Pegasus by Robin Mckinley tells the story of a human kingdom which for over a thousand years has held an alliance with a race of sentient pegasi in order to keep both races safe from the monsters which ravage the land. Part of the treaty is that members of the human royal family are ceremoniously bound to members of the pegasi royal family. Despite this, the two races can only communicate through vague sign language and still know little about each other’s cultures.
This all changes on the day that Princess Sylvi, the fourth child of the current King, is bound to her pegasus Ebon, the fourth child of the pegasus king. They find that they can communicate with each other telepathically. While the two are happy with their new found friendship and some hope it can form a greater bond between humans and pegasi, others, especially the bitter court magician Fthoom, feel that it is wrong to go against a thousand years of tradition and it will break the alliance. As she grows closer to Ebon and the other pegasi, Sylvi comes to discover many secrets about both of their races that have been hidden for generations and which may well put their alliance in danger.
I began reading this book as I am also writing a boot that includes pegasi, and I was immediately drawn in by the new angle that the author takes to pegasi, making them much more than just horses with wings. Most notably, they have small feather like hands on the ends of their wings which allow them to make things. Sylvi’s Pegasus Ebon wishes to be a sculptor of all things.
It is unfortunate then that the major failing in this book is that it is incredibly slow paced, particularly at the beginning which feels much more like a history lecture and takes about four chapters to get to the first major plot point. It is at least interesting exposition which provides a good setup for the inciting incident and does at least make you want to keep reading, but it still feels like it could’ve been so much shorter and to the point. It made reading the book even more frustrating as I was genuinely enjoying it and becoming invested into the characters, but the bad pacing was so noticeable that I knew it would keep me from giving it a five star rating. I couldn’t even use the excuse that it is a classic book using archaic language as it only came out in 2010.
The rest of the book isn’t much better with sometimes a hundred pages between each plot point, and yet there is also a setup for a monster attack which is never carried through. There is a cliff hanger at the end with a sequel supposedly coming out soon which will hopefully complete this plot thread. But it still feels as if the entire story could’ve been condensed into one volume just by cutting down upon the lengthy parts.
Still, anyone who doesn’t mind sifting through this heavy exposition and enjoys fantasy with a unique perspective will still like this book. Sylvi and Ebon are likeable protagonists and you can’t help but feel drawn in by their strong bond and curiosity over each other’s cultures. I’ll be looking forward to the sequel, even if I might have to sit through a lot of lengthy prose for a second time.
Rating – 4 out of 5.