[Book Review] Pegasus (and the princess)

Book Review: Pegasus by Robin McKinley

Almost a thousand years ago, humans came to a new land already inhabited by fantastic creatures. They made an alliance with the pegasi, and since then, each members of the royal family has been magically bound to a pegasus for life. It will be Princess Sylviianel’s when she turns twelve. But how will she be friends with a creature she can’t even talk to?

But when Sylvi and Ebon are bound, everything is different. Not only can they communicate, but they form a bond so close that it threatens a status quo that has existed between humans and pegasi for the last millennia.

I have been a long time fan of Robin McKinley, so I was very excited to get my hands on Pegasus. The book delivers McKinley’s characteristic attention to detail, a story of strong friendship, and a young woman who steps off her prescribed path. The court politics feel real, the pegasi perfectly alien and intriguing, and prose a pleasure to read. However, in the end, this first parter got just two canaries: it was just…okay.

Still! If you like…

You will probably love this newest Part-1-of-3 novel by Robin McKinely. But here are some suggestions for enjoying this book:

1. Wait till Book 2 (and maybe even 3) comes out.

Let’s just get the bad news out of the way; the entire novel is rising action. McKinley, who has only ever done stand-alone novels, is writing the story as a three-parter, and you can tell. As the book ends, Pegasus cut off mid-story, and abruptly enough that I had to double and triple-check online to make sure that my ebook hadn’t just lost the tail hundred pages.

I know, I know, the second book, Ebon, is slated to come out in 2014, and the third, The Golden Country, will likely hit the shelves in 2015. If you do decide you don’t want to wait three years to read Pegasus, just expect to be startled when page 404 sneaks up on you.

2. Skip the first 40-or-so pages.

Pegasus makes the odd decision to start with heavy exposition on its opening, as the main character reflects on the history of her people and the origin of their link to the pegasus people. This sets up the world nicely, but you don’t actually need it. I wasn’t already a die-hard McKinley fan, I probably wouldn’t have read to where the story really starts.

3. Relax and enjoy.

I’ll be honest. I went in expecting a rollicking adventure with explosions of angst and, well, explosions. But that’s not Pegasus, and that’s not why I read McKinley.

It’s a beautiful opening to a beautiful story.


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7 thoughts on “[Book Review] Pegasus (and the princess)

  1. Hmm! I felt that your review made this book seem more interesting than reading the description. (Because I’m not into fantasy or young adult, per se.) I also thought it was interesting how you brought up the abrupt ending. That seems like a trend these days- to write in series without a satisfying conclusion at the end of each part!


    • I’d say that this book went beyond the usual trend at ending on a cliffhanger. It was, quite bluntly, a story cut off mid chapter. Usually, in these kinds of series where a larger, overarching story is cut up to make a trilogy, each of the books have their own, minor plot arc within the overarching story. Here, not so much.

      If you’ve not read anything by McKinley, I say start with Hero and the Crown or Beauty for a taste of her lovely, lyrical style. If you like those, you might enjoy Pegasus. But whatever you pick up, let us know what you think! 🙂

  2. This is one of the very few Robin McKinley novels that I haven’t read yet. I think I’ll take your suggestion and wait to read it until the next one comes out though; one of my pet peeves is books that don’t end, particularly when I have to wait a year or more for the continuation of the story.

    • Have you read her other recent book – Dragonhaven? I remember cracking it open and then, despite the clever premise, becoming distracted and never picking it back up again. I did like Chalice, though. (Well, a part of me wonders if that’s because there was a romantic element to Chalice, because I remember thinking that it also felt…insubstantial. Especially after, say, the thick fun that was Sunshine).

      Are you a Mercedes Lackey fan by any chance?

      • I haven’t read Dragonhaven either. I’ll have to pick it up next time I see it. My favorite McKinley is still “The Blue Sword”… Damar was such a fantastic world.

        I haven’t read Mercedes Lackey beyond the first 50 pages of “Firebird,” which I do mean to return to eventually. It was a slow start, and I found myself hating the protagonist, but I still want to see what her take is on the Firebird legend.

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