This book is so good that I can't even begin to tell you how much I've enjoyed it. Every single time I pick up one of Robin McKinley's books it turns out to be a fantastic read, and Pegasus is just another one that proves she still has it and she keeps on giving. Every single time I read her book the situations are different and wonderful, the relationships are real and tangible and wrench at your heartstrings so swiftly and strongly that you're going to absolutely fall in love with this world and its characters before you've had the chance to realize it's happened to you. It's the very same here. I wouldn't have missed reading this one for the world.
Oh man-- I almost want to say not even to read this review and just go and pick up the book yourself right now because it's that good. And it's good in a way where it doesn't have to shove anything into your face like some pretentious little narcissistic prick would to try to make you pay attention. You're basically getting the opportunity to look into the lives of other characters as they go along their daily lives--their unique and fantastical daily lives nonetheless--and you get to witness the normal way things are run come apart at the seams throughout the pages of this book.
It's beautiful. The characters are beautiful. The settings are beautiful. The pegasi are beautiful. The humans (for the most part) are beautiful. You need to step into this world to experience it for yourself.
But I'm mindlessly rambling and I'm aware of it, so let me try to focus my thoughts.
The very best part of this book is thankfully the focal point of this book as well: Princess Sylviianel and her bound pegasus, Ebon. The entire point of the story is that there is an alliance between humans and pegasi, and to maintain this alliance, it has become custom over the centuries to have the king, queen, and other members of the noble family "bound" by magic to a pegasus partner that is supposed to act like their closest ally and friend with the opposite species. However, because communication between the two species is still flimsy, even with the feeble help of translators, these 'bound' companions have never been anything of merit. Some few, like the main characters' fathers, have a closer friendship to their bound companions: the King of the humans and the King of the pegasi are bound to one another and said to almost be able to communicate with one another without the use of Speakers (their official translators). Everything changes when from the very first moment that Sylvi meets her pegasus, they realize they can hear one another and speak to one another mentally--something akin to telepathically. Of course, everyone at court notices and soon everyone of both the species knows this.
The book unravels from there through drama and wonder and eventual chaos which is a delight to read and makes for a very well-paced story. McKinley knows how to write a plot that will suck you in, but also awe you with its wonders. For that alone I recommend reading her books.
But the pinnacle for me throughout this book was this relationship between Syl and Ebon that slowly, gradually developed. The humans have all these rules about respecting pegasi and what not to do--like they cannot touch them, or they cannot EVER fly on their backs (though that's because the pegasi are built like birds and cannot bear a human's weight)--and so on. Throughout this book though, you just see how these two essential kids (Sylvi being twelve and Ebon being fourteen at the beginning of the book) start to become best of friends. And you read through four years of their time together where slowly but surely the lines begin to blur between them and they start to become less like officials who happen to be working together, and more and more like they're two parts of the same whole.
Seeing parts where Sylvi leans into Ebon, where they just lie together for hours talking, or how she keeps her hand always wrapped in his mane and her body right up against his side, how he wraps his wing around her or touches her face and hair with his muzzle... these become interactions of beauty and felt so blissfully romantic to me. I literally began to fall in love with them. Not as separate entities, but of them together. For them to be apart is so unnatural, and that's the most magnificent part of the book: because McKinley builds it up so well that after a certain point, you yourself as the reader realize that you can't imagine them being separate either. It isn't natural to think of them as ever being apart. They're always together. And that's how it should be, your heart tells you.
It's a book of magic, reading how those two grow so close and develop a relationship, a friendship of such beauty that you can barely find the words to express over it. Because they're beautiful to see, and you want to see it go on forever.
Of course things happen in the book and all that is good about this is also new to everyone else, which makes people angry. And that's just one part of where trouble comes into play in this book.
And when I got to the ending-- I was heartbroken. Thank God there's a second book coming out, because if there wasn't, I think I'd be devastated. In fact, I'm still devastated! And the moment I hear that sequel is out, I'm getting it. Because this is a series that I absolutely must continue to the end. You don't just paint this beautiful picture and then leave us hanging for nothing! It's going to be rough and hard and painful and crazy and there is probably going to be even more heartache on the horizon once that second book comes out, but by golly, if you haven't read this one yet, you had better read this book. Pegasus is masterfully told and you'll love every bit of the storytelling, the subliminal threat and mystery, the wonderful, rich characters, and the awe inspiring relationships that they share.
This one is a definite read, and even a definite buy. If you love any fantasy or medieval tales, or especially anything to do with mythical creatures, buy this. I can't recommend it enough. This is a book you're not going to regret reading or getting.