Anne McCaffrey
Dragonflight Cover



I found this book rather disappointing. Dragons are bred to stop 'Threads' hitting the ground of Pern and destroying all vegetation (Threads appear to be some kind of matter falling from a nearby 'Star' of the planet which is only close every so many years.) The Dragons can use fire to burn the Threads before hitting the ground.

Since no Threads have fallen for four hundred Turns (a turn is the measure of a year on Pern) the Dragons are no longer seen as relevant and are resented. Consequently the might and number of Dragonkind is in decline.

There is a really basic plot from every bad fantasy novel of 'dirty kitchen urchin is really of Royal blood (and beautiful), avenges the death of her family at the hands of her usurper). She then becomes Weyrwoman (effectively human Queen of Dragons). Threads come and the Dragons are not suitably high in number. Weyrwoman discovers time travel to solve problem.

The book is not the worst ever, but the plot is basic and the novel is not well written. The time travel aspects are not handled well and there are lots of books which explore this issue better. The characterisation is poor and the relationship between F'lar (Weyrleader) and Lessa (Weyrwoman) is deeply problematic. Basically because their dragons screw each other they do. Basically F'lar rapes her (when he's not hitting her) and he's the hero. The key message to this book is 'guys, if you shake a woman often enough and continue to rape her she will eventually fall in love with you'. Lessa is presented as jealous when F'lar is having sex with other women (but we're informed because he's keen on Lessa really it's okay). Lessa is presented as hysterical, manipulative, devious and displays every blatant sexist presumption men of a certain disposition use to describe women and how they manipulate men. She's seen as emotional, angry, impulsive. I'm amazed a woman wrote this.

A positive is the relationship between humans and dragons is good and the affection dragons show each other and their riders is handled well. The intelligence and personalities of the dragons come through.

I'm sure the series improve as this is the first in about 20 set in the Pern universe so it must do something right.