I have been a fan of Robin McKinley books for a number of years...or maybe that should be decades. Anyway, The Hero and the Crown was one of the first fantasy books I read on my own and is still one of my favorites. When I heard that Pegasus was done in a style similar to The Hero and the Crown I was really excited. Pegasus is the first book in a two book series; according to McKinely's blog it was supposed to be one book and just got too long so it is being released as two books instead. This was a wonderful fantasy book; there is just so much here to love.
Sylvi is about to be bound to her Pegasus. Her kingdom has an ages old alliance with the Pegasi and as part of this alliance everyone in the royal family is bound to a Pegasus. In many cases the binding is nothing but show. In Sylvi's case it is different. When her and Ebon (her pegasus) are bound they can talk to each other mind to mind; something unheard of. This special ability is both good and bad; it makes Sylvi and Ebon outcasts but also promises hope to forge new and stronger bonds with the Pegasi. Leaders of both the Pegasi and the humans are hoping Sylvi and Ebon will make things better. Of course they have their enemies, an evil magician is set on proving that Sylvi and Ebon's ability is a curse. Then there is the increased activity of the monsters in the region; these attacks are getting more and more frequent. Will Sylvi and Ebon help the situation or will there unusual ability only make things worse?
This was a wonderful book with wonderful characters. It is definitely not the fastest read and the first chapter is a bit miserable (for some reason McKinley starts off dictating the ancient treaty in horribly stilted language) but bear through that first chapter and things get much much better.
Sylvi and Ebon are wonderfully likable, funny, and sweet characters. Most of the characters in this book are inherently good and they all have good senses of humor. It is hard to hate anyone in this book; except for the evil magician whom you are supposed to loathe. This book is filled with beautiful descriptions, lots of wonder, and intricate details of interactions between the human and pegasi.
McKinely pays a ton of attention to detail in the human and pegasi interactions. It was very impressive. Sometimes the detail got a bit rambling and overbearing, but mostly it was fascinating how much thought was put into the interaction between the two races. McKinley weaves a ton of suspense throughout the story as attacks keep happening closer and closer to the castle. This book does not have a lot of action; but it does have intrigue, court politics, and adventure in spades. I get a feeling that as things build to a head we will see a lot of action in book 2 of this duo.
The world is incredibly well thought out and the story almost epic in proportions; still it remains very personable at the same time and follows Sylvie and Ebon closely throughout. There is a bit of a love interest hinted at, but not much romance in the story in general. The writing is very readable and had a good balance of description and action; it does ramble on a bit at times but most of it was interesting.
I just fell in love with this world, the Pegasi, and the royal family. The book leaves readers at a pretty bad spot; totally a cliffhanger. So you've been warned. I knew going into the book that it ended in a cliffhanger, but the ending still almost left me in tears. On hindsight it was a good place to leave the story and will definitely get readers back for more.
Overall I loved this book, loved the world, loved the characters, and was impressed with how well thought out and detailed the human/Pegasi interactions were. I highly recommend this is you are a fantasy fan; it is reminiscent of McKinely's earlier books like The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword. If you enjoyed those you will enjoy this. It also reminds some of Tamora Pierce's books or Sherwood Smith's books; if you are a fan of these writers than you will like this book too.
I wanted to love this book, because I love pretty much everyting McKinley puts out. I love her style and her imagination. No matter how much I tried, however, I couldn't really get into the story. At the beginning I thought, just wait, you'll get into it. Halfway through I finally hit a good patch ... and then things went downhill again. A couple of times I thought, hey, this has been done before, and then I realized yes, in The Hero and the Crown, and The Blue Sword. The writing drags and I don't understand the choices Sylvi makes. Why can she not simply talk to her father, the one human she loves and trusts the most? Just sit down and talk to him. Everything solved, no angst. I'm wondering if I want book two to tie things up (I was pretty mad at where the book ended) or if I don't care.
This book was good, and I liked the concept of humans and pegasi being friends and allies. However, it did seem to drag a little slowly in some areas, and at times there was no consistency between the separation of humanity and the pegasi--sometimes they are so different in beliefs and obviously body, but then when an overnight visit occurs between the friends, they are told it's improper for the two of them to sleep together. There is no indication that the two species could mate anyway, so I'm not sure where this moral stance comes unless it is just thrown in there because this book is aimed at teens. The ending is also less than perfect. Without a sequel to tie up lose ends in this story, I will be disappointed. This ending left me with almost as many questions as I had in the beginning. Hopefully there will be another book (or two!) to help solve the problems left unfinished in this one.
Every review here is quite accurate, only individual perceptions differ I think... The story has beautiful landscapes, good people, a wondrous Pegasus species, a sneaky villain, horrible monsters, political intrigue, an interesting world you might want to visit. All the elements are there. Put it all together well and you should have a brilliant story.
Sadly, this was not put together well. Not only is the reader constantly confused, so are the characters. The story drags, drags, DRAGS! There seem to be some rules that should never be broken, but only some magicians seem to understand these rules. Even the good magicians are confused, apparently some of their history books are missing or hidden.
Sylvi (human) is bonded in a ritual ceremony with Ebon (Pegasus) because it is what a princess does at the age of twelve. Why is it the custom? No idea , but it seems to correspond to a convoluted history that is part of a treaty between Pegasus and humans. Sylvi and Ebon bond incredibly well during the ceremony, creating a strong telepathic and very sweet friendship, but this is somehow bad. Why is it bad? No idea, but the court magicians feel threatened because they believe only they should be able to translate speech between a bonded pair with a whacked out sign language that is less than understandable. Why shouldn't the Pegasus and humans understand each other through unfettered telepathy? Because true understanding is somehow bad. Ebon takes Sylvi flying, (sounds like fun to me) but this is also supposed to be wrong, so they have to do it in secret. If they get caught flying together, disaster will strike. Why? Don't know. Ebon and Sylvi travel through the kingdom to outlying towns and cities, earning the love and respect from the people. Good? No, bad somehow.
The magic and what magicians do is poorly explained, and because of this, what they do looses drama. The central villian disappears for most of the book, and when he reappears, we don't care what he's going to say...and when he says it, it doesn't make much sense, some hidden and previously unread book is found by the evil magician. The treaty between the allies is broken. Weeping and suspicions, lack of trust between Pegasus and humans ensues. The bonding between Sylvi and Ebon must be broken for the good of the kingdom. Why? No clue. The cryptic reading of the passages from the hidden book by the evil magician make absolutely no sense. The story read is about a love and sacrifice between a bonded pair of a human prince and Pegasus. In fact, (in my opinion) the translation points in the opposite direction than how it's perceived by the magician. And so it ends without end... Everyone sadly goes their separate ways even though the monsters are coming and they desperately need each other as allies to face the threat.
There are other potentially interesting characters--Sylvi's family members, Galfin, the pegasus shaman, and Sylvi's Speaker--but none of them are used enough in a plot that revolves too much around the two central characters that are basically annoying teenagers.
The story ends mid sentence so we have to wait for the sequel that was supposed to come out sometime in 2012. Maybe the questions will be answered and explained. (Assuming you remember the questions and still give a tinker's damn.) I almost abandoned this book multiple times. I kept thinking, "It'll get better." It never did. I don't recommend the book and can't imagine reading its sequel unless the reviews are truly outstanding.
A beautiful crafted book, you can feel the little hands of the pegasi and the oppressive weight of the magic. A bit slow in parts, reminded me a lot of the prophecy of a heroine in parts of the Blue Sword or Hero and the Crown, two other great books by this author. I started getting 2/3rd the way thru this book and a lot of stuff not yet resolved. That feeling got worse and worse, finally with an unsatisfying end of chapter and not even a hint of a sequel. This book definitely needs at least one more book, lot set up for conflict with this heroine and all the villains. Only giving 4 stars due to the slow pace of the book, the ending is okay if there is another book to continue the story.