I’m a newcomer to Robin McKinley. In all honesty I’m not sure I’m sold on this author. Which isn’t to say I disliked the book and won’t buy book 2 when it comes out. But I’m just not sure I would seek out another series by her.
On her twelfth birthday, Sylvi is bound with a Pegasus named Ebon, as all royal children are bound, as part of an ancient treaty between the humans and the pegasi when the humans first came to these lands. But of all the children who are bound to a pegasus, Sylvi is the only one who can clearly communicate with hers without the help of a magician. Some, like the king, hope this will help promote a closer relationship with the pegasi people who have long been their allies only in the most technical and official terms. But others believe that this is a symbol of something sinister to come for the kingdom. The appearance of old and dangerous enemies only seems to confirm this fact, threatening to tear Sylvi and her new friend apart.
Many parts of the story are fun and whimsical. Who wouldn’t want a pegasus as your best friend? (And as a short, small person, I could probably ride on one!) Who ever imagined them as intelligent people rather than simply mythical creatures?
For me, the weaknesses lie in the fact that everyone’s motivations are fairly transparent so there isn’t a lot of surprise or even mystery in most of what is happening (though I wouldn’t be surprised if perhaps the magician play some role in the increase of dangerous creatures arriving). I also dislike the fact that the pegasi are so unimaginably beautiful because it makes it more difficult to really think of them as real “people” and makes them seem more like myth.
There was no real feeling of danger or peril for most of the book, more like a feeling that eventually, at some point, maybe later, there would be danger. sure, her brother and her mother were out fighting all the time, but Sylvi was safely tucked away in the palace where the worst she had to deal with was an intimidating magician. I would have liked more, a daring escape form one of the dangerous creatures, a fall of Ebon during one of their illicit rides, something…
For anyone hoping that the novel would wrap up anything at the end of the book, it ended with a promise of things to come but no resolutions. Which is fine by me but not so fine for people who wanted a standalone book (since there isn’t really an indication on the cover that this is meant to be a book one).
It wasn’t a bad book by any means. I just wanted more. I think that the second will gives us more as it steers away from world building and setting up the scene and gets into the real conflict and danger.