Penguin, 2010 (2010)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
obin McKinley has written many extraordinary fantasy novels and short story collections, including
The Blue Sword
The Hero and the Crown
. She writes gentle, romantic fantasies (though their evil is very real), with subtle magics, and
(which looks like the beginning of a series) is no exception.
hen Princess Sylviianel's ancestors struggled through mountain passes to find this beautiful green country '
nearly a thousand years ago
', they made a treaty with the peaceful
who were there before them. Since communication was impossible, the treaty was made between human magicians and pegasi shamans. Humans fought the pegasi's enemies - ferocious '
ladons and wyverns, taralians and norindours
' - in return for land, and and members of the royal family were each assigned a specific pegasus '
as a kind of ceremonial companion
n Sylvi's twelfth birthday, she meets - and is ceremonially bound to - pegasus Ebon, and her tutor Ahathin (a magician) is assigned to be her
, to aid them in communication. But it's soon very obvious that Sylvi and Ebon do not need a Speaker - they communicate mentally. Though Sylvi has always been uncomfortable around magicians, aside from Ahathin, she's shocked by the violent reaction of Fthoom, head of the royal magicians. The king removes Fthoom from the council of magicians and assigns him the task of researching the human/pegasus relationship, but he remains a threat.
ylvi and Ebon soon go beyond the forbidden communication between their races. Since Sylvi is small in stature and Ebon is a large young pegasus, he takes her night flying, something against the '
' of both races. This is a secret they keep from everyone. At the same time, sightings of ladons, wyverns, norindours, and even rocs increase in number throughout the land and Sylvi's mother and elder brother Danacor (who are both talented fighters) regularly take out patrols to deal with them.
or Sylvi's sixteenth birthday and coming of age, Ebon arranges a special present for her - an invitation to visit the pegasi home of Rhiandomeer and even their unique, magical Caves, where no human has been before. It's a remarkable experience that changes Sylvi in unexpected ways, and leaves her even more suspicious of her own people's magicians, whose workings keep the two races apart. And she's right to be wary when Fthoom makes his well-planned and devastating move.
obin McKinley builds the suspense slowly in
and takes her time to develop her story, but it's an enchanting one that will keep readers spellbound. It ends on a cliffhanger, that will leave McKinley's myriad of fans anxious for more - I hope we don't have to wait too long for a sequel.
Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.
Find more Teens books on our
or in our book