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Deadly spores threaten the human colony of Pern unless the colonists, with help from geneticist Kitti Ping, can develop fire-breathing dragons to combat the menace

384 pages, Hardcover

First published October 1, 1988

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About the author

Anne McCaffrey

580 books7,095 followers
Anne McCaffrey was born on April 1st, 1926, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Her parents were George Herbert McCaffrey, BA, MA PhD (Harvard), Colonel USA Army (retired), and Anne Dorothy McElroy McCaffrey, estate agent. She had two brothers: Hugh McCaffrey (deceased 1988), Major US Army, and Kevin Richard McCaffrey, still living.

Anne was educated at Stuart Hall in Staunton Virginia, Montclair High School in Montclair, New Jersey, and graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College, majoring in Slavonic Languages and Literatures.

Her working career included Liberty Music Shops and Helena Rubinstein (1947-1952). She married in 1950 and had three children: Alec Anthony, b. 1952, Todd, b.1956, and Georgeanne, b.1959.

Anne McCaffrey’s first story was published by Sam Moskowitz in Science Fiction + Magazine and her first novel was published by Ballantine Books in 1967. By the time the three children of her marriage were comfortably in school most of the day, she had already achieved enough success with short stories to devote full time to writing. Her first novel, Restoree, was written as a protest against the absurd and unrealistic portrayals of women in s-f novels in the 50s and early 60s. It is, however, in the handling of broader themes and the worlds of her imagination, particularly the two series The Ship Who Sang and the fourteen novels about the Dragonriders of Pern that Ms. McCaffrey’s talents as a story-teller are best displayed.

She died at the age of 85, after suffering a massive stroke on 21 November 2011.

Obituaries: Locus, GalleyCat.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 747 reviews
Profile Image for Wastrel.
150 reviews206 followers
November 3, 2016
As a child, this was one of my favourite Pern novels, and I can see why.
I can also see why I don't still read Pern.

The strengths, as with a lot of SF, lie mainly in the ideas. The excitement of interstellar colonisation, the hints at a broader future beyond the limits of the Rukbat system, the dragons, and above all the visceral horror of Thread, which at times is really skin-crawling (and saying 'skin-crawling' makes me think about Thread again, and now my skin's crawling...). When the book swings toward action, the workmanlike prose and rapid pace of development work well, as does the overwhelming, paranoia-inducing concoction of infodumping and red herrings. The author also deserves considerable credit for her ambition. There are several loose ends and unexpected turns in the plot, a huge cast, and some bold choices in what she chose to depict (such as the scene where a female POV character is giving birth, something that most genre novels keep firmly off-page).

Above all, it's a hugely ambitious concept. To take a bestselling fantasy series, and then to flash back thousands of years in time, and simultaneously flash forward hundreds of years in terms of technology and culture, to depict the far-future space-colonist progenitors that will become the distant past of the mediaeval fantasy world we've come to know - that's a hugely bold turn in and of itself, that allows the author to attempt to recontextualise much of what we think we know, and that allows for a sort of resonance that few books can produce (as when a scene between two characters gains significance by virtue of being set in an uninhabited location that we know will eventually become one of the most important settings for the events of the other books). The decision to begin shortly before the moment of initial colonisation (rather than some years later) allows a hugely powerful dynamic of discovery, settlement, and reconstruction (as many of the colonists are scarred war veterans); and indeed perhaps a third of the novel is devoted to this exploration of settlement. Then there's the - and this really shouldn't be a spoiler to anyone by now! - arrival of Thread, one of the genres greatest villains, and even more terrifying when first encountered by innocent settlers who don't know what's hit them. [So add 'First Contact' to 'Deadwood'...]. And then, of course, there has to be an attempt to fight back, with, and again no real spoiler here, the arrival of the great dragons of Pern. And there are some volcanic erruptions, too. [add in some WWII movies and whatever your favourite volcano film is]. The novel extends through the gamut from utopian dream to body horror armageddon to epic triumph, and that's before you add in the multiple romantic subplots, and a couple of more sinister threads (no pun intended); it follows a range of characters both old and young, and its events span about a decade.

That's an ambitious novel, for a pulp genre book.

The problem is... that's an ambitious novel, for a pulp genre book. McCaffrey's prose may serve the tenser moments, but she isn't able to fill the quieter moments, or structure them to avoid sagging (particularly early on). At times, particularly at more emotional (or sexual) moments, and particularly in dialogue, she slips entirely and a few lines are laughably bad. Her characterisation is at best cartoonish - the sort of strong-strokes simplification that can work well in a businesslike short story, but that ends up much too thin across a sprawling epic. There are serious problems in pacing, not only with the slow beginning but also with the cramped end, and when it comes to the finale the author is boxed in by how much has already been established in the series. But the underlying problem (other than the author's own limitations) is simply the ambition. This is not the content of one book. It cannot fit in one book. It would probably make for a really great TV series, if done right, spread across a couple of seasons. But it can't all go in one - not that long! - novel. The result is an overwhelming sense of a lack of time: not only the voluminous backstory but even major events in real time have to be infodumped to force us through the whole thing in her allotted word count, and few scenes are given time to breathe or blossom. No wonder characterisations are thin! No wonder the prose sometimes has to bear more pressure than it can withstand! No wonder there's no elbow-room to craft the pacing and the structure optimally! [which means that some sections, particularly early on, feel both rushed and slow at the same time: nothing happens, and it happens at a hectic rate...]

It's a book that a lot of epic fantasy novelists should read, because in a way it's a wonder that McCaffrey manages to squeeze as much as she does into one mid-length novel - a novel that has enough content to fill out entire doorstopper cycles in other hands. But that doesn't necessarily mean that compressing it all into one novel was necessarily a good idea. Certainly it seems to have been more than this author could handle.

Oh, and then there are the Problems. I'm not going to go into them all here. It's McCaffrey. Suffice to say that the pervading honestly-no-its-not-rape-they-all-want-it-really obsession, while much less prominent than in some of her novels, has not gone away (with at least one scene intentionally turned into a rape for absolutely no plot or character reason other than that the author seems to be unable to imagine anything being 'romantic' if it's not also non-consensual), and it underpins a shockingly regressive attitude toward women that belies the author's reputation as a feminist pioneer in the genre. If anyone ever talks as though "representation" of women and minorities were the most important thing in fighting prejudice, they should be made to read McCaffrey: a female author with intelligent female protagonists, intentionally trying to combat sexist clichés of the genre, yet whose hysterical, inept background characters, sexist worldbuilding assumptions (forced domestic chores are a great and appropriate legal punishment for, and only for, female criminals!? Seriously!? And every female on the planet is expected to have more than an average of 1 baby (never seen or heard from again) every 2 years, and if they're not pregnant by the time they reach 21 they need to worry that they're broken?), stone-age condemnations of female sexuality (I'm guessing this links into a wider network of Issues that might explain a lot about her work) and 'strong' protagonist women who invariably crave loud, violent, dominant men who will treat them 'like a child', all make the sexual dimension of this novel more uncomfortable, and more bizarre, than a lot of thoughtless male SF of the thirties and forties. And this was written in 1988!
[The same general issues could also be raised, to a lesser extent, regarding her admirably progressive decision to give us a diverse, multiethnic and multiracial cast of characters. It's all very well saying "look at me, I'm progressive! See how many different types of people are in my story! Everybody has equal value no matter who they are!" - ...no really, it IS all very well, it's a breath of fresh air. But representation is not the same as liberalism, and stuffing a book with a bunch of second-hand tokens shorn of any real understanding and imbued with a spirit of essentialism and a baffling fondness for the word "ethnic" runs the risk of doing more harm than good, in my opinion]

Now, some of these Problems are probably a large part of why the book, and the series, have so many fans, and in particular why it's always appealed to so many teenage girls. In that respect, it's probably a healthier read than Twilight (it may be more messed-up than Twilight, but it's also surely weirder and more conflicted and complicated and morally contradictory than Twilight, and that's a good thing). It may even be good for people to explore books like this, and for some, who are into that sort of thing, the fetishistic oddness of the novel may actually be a bonus. But at the very least, it can become a dangerously distracting element in a novel that really can't afford anything less than full-hearted engagement if it's to succeed at all. And for many, these Problematic elements may actually be a problem.

Overall, then, I think it's a frustrating novel with a great deal of potential, hamstrung by over-ambitious compression and the limitations of the author, and given a rather peculiar aftertaste by the author's evident Issues.

And if you want to hear what I really think about it, I have a much longer review up on my blog.
Profile Image for Susan Kennedy.
271 reviews9 followers
November 8, 2018
This is one of the series that I read that began to peak my interest in Fantasy. I think this is also the series that began my love of dragons! That was so many years ago that I thought it would be fun to listen to the series while I was at work or while I was crafting. I also decided that I would read them in chronological order this time around. And this series is still wonderful!

This book is about arriving at Pern, settling Pern, thread falling and them creating the dragons. I would not recommend reading this book first if you have never read the Pern series. However, this is a great book and I have thoroughly enjoyed reliving it. There are only a couple of characters that I love in this book as well as a few that I despise. It is mostly the history of how they came and that story is fascinating. The dragonets are amazing and it makes me want one all over again. The first dragons that are born and the bond that is made between dragon and rider is amazing. I find it so emotional and enthralling.

I thoroughly recommend reading this series if you have not, but look up the preferred reading order, not the chronological order.
5 reviews1 follower
September 16, 2008
This is one of my all time favorite Pern novels. It tells the story of how people came to Pern to colonize the planet, how the first appearance of Thread almost destroyed them and the measures they took to survive. It is a wonderful story that includes the creation of the Dragons from the fire lizards, some of the top people that locations were named after, and a view of how a lot of the culture and traditions began. I love the science that is included in this book, but I don't think it is so "science-y" that most people would be overwhelmed. It has just enough to set the stage for people coming from an advanced technological society to a more agrarian lifestyle, and to fill out the background of the world of Pern and what they discover about Thread.

I guess I like it so much because it fills in so many little "holes". Reading the entire Pern series chronologically, the careful reader will find some holes and inconsistencies in the story. However, the story itself is so intriguing, the characters so diverse and yet at heart so human, that I just gloss over them and enjoy the story as it is. I have most of the series and it is one of my favorite fallback series when I need to grab a book real quick.
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,667 reviews242 followers
December 28, 2021
The Pern Colonial Expedition had reached the most exciting moment of its fifteen-year voyage: the three colony ships, the Yokohama, the Bahrain, and the Buenos Aires were finally approaching their destination.

The story of how it all started. Three colony ships reach the planet of Pern, the colonists settle and all seems to be going well—until the first time deadly thread falls from the skies.

I read this shortly after it had been published in 1988 and then again around 2004. However, I didn‘t remember any of the plot. I knew the general storyline, but didn‘t recall any details.

I could have done without the conspiracy. It would have been fine for me if McCaffrey had simply concentrated on the settlers‘ struggles to survive and establish their colony. However, that drama lead to one of the most exciting and emotional sequences in the book, so I shouldn‘t complain.

It‘s also a pity that McCaffrey is so conservative regarding gender roles. There are heroic women that fly shuttles and fight thread, but my general impression was that they were the unusual ones. Generally women and men here follow gender stereotypes that feel outdated. And there is an angry guy again, shaking a woman. What is it with the shaking of women?

On the plus side the book is filled with a plethora of unusual vocabulary that I had to look up. Very educational. Beragged (is that really a word or did she make that up?), vituperative, bollixed, primipara, carborundum, cadged… And I rediscovered the Panspermia theory of Hoyle and Wickramansingh.

Despite my misgivings I actually enjoyed myself. There was a complex plot or rather several overlapping plots with good pacing. I never felt bored or lacked action. I liked the main characters and there was just enough character development for them to stay interesting. I adored the dragons. This was a nice backstory to the major story arcs of the books with Lessa, Robinton and Co.

Review from 2004:

This is a re-read, I read it when it was first published, in 1988.

Not set at the same time as most of the other Pern novels. Instead this is set in the time of the colonists coming to Pern from Earth a long time before that. A bit more Sci-Fi than the others. You find out how the dragons came to be and the dragonriders of Pern, why the dawn sisters are up in the night sky and you live through the founding of Landing - the site where much later Aivas is re-discovered. Some action, some drama and intrigue, something to laugh, something to cry - the usual reliable and entertaining Anne McCaffrey.
Profile Image for Jerry.
4,694 reviews63 followers
September 13, 2022
The scope, storyline, and writing were all impressive.

However, there was an excess of profanity; that really brought it down.
Profile Image for notyourmonkey.
342 reviews40 followers
February 1, 2009
Okay, yeah, I still love this one. I have to not think about science or villain!logic or much of anything at all, but I love this book. I'm still not sure how Pernese society got from here to what we see in Lessa's time (other than twenty-five hundred years of increasingly feudal society, but damn), but a lot of the, hm, cultural(?) issues I have upon adult rereadings of the Pern books (women are only good for breeding except in rare cases and even if they're kind of useful we hate it when they get uppity I'm looking at you Mirrim! Bloodlines are everything and certain people/dragons are of higher rank by birthright and natural order! I think we're all white!) are much less prevalent in this book or are even explicitly negated (I did love how everyone in the crazy early utopia years is explicitly from varied originating cultures).

Avril Bitra is still the dumbest villain I've run across in a long time (seriously - why would she come to Pern in the first place?!), and I do not understand why the bad guys were given names of Holds that exist in Lessa's day. Does anyone want to remember Nabhi or Bart or Avril? No!

I'm still not sure I understand Tarvi and Sallah, and Sallah's death still seems horrible and egregious and a step beyond even for Avril. I still don't care about most of the other politicking that goes on.

Who am I kidding? I'm here for the Sean and Sorka Show, and I would read about them until the herdbeasts come home. Still adore them. Lots.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Rose.
544 reviews27 followers
February 25, 2017
I think this is my favorite of all the Pern books. It's especially satisfying to read after the original trilogy - it explains how things got they way they did. It's fascinating to reflect on what would cause a high-technology, space travelling society to revert to a feudalistic state.
Profile Image for Fredrick Danysh.
6,844 reviews162 followers
June 13, 2020
As colonist settle the new planet they call Pern they run into several obstacles. First is a space parasite they will call thread that destroys all organic material. Then they have settled in a volcano zone. To counter thread the settlers will bio-engineer flying dragons. This is a great read.
Profile Image for Camelotemagicadou.
14 reviews47 followers
August 29, 2023
Très contente de ce début de saga qui je le pense me plaira beaucoup !
J'adore le côté très réconfortant et nostalgique de la plume et de l'histoire. Il ne faut pas s'attendre à une intrigue d'une grande modernité ou très originale mais ça fonctionne et il y a beaucoup de charme dans cet univers et ces personnages.

J'ai hâte d'en savoir plus sur Pern et ses habitants !
Profile Image for Katie.
2,712 reviews142 followers
August 26, 2015
I love this book sooooo much. I love Sorka and Sean so much. I didn't forget that that, but it's been years and years since I read it, so I was primed to fall in love all over again. I listened to it as an audiobook, which is usually something that takes me a while to get through, but I did not want to stop listening.

(It does not entirely hold up to the test of time, though. McCaffrey's non-hero women aren't portrayed in the best light. And the science and tech is now dated.)
Profile Image for Myth.
204 reviews153 followers
August 13, 2020
Was this book perfect in reality? No. There were some funky gender issues and some weirdness with Sallah and Tarvi even though I love Sallah.

But is it perfect in my heart? Yes. Yes it is.

I love this book okay?
Profile Image for Indrani.
132 reviews1 follower
March 11, 2012
Confession: this one is a re-read for me. However, I started reading McCaffery in my teens, and I suspect I was about 20 when I read this one. I figure that 20 years or so down the road still counts as "reading". I must say that time gives perspective; I recall thoroughly enjoying McCaffery in my teens, and being entranced by her world of dragons that were more than simply goad-hoarding, fire-breathing monsters. Looking back now, I suspect that on some level, my enjoyment came out of the fact that her world was, in some ways, much simpler than my own. In addition to all of the usual teenage world-ending quandries, I had a fairly rough home life. Growing up with alcoholics makes for a chaotic environment!

I had forgotten how clear-cut McCaffery's world was: there is very little "grey" in her characters, people are easily seen as either "good guy" or "bad guy", and the bad guys' motives are even fairly pure. In "Dragonsdawn", pure greed is the motivator for the primary bad guy, to the exclusion of all else, for another, it is simple fear. The good guys are all admirable, likable people - the sort you want to be friends with, and invite for dinner, not the sort whose decisions you would criticize much. This sort of black and white world can be very appealing to a confused 14 - 16 year old who really wished she could understand the motivations of the people around her. As an adult who has a much better grasp of the complexity of human nature, I'm not certain how much it will continue to hold me. At the outset, I had planned to re-read all of the "adult" Pern novels (largely because I think I may have missed one or two in the first pass). Now, I'm not so certain. They do, however, give my poor tired brain a break between chapters of textbook-style material!
Profile Image for Book2Dragon.
358 reviews136 followers
April 7, 2022
This is the landing of the first colonists to enter Pern. McCaffrey continues to draw her characters well and the birth of the dragons is wonderful. As on Earth, there's always someone who wants to cause problems, but for the most part it is a lesson in leadership and cooperation. I love reading about Pern.
Profile Image for Fredrick Danysh.
6,844 reviews162 followers
June 15, 2020
This novel is set in the beginning of Pern history as the first colonists arrive to this Earth-like planet. Things go well until Thread start to fall from the skies. The colonists look for means of protection and turn to the native lizards.
Profile Image for Clarence Reed.
396 reviews1 follower
September 21, 2021
ReedIII Quick Review: Immersive novel set on a new planet as Earth colonists deal with new creatures and a new creative unimagined threat. Part of the wonderful world created by Anne McCaffrey. #1 in a chronological read of the many novels in this series. I recommend new fans not start here.
Profile Image for Brandy Cross.
158 reviews14 followers
July 30, 2020
This was hands down my favourite Pern novel as a kid. I still like it, especially as a concept. Considerably more so as a concept than as a realised piece in fact. There are several reasons why, and most of them eventually relate to the fact that hard sci-fi just isn't Anne McCaffrey's cup of tea. She's not good enough as a writer for this, she doesn't know enough science for this, her feeble attempts at approaching the science are off-putting in cases.

The concept: A lost-colony hard sci-fi prequel to Pern, the fantasy world where dragon riders in a medieval-like setting are needed to fight mysterious and deadly Thread, a non-sentient life-form that falls from space and consumes all life. It's cute, it's ambitious, and conceptually, it's brilliant.

Except, in the case of McCaffrey, it's a lot of biting off a lot more than she could chew.

Anne McCaffrey has her strengths, they're largely in poppy escapist fiction. Her best novels are the ones where she takes a Mary/Marty Sue and wraps an entire novel up in their emotional reactions to things. The plot and the setting are incidental, typically convenience-driven plots where the highlights are emotional connections rather than any sort of achievement. This is the case with Pern (Dragonsong, The White Dragon (note: problematic decisions of rape by the main character), Dragonflight), and with her other works (The Crystal Singer, Acorna: The Unicorn Girl (note: problematic depictions of grooming and cross-generational relationships)Freedom's Landing. Anne McCaffrey consistently does just one thing well.

The problem is, this book has very little of that. Rather than a close up and personal experience with one or just a few characters, she's spreading her attention across dozens of them. Some of which are promptly forgotten, barely picked up, quickly shoved back into the book when they become relevant to the plot again. Managing multiple characters is difficult writing, everyone who's ever written anything has violently spewed expletives at one point having just realised they left CharacterF completely out of the last 5 chapters. Yet, McCaffrey never went back to fix this. The book deviates from McCaffrey's strong suit, and she's just not good enough as a writer to carry this many characters, or to really build them in any meaningful way or keep you connected to them.

The Science: This is meant to be Hard Sci-Fi, jam packed with science and tactics and jargon (Think, Star Trek, the Next Generation). Except...uhhh...it's not. She frequently drops allusions to hard science here and there, sometimes goes back, and mostly just makes a mess of things. Which is good because imagine if she'd actually bothered to write the whole book this way. For the most part, McCaffrey is mercifully vague on how she thinks things should work and why. The biology and embryonic bits are remarkably clearer and less confused.

Case in point: Thread. Thread is defined as an object of unknown origin (from space), encased in a hard capsule that burns away as it enters the atmosphere, leaving filaments of material which consume carbon-based materials on contact, burning it away much like acid, to feed and grow the Thread lifeforms. McCaffrey appears to be completely unaware that dirt is carbon-based, with average soils containing something like 15% carbon materials (biomass, biota, hummus, charcoal, you name it). If Thread will consume your pressed vegetable material planks and grass, it will consume the topsoil that's primarily made of rotting vegetation. Not to mention, the fact that seeds and root matter needed to re-grow vegetation and animal life would be in short supply after 40 years of this across an entire planet.

The Characters: What? Most of these people are different characters? They had personalities? I couldn't tell? A few do, I exaggerate slightly but ehhhhhhh. Flat dialogue, thin writing, tropes, stereotypes, very badly pulled off attempts at accents. Not many people to like here. Also, the villain is so poorly constructed as to be laughable. No one spends 8 years strip mining on a planet just to escape it and get off. The timeline is too long and it does not work. And why is it people always feel the need to make female "villains" either old and fat or sexy, too sexy, she uses her sexy as a weapon.

The Plot

: this is obviously a bunch of convenience-driven tripe poorly contrived to set up explanations for other things in other works. The quick jumps to terminology used in the fantasy novels, the quick associations, the quick adoption of names and local herbs is all insanely silly. This takes place 2000 years before the fantasy novels. Let sophisticated people have their medicine instead of slathering a numbing herbal agent they found in the wild on their wounds first thing. Geesh.

The Problematic: Anne McCaffrey is an old white woman who grew up in another time and there is much that can be forgiven and taken in stride with that in mind but much that cannot. E.G., Sarah Telgar gives her prospective lover an aphrodisiac in hopes that it will get him to sleep with her. That sounds like rape to me.

I also don't see how, in this far-advanced sci-fi world where there is a strong attempt made to depict women as being strong and independent and capable and equal the author would allow so much of current-world bias to creep in. Women are still relegated to the homework, to the weaving, to the child rearing. One of the most competent women on the planet who shares a job with her partner as an equal, doing every bit as much as he does, is relegated to making sandwiches (by herself) for guests when they come over and is the person in charge of making food (all the time). She is also shoved into a role of traditional soft-spoken, tolerant, kind feminine while he gets to be angry, loud, indifferent. In fact, this piece is quite often unfair to men. Telgar and his story is misandric at best. But, like I said, another time.

Now that I have the complaints out of the way, let's talk about the themes.

This is one of a very niche little genre of lost-colony sci-fi prequels to fiction novels. There are a handful of books that are similar. Fall of Angels 40000 in Gehenna Darkover LandfallThe Warlock in Spite of Himself to name a few.

Only two other novels that I've read (Fall of Angels and Red Mars) takes the same approach as this one, using a prequel to show the colonists discovering their new world and building a home in it. Most of this genre focuses on the rediscovery. The colonist fiction I've read largely focuses on internal dissension (this does to a slight extent with the Avril arc, but it's such a tiny bit of the book you could accidentally skip a few pages and miss it), alien invasion (think Ender's Game, a strong subgenera focus (Red Planet Blues (this is not cute though, do not check it out), or the ever so daring and new space criminal at large subplot (Artemis) . So the premise is rare, and for good reason. It's ambitious and difficult to pull off a book that must, by nature, primarily be about world-building. This kind of book is about details, about creating a beautiful world that your reader can enjoy for the sake of the world itself. The better novels of this type have strong characters and emotional and sometimes morality driven subplots, but you have to love worldbuilding to love the book. McCaffrey drops the ball remarkably of course, and it's unfortunately not made of rubber. There's some world building here, but most of it heavily relies on an existing knowledge of the world and the setting. If you haven't read other Pern novels, this might be sorely lacking in description and setup.

Most novels of this kind also have considerable moral questions relating to loss of home, changing norms, changing scenarios, power plays, right and wrong, resource scarcity, etc. This has none of that. Somehow everyone magically sets up, farming is easy, everyone conveniently marries off and gets pregnant within a year, everything is cool except for a few rogue upstarts and some wild lizards that are conveniently pushed out of the way. This is obviously intended to set up an idyllic planet, perfect until thread came along, but again, it's less than believable and hardly engaging.

Also uhhh... that's the end of the themes. There are no sub themes, just a bit of side-romance, coming of age, and "here are dragons". That's it.

I still like the book. That's probably more about nostalgia and the fact that I really love this genre of book. But I probably wouldn't necessarily recommend that you read it.

Profile Image for Joan.
2,030 reviews
May 27, 2022
This was a wonderful explanation of how Pern began! While McCaffrey does jump from character to character, as she often does, she kept a much tighter hand on the characters and plot formation. The format works really well in this book.

Although she did leave some questions. Why is Bitra hold in northern Pern when she claimed Big Island (which became Ista in modern Pern) in the south? Why have any memory of her at all? Ditto for Nabol and Lemos. Why have holds named after them if they managed to kill themselves in an accident before they ever staked out their acres? However, the beginning of the dragons and dragonriders was perfect. So was the beginning of the hold system of government. The characters were almost consistently well drawn. Sallah and Tarvi are beautifully drawn. So is the almost casual mention of the beginning of fostering among dragonriders.

McCaffrey's strength was characterization and romantic and/or tragic stories. She didn't worry a great deal about keeping her details straight. Also, this book was written to fit facts tossed out in many of the prior titles so making a coherent narrative out of miscellaneous facts couldn't have been the easiest thing to do working against her strengths.

Highly recommended, but unlike my usual preference, this is likely best read after the original trilogy at a minimum, and probably one of the few books to read in publication order, so readers can appreciate what was going on. I suppose this is more like a 4 star than 5. Call it 4.5 stars rounded down.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Barbara Klaser.
606 reviews14 followers
March 1, 2020
The time span of this novel takes the reader from the first Landing of colonists on Pern to the First Pass of the planet that brings the horror of Thread, some years later . In addition to the deadly onslaught of Thread, the colony also has some human villains plotting for their own greedy ends, as well as one man crazed by grief and paranoia, who also happens to create something amazingly helpful in the longterm fight against Thread. The story doesn't have the same atmosphere and tenor of the main two trilogies (Dragonrider and Harper Hall), and yet it fills in so much of the background for those stories that I find it immensely satisfying, and it brings the entire series out of the realm of fantasy and into that of science fiction.

This book carries one along, wondering how people could forget their technical and scientific beginnings. And yet, by the end of the story, so much has happened that one can begin to imagine how a people could forget their own history, even if it was a highly technologized one, with interruptions like Thread, volcanoes, and the loss of the ability to power vehicles and communications systems. In fact, especially if it was highly technical, and that technology depended on specialists, a culture could be thrown into a dark age of ignorance and feudalism.
Profile Image for Gere Lewis.
105 reviews4 followers
November 16, 2012
This is the story of how people came to Pern, the discovery of threadfall, and the genesis of the dragons.

The first 47 pages of this book contained some of the most boring sentences that I have ever read. The entire time they are on the spaceship, I didn't care. I can sum up the first 47 pages for you right now:

A bunch of colonists get in a spaceship and fly far enough away that there is only enough fuel for it to be a one way trip. As they approach Pern they start waking everybody out of hypersleep or whatever. Then they land on Pern via many trips by shuttle.

Did that take 50 pages? No, it didn't. I suppose that there was character developing information in there, but it was such a snooze fest that most people are better off reading my summary and starting on page 48.

Now between page 48 and the end, there are many sections of boredom, but they are interspersed with things that I care about, like fire lizards and dragons and thread. Sorka and Sean saved this book from being tossed on the reject pile.
Profile Image for Jessica (Goldenfurpro).
893 reviews253 followers
June 21, 2015
Anne McCaffrey is my mom's all-time favorite author, so she pushed this book onto me. I knew this was not the first book in the series, but she assured me that it shouldn't matter. This book takes place in the beginning of the timeline, with the people traveling to and colonizing Pern. I still had a hard time getting into it. There were so many characters for me to keep track of and there wasn't a whole lot happening at parts. I get the feeling that those who read the other books would not have been confused as I was. I had to keep taking breaks and read other books, as this book wasn't keeping my attention. It's not a bad book. I like the general plot and the merging of science and fantasy. Also, dragons!
I just wished I could've liked it more.
Profile Image for Chris.
756 reviews105 followers
August 12, 2018
I have loved this series but this one really came to a stall for me about halfway through. I was eager to read about the initial colonization of Pern and how they bonded with the dragonets (fire lizards) and dragons for the first time. Maybe there was too much going on that it was distracting. Human dramas, figuring out how to live together & the best places to live, dealing with volcanos, the deadly & ecologically devastating Threadfall and wanting to know the source, engineering dragons and more. Still very interesting and I do love those dragons and dragonets!!!!
Profile Image for Jeannette.
992 reviews49 followers
March 8, 2022
Human colonists have made their way to the planet of Pern (bringing their human dramas with them, of course). They jump straight in to building a new agricultural society, which is suddenly threatened when destructive Thread begins to fall from the sky. It's too late to turn back, and they're years from any possible assistance, so the colonists must figure out a way to defend themselves with the only weapon they can find on the planet: dragons.

After hearing about Pern for years, this book wasn't quite what I'd expected. At the same time, it makes a really interesting entry point into the series. The different challenges the colonists encounter as they establish their new society made the book feel like it was jumping between genres and stories, but (for the most part) in a really fascinating way. The challenges and characters felt real, even if at times, I felt like I wanted more of some details than others. I look forward to reading more of this series (finally!).
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Connie53.
1,011 reviews3 followers
August 12, 2018
Weer een geweldig boek in deze serie waarbij we helemaal teruggaan naar het begin van het verhaal. Een grote groep mensen komen naar de planeet Pern omdat zij een nieuwe maatschappij willen oprichten waar meer gelet wordt op zelfredzaamheid en een minder technische manier van leven. Dus veel landbouw en veeteelt. Het verhaal is spannend en ook het ontstaan van de eerste draken is fijn om te lezen. Een 9 maar hier een 10.
Profile Image for Lel.
882 reviews19 followers
July 26, 2019
This was the first Pern book that i've read. I read this first because it was first chronologically but i have to say I felt a little confused in parts. I'm not sue if things were glossed over because they are described better in the books written order or the author just has a very detached way of writing. Either way, I will continue to read these books, but i'm in no major rush to do so.
Profile Image for Maha.
108 reviews13 followers
May 26, 2020
I liked the dragons but the book felt more like fanfiction to me, the plot never went anywhere and the characters were lackluster. I was told to read in chronological order but I don't think this book is a good starting point for what seems to be a beloved series.

But I liked the dragons.
Profile Image for Shelby.
2,770 reviews81 followers
September 25, 2019
This book covers more years than I expected it to actually. There's a lot of information in this book about the origins of Pern and the colonists. I really liked seeing how everything happened. I really didn't expect the years to pass as far as they did. Of course some how we had to get from landing to First Fall. Without the first fall of thread there would be no dragons. There were a lot of things that devastated our large group of characters in this story. Sometimes it was hard to keep all the smaller characters straight as there are just so many. But you knew exactly who all the key characters where and of course I loved seeing Sean and Sorka growing up. I don't think I ever actually read this book, but I've read some of the short stories that occur at different points around the First Fall years so it was fun to get more back ground on those characters (like Sean & Sorka).

I think one of the things I find the most intriguing about reading this series now years after I first read most of the original books is how much I've maintained about one of my favorite series. Now reading the origins of Pern and meeting all the characters whose names remain attached to Weyrs and Holds throughout history, just makes me smile.

Obviously the creation of the dragons is such a significant part of this story, but I think I enjoyed seeing how they all figured out how the dragons worked and what they were going to become most. All of the bigger world things play into things, but I've always read this series for the dragons and they're awesome.
Profile Image for Daryl.
576 reviews7 followers
April 14, 2020
This one's interesting because it starts out as an origin story for Pern as straight-up science fiction, but it shifts toward the fantasy elements of the other books in the series and shows how a technologically super advanced society was forced to regress to the more manorial sort of society that emerges.

Great prose this isn't. The characters tend to be caricatures. These books have tended to be much more about "this happened and then that happened" than about relationships or characters or good writing. So they're neat as stories but not really all that satisfying as literature.
Profile Image for Annika Kohrt.
130 reviews9 followers
April 8, 2021
I thought the characters were perhaps a little flat... Everyone knows exactly why they're doing what they're doing all the time. And it's explained exactly why.

But I can't help but love the basic premise of the Pern books: The space travel! The dragons!

& It leaves me thinking a lot about how I personally feel about the space settlement narrative. Thinking about community & forms of government & these people having children in the face of potentially extinction-level disaster.

I liked it 🤠
Profile Image for Mer.
541 reviews
January 3, 2020
Anne McCaffrey doesn't disappoint. She has some science, some non-science, people you just don't like and others you do, and not a cliff hanger. I much prefer the books in this series that she wrote on her own; they seem to have a better flow to the sentences than some of her collaborations with others.
Profile Image for Darci.
14 reviews
September 5, 2018
It was a re-read. The Pern books got me though adolescence. Everyone needs to read at least one!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 747 reviews

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