From 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. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
It’s been almost 1,000 years since the forming of the Alliance—an agreement between humans and pegasi that they will live in peace and harmony. But as breathtaking and majestic as the pegasi are, a language barrier, only somewhat ameliorated by magicians, keeps them distant. That is, until 12-year-old princess Sylvi has her “binding” ritual with Ebon, her black, winged pegasus counterpart, and the two find themselves able to enjoy perfect telepathy. Their closeness shakes the foundations of the kingdom, and soon Sylvi is not only enjoying forbidden rides atop her pegasus but is also extended an invite of historic import: a trip to the pegasi’s mysterious Caves. McKinley’s storytelling is to be savored. She lavishes page after page upon rituals and ceremonies, basks in the awe of her intricately constructed world, and displays a masterful sense of pegasi physicality and mannerisms. The plot is very short on drama—a villain, established early, vanishes until the final pages, and with him goes the suspense—but an apparent sequel may add balance to the overall arc. Grades 8-11. --Daniel Kraus
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