Robin McKinley's books aren't exactly what I would recommend to anyone who is a big battle fanatic. They do have their battles (the final battle between Aerin and the man in the red room and the battle between the Damarians and the Northerners) but it doesn't take over the whole book. There is just enough of a battle to make the book filling, not overwhelming. You can truly see the battle for what it is and the just cause it is being fought for. But in my opinion, they are all the better because of the lack of long, drawn-out, extremely detailed, horribly gory battles!
There isn't constant action from scene to scene, you get to know the characters instead, possibly even better than they know themselves. This book is also about discovering the true nature of Aerin and finding ourselves in the process. We find out about their history, there is a great insight into why they are who they are. And I love the horse aspect, I LOVE horses! I own several and have applied the method of riding that Aerin and Harry use to my own horses. The leg thing really does work. Both Damar books are for horse lovers and those who want to know the misfit characters for the genuine, real and wonderful characters that they are. We see wrongs being made right, people coming together in friendship and love and we are able to see a lot of GOODNESS in the process.
Anyone who has been ostracized, left out from the crowd, never felt like they quite fit in, these books are for them. It shows what a strong character people like that can have and how, in many ways, they are stronger than those who have not had the same hardships. After all, it was the misfits with the strongest "kelar" and the ones who defeated the gravest of enemies! This referring to both this book and The Blue Sword also by Robin McKinley.
Aerin is a great character and I would not pass up the experience of following her through all her hardships, it just might teach you something if you do! The thing about Robin McKinley's characters is that they are REAL, you can almost become a personal friend of theirs just by reading these books. They are very approachable characters and your copies of these books will become dog-eared and tattered from reading just like mine have! I also recommend The Blue Sword in addition to this, it takes up the story 500 years after Aerin's time, but still we meet up with some old friends again!