Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dragonsong - Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey
Simon Pulse
Copyright: 1976

The product description:
Every two hundred years or so, shimmering Threads fall from space, raining death and black ruin on Pern. The great dragons of Pern hurl themselves through the beleagured skies, flaming tongues of fire to destroy deadly Thread and save the Planet. But it was not Threadfall that made young Menolly unhappy. It was her father who betrayed her ambition to be a Harper, who thwarted her love of music. Menolly had no choice but to run away. When, suddenly, she came upon a group of fire lizards, wild and smaller relatives of the fire-breathing dragons, she let her music swirl around them. She taught nine of them to sing. Suddenly Menolly was no longer alone -- she was Mistress of Music and Ward of the dazzling fire dragons.
Borrowed from the library and read for the All The Books of Pern challenge. Dragonsong is the first book in the Harper Hall trilogy of books, followed by Dragonsinger and Dragondrums.

Dragonsong is different in it's focus than some of the other books written for the Pern series. Where those books are covering events that affect the whole planet, the scope of this novel is different, zooming in on one girl's life during these great events but not a part of them. As a result, I found myself with a feeling like I understood better what their lives were like, what people's attitudes were etc. I liked seeing the daily routine of chores and how the older generation lives. At the same time, Menolly has her part to play.

Reading it after I've read some of the Pern novels set in earlier times is an interesting experience too. When I first read the Harper Hall books years ago, the attitudes the characters express - that matter-of-fact "girls can't do that" that some of the characters have - particularly Yanus, Menolly's father was something I just accepted as part of Pernese culture. Then, you read some of the earlier books, such as Dragonseye and there's much more equality, although you can start to see it evolving.

These days at least, Dragonsong and it's sequels are marketed as teen books. Thinking about it, I'm rather curious to know if they were originally written for that market or not when they came out in the 1970's. Regardless, they're still good stories, and make for a good introduction to the world of Pern. On the other hand, they're also shorter novels. Dragonsong comes in at just under 200 pages with a larger font size, and generous margins and line spacing.

There are times when a book or series of books just grabs my attention, demanding to be read or re-read. That's the case with this one, as soon as I found out about the challenge, I found myself wanting to re-read the Harper Hall books.

Definitely an enjoyable read, where every time I put the book down, I just wanted to get back to it. I have to recommend Dragonsong to anyone who's looking for a good introduction to Anne McCaffrey's world of Pern.

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