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Date Posted: 17:09:29 02/27/04 Fri
Author: Syl
Subject: Dragonriders of Pern

Here's this week's review, sent in by Serena. Thanks, Serena!

This review is quite long, but it needs to be, imho. The series is massive, and Serena has also included a very handy key, to help keep track of the books. Read on .......

TITLE: Dragonriders of Pern Series
AUTHOR: Anne McCaffrey
GENRE: Sci-fi/fantasy

First, a bit of a warning. Please, do not be scared by the number of books this prolific writer has generated in the last 36 years on the subject of Dragonriders. The books themselves aren't very long, and are well written and totally engrossing. There is even a book much like 'The Outlandish Companion' out there to help keep names and maps straight, story lines and books as well, called "The Dragonlover's Guide to Pern". But that isn't totally required reading. If you are looking for a jumping off place, then read the original trilogy only. Dragonflight, Dragonquest, and The White Dragon will suffice, if this is your first foray into Pern.

The base story of the Dragonriders has been added to by Ms. McCaffrey in the form of not only "main" novels, but also short stories included in compilation novels of her work and with those of other writers as well. To a true fan's delight though, those, now 4, short stories have been compiled into one book for ease of acquisition. As a true fan I would recommend that you not skip those short stories, or the collection of "Teen Novels" called the Harper Hall trilogy as they give details about some favored characters in the main Thread of the books.

Another point that has to be made, Ms. McCaffrey published the books somewhat out of a logical reading order, and no one but her seems to totally understand where and why they all fully fit together. The list of titles I am giving below is the official recommended reading order of Ms.McCaffrey, though in the front of each book you purchase you will find a list of most of the titles, in a slightly different order I am sure. The reasons for this is publishing order differs from timeline, and publishing rights are held by different companies by 3 of the books, and they don't mention short stories. I am sure you will find the orders given in the books you buy to be just as easy to read, and the story just as entertaining, but I chose to give Ms. McCaffrey's reading list here, because well...she did write them, she ought to know how they should be read!

I thought about, and even tried to write out, an overview of each book in the series but that proved to be too long, too complicated, and not nearly engrossing enough to really give an accurate view of this series. As I said before the books aren't long in themselves, but they are well written, and you definitely get to know this strange planet called Pern as you go back and forth through its history of dealing with the menace of Thread. This is another set of books that doesn't fit easily into one genre, as you can clearly see as you read the books. The dragons are fantasy material, as is the "present" Pern tale, but before the Pernese lost much of their history the tales are great science fiction. It is a detailed & well loved blending of two genre's that I think you will like. Now for an extremely brief overveiw…

Pern, a planet in the Sagittarian Sektor, which orbits the sun/star Rukbat is a pastoral planet that is in terrible trouble. It is menaced buy a space born organism that will become known as "Thread" by the people who colonize the planet. They came to Pern to escape Earth involvement in terribly devastating wars. They came only to be menaced by Thread, an organism that mindlessly devours all life it touches, including that of beast, fauna, and human. After devising an ingenious way to combat the menace both in the air and on the ground, history takes its toll on the original settlers, and their heroic deeds are lost to time, and necessity- driving vital knowledge out of the mind of their descendants, until the time when Thread returns to Pern in its cycle of destruction through Rukbat's solar system. Loss of technologies their ancestors would have thought common has proved to be nearly fatal to the little planet at the beginning of another Fall of Thread. F'lar and Lessa, riders of a Bronze dragon (Mnementh) and a golden queen dragon (Ramoth), must try to protect a Pern that has come to disbelieve the 'myth' of Thread, and resent the leeching of a useless dragon Wyer. F'lar and Lessa must make all of Pern believe their danger, and help the Dragonrider's once again fight away Thread in its skies. With the help of a machine of the ancient's; a Masterharper who could have doubled as a great spy on Earth; a young man who becomes a dragonrider against all odds, including that of his Dragon being a white 'runt'; and fantastic flights into the unknown, the Dragonriders of Pern will sear all traces of Thread from Pernese skies, now and forever, as they learn all that the ancient's once knew.

The reading order below includes all the short stories that Ms. McCaffrey has included in various books as well as the main books I have outlined above. This is HER suggested format for reading this series. While some of the tales are stand-alone, some of them are quite dependant upon a time-line only the author clearly understands, and while the line listed in the books can be helpful, you wont find all these with those lists alone! This is not chronological order though. This is an order given to first show the evolution of the tale, the evolution of the author's own grasp of her material, and for best ease of reading to understand events taking place. A key is given below as well:

The White Dragon*#(she suggests reading only the first 2 chapters at this time)
Dragon Drums**
(Now you should finish The White Dragon, if you haven't already)
The Smallest Dragonboy****
Moreta: Dragonlady Of Pern
Nerilka's Story
The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall
The Girl Who Heard Dragons****
The Renegades Of Pern
The Masterharper Of Pern
Runner Of Pern****
All the Weyrs Of Pern*
The Dolphins Of Pern
The Skies Of Pern*
The Impression******
Ever the Twain******

The Key:
*=These are the bare bones of the series. If you read none of the others these books should be read in their given order, to understand the main story line.

*#=These original three books of the Dragonriders of Pern are now available in a Trilogy edition book. You can get 3 books in one if you would like to give the Dragons & their rider's a good chance at capturing your mind & heart.

**=These books are the three that make up what is known as The Harper Hall Trilogy. Currently they are being labeled by the publisher as Teen Novels, but don't skip them as they really are an entertaining companion set of books, that will please all ages of fans.

****=These are short stories originally published in compilation books, which can be, at times, hard to track down, and they are now available for fans in one book of short stories entitled "A Gift Of Dragons". If you want to read them all I suggest purchasing just the one book. If you happen to have the compilation books though, or want to track those down...the names are:
The Smallest Dragonboy appeared in 'Get Off The Unicorn'
The Girl Who Heard Dragons appears in the compilation book of the same title.
The Runner of Pern appears in Legends 2:Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy

******=These are two short stories that for some reason, are not included in Ms. McCaffrey's reading schedule. I surmise that this is because they do not have characteristics that pin them into a certain time frame, and can be enjoyed anytime during the series. There IS a general consensus at to when they should be read in the series & I have detailed that as well. They are easily attainable though, in these books:
Ever The Twain appears in A Gift of Dragons (the short story book that I previously mentioned, and is the latest story in the series.) Should be read after reading Dragon's Eye
The Impression appears in The Dragonlover's Guide to Pern by Anne McCaffrey & Jodi Lyn Nye. Should be read during Dragon Drums.

**********=Dragonseye is known as Red Star Rising outside of America

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[> Wow! What a thorough review! I remember reading the 1st three mentioned, years and years ago. I had no idea Anne McCaffrey had continued the series! I remember being drawn right into the story. Thanks, Syl! -- JulieQ, 18:51:53 02/27/04 Fri

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[> Serena, this really looks like my kind of series, thanks for the excellent review. I have copied the list onto my Books I want list. -- Margy, 08:48:59 02/28/04 Sat

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[> I have read some of the books and they are wonderful. I'm going to print out your list of the book order. -- ann791, 12:42:30 02/28/04 Sat

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[> I've been reading these books since they were first published and was always eager to see whatever the next book was. I heartily endorse them. -- pamurphy, 20:12:34 02/28/04 Sat

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[> Wow, these sound my type of books but you are quite right that the amount of books to read is daunting. However, once my college work is finished I shall certainly give them a try. Thanks for an excellent review Serena -- Gwen, 01:29:00 02/29/04 Sun

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[> I LOVE LOVE LOVE these books. Can ye tell? lol I have almost all of them in my collection & I have to replace them almost as fast as I have to replace the Gabaldon books. Don't let the key scare ye...the books aren't really very long, its just that she's been at this series for nearly 40 years! lol -- Serena, 13:03:02 03/08/04 Mon

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[> Yes!!!! Yes!!!! Yes!!!!!!!! Anne McCaffery is truly a wonderful writer and all her books are soo well worth reading. I've got all of them, and I keep replacing them as they fall apart from all the re-reads I've done. Serena, did you know that a group of musicians got together and released a CD of Master Harper's music? All sanctioned by Anne herself, and it's been getting good reviews. I meant to order it myself but you've just reminded me about it with this post. Anne also has an official web-site but I just can't seem to fit in as easily as I do at Lallybroch so I go there for info and leave it at that. Read this series guys-you will love F'Lar and F'Nor and Lessa etc....very well developed characters!!!! -- Keira, 06:54:22 03/25/04 Thu

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[> As a teacher, I love to use these books w/ HS kids that don't particularly like reading. Dragonsong dovetails superbly with the movie Whale Rider....and even the boys don't mind that a girl is the central character in both. -- Lady Jane, 08:32:43 03/27/04 Sat

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