Another Turn, and the deadly silver Threads began falling again. So the bold dragonriders took to the air once more and their magnificent flying dragons swirled and swooped, belching flames that destroyed the shimmering strands before they reach the ground.
But F'lar knew he had to find a better way to protect his beloved Pern, and he had to find it before the rebellious Oldtimers could breed any more dissent... before his brother F'nor would be foolhardy enough to launch another suicide mission... and before those dratted fire-lizards could stir up any more trouble!
Anne McCaffrey was born on April 1st, 1926, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Her parents were George Herbert McCaffrey, BA, MA PhD (Harvard), Colonel USA Army (retired), and Anne Dorothy McElroy McCaffrey, estate agent. She had two brothers: Hugh McCaffrey (deceased 1988), Major US Army, and Kevin Richard McCaffrey, still living.
Anne was educated at Stuart Hall in Staunton Virginia, Montclair High School in Montclair, New Jersey, and graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College, majoring in Slavonic Languages and Literatures.
Her working career included Liberty Music Shops and Helena Rubinstein (1947-1952). She married in 1950 and had three children: Alec Anthony, b. 1952, Todd, b.1956, and Georgeanne, b.1959.
Anne McCaffrey’s first story was published by Sam Moskowitz in Science Fiction + Magazine and her first novel was published by Ballantine Books in 1967. By the time the three children of her marriage were comfortably in school most of the day, she had already achieved enough success with short stories to devote full time to writing. Her first novel, Restoree, was written as a protest against the absurd and unrealistic portrayals of women in s-f novels in the 50s and early 60s. It is, however, in the handling of broader themes and the worlds of her imagination, particularly the two series The Ship Who Sang and the fourteen novels about the Dragonriders of Pern that Ms. McCaffrey’s talents as a story-teller are best displayed.
She died at the age of 85, after suffering a massive stroke on 21 November 2011.
So, this is the second book of a trilogy, and then there's another trilogy, and then some other books, and when you've tallied it all up, you have something like 27 books in the series. And I've read the first two, but unless I get pneumonia and my reading time suddenly quadruples, I'm probably done, and I feel strange about it, because when all is said and done, I don't hate these books.
The setting is imaginative. The stories move along at a good pace. The stories are interesting. If that was all their was to a book, this would be a pretty decent read.
But it isn't.
The characters are garbage. They're cardboard. The heroes never make any mistakes, but they also never do anything interesting. If anything they do is surprising, it isn't genuinely surprising, it just wasn't foreshadowed.
The writing, the style? Also largely nonsense. When I got to the end of the book, and I found myself wondering what happened in the next one, I had a flash of inspiration: I would much rather read the plot summary than the actual plot.
What I like about this series is the hierarchy, the relationships between people, the structure of the world, and how the events in the story impact that society. But since I don't like or care about any of the individual people, it's more than enough to just read what happened next, in bullet points or on a timeline.
My first re-read since being a young adult. I went into Dragonquest with slight apprehension. I never much liked the drama with the Oldtimers and Kylara always grated. But we also get fire-lizards! Love them! Want one! I didn‘t remember that they show up for the first time in Dragonquest. My memory had placed them securely with Menolly and the Harperhall trilogy...
The language feels a little dated sometimes, however that feeling disappeared as I delved deeper into the story.
The gender roles are old-fashioned. But I think that is largely on purpose and there are some indications that it could or should be different. There are some hints at non-normative pairings, because what do you do when you ride a green dragon, right?
Characters in general are not explored much emotionally. The developing romance between Brekke and F‘nor delves a little deeper and I enjoyed that part. Writing sex scenes is not something that McCaffrey did well, even for the non-graphic variety.
The dragons feel more real to me than they appeared to be in my memory, with more pronounced personalities and intelligence.
In this one they find some more ancient tech. As a teenager I found that confusing. And now I find it surprising that they just grab any old tech they find and use it. As if it was perfectly normal to live in a quasi feudal, medieval society, find a microscope or a telescope, figure out how works and just use it. If they regressed in their technological level, wouldn‘t that rather be like magic and very unsettling for them? How can they be at the level they are and then back-engineer electrical wiring, etc.?
Anyway, I ended up enjoying this book very much, more than Dragonflight. Onwards to The White Dragon!
Fantasy. Again, this book teaches that the way to a woman's heart is through dubious consent. This time it's just F'nor being a dick; horny telepathic dragons had nothing to do with it. Apparently our hero sees nothing wrong with having sex with a woman who is "fighting him." He's also a big fan of domestic violence: "It was too bad you couldn't beat a Weyrwoman with impunity. Her dragon wouldn't permit it but a sound thrashing was what Kylara badly needed."
Look, I didn't like Kylara either. No one likes Kylara because McCaffrey didn't want us to like her. The woman is extremely unsympathetic. But oh my god that does not make it okay for the hero to want to beat her. Ugh, Anne McCaffrey, Your Issues.
Despite Anne McCaffrey's issues, which I knew about going into this, I like this world enough to keep reading until she really pisses me off. In this book she addresses the tension between the modern and the old weyrs. They have different ways of managing their societies and of course those ways clash so there's some political maneuvering and palace intrigue type stuff while F'lar tries to rule all of Pern.
Three stars. I liked this one for the science, the problem-solving, and the fire lizards. The plot's pretty engaging too, when it isn't broken up by pointless rambling.
eBook: Lots of OCR errors and the section breaks aren't marked; still it was in better shape than Dragonflight, which is funny because I actually read these two as an omnibus.
In my review of Dragonflight, I compared that starter Pern novel to a series premiere of a television show; although it was a bit rough around the edges, it showed some signs of promise. Dragonquest, although still not perfect, was an improvement over its prequel. The story was just as good, and the writing was better. Now, I just hope that the upswing continues throughout the rest of the Pern series, as long as it is.
I'm not sure why I never read these as a teenager, but I sure am enjoying them now. The writing has an unselfconscious quaintness and ease that is quite endearing. The story easily positions itself as a kind of science fantasy hybrid without even trying to align wholly on one end or the other of the speculative fiction spectrum.
The characters are all much more fleshed out than they were in Dragonflight, and the story has a smoother and well paced progression. I am enjoying the mix of politics and action that arises with conflict between Craft, Holder, and Weyr; and the extent to which they put aside (or don't) their differences in the effort to fight the shared threat of Thread. The tension between the Oldtimer riders and Benden Weyr is actually quite frustrating, but at the same time, has the unfortunate ring of truth.
The individual characters are a realistic mix of likeable to horrible, with varying degrees of competence arrayed among them. I never tired of reading about whoever the story followed at any given time.
The dragons are amazing, but I wish we actually had a dragon POV as they are such interesting creatures. The fire-lizards seem like they are even more than they appear, and I hope to see more of them!
The good: the hatching, raising, and caring of dragons. I really enjoyed all these bits.
For everything else, I'm more of a mind that I like the general idea of the other ideas more than their actual execution.
Don't get me wrong, I love the concept of post-Earth colony and colonists, the long stretch of time and their loss of knowledge and technology, and the idea that they have all devolved into a medieval-type society. Maybe less: the idea of clans, old men, power-plays.
All told, the book feels like a child of its time. 1970, preoccupation with "mating", sexual freedom. It could be worse. I've read much worse. Fortunately, most of the focus is on dragons and dragon-flight. I can't really complain.
I suppose, however, I wish I could get into the characters more. My appreciation for this is almost all in the worldbuilding.
Fantastic. I am able to just immerse myself into this world. I can feel like I belong there. The characters are fantastically written and I feel myself becoming attached to them. There are also some that I just despise. I love this world that McCaffrey created. I love the history of it, but these books that I am reading now are at the heart of the world and what I loved about Pern.
This has been such a great reread. I am thoroughly enjoying reliving all of these events that were so long forgotten. So much goes on that it is hard to summarize. It is definitely not boring. There is always something happening. There is love and tragedy and perseverance. Great series to read.
The ongoing saga of a distant future offworld colony where society and technology have regressed to feudal times yet men (and a few women) ride genetically engineered, teleporting, time-traveling, telepathic dragons in order to protect their homelands from the menacing threat of destructive intergalactic, uh, thread. The writing is an improvement over the first installment which was an uneven mashup of two novellas, although the story this time is really just an episodic continuation of the first book with a focus on clarifying aspects of the society and culture and expanding the world of Pern rather than on boring, unimportant things like character arcs or plot. Published almost 50 years ago, the book certainly shows its age with women in traditional and subservient roles for the most part, cooking and cleaning and waiting around for a man to take interest in them, although consent doesn't necessarily play a big part in relationships apparently. And although some of the action moments can be gloriously fun, it's mystifying why the majority of the book focuses instead on romantic swooning and political bickering.
I've always liked this book in the Pern series, probably more than I like Dragonflight. I really like F'nor and Brekke and the introduction of the fire lizards. It's also in this book that the characters really start to begin discovering their history and the technology of the Ancients, which is a trope I generally always really like in SF/Fantasy. I love those cross-over books that feel like fantasy but you discover have a solid, SF premise underneath.
I absorbed the Pern books so long ago in my reading life (they were some of my first SFF, loaned to me by one of my father's PhD students; she was my book provider for a long time in my teens) that I don't think I've ever really watched the progress of the story McCaffrey unfolded.
I remember I got a delightful surprise with The White Dragon and later Dragonsdawn as we really began to discover the Ancients (oh, how I loved Dragonsdawn when it came out). Looking back now, with much older eyes, and reading the books in sequence, I can see that McCaffrey must have had the basic idea for the Ninth and First Passes from the beginning. The first setup came in Dragonflight, but that book was too full of world building, character introduction and the beginning of Threadfall for much to be done with it. Here, it starts in earnest. I ate it up way back then, and I admit, I'm eating it up all over again.
This book was originally published in 1971 and it mostly holds up. But, ouch, there are a few misogynistic moments that made me cringe.
This was a matter for men to settle, F'lar thinks at one point, although at least he'd been thinking Lessa might be helpful the moment before.
Later, someone (F'lar again I think but my quote doesn't include who was thinking it) reflects It was too bad you couldn't beat a Weyrwoman with impunity. Her dragon wouldn't permit it, but a sound thrashing was what Kylara badly needed. Well, she badly needed something, but I'm not sure a thrashing was it.
Neither attitude is acceptable, and if my son shows an interest in reading these books when he's older, I'll be pointing that out to him. But all the same, I'm going to give the book a general pass for two bad passages written over 40 years ago. (Not ignore them, but not stomp and throw the book either.) I'll encourage him to read them because they are good stories with (generally good) role models both male and female. All the same, it did make me go ouch.
I'm looking forward to rereading the rest of the books (and I'm hoping those problematic attitudes pop up less and less as the books' publication dates get closer to today). I'm seriously tempted to read Dragonsong to that 8 year old son I mentioned above, as I think he's more ready for the tale and politics of Menolly and the fire lizards and the Harper Hall right now. However, I'm rereading McCaffrey in publication order, so To Ride Pegasus will be my next McCaffrey (and Vortex by Robert Charles Wilson my next book).
Pern and dragons and fire lizards and Thread! It's been a happy trip back down memory lane so far.
These are peculiar books that are beginning to take on an interesting shape.
The first novel is something I would probably describe as misogynistic, classist, and maybe racist (in what it implies about genetic superiority), and for about half of this I was thinking the same thing. It's odd reading a book written by a woman that seems pretty hateful towards women. Not that women can't be misogynists--it's just not what I expect out of a writer who is a woman.
There's at least an implicit argument in these first two novels that men should take control and women should be docile and support their men, while also being sexually loyal to them, despite the fact that this society has done away with that form of sexual morality.
Had I not read Dragonsong first (which, chronologically, comes after this one), I probably wouldn't have continued, but Dragonsong is at least much kinder and more supportive of women, and eschews traditional gender roles.
But Dragonquest is actually a link between that more traditional, patriarchal, and racist society presented in Dragonflight and the gradually opening up of society in Dragonsong. We see the society change, evolve, become more open. The classism and totalitarianism and misogyny become eroded by new ways of thinking that develop in this novel, which is pretty cool.
It gives all of this an interesting shape. We start with traditional fantasy stuff and are becoming more radical with each novel.
Anyrate, the novel itself is deeply sociological. More than a quest or an adventure, it's a restructuring of the world around them.
Pretty interesting stuff. Aspects and sequences are still troubling, but I think McCaffrey's doing something a bit more revolutionary than I expected. She's thrown us in a world that feels familiarly upsetting and is transforming that world into a more equitable place.
It's also worth remembering when these books came out. McCaffrey was the first woman to win a major SF award for one of the novellas that makes up Dragonflight. It was the early 70s, a time when publishing was especially dominated by masculine voices. So she gave us a masculine and muscular world and story to draw us all in. Then, here, she begins subverting that. Dragonsong subverts it further.
2.5 stars. A decent sequel to Dragonflight. The world created by McCaffrey was well done as was the description of the "link" between dragon and rider. The plot and some of the characters failed to keep my interest the entire time and I did find myself waiting for something to happen. Overall, decent but not great.
Nominee: Hugo Award Best Science Fiction Novel Nominee: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Sadly a huge disappointment for me as the first book was a five star read.
This one lost a lot of the intrigue for me. We spent a lot more time hearing the political discussions and the conversations in what our character should/need to be doing. And not a lot of time actually doing those things. There was a severe lack of action for me in this one.
I also was not invested in the povs we got within this one. I wish we had stayed with our main povs from last time for the primary povs. As it's such a short book that moves quite fast so it's already hard to connect to it.
I didn't think that this book brought me anything g new to the world of pern. But with a series so long I can expect a couple flop books. But I'm hopeful the next ones will peek my attention again!
This is the second volume of the first Dragonriders of Pern trilogy. I read it as a part of the group’s challenge at Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels group. I reviewed the first volume here.
The story starts seven years after the finish of the first book, quite a notable and unusual time jump for the series. In my view, it improved the story. For these seven years, dragonriders fought the deadly silver Threads, both new ones and those, who travelled from a distant past. And riders of old have problems with the changing world – previously they took everything they need from the population as a tribute for protection. Now such an approach wears the patience of people thin. New riders aren’t perfect either – a senior Weyrwoman at Southern Weyr, Kylara, is tempestuous and irresponsible, as well as arrogant and self-absorbed. When it turns out that small fire-lizards are the ancestors of dragons that can also be impressed, even by commonfolk, they quickly became a symbol of status. Also, there is a discovery of a hidden room with ancient tech and birth of a weakly white dragon.
I liked the story, both in pace and content, more than the first book. It is still a bit naïve, what is usually labeled as YA these days and juveniles at time of publishing. I guess I’d enjoy the books more if I was of the needed age.
More satisfying emotionally than Dragonflight. Lots of changes being put in motion. This book is heavily concerned with challenging traditions of all kinds. F'lar and F'nor are definitely the main characters rather than Lessa* and I remain frustrated with some of their actions and views on women.
F'nor's scene with Brekke was the worst part (more not so consensual sex presented as swooningly romantic) but overall less of the stupid underlying misogyny and infantalizing/domination of women by men. So, noticeable if slight improvement.
I seriously love where the story is going with plans to end Thread's threat over all of Pern...and one of my favorite ideas in sci fi: a "fantasy" low tech world discovering its roots and ancient high tech! Plus, MUCH more of Masterharper Robinton, one of the few instantly likable and GOOD people introduced in these first two books. And who doesn't love Fandarel's brief appearances and passion for technical efficiency?
*In fact my major complaint about this book is how Lessa's triumphant solution to saving Pern in Dragonflight is *literally attributed* to F'lar in at least one scene of dialog in Dragonquest. Overall he benefits politically from it and Lessa's role is diminished. She's sidelined in a feminine caretaker / domestic role in Dragonquest while F'lar is blatantly described as having power over the whole planet after what *she* did. It's the definition of "Men get all the credit in history"....
Many turns after the events of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight #1, the people of Pern are now used to threadfall and having dragons in all the weyrs to fight thread. But the dragonriders are experiencing a split between the Oldtimers brought forward by Lessa and the modern dragon riders as led by F'lar. The Oldtimers believe that the holders and crafthalls no longer respect them as they should. If that wasn't enough for F'lar to deal with, thread is suddenly falling outside the schedule that he painstakingly put together so many years before.
While the first book established dragons and their riders, and the need to fight thread, this book truly established Pern as a society with different forces and change over time. It's a masterwork of world-building, even if some of the social mores haven't aged terribly well (slightly better than the previous book though).
There are some odd narrative decisions made here though, particularly around the weyrwomen of the Southern Weyr. The treatment of Brekke by F'nor in this one I think is meant to be seen as romantic, but comes across as abusive by 21st century standards. It's an unfortunate problem with older fiction, and SF, even good SF, is far from immune.
I expect a certain amount of misogyny in fantasy novels, but I was disappointed in it from a female author. Seriously the most interesting thing the female characters did in this story was when two of the female characters got into a stupendous catfight (dragonfight) in which they both end up dragonless and almost destroyed.
Still I will probably give the next book a go. They are quick reads after all.
Back to Pern, a favorite fictional place in the universe. So far I've read three Pern books, and this one completes the introductory stuff. I think ... The beginning is loaded with political info and plot friction as the author expands the whole picture of the place and its occupants, way out there in a neglected corner of the human race's expansion into the galaxy. The Pernese have been separated from the rest of humankind for a long, long time and have gone their own way. Human technology seems to have been forgotten and the culture of Pern seems pretty medieval ... with real dragons. Seems to be a LOT of that in sci-fi! The enemy from without is an invading demon space weed the Pernese call "thread," which falls through the skies whenever Pern is brought close to it's red step-sibling with the erratic orbit. The dragons are a BIG help(to put it mildly) in the battle against thread. Dragons and their human riders form a deep psychic bond and they live lives focused only on the survival of the planet. Meanwhile, political mumblings and grumblings provide food for plot munching.
So ... a new format for displaying books and reviews seems to be up and running. I assume it saves Goodreads money. As far as I can see the "currently reading" page progress or volume(audio) will no longer be a feature. Whatever ...
So, the theme of internal conflict between the slightly overlapping but definitely interdependent parts of the Pernese cultural world is still front and center. Crafthalls ... Holds ... Weyrs are not getting along and the dreaded thread is becoming unpredictable in its fall patterns. It looks like fire-lizard ownership by non-riders and riders alike may be a coming thing with unpredictable consequences. Then there's sex and that nasty-selfish Weyrwoman Kylara. I find that I'm not always getting the complications that McCaffrey has established over the course of the first two books. There may be stuff that was left on the editing floor and therefore sort of unclear. It's probably a help to read these installments closer to each other. Or maybe my aging brain is struggling to keep up. Not a lot of action thus far as AM sticks more with the soap opera stuff.
Nearing the end now as all sorts of bleep has been hitting the fan, including yet more of the whole internal strife stuff. Can't we all just get along????? Not much "big picture" Pern culture content as far as what the rest of the place looks and acts like people-wise. That does come in other Pern books. Can't cover everything, I suppose.
Finished up last night with a hair-raising don't-try-this-at-home adventure that clarified(for now) at least one plot point. What happened to bad-girl Kylara? After some serious malfeasance she disappears from the plot completely. I think I have #3(The White Dragon) on my shelves so I'll probably get to that one at some point.
- a suggestion of "Solaris" - visually - in appearance and behavior of Pern's Red companion.
The second part of the series and this trilogy is the same well written as the first and has the same virtues that made me like it. In this we add some interesting characters and a little more emotion inside the pages and so we have an equally positive result. The problem, however, is that apart from some political power games, our heroes are mainly concerned with issues of... gardening. This of course does not look very exciting. but in the author's hands this gardening becomes equally epic and heroic with battles of more military books and this balances the situation. So this book is an excellent follow-up.
10/2014 Buddy Reread with Don as we transverse the past to remember what we have forgotten.
There was a lot going on in this story. No time to breath. F'lar's nonstop strategizing, planning, brooding set everyone on edge in this one. Man's gonna get someone killed trying to guess his intentions and eager to save him from the inherent danger in his machinations.
Pern is still a seething pit of politics and with the acerbating attitudes of the Oldtimers there is major conflict and the hard won cooperation is fracturing. Then there's wild matings out of control, hatchings with surprises, new discoveries, and poor F'nor gets the short end of the stick--Again.
We finally get our fire lizards and they're as adorable and excitable as I remember. The Southern continent yielded such amazing things and the developments in the Crafthalls are impressive. Always inspiring what intelligent and driven people can accomplish. Fandarel, Robinton, and F'lar are the triumvirate leading Pern into the future. F'lar unique position puts others in the line of fire as they can't endanger him.
Of course... there was the knife fight!
So if I was there. There'd be three dead bodies and one person smacked around pretty good until they could see sense. A lot of unwarranted forgiveness and deferring problems to the future that does not sit well with me. *huff*
Loved the fire lizards. Loved the white dragon and its unique situation. Loved the innovations. Appreciated the masterminding, though would have liked more iron in that velvet glove. There is a good future possible, now. Can't wait for the last of the trilogy.
All you need is a little help, same as me,” Jaxom was crying, pounding at the crack with his fists.
Initial impression: So far, slower and more boring than the first, with more traditional gender roles.
Final conclusion: It seems like maybe Anne McCaffrey had nothing going on so she decided to try to write a follow-up to Dragonflight, but when she started, she couldn't figure out what to write about. Not much happens in this book-- really just a bunch of boring arguing. Some of the times/dates are off, with certain characters being too young or too old to mesh with what did/didn't happen in the first book. It's a slower read, and the characters aren't particularly compelling either. Most disappointing of all is the complete role reversal of Lessa, who in the first book was a strong woman. In this book, she's a typical "helpmeet," no longer strong or powerful . . . or interesting. In book one, she was a woman, but in this book, she and most other women are almost always referred to as "girls."
So much sci-fi is so unimaginative and boring when authors repeat the same tired gender stereotypes. Crash and burn, McCaffrey!
This has my favorite scene in the entire series in which brownrider F'nor 'impresses' a newly-hatched queen firelizard while recuperating on a sandy beach of the Southern continent. The little golden queen even flies 'between' from fright at the sight of his dragon Canth, and F'nor realizes with awe that the legends are true about the dragons having been bred from firelizards by the long-lost technology of the ancients.
When F'nor mentions his conclusions to his dragon, Canth's reply is a subdued, "I don't remember."
Otherwise this sequel builds on the political dynamic has developed between the 'hide-bound' attitudes of the oldtimers from 400 turns in the past and the more progressive attitude of F'lar and the modern-day dragonriders.
I'm breathless! What an ending to the second book in this series. If you want an exciting vacation to an exotic and exciting world, but can't afford one, read this series. If you want to ride a dragon, but don't know any, read this series. It's mind-blowing.
Jumping ahead 7 Turns, I felt like this book settled me into the continued plot very comfortably. She became a bit longer-winded in this volume, spending a bit more time with character’s thoughts and reflections of events, but only once or twice did I feel distracted from the story and the danger of the Threadfall. F’nor takes a centerpiece in this novel, and it felt natural, being totally separate from the first book, which centered on F’lar and Lessa (both of whom appear in this book), who have settled in nicely to their role as dragonrider celebrities, so to speak. The conflict with the Oldtimers was a natural permutation of what would happen when people 400 years different attempt to do the same thing, and I was surprised at some of the sweet knife fights in these books. I was thinking I should really feel the absence of swordplay more in these books, but the way the world is set up really seems to not need swords and sorcery—more than a fantasy, these are works of hard science fiction, dealing with the colonization of planets and celestial occurrences. There are also some interesting themes dealing with human history and the propensity to forget useful, helpful, and even necessary things, with a hint of critique on what seemed like revisionist history—the value of the grubs being totally forgotten and overlooked. It was pretty good, though I missed the “training” scenes from the previous book. I want to ride a dragon—maybe a white one? I’m glad that the third book deals with that aspect of the story—a white dragon sounds awesome.
I was lent this book along with nine others in the series by a good friend along with the recommendation they are his favourite fantasy books. I have to say now that I am at the second in the series I have not been let down.
Don't let the publication date of 1971 put you off! This has some seriously well developed female characters of Lessa, Kylara & Brekke who I fell in love with in this book. The developing relationships, emotional turmoils and childhood scandals appealed to me greatly and I love to read how they unfolded.
The narrative although complete fantasy comes to life with the political conflicts and the breaking of social customs being easy to relate to even today. The tension between Bender Weyr and the 'Old Timers' seems tangable and believable and the discoveries about the ancients, as well as the future are so well written I often get carried away into their world and forgot that I was living in the weyr.
My main criticism still stands, that the vast number of characters, places and dragon names all become very confusing and I found myself using the helpful little guide at the back more than once. The map at the front is also very helpful to track the characters across Pern as they fly between.
Recommended to all lovers of fantasy, can wait to read the next one!!
P.S. If any one finds a fire lizard egg please let me have one!!
When Thread begins to fall out of schedule Pern is thrown into high agitation, aggravating troubled political relationships and sending dragonriders on a new quest: to stop the threat of Thread for good. For such a bold aim, Dragonquest is markedly undirected. It discards the flawed but compelling POVs of Dragonflight and replaces them with an ensemble cast, headhopping, and a pair of inspired minor protagonists. While largely political the plot lacks politicking (McCaffrey's antagonists are problematically characterized--there's a disgusting amount of slut-shaming--and blatantly wrong), the pacing is poor, and there's almost no "quest" to speak of: characters themselves admit that the solution to their problem is uninspiring and disappointingly mundane. At times, Pern is an interesting place--the lingering impact of the technologically advanced society that founded it is especially intriguing, and the dragons remain appealing although their newly-introduced miniature cousins bring little to the story. But McCaffrey's worldbuilding is heavyhanded, her writing clunky, and what little good the book has fails to save it from its plentiful flaws. I didn't enjoy Dragonquest and don't recommend it.
Buddy read with Vivian. This installment was much more political with less thread fighting as some major changes are made on Pern. F'lar has always been a leader but tried to give the leadership over all away but was forced to take it. Somehow F'lar as been cast as the bad guy in some reader's minds because he tends to hold his cards close to his chest. If the poor guy shared most of his thoughts of his imagined future for Pern he would have a revolution on his hands. There were some amazing discoveries made when Jaxom and Felessan were sneaking around the old caverns. Many instruments that the ancients had stored away got everyone excited. I love the Master Craftmen and was happy to see them beginning to share knowledge. Pern under F'lar is slowly becoming more open. These new happenings were tempered by sadness and heart ache that could have been avoided if some egos were not over inflated. I think some of the parties involved needed to die but that just my opinion. A white dragon was hatched from Ramoth's last clutch which was an unprecedented first in the histories. Changes are coming to Pern but will the people accept them?
I still love this book for what it is and for what it sets up. At the same time, I was totally bowled over by a certain dubious consent scene and other attitudes legitimising domestic violence that weren't part of my awareness when I first read these books (many times) as a teenager. They alter my fondness for a character I otherwise like very much and a relationship that I always viewed very positively. Disappointing. The words might not change, but times and attitudes do. A fascinating way to measure the development of my own thinking and my consciousness of social issues as my horizons have broadened over the years. Anne McCaffrey proved herself to be a bit of an Oldtimer herself here. For a relatively feminist and obliquely gay-friendly world, some nuances of its culture are still quite dated.
Having said that, DRAGONS. FIRE LIZARDS. AMBITIOUS PLOT. DRAGONS. TRADITION vs. INNOVATION. DRAGONS. RUTH <3 Ultimately, the core Pern books champion moving away from dated attitudes to more enlightened, civilised ideals, methods, technologies and social systems, so they'll always have that trend in their favour.