4.0 211
by Robin McKinley

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Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pegasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication.

But it's

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Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pegasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication.

But it's different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close-so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo-and possibly to the future safety of their two nations.

New York Times bestselling author Robin McKinley weaves an unforgettable tale of unbreakable friendship, mythical creatures and courtly drama destined to become a classic.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Leisurely in its pacing, but rich in language and character development, this lovely tale concerns young Princess Sylvi and her singular bond with her pegasus, Ebon. Humans and pegasi have maintained an alliance against their land's other murderous species--taralians, norindours, and rocs--over many centuries, despite an almost complete inability to communicate with each other except, with great difficulty, through the aid of human magicians. But Sylvi and Ebon are different. From the moment they meet, they form a telepathic bond, something that could be a boon to both species. The powerful magician Fthoom, however, seeing their relationship as both heresy and a danger to the magicians' power, has vowed to end it. McKinley (Chalice) does a wonderful job of developing the pegasi culture, particularly their art and largely gestural language, as Sylvi and Ebon's relationship grows over the course of several years. Because this is only the first part of what is presumably a two-volume novel, readers may find the book's inconclusive ending frustrating. Despite this, it's an enchanting fantasy that the author's many fans will love. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)
VOYA - Jennifer Crispin
While enemies gather at the edges of human-occupied land, Sylvi, the fourth child of the king of Balsinland, is bound to Ebon, the fourth child of the Pegasus king. Although other bonded human—Pegasus pairs must rely on magicians and awkward hand motions to communicate, Sylvi and Ebon discover that they can talk to each other in their minds. They develop a close friendship, and Ebon invites Sylvi to visit the Pegasus land, which is a mystery to most humans. Some of the central questions of the story are compelling: How do you communicate with an ally so different from yourself? Is it possible that the intermediaries are hurting more than they are helping? The majority of the story is told in dense flashbacks revealing the eight-hundred-year history of the pact between humans and Pegasi. It can be difficult to keep track of where the story is in the time line. Early on, the reader begins to suspect that this book might be the first of a series. The suspicion is confirmed in the final third of the book, when the slow build-up leads to a cliff-hanger ending. Die-hard McKinley fans, along with fantasy readers who are also horse enthusiasts, will appreciate this gentle book. Reviewer: Jennifer Crispin
Children's Literature - Elizabeth D. Schafer
Rules restrict Princess Sylviianel who dutifully fulfills her royal obligations in the Balsinland kingdom. She dreads the binding ceremony which will occur the day she becomes twelve. Sylvi's world is gradually described through lessons with her tutor Ahathin and assignments to study treaties, court protocol, and historical documents regarding a millennium of human and pegasi diplomacy. Readers are immersed in Sylvi's elaborately constructed setting where magicians designated as Speakers translate pegasi words. No other humans are permitted to interpret that language nor are they allowed in the Pegasus kingdom of Rhiandomeer. Stories of elaborate caves in Rhiandomeer intrigue Sylvi who yearns to see them. When Sylvi is bound with Ebon, a magnificent pegasus prince, they realize they can communicate their thoughts. Sylvi and Ebon attain insights and respect for the other's culture. Considering their affinity dangerous to Speakers' long-established roles controlling the relationship of Balsinland with Rhiandomeer, Fthoom, a malevolent magician, is intent on severing the pair. Although humans, even royals, are forbidden to touch pegasi, Sylvi and Ebon ignore that restriction, enjoying clandestine flights at night during which Sylvi views her kingdom from above, reconsidering her reality. For Sylvi's sixteenth birthday, Ebon arranges for her to visit Rhiandomeer. Sylvi, awed by the caves' beauty, learns truths contrary to tradition. Fthoom confronts Sylvi when she returns. Gazing at a vial of water from a pegasus pond, Sylvi experiences an epiphany prior to the novel abruptly concluding without resolution of traumatic developments and threats, foreshadowing the sequel, Pegasus II (2012). Sylvi represents an intelligent, appealing protagonist who remains faithful to her ideals. Read with Mary Stanton's "Unicorns of Balinor" series and Bruce Coville's "The Unicorn Chronicles" books. Reviewer: Elizabeth D. Schafer
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—By the terms of an ancient treaty, children of royalty in Balsinland are "bound" to a pegasus on their 12th birthdays, in a ceremony cementing friendship between the two. However, humans and pegasi cannot speak to one another without the help of specially trained magicians because the two species communicate in such different ways. So, when Princess Sylviianel comes to her big day, she is nervous about being bound to one of these strange, beautiful, incomprehensible creatures...until, in the middle of the ceremony, she discovers that she can mind-speak to her pegasus—and he can speak back. Such a thing has never been heard of in all the years of the alliance, but to Sylvi and her bond-friend it proves a wonderful gift by which they can promote better understanding between the two species. A few royal magicians, however, do not wish to see free communication develop between them, and they will do whatever they can to keep Sylvi and Ebon apart. This novel is reminiscent of McKinley's The Hero and the Crown (Greenwillow, 1984) and other earlier works, and includes many of her trademarks, including a tendency to ramble through pages of description and backstory, sometimes even in the middle of a conversation. Still, the story is strong and fresh, and the characters are nuanced and believable. Fans will anxiously await the sequel.—Misti Tidman, formerly at Boyd County Public Library, Ashland, KY
Kirkus Reviews

Classic McKinley, from the original concept (pegasi!) to the lush, dense prose and the careful unfolding of a nuanced tale. In Balsinland, royal humans are bound to royal pegasi, intelligent winged horses. But despite this, communication is nearly impossible, requiring a magician interpreter and still fraught with failures, and so it has been for 800 years—until Princess Sylvi (small, spunky, overlooked and very bright) and pegasus Prince Ebon are bound and find they can communicate in silent speech. This almost stately tale laced with shimmering strands of humor and menace follows Sylvi and Ebon as they navigate a friendship that is of historical importance even as outside threats begin to press upon both their peoples. In some ways, little happens here, and the cliffhanger ending, on the eve of the eruption of everything, will leave readers desperate for the next installment. But in others, everything happens, as an unlikely but charming friendship across species changes the world—and, as with any great change, threatens some and brings hope to others. Magnificent and magical. (Fantasy. YA)

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)
1070L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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