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I Belong

Review: Pegasus by Robin McKinley

Title: Pegasus

Author: Robin McKinley

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Pegasus (Book 1)

Publication Date: November 2, 2010

Format: Hardcover, 404 Pages

ISBN-10: 0399246770 (Penguin Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0399246777 (Penguin Teen)

Reviewed by: Jessie


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.

Quick & Dirty: The ultimate vibrant escape into a fantastical world makes you question what exactly is human nature. Pegasus is quite complex, which makes it a more challenging but more thoughtful and worthwhile novel than one that is simply storyline. Reading the novel’s summary, it is easy to put it in a preteen or teen category, but the intricate vocabulary and political undertones make it a more compelling read for adults and even university English fantasy courses.

Opening SentenceBecause she was a princess she had a pegasus.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Robin McKinley is certainly a talented author. She was able to take some common elements of fantasy and use them to recreate an entirely new multifaceted world, but one that is still familiar enough to make sense to the reader. She uses a language barrier to set up one of the most pronounced dilemmas for the characters, but then shows how much of our language is not spoken. She shows how powerful people have to be humble to do what’s right, and how people who want to be powerful often do it for the wrong reasons. There is so much you can take from this book and apply to our modern world.

The most surprising part of this novel is that it is not part of a series, which it should be. Perhaps the author felt strongly that the ambiguous ending added mystery or intrigue to the book, but it is frustrating to never find out the political consequences of the characters’ actions. There is just so much that is never resolved.  It isn’t that the book isn’t wonderful, it’s just that the author does so much to make this all happen, there is so much history and background explained, and so much of it promises this huge impending climax, but we never find out what the end really is, at all, even a little bit.

This book takes place in an imaginary land, which the author does an amazing job of describing and a main portion of the book is based on invented creatures. Most of us are familiar with a pegasus, but not as much which rocs, ladons, wyverns, taralians, and norindours. Since a real description is never given of these creatures, it is hard to really picture any battles happening with them. Every time you come to one of these words, or a number of other made up words throughout the book, of which there are several, your mind basically goes blank, and you have to recoup to keep reading, which, although the storyline is wonderful and keeps the reader occupied, it becomes quite tedious to read over these words that in most cases never have a real explanation. I now understand why many fantasy books have a dictionary of terms to describe meanings, however, the author could easily have explained within the text, as she does with other elements.

As stated earlier, there is so much background and character development in this book that it is worth the somewhat laborious journey to delve straight into it and keep going. The princess is not a regular princess, which makes her just absolutely lovable. Her parents are actually hard-working, which would be true of real kings and queens but is not how they are normally portrayed, which makes them lovable, and the whole group is just rebellious enough to actually make things happen. You are definitely just rooting for them the entire time. There are two types of villains in this book, both human and beast, and it is interesting to find out how beastly the humans can actually be, just to keep a little power and control. This book is just beautifully written and there is so much imagination and thought put into it, I just feel like the author fell a little short in some odd areas. It is absolutely still worth reading just to get your mind really working and a different view of the world.

Notable Scene:

“Only you were invited to see the Caves,” he said. “I’m only here at all because I wouldn’t send you all alone to this place where almost no human has ever been—and certainly no one specifically bound by the Alliance has ever set foot. Lrrianay understood that I could not let you come alone, and so agreed to bring me too—for a day, two days, before your real visit begins, I imagine. And I agreed to that because I trust Lrrianay even more that I trust my own right hand.

She stared up at him. “You didn’t tell me that,” she said.

He raised his shoulders. “I wasn’t planning on telling you at all,” he said. “There is something about the air of this place. Or maybe it’s just the pegasi.”

She looked around. Even in their turning-away the pegasi had made a pattern; the smaller smooth arches of their bent necks and bodies provided counter-curves like a scalloped hem, around the edge of the circle she and her father stood in. “I thinking it’s the pegasi.”

“So do I, “ said her father, and bent and kissed her again.

Pegasus Series:

1. Pegasus

2. Ebon (2014)

3. The Golden Country (2015)

FTC Advisory: G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin provided me with a copy of Pegasus. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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