The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
Tarma Black (Hufflepuff)
This fantasy novel presents us with a brand new world, with its own cultures, diverse people and monsters - but who are these monsters? Robin McKinley has outdone herself with this story (and its sequel, which is actually a prequel, The Hero and the Crown).
Anyway, Harry Crewe goes to a different country and land after the death of her father. She had to go join her brother, who was posted away from their homeland. She unexpectedly finds herself falling in love with this difficult and dangerous land even as, at the same time, she is almost bored to tears by the people with whom she lives.
Why doesn't she fit in? She doesn't know, but pretty soon she will have experiences which show her the difference between people who love the land, and those who simply suffer it. She finds within herself, a courage and a tenacity which was always there, waiting for the opportunity to shine forth.
If you love horses, and always wanted to ride sans bridle or halter, on a simple padded bareback pad, this is the story for you. What does that have to do with a blue sword? Oh, well, read the story and you'll find out!