Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey

Menolly is the youngest child in a large family and is very much the black sheep of the family.  To her father, the Lord Holder of a busy seaside Hold, she is an embarrassment and a risk to the honour of her family.  To her mother she is a worrisome child who has ideas above her station, and she is too big and clumsy to be a real girl.  The reason for her shame and burden is that Menolly was the favourite of the Holds Harper, and during the last failing years of his life she helped to teach the children their lessons, and played music at night for the people of the Hold to sing to. 

When the old Harper dies Menolly's life changes for the worse, especially when a simple slip means she can no longer play her beloved music.  It is a dangerous time on her planet, Pern is once again facing the danger of Thread, a malignant and mindless threat that falls on her planet and consumes all organic matter it touches, multiplying and destroying in moments.  Their only saving grace are the dragons and dragonriders that protect the skies of Pern everytime that Thread falls.  When Menolly finds herself stranded far from home during Threadfall she thinks her life is over - but instead she finds that it is only just beginning.

This is one of my favourite books of all time - although in saying that I always have to read it with the companion volume of Dragonsinger.  Menolly is a lovely character who you can't help but cheer for as she faces down challenges as they are stacked up against her, never giving up even when everything says she should.  I try and re-read these books at least once a year and being stuck in bed with a nasty virus was the perfect opportunity to read them again. 

Written more as a novella, this is a much lighter book than some of Anne McCaffrey's other novels set in the Pern universe, but the sharp focus on Menolly means that the novel and its sequel are as rich and engaging as any of the other Pern novels.  There is some crossover with other Pern novels as well, and the two books as followed closely by Dragondrums which changes the focus to Piemur - one of the other characters from Menolly's time.  An engaging read from one of the masters of science fiction and fantasy - and like so many others (I am sure) this book made me want a fire lizard of my own so badly, so much easier to manage than a full sized dragon.

If you like this book then try:
  • Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey
  • Dragondrums by Anne McCaffrey
  • Heart's blood by Jane Yolen
  • Joust by Mercedes Lackey
  • Black unicorn by Tanith Lee

Reviewed by Brilla

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