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Fifteen-year-old Menolly allies with magnificent dragons in the first book in the Harper Hall trilogy, set within science fiction legend Anne McCaffrey’s beloved and bestselling Dragonriders of Pern series.

For centuries, the world of Pern has faced a destructive force known as Thread. But the number of magnificent dragons who have protected this world and the men and women who ride them are dwindling.

As fewer dragons ride the winds and destruction falls from the sky, Menolly has only one to sing, play, and weave the music that comes to her so easily—she wishes to become a Harper. But despite her great talents, her father believes that a young girl is unworthy of such a respected position and forbids her to pursue her dreams. So Menolly runs away, taking shelter in a cave by the sea. Miraculously, she happens upon nine fire lizards that could possibly save her world...and change her life forever.

192 pages, Paperback

First published March 1, 1976

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About the author

Anne McCaffrey

580 books7,089 followers
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.

Obituaries: Locus, GalleyCat.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,732 reviews
Profile Image for Matthew Gatheringwater.
156 reviews1 follower
August 29, 2007
A book doesn't have to be Great Literature or even particularly good to appear on my "formative fiction" shelf, it just has to be a book with a meaning that changed me or helped me to understand myself and the world in a new way. Fortunately, Dragonsong is also a very good book of its type.

The best friend of my childhood was different from me in many ways: middle-class to my trailer-trash, older, weak where I was strong (he suffered from a heart condition that would kill him while still a teenager), and part of a large and functioning family.

We both lived in religious households that discouraged "worldly" reading but, while my folks were strict, his were lax. During a winter holiday sleep-over, he smuggled Dragonsong and some of its many sequels to me. We sprawled in front of the wood-stove and read all day and long into the night. I'd scrimped to save for treats and, feeling very elegant, served us Ritz crackers with Cheeze-Whiz (the big jar!) and vienna sausages. I was so anxious to impress, I put my finger on the side of the stove to show him how long I could stand to sizzle.

There were other sleep-overs and other books, but this is was the important one, the one I remember whenever I open a new book and read merely for the pleasure of escape into another kind of life.

Menolly, the protagonist of Dragonsinger, escapes in a more literal way. Denied the expression of her natural abilities, she runs away to live independently. She fed my tomboy fantasies by living rough, making her own shelter, killing and skinning a large bird, and taming wild animals. Just when she is settling into her new rustic life, disaster strikes. Finally, her talents are recognized by kindly people who whisk her away on dragon-back to a new community of people who can value her for the reasons she values herself.

It is not a complicated story, but it is well-told and the theme is universal. It has resonated in my life as I have tried, with only some measure of success, to find a safe place where my own talents are recognized and friends who care for me not in spite of, but because of who I am. The irony for me, of course, is how that place is located in the past, with that dead boy who loved me enough to smuggle books.
Profile Image for Laura.
1,074 reviews28 followers
May 30, 2019
I fell in love with the dragons of Pern and with Anne McCaffrey's writing quite a while back. But I never got to read the Harper Hall trilogy - because my silly old self thought it wouldn't be that good as it's more about harpers and firelizards than dragons!!

My smarter new self now gloats and wants to diligently kick my old silly self's butt preach about assumptions and how we're not really supposed to make them, because they'll probably end up punching us in the face! :D

This book about harpers and firelizards was STUNNING!

I loved Menolly, and her trials made me get spitting mad at times and laugh out loud at others.

Menolly | Pern Wiki | FANDOM

I could practically picture an old pot flying at a big grumpy dragon's head, who fortunatelly knows to get out of the way on cleaning days! Or a little baby firelizard being grabbed by the tail and unceremoniously dropped in a corner with a juicy piece of meat to stay there and eat!

Anne McCaffrey has such a way with words that you can really see her stories unfold before your eyes!

In plain and simple words she'll walk you through a tale of courage and determination of a young girl whose only fault is that of wanting to make music.

In a world where music is only made by men, because women are not worthy of the honour; in a hold where women need to know their place and do only what they're told; in a family where a daughter is not loved if she doesn't carry her weight according to precepts and tradition, Menolly dares to rebel and follow a dream!

Intricatelly woven into a culture and lifestyle so different than ours, and yet so alike, Menolly's tale will point out both the best and worst in human nature. It will make you both rage and sigh, and will soften your heart with the gentle touch of the little dragon cousins: not one but lots of pesky, perky firelizards!
And how I wish I had a little one of those!!

A song full of feeling, strength and determination - Dragonsong is one to listen to!

I highly recommend it!
May it lift your spirits the way it did mine!
Happy reading! :)
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
July 27, 2022
Spoiler Alert!

There are dragons in this book.

And songs.

Damn it! Why do I keep doing this? I’ve just ruined it for everyone.

Well, here goes nothing, since I’ve told you all about the book already.

Anne McCaffrey’s wildly successful Pern series about dragons on a far flung planet is entertaining, and charming and all that – but there’s just not a lot there. This was like a nice visit to a grandma, when all the while you know you could have gone downtown for some wild fun.

What??? not a lot there, you say??? There’s dragons, and fire lizards, and it’s on a different planet and its science fiction!!!

Yeah, but that might have been some coin in 1976, we’ve got some kickass CGI dragons now and science fiction that has laser beams and just more.

Maybe this is not as timeless as some other SF from the 60s and 70s.

This is actually a side hustle in the Pern universe, this is about Harper’s – bard like folks who sing and play instruments and have a leadership role in the community.

It was good, I enjoyed it, but – eh.

Profile Image for Sebastien Castell.
Author 47 books4,301 followers
February 7, 2017
I've read Dragonsong several times over the years and it continues to be one of my favourite Young Adult novels of all time. Menolly is neither bad-ass warrior nor shrinking violet, but rather someone whose passion for music in all its forms combines with a strong sense of decency to carry her through the trials of living in a place where she's not wanted, and having to make a place for herself outside her familiar home.

Dragonsong neither fits the contemporary notion of Young Adult nor Middle Grade but is instead a kind of timeless story that appealed to me both as a teenager and as an adult. While it does sit within the massive canon of Pern novels, it works perfectly well as a standalone book for those who've never read any of the Dragonriders books.
Profile Image for Becky.
832 reviews155 followers
October 8, 2012
There is nothing like snuggling under the covers with one of your favorite books on a rainy day.

I love this book, unconditionally, so don't expect a fair review from me. This is the book that led to my discovery of both sci-fi and fantasy as genres, it opened up the world to me, at the time I was eleven but a decade (+) later I still enjoy it.

The book was written for an arguably younger audience than any other set of books in McCaffrey's Pern series. There is no sex, minimal violence, the reading level is definitly geared toward middleschoolers (not in a condescending way though), and the main characters are in their teens. Still, its a necessary part of the Pernverse for any enthusiast.

The characters are enjoyable, Harper Hall is a favorite location of mine, everyone wants a firelizard after reading this story, and its a quick but excellent read. I think it says something that I have read this book over a dozen times, but still find myself longing to relive the events therein.

Do yourself a favor if its raining out, curl up with any of your favorite books, but I do hope you'll give this one a try.

((Read as #100 book of 2012 in celebration of being able to read at all after a few trying years of little time for literature))
Profile Image for Deborah Ideiosepius.
1,671 reviews131 followers
May 9, 2021

The Dragon books were part of the network of books that introduced me in my teen years to fantasy and sci-fi and on re-reading them years later it is encouraging to find them still as well written as I remember them. The plots still as riveting, the world-building still as thrilling and the characters still as good - well, maybe just a tiny bit more teen angst than I look for these days, but otherwise just as good!
After accidentally re-reading Dragonsinger I found that I just HAD to go on (or back, as the case may be) to read the book before it so I fell back into the Sea Hold caverns and Menolly's struggle with her family and their expectations.

As I have read the books so many times, it was no problem reading them out of sequence and I was charmed anew at the descriptions of the hard life in a medieval seahold. At Menolly's need for music which is denied her by her father, as she is a girl and girls are not allowed to make music. The story of her impressing the fire lizards was also as delightful as ever. It was a thoroughly enjoyable re-re-re-read.

In Dragonsong we follow the adventures of Menolly the youngest daughter in a sea hold where everyone works brutally hard and which has no appreciation for music. Menolly is all about the music, and when the old hold Harper dies she is slowly pushed to her limits until she leaves the hold completely, to live outside during thread-fall, a thing no one believes is possible. She impresses fire-lizards, small wild, relatives of the massive dragons and then she teaches them to sing.

Still as good as when I read it years ago, as good as when it was written in the 1970's , I wonder a little if it could be as amazing to a young girl reading it today as it was to us all back then? We has so few strong women in fiction to enchant us. Well, there is more out there these days, but this one is as good as ever.
Profile Image for Vivian.
2,846 reviews398 followers
April 4, 2016
For me, this book transcends the plane of existing merely as a book. It is a dear memory wrapped so closely to my self identification for when it was introduced to me and by whom, my father.

For a preteen growing up on a small island Menolly's fate was so easy to identify with and I wished for my own dragonets.

The story is magical. And I love it still.
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,666 reviews242 followers
December 13, 2021
As a teenager in the 80s I read this many, many times. The Harper trilogy books belonged to my favourite books in that decade, together with The White Dragon. Menolly has always been my favourite character, besides Robinton. I though she was great, overcoming all those challenges with her family, being independent, finding the fabulous fire lizards and a place for herself to belong... Now, 40 years later, I was a bit apprehensive about my re-read. It is such a horrible thing to find out when something, that you cherish in your memory, doesn‘t pass the test of time. This book did pass the test of time though. I had a lot of fun and pretty much started re-reading Dragonsinger right away.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 26 books5,673 followers
April 14, 2016
The first Anne McCaffrey I ever read, and still a favorite. Menolly is a great character, and her adventures are timeless and instantly engaging.
Profile Image for Janni.
Author 41 books449 followers
December 16, 2008
Just reread this for the first time in years.

A bit heavy on the "Menolly is a girl, oh no!" and things don't really pick up until the fire lizards show up, but even so ... good stuff. And still the comfort read it was 20 years ago. :-)
Profile Image for RJ - Slayer of Trolls.
806 reviews188 followers
November 1, 2022
The first in the Harper Hall series - 3rd in the overall Dragonriders of Pern series in publication order - is the story of young Menolly of Half-Circle Sea Hold, a neglected young girl who turns out to have a Special Role in the re-awakening of Pern! Despite sounding very trope-y, the story is really very sweet, and adults will enjoy it as well as the YA audience for whom it appears to have been meant. Characters from the prior novels appear briefly and references are made to events in Dragonflight and Dragonquest but those books do not need to be read prior to reading this one.
Profile Image for bella.
249 reviews25 followers
August 12, 2012
This is the BEST book I've read this year. I'm actually not sure I can explain my love for this book but I'm going to try.

I've been a little disgruntled with the fantasy genre (especially ya fantasy). I'm not a fan of the over emergence of vampires, fairies and angels. The Game of Thrones helped redeem adult fantasy for me and Dragonsong has totally redeemed my love of ya fantasy.

I never picked up this series as a teen and I wish I had.

Dragonsong is the first book in the Harper Hall trilogy and the first Dragonriders of Pern book that I've read. It set around Menolly , who lives in the Sea Hold. She has an extraordinary musical ability, but can never dream of being a Harper because Harpers are always boys. After a accident renders Menolly unable to play music, she runs away from the oppressive Sea Hold and discovers the fire lizards and sets the course for an adventure that will bring her close to the dragons she sings about.

I loved Menolly. Despite her oppressive surroundings she finds ways to be positive, like secretly tuning and singing. I felt like I was taking the journey with Menolly. I felt like crying when her hand was injured and she couldn't play. I rejoiced with her when she left the hold, even though she didn't know what the outcome would be.

I love the world of Pern that Anne McCaffrey as created. It's pure escapism for me. I got caught up in the world and didn't want to leave. Thankfully there are plenty of Pern novels to discover and I will be diving into Dragonsinger next.
Profile Image for Chrisl.
607 reviews87 followers
March 22, 2019
Just re-read Dragonsong and Dragonsinger. May have been more emotionally/musically engaged with the characters this time than the first time I read them so many years ago. Would like to award more than 5 stars.
In answer to question "What is your favorite fantasy?" ... the stories featuring Menolly and her miniature dragons ... might only be surpassed by the stories about the Apprentice Assassin.

Don't read much fantasy nowadays. Over the last few decades, I think only Robin Hobb and Rothfuss would share a 'best' shelf with McCaffrey's Harper Hall tales.
Considering the pleasure of reading YA stories about dragons, I would like to re-read Wrede
Dealing with Dragons
The Harper Hall series provided one of those library cataloging challenge books.
When I explored, many of the libraries I visited had copies only in the Young Adult section, while in other libraries had the books in SF, not in YA.
(McCaffrey's love for music shines through.)
The local library no longer owns Dragonsong and Dragonsinger. The two books are available from the YA section of the affluent regional library. ...
Profile Image for Jon.
833 reviews253 followers
September 14, 2008
I almost named my daughter Menolly because I loved this book so much. And it would have been a completely appropriate name for her - she is currently in college pursuing a degree in vocal performance and has many musical talents and abilities.

I read this book when I was an adolescent and it struck such a chord with me that I read it and re-read it once or twice a year until I was an adult with children myself.

Menolly is the daughter of a strict practical sea holder on Pern. Her father has little time or patience for such frivolous activities as music and is very conscience of propriety and everyone's proper place in the social structure of his sea hold.

When the sea hold's harper, and Menolly's musical mentor and friend, dies, a replacement is not expected for many months. Menolly's father has a duty to fulfill in the education of the sea hold's children so he reluctantly agrees to let Menolly assume that responsibility temporarily until the new Harper arrives.

Menolly instructs the children carefully as her parents expect her to. But her music calls to her incessantly and she can't contain herself completely. She composes and writes a song one afternoon in the classroom after the children have left to do their chores. Unfortunately, her father happens to be passing by in the hall, doesn't recognize the tune, and proceeds to beat Menolly for the audacity of breaking his commandment of "no tuning."

Menolly is so devastated by this event, she decides to run away from home. She gathers up some food and clothes and escapes through the front door of the sea hold, leaving it unlocked and open during a Fall (something she had forgot about in her haste to leave). A Fall is the deadly rain from the sky (actually space) that contains a virulent organism that east all things organic in seconds. Only stone, metal or water can protect you from it. The Dragonriders of Pern fly to fight the menace before it can reach the ground, but if the terrain is rocky or watery, they will let it fall.

Menolly is trapped on the beach and squirms her way into a small cave where a fire lizard queen and her eggs are hatching. As they hatch, the hungry fire lizards leave the cave only to be destroyed by the Fall outside. Menolly is desparate to save them, so starts feeding them from her supplies. In the end, she saves nine fire lizards and soon discovers that like Dragons, they now "look" to her.

Menolly survives for a time on her own, but again is caught out in a Fall and tries to outrun the leading edge. A Dragonrider spots her, thinking she's a boy because she is very tall and lanky, scoops her up and takes her back to the Weir. From that point forward, Menolly's life changes, for the better.

Menolly still struggles and is very unsure of herself. Eventually, those around her that care and befriend her draw her out from her harden shell and she eventually finds herself a student in the Harper Hall.

This is a great coming of age tale.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sotiris Karaiskos.
1,177 reviews89 followers
December 4, 2017
I am a little confused about the order in which I have to read the books of this series because there are different approaches. I chose the order in which they were released. So I have to break the Dragonriders of Pern trilogy to begin this.

In the Harper Hall trilogy we are at the same time as the previous book of the series but we follow a different story. The protagonist of this story is the sweet and sensitive Menolly who goes against the strict conservative beliefs of the region that was born expressing her love for music, which in their opinion is a purely male affair. That is why she knows the strong disapproval of hers that reaches the limits of rejection. Disappointed seeks love and appreciation somewhere and finds them in the strangest place. It is the beginning of a very moving, sensitive and emotional story, written in a beautiful way that makes the reader feel all the emotions of the heroine on her journey.

  A book that really touched me and from now on will have a special place in my heart.
Profile Image for Susan Kennedy.
271 reviews9 followers
November 8, 2018
This book focuses on Menolly who lives in a fishing hold. She is talented musically with a fine voice and is able to play many instruments. However, her father does not support her in her talent and in fact tries to hamper her since she is a girl.

Menolly is such a lovely character that I loved the first time I read these and that warm and fuzzy just came back again on the reread. She runs away from the hold and is caught out in threadfall. She takes refuge in a cave during threadfall and there is a hatching of fire lizards going on. She ends up impressing nine of them to save them from death. She finds herself out in threadfall once again some time later. She is making a run for her shelter when she is rescued by a dragon. She has run her feet raw, so she spends time in the Weyr healing.

She is such a great character. She does find her happy ending, but it is through pain and heartache. She is so beaten down emotionally by her mother and father that she has to overcome. She does and it is fabulously written.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Eon ♒Windrunner♒  .
435 reviews479 followers
November 3, 2015
This was good, but not great.

If the book was any longer I might not have felt the need to finish it, but it was just the right combination of length and interesting to make me want to know how it all turned out for the protagonist.

The world Anne Mccaffrey created is intriguing, but other than that there was not much happening. In saying that, the second half was much better than the first, and I am almost tempted to carry on with the series, but not sure if I will as there are so many other books clamouring for my attention.
Profile Image for Alethea A.
587 reviews168 followers
August 29, 2008
I just reread this for the first time in 17 years... I love this trilogy so much! It introduced me to the world of Pern and was one of the few things I have ever been able to give back to my Aunt Debbie to repay her for her kindness in introducing me to science-fiction/fantasy, Isaac Asimov, John Bellairs...

Dragonsong serves both as an introduction for young adult readers to the Dragonrider series, an examination of gender roles and tradition in their society (and perhaps in ours), as well as a loving celebration of music and poetry. It is followed by Dragonsinger and Dragondrums.

New readers may take some effort to adjust to McCaffery's Pern dialect and the strange apostrophied names of the male Dragonriders, but this gets easier with time and is an excellent language learning tool. Readers may learn to pick up on implied meanings, for example: the toilet or privy is called "the necessary".

Solid storytelling is made even more memorable by vivid views of the landscape of the planet, the social order and a brief history of Pern, and dazzling descriptions of the fanciful wildlife, including dragons and fire lizards. This story will captivate and delight even the most reluctant reader.
Profile Image for Dianna.
1,875 reviews32 followers
March 24, 2021
2017: Dragons and music on a different planet, with a likable heroine to boot! Where has this book been all my life? I can't wait to read more. Luckily there are many.
Profile Image for Tracy.
639 reviews24 followers
November 7, 2022
It’s been so long since I’ve read a book in a gulp. I’ve had this book a long time, I purchased my copy on February 11, 1978. So often when I read books that I loved once I don’t anymore. This one I still love. Menolly has always been one of my favorite characters and I love her story. The Harper Hall trilogy have long been my favorite series of books by Anne McCaffrey. I’m happy to report that it still is.
Profile Image for Cecelia.
400 reviews209 followers
June 22, 2012
Many a woman who found her love of reading early will fondly reminisce about her ‘horse period’ – when she read anything she could get her hands on that had to do with horses, such as the Marguerite Henry books (Misty of Chincoteague!) and Black Beauty. There’s a smaller and more select group that can reminisce about their ‘dragon period.’ I say this because I know: I went through both. However, unlike horses, my love of dragons and dragon-lore has lasted well into adulthood. And those early dragon books that I devoured were written by the likes of Jane Yolen, Patricia C. Wrede and Anne McCaffrey.

Dragonsong is the first book in McCaffrey’s Harper Hall trilogy, a set of sci-fi books for younger readers – today we’d probably call them middle grade. The series is set on the planet Pern, where colonists fight the life-threatening Thread that falls from space with dragonfire (it’s all explained in less fantastic terms than that in the book, trust me). The story follows gifted musician Menolly, youngest daughter of the head of fishing-centric Half Circle Hold, as she struggles against the restrictions of Hold life and traditions that state that women cannot be Harpers. The injustice finally becomes too much and Menolly flees, only to discover a nest of fire lizards, a new life, and a destiny that will take her far from anything she has ever known.

Oh, this book. I must have gotten it at a Scholastic book sale or similar, because I distinctly remember that I bought it because: DRAGONS! and also because there was a $1.99 sale sticker on the front cover. And then, after I was swept into the world of Pern and dragons and fire lizards, I discovered it was the first in a trilogy and had to read the next two immediately. Thank goodness for libraries.

The main thing I remember feeling when I read this as a child was just how unfair life was for Menolly. Rereading it now as an adult I still feel the injustice of her situation, even to the point of tears – but it is tempered now with knowledge. Menolly’s life is narrow because she lives on a colonized planet, in a very traditional community, and there are no options for, or knowledge of, anything different. Her family forbids her musical tinkering not solely out of spite, as I thought when I was younger, but out of fear. Half Circle Hold is a patriarchal, sexist society that doesn’t know how to change for the better, so it keeps a stranglehold on Menolly. And it is that attitude that eventually forces her flight into the unknown.

Of course, that flight is what saves Menolly, but it also breaks her spirit and effectively cuts her off from the past. This is one of the clearest examples I can think of in fantasy and science fiction of leaving the past and pushing into the future. It’s an effective narrative to be sure, but I now also think of it as a metaphor for all sci-fi: leaving the repressive, traditional world of the past and pressing on into the future and new and greater heights.

But I mentioned dragons! Well, I’ll deliver (to a degree). Menolly encounters fire lizards, the dragons’ smaller cousins, and these tiny creatures are not only her personal salvation, but they are also her introduction to the life she was meant to live – with enlightened friends and the possibility to follow her musical dreams. I won’t say any more about the book, as you should just read it yourself. It’s wonderful, and for all ages.

Recommended for: fans of adventurous middle grade fiction, those who enjoy (or would like a well-written introduction to) science fiction and fantasy, and anyone who missed their ‘dragon period’ and needs to make up for lost time.
Profile Image for Kent.
50 reviews22 followers
May 12, 2012
Alien prejudice is a favorite trope for sci-fi fantasy writers. Presumably, reading about strange discrimination teaches us that all discrimination is strange. Thoughtful writers like Iain Banks can use alien prejudice to comment on the dynamics of power and on cultural relativity. That makes for an interesting read.

In Dragonsong, Anne McCaffrey has done something else entirely. It turns out that a main character who goes against the fake cultural grain can be two things simultaneously: 1. someone who is overcoming prejudice in an unfair world, and 2. someone who totally conforms to the prejudices of the target audience.

And so we have Menolly, the girl who is really good at music, but girls aren't supposed to be musicians don'tcha know, so shut up Menolly and go chop vegetables. Does Menolly in any way subvert our expectations of what a female fantasy character should be? No. She's innocent, artistic, the forest creatures love her. She's basically Snow White.

This is a story of It Gets Better--Menolly goes from a prejudiced society to one that appreciates her for what she is. That's good, and it does get better, kids--even if you don't conform to bigoted Western cultural expectations.

Also, this is some bland-ass prose.
19 reviews2 followers
December 27, 2007
I didn't particularly enjoy this book, but I don't think it was really the book's fault. I had previously read one short story in the Pern series, and it was intriguing enough for me to buy this book for 50 cents. But I didn't realize that not only was this the third book in the overall Pern series, it was the first book in the Harper Hall trilogy. Reading it, I was like, "Menolly who? Constrictive gender roles, whatever. She's unhappy, whatever. WHERE ARE THE DAMN DRAGONS? Fire lizards? What the eff are those? Give me dragons!" But like I said, that's not really the book's fault. If you want dragons, go to the Dragonrider trilogy, not the Harper Hall trilogy.

Anyway, the book is decent. If you like stories where oppressed 15-year-old girls rebel against constrictive societies and rise to success in male-dominated professions, you'll probably like this. I'm kind of sick of them, so I wasn't that into it myself.
April 12, 2019
There are times I just need to return to those comfort books which have been my companions and best friends through good times and bad times. There are books which, like fine wine, mellow with age. Characters I still love.

Dragonsong remains one of those stories that still brings a smile to my face and the warm fuzzies to my heart. It's one of the many books that cemented my love of fantasy.

I still remember how it struck such a deep chord within me, the very first time I read it. Menolly's trials were very much like my own, though my family wasn't quite as bad as hers. Still I could relate to that age-old quandary of feeling out of place and unappreciated for possessing gifts that people don't always understand.

Menolly, the youngest daughter of a prominent Sea Holder, is musically gifted, a gift that her stern and hidebound parents disapprove of. Forbidden to even play, much less sing, she decides to run away and live holdless rather than suffer one more day without what she loves. While Menolly is sensitive, she's also resourceful. She survives and even begins to thrive in a sea cave with nine fire lizards (genetic cousins to the great dragons of Pern) for company. I remember really hating her parents back then, especially her mother. With the lens of maturity I understand why they behaved the way they did, but still, to treat their daughter like a pariah doesn't sit well at all. However, Menolly got the last laugh.

I actually wrote the beginnings of a fan fic where Menolly becomes the Masterharper.

Like its companion series The Dragonriders of Pern, this is a classic series that lives and breathes. Another masterwork from a grand mistress of fantasy.
Profile Image for John Dishwasher John Dishwasher.
Author 2 books47 followers
July 27, 2020
There is a greatness in us that is repressed and even punished by society. Society would have us be machines instead of souls. There may be no better way to demonstrate this in a story than to take the most repressed personality of a culture and give that personality that culture’s most cherished talents. That's what McCaffrey does here. This is not a political statement book, but a sort of medieval fantasy set on another world. So the repression isn't cruel, but it is unequivocal, exacting and scarring. And the protagonist’s gifts are just as unequivocal and inspiring and resilient. When I grabbed this book out of our living room library my wife mused that it was mostly a young woman’s book. But all of us want to run away and be ourselves when the machinery enforcers come around. I cheered on the 15-year-old protagonist’s claiming of herself, and could identify with it easily. McCaffrey has a gift for narration even if her prose is unadventurous and occasionally dialogue-starved. In chapter 7 of this book she finds a rhythm at the paragraph level that I've not before experienced. I actually re-read that chapter after finishing to make sure I wasn't imagining it.

3.5 stars rounded down mostly because this is part one of a trilogy. While the story arrives at a satisfying and even moving resolution, thematically the book is anti-climactic. Probably that will be remedied in book three.
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832 reviews20 followers
June 17, 2016
Over the years I have heard great things about this series, but just never got around to it. I finally picked up this book, and now I see what everyone was talking about. It was fantastic!!!! Pern has lived in fear of the Thread for centuries. During threadfall, it falls from the sky and anyone or anything in its path will be burnt up. The main thing that can stop it is fire. So the dragonriders mount up and stop it every threadfall. Living in her sea hold, Menolly doesn't worry much about the thread. All she wants is to become a Harper and create her own songs to sing. But, girls can't be harpers. According to her father, she is a disgrace. With nothing left to lose, she leaves her hold and starts a new life in a cave. Tons of adventures are in store for her! This book was great! I love Menolly and wanted to kick her dad's a** for the way he acted.
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