“Because she was a princess she had a pegasus.” As I mentioned in my recent review of Chalice, I greatly enjoy the opening lines to Robin McKinley’s novels. Pegasus, her latest book, is another YA fantasy, and once again, McKinley does a fabulous job of world building. For nearly a thousand years, the humans and the pegasi have been joined together in an alliance against the evil dragon-like creatures known as norindours, wyverns, and rocs. But although they are allied, the societies of the two peoples are very different and they can barely communicate with each other except through the human magicians and the pegasi shamans.
Princess Sylvi, almost twelve years old when the story begins, is about to be “bound” to her own pegasus. It is a ritual that all members of the royal families undergo in order to further the friendship between the two races. When the diminutive girl meets the giant black pegasus for the first time, she discovers something remarkable–she can hear Ebon talking inside her head and they can understand each other! This unique connection between the princess and her pegasus does not please everyone, the magicians least of all. Fthoom, the most powerful magician in the land, goes into a towering rage and works to separate the two. But Sylvi refuses to give up her new best friend Ebon.
The majority of the book is a description of how Sylvi and Ebon’s friendship grows and also of Sylvi’s growing understanding of the pegasi and their culture. McKinley beautifully contrasts the humans, able to make war with their strong hands, and the pegasi, able to make works of art beyond all human imagination. She slowly but steadily builds up the drama of the book until the very end…when the unsuspecting reader finds out that nothing has been concluded and she is planning to write a sequel. While writing the book, McKinley said this on her blog:
About a month ago I decided I couldn’t do it in one book: so perforce I’m going to be writing a real sequel for the first time in my life . . . well, sort of. It’s going to be a sequel like THE RETURN OF THE KING is a sequel to THE TWO TOWERS. Remember the last line of TWO TOWERS? ‘Frodo was alive but taken by the Enemy’? Yes. You’re going to hate me for the ending of PEGASUS. Well, I hope you’ll hate me: you’ll hate me if you like the book.
It’s official: I hate Robin McKinley. When will Pegasus II be published? Not till 2014 if her blog banner speaks true.