The first book in Anne McCaffrey’s ‘Dragonriders of Pern’ series I read many, many years ago was the ‘Masterharper of Pern’. I’ve read most of the books in the series (written by her, I haven’t read any co-authored with Todd McCaffrey), and a lot of her other books too. I recently got back into them, after not reading any for quite a while. I still love them as much as I did when I was a kid. I started with ‘Dragonflight’, ‘Dragonquest’, the Harper Hall Trilogy (‘Dragonsong’, ‘Dragonsinger’ and ‘Dragondrums’) and then went on to ‘The White Dragon’ in the space of about a week.

‘Dragonflight’, the first book published in the series way back in 1968, is a good place to start the series. It introduces you to Pern, the dragonriders and a lot of the major characters that appear throughout the rest of the books. You could start the series wherever you wanted however, as I believe most of the books start with a prologue giving a bit of backstory on Pern and the Red Star.

Anyway, in ‘Dragonflight’ Pern has been free of thread (stuff that falls from the Red Star and destroys any organic matter it comes in contact with) for centuries, and the dragonriders are falling out of favour. F’lar, the weyrleader of Benden Weyr, is certain the Red Star will pass by Pern again and thread will fall. Aside from the general attitude of the populace that dragonriders are superfluous, the dragons have also been in decline, and the last queen has died, leaving only one queen egg behind. F’lar sets out to find a young woman to present to the queen dragon, who will soon hatch, as well as convince the Lord Holders of Pern that thread will come again (and that they shouldn’t stop sending food to the dragonriders). So anyway, that’s how the story starts.

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The books are fairly fast paced, the writing is exciting, and there are whole host of varied problems to face – the threat of thread, and the political and social issues that come with the changing status of dragon riders. These sorts of themes carry on through most of the books as Pern society has to undergo rapid changes in the face of the threat posed by thread, and they are one of the things I most enjoy about the books. The books also feature many of the same characters, and you get to see how their story continues, or sometimes the same story from a different perspective. The main characters all have their flaws, and it’s interesting to see how different characters view them, or how someone who was a ‘good guy’ in one book, can become a bit of an obstacle in another book. I think I enjoyed these books the more I read them and the more I got into the world.

Of course, there are issues that bug me too. There are a couple of strange inconsistencies between the books (the internet tells me fans term these ‘Anne-consistencies’), mostly to do with timing – the dates of events don’t match up perfectly between all the books. I’ve never noticed that myself, but between Dragonflight and Dragonquest the name of one of the characters changed from T’ton to T’ron. I happened to read these books right after each other, so when I started hearing about T’ron I was initially confused. It seems an odd mistake to make, and it really did annoy me, but it’s one of the few that I’ve personally noticed (in another book, Felessan’s name changed in the space of a paragraph from Felessan to F’lessan and then back again…). I like these books enough that I can forgive these mistakes, though I would understand it driving other people crazy.

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Overall, this series is one of my favourites, I loved it when I was a kid, and I still enjoy it now. I always like re-visiting Pern, and the books are always fun to read. I always felt like it would be awesome fun to live there. I think the books become more enjoyable the more you get into them and the more you read. If you enjoy science-fiction, or Anne McCaffrey’s other books, and haven’t read the ‘Dragonriders of Pern’ series yet, I highly recommend giving them a go.

 

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