Because she was a princess, she had a pegasus…
Princess Sylviianel has always known that on her twelfth birthday she too would be bound to her own pegasus. All members of the royal family have been thus bound since the Alliance was made almost a thousand years ago; the binding system was created to strengthen the Alliance, because humans and pegasi can only communicate formally, through specially trained Speaker magicians.
But everything is different for Sylvi and Ebon from the moment they meet at her binding – when they discover they can talk to each other. They form so close a bond that it becomes a threat to the status quo – and possibly to the future safety of their two nations. For some of the magicians believe there is a reason humans and pegasi should not fully understand each other…
I had been looking forward to reading Pegasus since I first heard about it and it finally came in from the library. I had a bit of hesitation about Sylvi’s age (Pegasus starts when she’s 12) but that didn’t really stop me from jumping into the story.
And what a story it is! Despite a bit of a slow beginning, Pegasus quickly picks up and we’re thrust into Sylvi and Ebon’s world.
A thousand years ago, a cadre of warriors stumbled into a new land, a land ruled by Pegasi. An Alliance was struck between the two races to both their benefits. The men would defend the land and the Pegasi had their own magic that would aid the men, their crops, spells, etc. Pegasi are not quite just horses with wings. Their bones are hollow to enable their flying and this makes them fragile. They also have little fingers on the middle of their wings. These are also very fragile. And men and pegasi cannot talk. The communicate via Speaker magicians, magicians who have trained to understand the pegasi language of speaking and signing. The royal family, as part of the treaty, are bound to a royal pegasus when they turn 12 years old. There are stipulations on the human side – they don’t know who their pegasus will be until it’s unveiled at the birthday celebration. They also don’t know who their Speaker will be.
Sylvi is kind of dreading having a Speaker. The magic that her people use puts her on edge. It doesn’t feel right. So to have one follow her around whenever her pegasus is near does not sound appealing. Sylvi is kind of uncomfortable being a princess. She’s the 4th child and the only girl. She doesn’t like state events, rituals, she’d rather hang out with her pony, hawk and dogs outside.
Everything is turned upside down when she realizes her and her pegasus can talk to each other. And this ability threatens a very powerful man, the head of the Magicians Guild. And he’s out to prove that what her and Ebon are capable of is not a good thing, especially in their fight against an old enemy.
Ok, I admit that Sylvi’s age, only 12, gave me a bit of pause. But it actually turned out to be a good thing because there are things Sylvi is being taught that makes the world-building delivery to the reader easier to bear. I find world-building can be tedious but in McKinley’s hands it’s not. We understand Sylvi’s impatience with what she’s learning and her yearning to get to the good stuff. And then, after her and Ebon meet and find out they can speak directly to each other (and a few other prohibited things – like flying!) the book moves forward three years, to the eve of Sylvi’s 16th birthday. Her and Ebon are closer than ever and a few old enemies are beginning to make themselves known.
Pegasus was a very interesting story. At the center is the friendship between Ebon and Sylvi. I thought these two characters were amazing and they really were the sister/brother of the other’s heart. I really enjoyed the shenanigans they got up to and the things they learned from the other. Pegasus culture is vastly different from humans’ and Sylvi was a better person for her closeness to Ebon.
In the background of this unfolding friendship, there is a threat looming. Fthoom, the head of the Magician’s Guild, hates Sylvi and all that she represents. If she can speak directly to her Pegasus, Speaker magicians will eventually become useless. When he attempts to attack her after her 12th birthday, Sylvi’s father, the king, removes Fthoom from his position but sets him on a task, a task that will take 4 years to complete. The other threat is more against the Pegasi. The Alliance was originally struck to protect the Pegasi from their enemies, creatures called wyverns, norindours, taralians and rocs. After the humans chased them out of the Pegasi lands, there have only been rare sightings of these creatures. But lately the number of sightings are increasing all over the land and for myself personally, these creatures are tied into Fthoom and his magic. These two threats create a tension that offsets the tranquility of Ebon and Sylvi’s friendship. It was a good balance.
I really enjoyed reading Pegasus and I can’t believe I have to wait until 2012 for the sequel. I don’t know why, but I thought this was a stand-alone book. LOL I quickly realized that it couldn’t be. But I hate having to wait. Grrrr! I’m giving Pegasus an A-, I definitely recommend reading it.
Book cover and blurb credit: http://barnesandnoble.com