January 24, 2011


By Robin McKinley
Rating: 3 1/2 stars

In this slow-paced fantasy, Sylvi is the only princess and fourth in line to the throne.  In their country, all royal family members are bound to the wonderful pegasi with whom they made a treaty when the humans first arrived in the country.  The pegasi were willing to have the humans help defend them from the evil creatures like rocs and taralians and meanwhile the presence of the pegasi helped make their valley an especially fruitful place.  The one drawback is that humans and pegasi can't really speak to one another, so they make do with the magicians, who interpret the conversations, and with basic sign language developed for the purpose.  But when Sylvi goes to be bound at the age of 12 to Ebon, she discovers she and Ebon CAN speak in their minds!  Fluently, clearly.  But immediately this is seen as a threat to the power of the magicians by the head magician Fthoom and Sylvi makes an enemy before she can blink.  But having a pegasus for a real friend, one you can talk to, is marvelous--and even more marvelous is when Sylvi gets to be the very first human invited to visit the pegasi's country and see their mystical Caves.  But Sylvi soon learns being the first brings with it great responsibility--and also, great troubles.  Can she and Ebon rise above?  Be warned: this is the first of a two book series and it ends on a cliffhanger of a unhappy situation.  If you love a rollicking fantasy adventure, don't pick up this book.  But if you like steady world-building with parallels to politics and religion, you might like this one.

January 03, 2011

No Such Thing As Dragons

By Philip Reeve
Rating: 4 stars

At first, you may think this is a straightforward story.  Dragonslayer Brock takes on young, mute Ansel as a servant as he goes off seeking dragons to slay.  But since Ansel can't speak, Brock tells him the big secret--there are no such things are dragons.  Brock merely brings back fake evidence as though he HAS killed them.  But one day, Brock and Ansel climb far up into the mountains to slay a dragon and find a girl who has been tied up there by the villagers as a sacrifice to it.  She swears there IS a dragon.  And soon, the little group discover that the myth is real.  But that's just the beginning of what happens next!  This is exciting, a bit bloody, and will end completely differently than you thought it would.  Check it out!