Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey

Every two hundred years or so, shimmering threads fall, raining black ruin on Fern. The great dragons of Fern hurl themselves through the beleaguered skies, flaming tongues of fire to destroy deadly Thread and save the planet. It was not Threadfall that made 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. She came upon a group of fire lizards, wild relatives of the fire-breathing dragons. Her music swirled about them; she taught nine to sing, suddenly Menolly was no longer alone. (blurb from Goodreads)

Rating: PG, 4 stars
Trigger warnings: familial abuse

This definitely isn’t the first time I’ve read Dragonsong. The Pern books have been one of my favorite series since I was in middle school, and I’ve read Dragonsong many times. Re-reading it for class during this semester has only reminded me of my love for the series. Dragonsong has its flaws, but it is definitely a good book.

One thing that’s frustrating about Dragonsong is that it isn’t particularly friendly to people who are new to the Pern world. When I first read the book when I was in middle school, I wasn’t particularly bothered by being thrown into the world without explanation, but after re-reading the book for class, I definitely see how people who are unfamiliar with the world could be lost. Dragonsong was my first Pern novel, but generally I recommend starting with Dragonflight.

Re-reading this book, I was struck again by how well-written Anne McCaffrey’s characters are. They are developed to feel like real people, even in a book as short as Dragonsong (compared to other Pern books). Although my favorite character in the series, Masterharper Robinton, only makes a brief appearance, my love for him was reiterated just in those few pages.

Another thing that really struck me about Dragonsong during this re-read is how the women in the book (and in the series in general) really exhibit different kinds of strength. While I would argue that all of the women characters exhibit strength, not everyone is the no-nonsense leader that Lessa is. McCaffrey makes an excellent case for the inherent strength found in so-called maternal activities.

Overall, I would say that fans of Pern need to read Dragonsong, as well as the rest of the Harper Hall Trilogy. Those who are new to the series might be more advised to start with a different book, but then they should quickly move on to Dragonsong.

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