Anne McCaffrey
Dragonflight Cover



I read this book not knowing anything about it except that it contains dragons and flight. As it turns out, it's a fairly blatant wish-fulfillment story about a plucky heroine who discovers that she is the only person who can save the world, since she a long-lost priestess of sorts with the secret power to communicate with dragons. Flying dragons. Flying, teleporting dragons. Huge, psychic, flying, teleporting, time-travelling, fire-breathing dragons who like to cuddle.

From this, admittedly really awesome, premise, I didn't find that too much was delivered. The prose was probably the purplest I've ever read, and I read this coming off a China Miéville novel. A lot has been said about the misogyny in this novel, and…yeah, it's bad. It's usually really easy to cheer for the heroic organization sworn to protect the world from evil (think the Jedi knights or the Avengers), but in this book they're kind of arrogant, douchey, kidnapping, thieving, jerk-asses. There's really no getting around the fact that the plot resolution is a deus ex machina.

Probably the most disappointing aspect of the book was the botched St. Crispin's Day speech. This is a mandatory scene in this kind of book: the plucky heroes are at the end of their resources and almost ready to give up and accept their fates. Their leader then gives an absurdly impassioned pep-talk, calling on the heroes to band together and use their individual talents to courageously fight on in spite of the odds. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. Everybody cheers. Goosebumps.

What the hero should not do in this situation is have his friggin' minstrel, a character we've never heard from before, give the St. Cripin's Day speech. Particularly if said minstrel takes the opportunity to irritatingly mimic the voices of the people he's trying to motivate like a six-year-old. The recipients of the St. Crispin's day speech should cheer like lunatics and then run of to perforate the bad guys with axes. What they should not do is mumble some gibberish about a tapestry and then kind of shuffle off to do research.

So there are clearly quite a few problems with this book. What elevates it to `average' status is how much fun it is in spite of all the problems. This is clearly the appeal: who wouldn't want a giant flying cuddly telepathic dragon friend to fly around on while shooting fiery explosions at things? I had fun reading this one, but not as much as I should have, and certainly not enough to check out the rest of the series and see if McCaffrey cleared up the problems.

Cross-posted on Goodreads.