Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pegasus & Chalice

Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword is my all-time favorite book. It's got everything -- fantasy, a strong heroine, romance, and even a wry diplomacy.

I haven't been able to read her entire book list, but I was able to read her recent books Pegasus and Chalice. Reading them is like catching up with old friends.

I found Pegasus to be utterly absorbing - so much that I simply couldn't put it down until I had finished it. Pegasus is a story of humans and pegasi who coexist yet cannot communicate directly with each other. The bonding of twelve-year-old Princess Sylviianel and the fourteen-year-old pegasus Ebon changes all this. Aside from The Blue Sword, Pegasus is the McKinley book that I've found the most compelling since The Hero and The Crown and Deerskin.

Chalice is a shorter and to my mind, less interesting read. It's still worth reading however, to see how Chalice, the new Master and the Grand Seneschal hold Willowlands together.

Pegasus II comes out in 2012. I can hardly wait to read it.

No Longer an Anachronism

Back in highschool, I wrote off Nick Joaquin as an anachronism -- someone whose stores belonged to another place and time. I read him because I had to, because he was part of my highschool reading list. But I didn't like him.

I first started to re-appraise Nick Joaquin in college, when some his reportage was handed out during a literary journalism class. Joaquin had a way of writing that made the characters come alive, that made you care what happened to them. Although his journalism articles have been scored for inaccuracies, his style of writing remains fluid and compelling.

The short stories in Nick Joaquin's prose and poems were a revelation. Here was someone who came of age during a great World War, someone who could write as feelingly about the genteel glitter of the past as he could about the ruptures and uncertainties of the present.

The author's note at the back of the book says that Joaquin started out as a poet but shifted to fiction after the war. I think that the change was for the better. His poetry is often weighed down by classic (read Greek and Roman) tones and styles, but his fiction flies free.