As always for my Sunday book reviews, I am reviewing a book meant to help base time while traveling. The idea is that you are at the airport and want something to entertain you on the flight. I provide a link at the bottom to purchase a kindle version of the book so you can download it and read if you want (or sign up for Audible.com and download a spoken version of the book to enjoy it that way).
This week I will review the book Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffery. It is book one of the Dragonriders of Pern series. In the many years since this book first came out, she has written many sequels and some prequels as well, but Dragonflight is the book that started the series. It is now called number 16, but it really is the first book.
Despite having dragons in the stories, the book is a SF story, not a fantasy story. It is set on a planet called Pern. The inhabitants are colonists that settled into a pretty hospitable place to live, but one that has a planet or moon that passes close enough every several hundred years for a type of spore called Thread to pass from that moon to Pern. Thread multiplies quickly into something that devours the land where it grows and which is inimitable to life. The only space that is safe is bare rock with nothing organic for the spores to feed on. Every time the other planet gets close enough for the spores to travel from planet to planet is called a “Pass” and the story begins after the last regular pass did not happen and Pern has almost forgotten why the dragon riders are needed.
The dragons telepathically bond with their riders. The only viable dragons that can lay eggs are the female, golden dragons and the last one is dying with only one queen egg left. Lessa is a scullery maid and drudge at a holding and is noticed by a group of dragon riders out searching for women that have the telepathic potential to bond with a dragon.
The story is both a straight forward romance between a strong dragon rider named F’lar who is bonded to a bronze dragon and Lessa. The spores missed a Pass and the Holds and the people have forgotten the dangers of the thread and why they need to support and help the small group of dragon riders that help them. The dragons can, after digesting the right rocks, breath fire and kill most of the thread before it reaches the ground. There always are some thread that make it to the ground and teams on the ground use flamethrowers to burn out the infestation.
The story is also one of political struggle between the Holders who no longer want to support the dragon riders via tithes and men and women to bond with the dragons and the leader of the dragon riders F’lar . Lessa bonds with the last golden dragon and whatever bronze rider’s dragon can catch her dragon on a mating flight forms the ruling pair with her.
Finally, the story is one of discovery as the people of Pern have lost hold of their history and do not know that they are colonists and not originally from Pern, even though they have legends and oral history that says they are. You discover more about the planet and the dragons and their powers and origin as you read through the books in the series.
I recommend the series as a fun, escapist way to pass time. The writing is good, the characters interesting the the villains and the heroes are not one dimensional. The love story between Lessa and F’lar is a classic boy meets girl, girl does not like him, but boy wins her over story. Simple, but still works well when written well with a good story behind it with good characters. Anne McCaffrey certainly delivers that.
I recommend the series and have read all of the books in it. Some are better than others, I find the first three to be some of the best and the prequels not as good as the original timeline books, but still ok. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did when I first read them.