By: Anne McCaffrey
There are those of you out there that will immediately wish me stretched over a wheel and flogged when I tell you that I’ve never read any of the Pern books before I cracked this one open. Rightfully so, perhaps.
For those of you (like myself until just a day ago) who have not read any of the Pern books, they are about a planet called Pern. As the introduction of the book indicates, the planet is actually a colony of humans that originally originated from Earth. As time passed, that history has been lost along with much of the beginnings of the colony and they have developed a culture and lifestyle all their own. The overall structure is very similar to that of Medieval Europe, in that it has “holds” and lords and the like. And of course, as the title suggests, there be dragons! If I had to guess, I would say that this series of books is the basis for many of the dragon books that we see published. Many of the ideas about dragons are familiar, and very well could have originated there.
The story begins with a “Search” where the dragon men search through the holds for a woman who will become the weyrwoman (like their queen) and will ride the queen dragon. Having found several specimens, they return to the Weyr for the impression of the queen egg. The queen emerges and then is impressed onto one of the women who then becomes that dragon’s rider and the weyrwoman.
The bulk of the story revolves around the return, after 400 turns (years), of the Red Star which is a second planet. Everytime the Red Star passes near enough to Pern, it sends down “Threads”. These “threads” are some sort of biological spore that embeds itself into the land and then parasitically feeds off of the land until there is no vegetative life left. The only way to protect Pern is by dragons flying about and burning the threads from the sky.
The story is decidedly fantasy, but certainly has elements of science fiction. The origination of the colony, along with some other little nuggets that are scifi in origin give it a bit of a different feel from most fantasy that you’ll read. I’m not sure that I really expected any scifi elements at all, but don’t feel that they were unwarranted. In fact, I think they lent a bit of credibility to the history of Pern. The writing itself is most certainly of an older style, but very good. I did have some difficulty in catching up to the storyline. Mostly, that came from there being quite a bit that you aren’t being told right away along with getting to know a new world and new characters.
Overall, the book is an excellent read. Most certainly a book for any fantasy enthusiast. Unless I’m the only one who hasn’t read it, that is. 😉