Thursday, 21 July 2011

Review: Pegasus - Robin McKinley

Extent: 416 pages
Publisher: Puffin
Pub Date: 7th July 2011

On her twelfth birthday, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to her own Pegasus, Ebon. For a thousand years humans and pegasi have lived peacefully in the beautiful green country beyond the wild lands. They rely on human magicians and pegasi shamans as their only means of real communication - but not Sylvi and Ebon. Their friendship is like no other. . .

They can understand each other.

But as their bond grows more powerful, it becomes dangerous - could their friendship threaten to destroy the peace and safety of their two worlds?

I love a good high fantasy - the feeling of immersing yourself in a completely different world with a new set of rules where anything could happen. There is, however, a big reason why I steer clear of adult high fantasy: authors tend to get bogged down in world-setting (like scene-setting only bigger) and you have to wade through pages and pages of extraneous rambling that they have made up to make their world comprehensive and real to actually get to anything that resembles plot. I'm not generalising, some adult fantasy writers strike an excellent balance and find clever and subtle ways to combine world-setting and plot and this is what I find for the vast majority of YA high fantasy writers like Tamora Pierce or Garth Nix or Angie Sage. With Pegasus, however, I really struggled to find any real plot. The book starts off with chapter after chapter of background history which at first I didn't mind because I had high hopes that this incredibly detailed history was going to lead to an incredible story full of adventure and mystery. But I was seriously disappointed.

I got nearly halfway through this book and did not find anything that could be conceived as a plot. Most of the pages are filled with Princess Sylvi and her pegasus flying at night with the only hint of a thrill being the fact that this is a social faux pas in Sylvi's world or with the pair going to endless village fetes where nothing happens. I'm afraid I didn't get any further than that as I found my own dull life had more interesting plot in it. If anyone else has got further than this and actually found a story then do let me know and I might force myself to finish it.

One redeeming factor is that the writing is pretty good and that's why I gave this book two stars instead of one but the style of story-telling seems completely random. One minute you're in the present and then suddenly they are in the past or the future or slightly earlier that day or three years hence and there is no natural break from one period to the other so I got completely confused as to when I was reading. I had to keep going back a few pages to try to suss out at what point the narrative had changed timeline and throughout there seems to be an endless supply of long-winded side stories that I'm sure would add to the plot if there actually was one.

I know I'm being harsh but I'm a real fan of stories, that's why I read books and that's why I love YA because they are all about the story and cut out unnecessary waffle that turns teens off. I really do love high fantasy and I know a certain amount of contextualisation and world-setting has to take place and that's all part of the fun of reading high fantasy but when you get halfway through a book and a plot has failed to materialise I'm afraid I just can't carry on when there are thousands of stories out there waiting for me to read them. If I wanted to read all about the history of a world I would pick up a book on world history but I'm afraid when I pick up a work of fiction, I expect a good story.


  1. oh Ive had my eye on this one but Im a bit put off now... I prefer character development than world development and the plot has to be good!

  2. I think I'm just very impatient for plot and I like my characters to be tangible. Also, I heard that the ending feels like it's halfway through the story and that would just do my nut!

  3. So many people loved this book, so I am so pleased to find a fellow hater. This book sucked for me. I could barely get through it.

  4. Top marks for getting through it though!