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Thursday, 7 February 2013

Review: Pegasus

Author: Robin McKinley

Release date: Paperback 7th July 2011
Genre: High Fantasy
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Puffin Books
ISBN: 978-0141338095


Pegasus is a richly detailed fantasy novel.

Sylvi is a princess and on her twelfth birthday she is bound to a pegasus – his name is Ebon. The binding of humans and pegasi was written into a treaty after the humans entered the realm of the Pegasus. The alliance between the two races saw an exchange of land for protection – the humans battling the violent enemies of the pegasi and then settling in this new fertile land. Yet despite the human-pegasi alliance, there has always been a difficulty in their communication. Humans and pegasi cannot truly understand one another. The humans use magical speakers to translate the language of the pegasi but can their interpretations be trusted?

At Sylvi’s binding ceremony, something unexpected and wonderful happens. She can hear Ebon speak inside her mind and he can hear her in return. Their communication should spell a new prosperous era for the alliance. But there are many who oppose their friendship and are determined to find a way to wrench them apart. The reason for this opposition and hostility will take Sylvi and Ebon on an extraordinary and terrifying path.  

I found the first three chapters of Pegasus confusing and overwhelming. They are weighed down with the history of the alliance as Sylvi revisits this prior to her binding ceremony. However, as soon as Sylvi and Ebon are bound, the novel begins to fly. The story is enchanting, heart-wrenching and richly detailed. McKinley brings to life the pegasi and their unique culture in a way that you’ve never seen before. They are not winged horses; they are a peaceful people, with humour, intellect and a sinuous magic. She creates her own mythology and it is breathtaking.

I really loved the characterisation too. Sylvi feels blighted by her smallness. She hates to be the little one. Ebon is endlessly determined and not held back by convention. The King is both fatherly and an admirable leader. Sylvi’s mother is a great warrior. I also loved Hirishy. It seemed to me, she was much misunderstood by all but Sylvi. And the villain was so well drawn and dislikeable that Sylvi’s fear of him leapt of the page.

At times I felt the pace of the novel slowed too much as the author reminded us of how Sylvi viewed herself or the pegasi or the humans. Perhaps if you were reading the book over a few weeks, these reminders would be useful. But I was reading it over a few days and I felt that there were some things that didn’t need repeating.

This novel is only half the story. It ends on a cliff-hanger and left me stunned. McKinley’s writing is beautiful and poetic and the plot of the story as intricately woven as the pegasi-made drai. Pegasus is a wonderful fantasy read which will leave you wanting more.

Source: Bought from Red House.


Katherine Roberts said...

I've noticed this book already! Sounds like a winderful read for a fantasy/horse girl like me... thank you for reminding me of it.

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

I was the same as you at the beginning but I ended up loving this much, much more than I thought would.

Such beautiful writing and exquisite world building.

Bookworm1858 said...

I remember being kind of bored by this book-it was not my favorite McKinley despite the intriguing premise.

Becky said...

Katherine, this is so your type of book!

Sophie, yes at the beginning it was heavy going but I think it was partly because Sylvii had no sidekick and thus it lacked humour. Once Ebon was introduced, I found the book enthralling.

Bookworm, I'm sorry you couldn't get into it. This is definitely a slow read to be savoured rather than a page-turner. It's the first book that I've read by Robin McKinley.