Book Cover
Title Dragonflight
Author Anne McCaffrey
Cover Art Michael Whelan
Publisher Del Rey - 1978
First Printing 1968
Book Cover
Title Dragonquest
Author Anne McCaffrey
Cover Art Michael Whelan
Publisher Del Rey - 1989
First Printing 1971
Book Cover
Title The White Dragon
Author Anne McCaffrey
Cover Art Michael Whelan
Publisher Del Rey - 1990
First Printing 1978
Category Science Fiction
Warnings None
Main Characters Lessa & Ramoth, F'lar & Mnementh, Jaxom & Ruth, Masterhaper Robinton, and many others
Main Elements Dragons
Website ---

Click to read the summaryDragonflight

Click to read the summaryDragonquest

Click to read the summaryThe White Dragon

Ok, just need to get my pet peeve out of the way first. This series is 100% pure science fiction. Yes, there are "dragons" but they are dragons in the sense that a "dragonfly" is a dragon, or a "komodo dragon" is one. The colonists of Pern (an alien planet, not an alternate world) discovered a native reptilian species and then genetically modified it so that it would be big enough to ride, and since it resembled the ancient legends of the dragon, that's what they called them. There is absolutely not a single speck of magic anywhere, everything is explained away through science (except the dragon's ability to fly). Even teleportation and telepathy are very common SF tropes, just look at Star Trek among others.

Ok, that out of the way, I'd read these books back in high school and I remember loving them. Now many years later, I was a little distrubed by the treatment of women in the first book (interestingly that settles down in the rest of the series) and also I found it pretty dark. Being a more experienced reader, I also was able to note the logic holes in the story more easily (if it was so simple to time travel by mistake, why didn't it happen all the time?), and finally, the change in tone in the middle of the book was so distinct I wasn't surprised to find out it was really two separate novellas glued together. So I found Dragonflight to be a bit of a rocky start actually. And of course, the Masterharper barely appears in this one, a major flaw since I had a major crush on him back in high school (yes, I know he's too old, but then I could picture him however in my head) and of course remains my favorite character now. About the only one that was able to keep his cool and think through things logically.

However by the time I got to Dragonquest (after which you need to stop reading this trilogy and read the first two Harper Hall books, before returning to The white Dragon) I was really into it. And The White Dragon was probably my favorite of all, Ruth is such a sweetie and also we learn so much more about the history of Pern here. The first book really set the stage, the second book dealt with the present, and the third started filling in the background and worldbuilding. I love how, due to various events in the past and the fact that several thousand years have passed, the colonist have lost so much of the knowledge of the original settlers, but they are now trying hard to fill in the gaps. I had someone ask me, "how is it possible, how will, say, my iPad just vanish"...well, you travelled to another planet. Sure, it's made of metal and glass so it will last, but how long as any of your electronic devices continued to work? I've gone through at least 5 desktops in my life, of course I could buy new ones. But now, you're on an alien planet cut off from Earth, with no electricity to recharge your iPad's batteries. But say even if the ship you came in could have power forever, how long before the battery wears out? Do you know how to make a battery by hand? What if you drop it and need to replace a part, do you know how to build all the bits and pieces of your iPad? Of course not. And language. We can barely make heads or tails of Chaucer's English, imagine how language on Pern would have evolved over a much longer period. As well as the society that developped. No one can know all the skills, so say you bring 5 doctors with you, what if 4 of them die? The other tries to share his knowledge with the next generation but also dies before he can share everything he knows. Now you've lost some information. Continue this for generations, with all the Crafts popping up but hoarding their trade secrets. Very, very easy to lose your past when dealing with the dangers of the present.

The books also cover the treatment of women. Women either ride Queen dragons, marry Lord Holders and become Ladies, or essentially work in the kitchen. But why can't they ride fighting dragons, after all the golds are not the only females, the greens are female too. Why can't women be crafters? They can weave, and sing, and do other things as well as men, but that too is forbidden.

Though, if you are a bit squeamish about unusual sex, you might want to avoid these books. See, when a dragon mates, their riders are kind of swept up along with the process and well, end up together regardless of what they think of each other. In some sense, it's like the dragons are forcing their riders to rape each other. Though one could also look it at as an a unique a amazing phenomenon to be swept up in. And yes, green dragons are female but all riders (except the Queen riders) are male, it's barely mentioned but it's there. But know what, all these different things just goes to show how much thought McCaffrey put into her world. She didn't just say, "let's bond some dragons to some humans" but she also thought out all the repercussions of doing so, and how the society would change to meet the demands of this new world. It is truly a masterpiece that pulls you in, because you can't help it, it just feels so real, from the world, to their customs, to the characters. If you love SF or if you love dragons, either way, you MUST read these books.

Now my plan is to read the ENTIRE Pern series in 2018 (24 books, 5 short stories and most of the guide books). Last time I stopped around The Renegades of Pern so I've got a lot of books I haven't read before. But in the meantime, I am very much enjoying my return to Pern, both the familiarity of it, those wondering dragons which the lucky few get to bond with, and also reading it as if it were the first time, I didn't realize how much I had forgotten!

Review by Zakkie:

The White Dragon - Honestly, I loved the book. The plot line, the characters, the new things that showed up--all in all, a very awesome book. The wording used is spellbinding, this book is a real pageturner! It brings back the most memorable characters and will have you spazzing out all over Robinton every time he falls over, and you'll be crying at the end when...well, I'm not going to say! You'll have to read this book for yourself if you want to see, and I give it a full ten out of ten. Nice job, Dragon Lady, you've done it again.

Review by Femisis:

Dragonriders of Pern Trilogy - Set on the planet of Pern, the Dragonriders of Pern fight the parasitic Thread with the help of their dragon partners. This is an innovative and interesting series that explores many elements of human nature. It involves the struggles of every day life on Pern and the fight against the ever present danger of Thread. The dragons, too, help us to understand the characters better and how they cope with life on Pern. While wonderfully written, I found the books to be quite slow at parts, sometimes to the point where I felt like skipping sections. I also dislike the emphasis put on high ranking riders in favor of lower ranking riders. All in all, the series is amazing and is definately one dragon lovers should check out.

Posted: August 2008


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