Marc's Reviews > The Dragonriders of Pern

The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
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M_50x66
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Jun 12, 11

Read in June, 2011

The three-volumes-on-one Dragonriders of Pern is hard to grade. For someone without a special place in their heart for fantasy novels, I’d rate it mediocre. For someone who enjoys a nice, fluffy read, a daydream come to elaborate life, it can be quite enjoyable. I found myself on the edge of dropping it a number of times but the book engaged my highly developed sense of the daydream enough that I read it through, enjoying a fast, fun read.

That’s not to say the volumes are not without many flaws. The author’s attributions (“he saids”) are full of “said sharply”, “said obediently”, etc. There was one palace in volume three where six attributions in a row had an adverb making it feel something like reading a tennis match as the adverbs ping-ponged back and forth. This is not something you expect by a writer’s third book.

More fundamentally, the plots are light weight and at times hard to even discern. The mystery in the plot is often created only by the author arbitrarily withholding information by one of the main characters. Serendipity plays a large part in moving the story forward.

The characters are clearly defined but generally shallow. Treatment of women is… very odd to modern sensibilities and if it is an accurate measure of the times it was written, I guess we really have come a long way. For instance, several strong female characters get hysterical and need to be slapped to calm them, one even thanking the guy for it. If a man had written this story, he would be branded a misogynist.

This book is technically science fiction. There is no magic in the world and while in these volumes, there is little technology; there are clear references to space travel and science underpinning the great dragons. That said, in the sense of fantasy as “a series of pleasing mental images, usually serving to fulfill a need not gratified in reality” (from the Online Dictionary) they are entirely fantasy. The stories work to feel-good conclusion. The pleasure in the books is a glimpse of what it might be like to be bonded to a telepathic, wonderful dragon-mate. But could it be a vision of reality? I don’t think so. Without spoiling the plot, the red-star threat isn’t really plausible, the dragons are too big and their method of covering distances, including their special conundrum causing method of travel, is firmly in the realm of fantasy not science fiction. Call it science fantasy if you must. To me it is clearly fantasy, but I’m an engineer so take that with a grain of salt.

So, you may be wondering why I gave it a 4? Despite its flaws, I really enjoyed it.

The setting is fascinating and rich, with a good integration of the dragons into a detailed world. The dragons with all their colors have personality. The holders and crafters are fun. While the characters are not nuanced they are still very likeable and I found myself pulling for them. Put it all together, if you can overlook the flaws and if you have an itching for a guilty read that tickles your daydream-center, it can be quite fun.

Myself, I've been on both sides on this book over the years. I read this series first in high school and loved it. Over the decades, I’ve tried it at times and couldn’t get past a few chapters. This year I tried again and while I teetered on the edge of dropping it in places, the pleasures held me this time around and I finished it out.

As for the individual volumes, I found the first the best, the second okay and the third required a little push to finish it out. I'm going to try the Moreta book but since I don't really find the "science" in this book very plausible, I won't be trying the Dragondawn series.

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