Saturday, June 25, 2011

REVIEW: Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

 It has been many years since the life forms known as Threads which fall like rain and "eat" all organic material have fallen on Pern.  Because it has been so long the citizens of the planet no longer view them as a threat and think they will never fall again.  The Dragonriders, once sworn to protect Pern from this menace, have decreased in number over time.  Now the Queen dragon is about to die and the Dragonriders must search for a new rider to partner with the new Queen.  They land at Benden Weyr and at first it looks like there is no one worthy of such an honor but a servant girl named Lessa turns out to be more than she seems.  Lessa bonds with the newly hatched dragon Queen just as the Threads return to the planet.  With not enough dragons and riders to fend off the threat the Threads pose, only Lessa holds the key to the survival of Pern.

I have had this book sitting on my shelf for about 10 years.  I've collected most of the series and finally decided to read it.  The one thing I noticed right off the bat was that you can't really put this book into one category.  It has elements of fantasy because of the dragons but also elements of science fiction as Pern is a colonized planet with a setting sometime in the future and technology comes into play.  The bond for life shared between dragon and rider and the way the dragons choose their riders was interesting and I could see a bit of a similarity between this process and the one described in Naomi Novik's His Majesty's Dragon (even though this book was published in the 1960's).

Balancing the reckless and impulsive Lessa is the dragon rider F'Lar who is one of the few who takes the Thread threat seriously.  There is a bit of a love story between the two.  Once the threat from the Threads is imminent the story really starts to pick up as the one remaining Weyr tries to discover what happened to all the other Weyrs.  A surprise discovery and strange occurrences may spell the solution to the problem of Threads as there is no way the dragon riders can save all of Pern with such depleted numbers.

A few things potential readers should know: 1) the book has a misogynistic take on the women-they are not treated well and viewed as only good for breeding.  This was surprising to me since the book is set in the future and reminded me a little of the views of women in the middle ages.  2) This book felt like it was written for a young adult audience, although there are some adult scenes that are written in such a way as to not be too obvious (so if a 12 year old were reading it they may not pick up on it).  3) The terms used (such as Weyr) aren't really explained but are easily figured out by context.

I think this was a solid start to the series and although I preferred Naomi Novik's first book to this one, it has peaked my interest enough to keep reading the series (which is good since I have so many of the books).

A question for McCaffrey fans-what is the best order for a first timer to read this series in?  I have googled this question and found a suggested reading order but I am interested to hear the opinions of others who have read this series.

This book is from my own personal library.

1 comment:

  1. I read Anne McCaffrey years ago as a teenager and remember loving some of her stories and hating others. You've made me want to revisit them!

    ~ The Tuckerbag ~