Pegasus: Pages and pages of nothingness

Robin McKinley Pegasus young adult fantasy novel reviewsPegasus by Robin McKinley

Humans came to this land generations ago. There they formed an alliance with the pegasi, defending them from evil creatures in exchange for shelter in Pegasus lands. As a sign of the alliance, members of the royal families of both races are magically bound together when the human comes of age. These ceremonies are performed by the Speakers, the only humans who can understand Pegasus speech, until at the binding of Princess Sylvi and Ebon, when they discover they can understand each other perfectly. This threatens to upset the balance of power between the two kingdoms and break the Speakers’ hold on power, which some people will do anything to prevent.

It pains me to write DNF reviews for authors I love. I started Robin McKinley’s Pegasus about six weeks ago. I could read for a few minutes, and then I would stop. Because I was bored. The people bore me. The pegasi bore me. The history bores me. The potentially sentient sword was interesting, but only shows up infrequently. Yes flying is cool. I got that. Bored. Those caves the Pegasus make seem cool too, but not cool enough to keep reading this story. When I found that I was avoiding reading fantasy because I knew I had to get through this book first, I decided to give up.

After I DNFed the book, I poked around some other websites to see if I was missing something and discovered that Pegasus is only the first half of the story. The tale went so long that McKinley’s publishers split it in half. I would have recommended a severe edit, because while there are elements to a good story here, they are buried in pages and pages of nothingness. From an author who used to write short, compelling novels (e.g. The Blue Sword, The Hero and the Crown) this is doubly disappointing.

Pegasus — (2010) Young adult. Publisher: A gorgeously written fantasy about the friendship between a princess and her Pegasus. Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pagasi, 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 its 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. New York Times bestselling Robin McKinley weaves an unforgettable tale of unbreakable friendship, mythical creatures and courtly drama destined to become a classic.

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RUTH ARNELL is a professor of political science in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

View all posts by Ruth Arnell

7 comments

  1. From what I gather, the problem is a GRRM-esque one; the rest of the story isn’t done yet.

  2. “pages and pages of nothingness”: OUCH!

  3. Fortunately I just got this from the library so I’ll give it a try but if I don’t like it I’m not out any money.

  4. I have to disagree with you Ruth–I loved it. I suspect that this is a novel that one will either love or hate without much middle ground. I will say that it took me two or three tries to get started on it, and normally I don’t give a book more than one try. However Robin McKinley is one of my favorite authors so I thought I ought to give this book some undivided attention.

    I’d also have to say that this book is more about atmosphere than it is about plot, which makes sense if she’s not yet finished the story so has no idea of what’s going on.

  5. @Kelly, if you’re right that would explain a lot. It really felt to me like a first draft. It felt to me like if she had finished the story, she could have edited it down to one volume.

    @John, I’m glad you enjoyed the book. I’m willing to put up with atmosphere type books – my review of Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin shows that – if I care about the characters, and nothing about Ebon and Sylvi really appealed to me.

    I’d be interested in Kelly or Beth taking a whack at this one and seeing what they thought. We tend to have a lot of overlap.

  6. I’d certainly be willing to give it a shot sometime. I’ve read her Beauty and Deerskin and enjoyed them, so I too have liked her style in the past. I’ll probably get annoyed with the cliifhanger though!

  7. Oooo, sorry to hear that. ouch. I think I read another review somewhere that said the begining was slow but got better. I don’t know how long till got better, but sorry to hear this.

    Thanks for the review.

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