Sunday, October 24, 2010

Review - Pegasus by Robin McKinley (5/5 stars)

PegasusReading level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date:  November 2nd, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0399246777
Stand Alone or Series: 1st of two books
Source: Received a copy from publisher for review
Rating: 5/5 stars

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.  I got a copy of this book through the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  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.

This book went to the following reading challenges:
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge

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