Wednesday, August 18, 2010

High Five for Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey has been writing books for over 40 years. She has many series, trilogies and short stories and writes both science fiction and fantasy. One of my all time favourite series is the Dragonriders of Pern. Originally her books were not written for a younger audience, but recently some of her earlier titles have been reprinted and marketed for YA, specifically Dragonsong, Dragonsinger and Dragondrums.

Pern is a world that is complete in every detail, with a rich, multi-layered society. At the top of these layers are the dragons and their riders, who live in weyrs, or dragon holds. It is almost a feudal system, with tithes going to the dragon riders, and as the stories progress, you begin to understand that if it wasn't for the dragons and their riders, there would be no Pern. Each story is basically complete in itself, but many overlap in the time-lines, with the same story being told from a totally different POV.

The three books shown above are often referred to as 'The Harper Hall' trilogy and tell the story of Menolly and her quest to become a harper, or story teller, and how she impresses 9 fire lizards (basically mini dragons). Other books tell different stories about the people and history of Pern. You'll be fascinated by the way the dragons were introduced onto Pern - through gene manipulation. All of the books mention the dragons, but the dragons are not always what the stories are about.

The newest books in the series have been written by Ms McCaffrey and her son Todd, or by Todd McCaffrey on his own. I for one am extremely grateful that he has decided to continue his mother's legacy.

I just finished Dragon Girl (Todd McCaffrey), published in July this year by Del Ray. This is the second story about Fiona, who impresses (forms a telepathic connection with) a dragon at the age of 13 and after 'timing' it (going back in time with her dragon) returns to the weyr at age 17 and becomes weyrwoman. I really enjoyed this newest book in the series, but as I was reading, it dawned on me that newer readers might not fully understand all the references in the book and that's what prompted me to write this post. At the beginning of the book is a short outline that explains some of what has happened prior to the story and this should make it easier for first time readers. One of the things that isn't explained is why when a boy impresses a dragon, his name changes - Kelior to K'lior or something similar - but when a girl impresses a dragon her name stays the same. Doesn't strike me as fair, but then you have to remember the first book in this series was written in 1967.

Don't let that early publication date put you off though. These books are fantasy and there is no technology to make them age or seem out of date. There are basically 3 series about Pern -
The Dragonriders of Pern, The Harper Hall of Pern, The Renegades of Pern and IMO they are all well worth searching out and reading. A full list of all the titles can be found here, along with titles in other series Ms McCaffrey has written.

If I can convince just one person to try Ms McCaffrey's books with this post I will be happy, but I hope many more of you will try them out. Many of her series feature young, strong heroines and are perfectly suitable for older teens. I personally own all but the last three pern books and have read them all many times, they never grow old for me. So - try them out for yourself and let me know what you think. I don't think you'll be disappointed.


  1. Hey - just hoppin' by! I started the hop on Friday, but had to leave, just now getting back to it. Hope you had a great weekend! Stop by The Wormhole and say hi!

  2. Thanks for stopping by Beverly, you're welcome anytime! We'll check out The Wormhole when we have a minute.