Pegasus: a review

by Robin McKinley

Opening line: “Because she was a princess she had a pegasus.”

I tend to not buy books without having read them first, especially new books. But there are two authors for which I will always make an exception: Megan Whalen Turner and Robin McKinley.

All the same, I didn’t buy Pegasus for quite awhile, pretty much because I never went through that horse phase that most girls did and…I don’t know. I just didn’t.* Eventually I decided this was silly, and McKinley is awesome and therefore I bought my copy.

I’m so glad I did, because what we have in Pegasus is honestly one of McKinley’s best books so far (just edging out Chalice at the moment, and right behind The Blue Sword and Sunshine). First of all, it’s long, which is great! I like long books and my one complaint about, say, Chalice is that at times it feels a little bit crammed.

It was also the first McKinley book to make me cry.

The sense of history is really well developed. The political stakes are high. (I love it when the political stakes are high! Fantasy politics ftw!) But so are the personal stakes. Sylvi and Ebon’s relationship, as unusual as it is, really works.

I was going to say that there’s more of a sense of family and siblings here than usual, but I realized that’s not true. Harry has Richard, Rae has her brothers, whose names I’m totally blanking on (Kenny? and something with an L?). It’s just that Sylvi has a few more, and maybe their relationship is a little more central. I’m also living in total fear that my favorite will get killed off in part two, which would make me both sad and angry.

The differences between the human and pegasus cultures are really richly explored–just the little things like the way they build, or have banquets.

McKinley has said several times that the ending of Pegasus is similar to, but not quite as bad as “Frodo was alive but taken by the enemy.” In fact, I think it might be WORSE. At least with Frodo you’ve got some sudden hope–Frodo is alive! Whereas, if this were the actual end of the story, rather than just the end of part one, it would be so insanely tragic that I wouldn’t be able to stand it. Fortunately, part two comes out in 2012 (2012! ACK!).

Anyway, the book is rich and wonderful and beautifully written. In some ways it reminded me a bit of The Blue Sword, and in others I could totally see the Beauty and the Beast motif that’s in every one of McKinley’s books that I can think of. And yet, it’s certain its own story.

Book source: personal library (via Amazon)
Book information: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2010; YA (although I didn’t spot anything that would make it inherently YA as opposed to mg).

* Any readers of McKinley’s blog/the book: YES. I know the pegasi aren’t ACTUALLY horses, but that wasn’t initially clear somehow and that was my reaction.

My other McKinley reviews:
The Blue Sword
Chalice
Fire

15 Comments

Filed under bookish posts, reviews

15 responses to “Pegasus: a review

  1. Mimi

    I’m so glad to hear you say that, my horse phase was pretty short lived and didn’t involve a lot of reading about them.

    • Maureen E

      Yes, it’s always nice to know you weren’t the only 10-year-old girl ever who wasn’t completely obsessed with horses! Not that there’s anything wrong with horses, per se.

      I did read a lot of Marguerite Henry, but it was for the story much more than the horses themselves.

  2. I love both Megan Whalen Turner and Robin McKinley! 🙂 I just picked up my copy of Pegasus yesterday and I can’t wait to start on it. I just need to finish the book that I’m in the middle of right now. Based on your review, I have a feeling I’m going to love it too. My favorite McKinley is The Blue Sword and good to know that you rated Pegasus right behind it.

  3. Not going to lie, I was also a little leery of the “pegasus!” concept, despite having been and still being an equine (mythological variants included) aficionado. Post-reading-your-review, though – must get on this. “Right behind The Blue Sword and Sunshine”…?!

    augh I am SO BEHIND on all of my favorite authors’ latest.

    • Maureen E

      I think one of the things I liked the most about it was the sheer heft. It just felt thought through, if you know what I mean.

      My to be read list is five full pages with two columns per page. I’ll never get through it all.

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  5. Zelda

    Agree on pretty much all fronts. This was also the first one of hers to make me cry! And I’m worried about Danny too. 😦 Ever since the sword looked at Sylvi, but especially now.

    • Maureen E

      I know–I worry too much about fictional characters in ongoing series (not that this is a series, but it applies). Eugenides, Alan Ryves, Danny, Sylvi and Ebon.

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