
HARRY'S BROTHER: Listen, Harry, you know I love you just the way you are, but pleeeeease do not be weird around my commanding officer and his wife who are kindly taking you in as their own daughter.
HARRY: Ok, they are really nice people, even if they try to tuck me in and make me guzzle down warm milk for my insomnia as if I were a child instead of a grown ass woman. It's just... a woman's life is so empty in this time and place.
CORLATH: Sup? I'm the king of the Hillfolk, a very noble desert people. I'm here to try and reason with our invaders, even if they spit on our customs and then pat their mouths with embroidered handkerchiefs while adjusting their monocles.
BRITISH PEOPLE: I SAY, WE DISAGREE WITH YOUR DEMANDS OF PEACE, BY JOVE. GOOD DAY TO YOU, SIR.
CORLATH: *abducts HARRY*
HARRY: Well, this is most unseemly. But Keep Calm and Carry On.
CORLATH: You're an honoured guest. You should learn sword fighting, and immerse yourself in our culture, and maybe fulfil a prophecy.
HARRY: ISN'T THE DESERT MAGICAL? AND THE HILLFOLK CULTURE - BEAUTIFUL.
CORLATH: Baby, I love you.
HARRY: Oh, Corlath, I love you, too. Wait, is this Stockholm syndrome?
I LOVED IT.
They call this Damar 2 but that's just publishing order, this is actually a prequel. In the first book Aerin, the legendary heroine, is mentioned a lot and this is her story.
AERIN: Pleeeeeaaaaase, Tor, teach me how to fight with a sword and ride a horse! I dream of being a legendary heroine to our people, even if they treat me like shit because my mum was a witch who made my dad, the King, fall in love with her.
TOR: Ok, I will, but be careful. I could never forgive myself if anything happened to you.
AERIN: Oh, Tor, it's so nice of you to take time out of your busy schedule of learning how to be the next king. You're the only one who's kind to me.
TOR: I just can't deny you anything. ...I love you.
AERIN: Whatchu say?
GALANA: OMG AERIN MY HUSBAND AND I THINK YOU'RE JUST A WASTE OF SPACE. LOL I DARE YOU TO POISON YOURSELF WHILE MY HUSBAND MOCKS YOUR ATTEMPTS TO DEFY THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN OUR SOCIETY.
AERIN: Brb slaying dragons.
TOR: Omg, omg, omg King, where is your daughter? I'm worried sick, I merely ask out of courtly concern and not an obvious to everyone but her all-consuming love.
KING: Lol I sent her to have fun in the desert.
AERIN DADDY HERE AM I, I BROUGHT YOU DRAGON HEADS. AREN'T YOU PROUD OF ME DADDY? I LOVE YOU DADDY. ARE YOU PROUD? Oh, hey Tor, I didn't see you there.
TOR: OMFG SO PROUD, AERIN, I'M SO PROUD.
KING: Yes. But please, don't ever do that again. Not because you're a woman, but because you're my daughter and no one in their right mind goes hunting dragons alone and omg you weren't even answering your cellphone, I don't care that they weren't invented yet. But I'll make you a valued warrior because I'm proud of you, child.
AERIN: Oh, Tor, life is so boring. Let me cuddle up to you in a sisterly fashion.
TOR: *passionate kiss*
AERIN: Oh, haha, Tor you are so silly, trying to make me feel better about myself! I see right through you!
TOR: ...I love you.
AERIN: LOL Brb hunting a HUGE MOTHERFUCKING DRAGON AND NEARLY GETTING MYSELF KILLED.
McKinley has a way of writing heroines who really are strong female characters without making it preachy or even in your face. I just love the way she writes!
The Blue Sword @ The Book Depository
The Hero and the Crown @ The Book Depository
And the author's site.