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Pegasus - Robin McKinley As a sourcebook for a roleplaying campaign, Pegasus was wonderful. I loved all the bits and pieces of material culture--the hai, the carrying harnesses--the rambles on linguistics, the description of how pegasi and humans are matched up and what happens when either side doesn't grow up to be who they're expected to be. I grinned at the brief, passing reference to homosexual pegasi. I liked that, as a princess, the main character actually had to participate in ruling the kingdom, and not in a glamorous manner: her job is to handle water infrastructure. (I am possibly the only reader who wishes we'd gotten more pages detailing her actually handling it, instead of just vague references to meetings.)

And I liked the basic concepts of the book: what do two cultures do when they're fundamentally unable to talk to each other? What does it mean to be an ally with someone you barely know? I'm usually fairly critical of the "let us invent a gazillion imaginary words for perfectly ordinary concepts" disease that pervades some fantasy, but in this case, having passages that left me wishing desperately for a glossary just supported the book's theme.

You'll note I haven't talked about the book's plot. That's because . . . there isn't much of one. Though the ARC isn't marked as such, this is book one of two (and thank God I knew that before I started reading, or I would have thrown the book across the room at the end), and it's all setup. All. Setup. The villain is introduced very early, immediately vanishes, and doesn't show up again until hundreds of pages later--whereupon the book ends. Meanwhile, Sylvi and Ebon fly a lot, and try to learn to talk to each other. Other characters--like Sylvi's tutor and bodyguards--are introduced but not developed.

There were also a few bits of cultural detail that felt off to me. Why do the non-hierarchical pegasus have a royal family? If the pegasi had felt less human, the whole "oh, we are really very happy being subservient to you, our colonizers" thing they occasionally have going would have been a lot less squick-inducing for me. Since they clearly do have concepts of precedence and hierarchy, I didn't buy the "it's not in their nature to care" rationale.

But nonetheless, I will probably read book two, in hopes that all the set-up pays off somehow. If it doesn't, well, about that roleplaying campaign . . .