Monday, November 01, 2010
ARC Review: Pegasus by Robin McKinley
by Robin McKinley
Courtesy of Star Book Tours
Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pegasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially-trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication.
But it’s different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close—so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo—and possibly to the future safety of their two nations.
Sylvi - Silviianel, princess and fourth child of King Corone IV - knows that she must be bound to a pegasus. She and her tutor, Ahathin, have studied the original treaty between the humans and the pegasi in great detail. But knowing she will be bound is not the same as accepting that she will be tied to one of those graceful, beautiful, winged creatures for the rest of her life. She'll also be tied to a Speaker, for the humans and pegasi cannot communicate without the aid of a magician. She both anticipates and dreads her fifteenth birthday, at which time she will be bound. All she really knows is that her life will never be the same.
Fast forward three years, and her fifteenth birthday has arrived. Everything goes swimmingly . . . until Sylvi discovers that she and Ebon, her pegasus, can communicate using silent speech. They are estatic, but not everyone sees it that way. Fthoom, the unofficial head of the magicians, views their communication as something wrong, maybe even evil. Sylvi and Ebon are thrown into a political scandal, and they must defend themselves against those who side with Fthoom. But at what cost?
I was excited to receive this book in the mail, as Robin McKinley is the favorite author of one of my best friends, and I've been wanting to see what all the fuss is about for a while now. Pegasus took a little while to get into in the beginning - the first couple of chapters contain excerpts from the treaty, written with old-fashioned language and spelling. It becomes much easier reading after that, however. Sylvi is an easily likeable character, although her naivety and insistence on drawing attention to her clumsy (in comparison with the pegasi) human attributes can be somewhat annoying. Watching the friendship between Sylvi and Ebon develop over the pages, and what each discovers about the other's culture, is just as fun for the reader as it is for the characters. I do wish, however, that there had been more tension in the novel. It seemed like the tension that did appear was simply because someone told the author that there had to be conflict. McKinley doesn't focus on the troubles Sylvi and Ebon are facing; instead, she creates a new set of problems by making Sylvi overly-conscious of the fact that she is not a pegasus. The villain of the story disappears just as quickly as he appears, and does not show up again until the very end. The ending of the story is also quite a cliffhanger. If there is not a sequel, I suspect that McKinley will be receiving quite a few letters from unhappy readers.
Pegasus is a beautiful story, and I would recommend it to readers who enjoy high fantasy novels.
Robin McKinley is the author of numerous young adult fantasy novels. Her bibliography can be found here.