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Sassinak was twelve when the raiders came. That made her just the right age: old enough to be used, young enough to be broken. Or so the slavers thought. But Sassy turned out to be a little different from your typical slave girl. Maybe it was her unusual physical strength. Maybe it was her friendship with the captured Fleet crewman. Maybe it was her spirit. Whatever it was, it wouldn't let her resign herself to the life of a slave. She bided her time, watched for her moment. Finally it came, and she escaped.

But that was only the beginning for Sassinak. Now she's a Fleet Captain with a pirate-chasing ship of her own, and only one regret in her life: not enough pirates.

346 pages, Paperback

First published March 1, 1990

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About the author

Anne McCaffrey

401 books6,938 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 195 reviews
Profile Image for Ryan.
167 reviews6 followers
November 4, 2013
Sassinak is a name that's been stuck in my brain forever as code for badass female warrior, so I thought I'd dig this old read out and revisit. Mistake! Avoid! Lightweight cardboard fluff with lazy plotting, an omniperfect protagonist, and chronic bouts of WTF. This book is really four semi connected novelettes, possibly with alternating authorship. The fourth and last section is particularly terrible, baffling the reader with disorienting incomplete exposition, and suddenly terminating the main plot with a meat cleaver of magic alien deus ex machina.
Profile Image for Louis.
13 reviews1 follower
April 14, 2012
I originally picked up Sassinak when it was first published. At the time I had no idea who Elizabeth Moon or Anne McCaffrey were, but hey there's a woman in power armour on the cover and it talks abut pirates and space ships and stuff on the back cover. What could go wrong? Nothing. I thought it was brilliant. Brilliant enough that I grabbed The Death of Sleep and devoured it. I started reading the Paksenarrion books... well you get the idea. I loved it.

A couple of days ago, I finished another book and Sassinak was still there on the shelf. I had such fond memories of it, I thought I'd pick it up again. This was, as they say, one of the classic blunders, akin to starting a land war in Asia.

In my memory, Sassinak was Honor Harrington meets Ripley, with a dash of Sarah Connor. In this re-read, Sassinak and all her fellow characters were soggy cardboard. In my memory, the story was all tense ship combat, cold strategic thinking and exciting moments of discovery. In this re-read, the ship combat was nearly nonexistent (and what was there was boring), the strategic thinking was more in the realm of incredible stupidity (to be fair, in between reads, I spent a lot of time doing military communications; the situation as described would have been easily teased out with the information provided, to say the least) and the moments of discovery were all from a late-act character who seemed to have been written into the story just to provide it.

Should I mention the conspiracy theorist nature of the antagonist? Every ship in the entire fleet is compromised. There's always a conveniently placed saboteur on hand to make sure things go wrong. Why, the enemy must have an entire shadow Fleet ready to slip warm bodies into the proper Fleet. Oh wait, of course we do: our late-act exposition character provides an explanation. I wish she could provide an explanation for some of the other failings of this story.

Oh, and it was over practically before it began. Maybe I'm spoiled by the likes of Jordan or Martin or Weber or Rowling: I expect meat when I bite into a book, and this one didn't have any. There's an entire career between Sassinak-on-the-escape-pod and Sassinak-in-command. Where is that life? What about the other characters? I'm going to summon up the Weber comparison again: he would have cut the camera away from Sassinak for a bit, to let us watch her Exec's mission against the pirates. By letting important action take place off screen, we're robbed of so much of the LIFE of the story!

All in all, at 16 years of age, this was a five star book. Twenty-two years later, it reads as pretty bad fan-fiction. I'm tempted to blame McCaffrey: no matter how hard I try to like them, her books always rub me the wrong way. On the other hand, Elizabeth Moon is the exact opposite, I've reread several of her books and come away liking them better on a re-read than I did the first time (Paksennarrion et al).

Whomever is to blame, I cannot recommend this book to anyone except perhaps the die-hard McCafferey/Moon fan.
Profile Image for Donna Craig.
878 reviews38 followers
October 18, 2022
Meh. There wasn’t really much here. It felt like too much tech, without it being really technical. That doesn’t make sense? I agree. Skip this one.
Profile Image for CatBookMom.
995 reviews
June 17, 2021
This is always a good story. Sassinak (I firmly believe this is a variant spelling of Sassenach, from the Scottish term for an English person, and therefore should be pronounced SASS-i-nak) is a strong, clever, smart young woman. Her early exposure to Abervest, a mentor, who becomes her guardian in her years at Fleet Academy, helps her in small and hugely-important ways. I love the way McCaffrey tied the Ireta books into this generational story of Sass and Lunzie, and how they dealt with the planet pirates.
Profile Image for Alex.
340 reviews124 followers
September 11, 2022
Like many other reviewers I wish the last part had stayed on the cutting room floor, which is too bad, bc the rest of it was better than day Honor Harrington or similar.

Tropey and unpolished, but enjoyable enough.
Profile Image for zjakkelien.
611 reviews19 followers
July 9, 2016
I wanted to rate this higher than I did... Sassinak starts out well, with a clear writing style, a strong story, and a sympathetic and capable heroine. She is competent, smart, and fair. I like that she befriends people that others have a prejudice against. I also like that she is relatively relaxed in her relationships. They start, and they end, and no fuss is needed on that account.
The reason I'm not rating this higher, is that I started missing more and more about the story, until I really couldn't quite follow in the last part of the book. Perhaps I was not reading carefully enough. On the other hand, I read this the same I read everything else. If I was less attentive at certain parts, it was because they were not interesting enough. In any case, I went back to certain parts when I got lost, and I still couldn't quite make heads or tails of it. What I did get is that the way the traitor on board was finally found came pretty much falling out of the sky. So I'd rate this 3.5 because of its good parts, but I'm rounding it off downwards.
Profile Image for CatBookMom.
995 reviews
October 24, 2017
Once again I am disappointed by the newly published audiobook of an old favorite sf/f book. Maybe Audible Frontiers needs a bit more in their budget for narrators.

Ax Norman did an OK job of reading the book. He did not feature any differing voices for the different characters. Toward the end of the book he began to waver in how he pronounced names - maybe he was getting tired. And Mr Norman's rhythm varied a lot, sometimes fast when it should have been slow and vice-versa.

It was perhaps only my many re-readings of this book that made me hope for better, and that I differed with how Mr Norman chose to pronounce names. The title character in particular, I've always thought of as SASS-ih-nak, not Sah-SIN-ik. Sadly, we can't ask Ms McCaffrey.

I won't be buying any sequels as audiobooks, and definitely not any of Mr Norman's other recordings. In 2013, I've come to expect multiple voices, consistent pronunciations, and timing that suits the story.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,619 reviews53 followers
October 31, 2015
Amusingly enough, the first time I read this, I wasn't old enough to get the title reference. Love McCaffrey's femme-centric sf normally, but this is a little dry as space epics go.
Profile Image for Debrac2014.
1,875 reviews10 followers
April 11, 2019
I loved the first half of the story! But I felt at times that I missed some info during the last half!
Profile Image for Mkb.
650 reviews4 followers
August 21, 2017
This book is not very good. It reads like several short stories about the same character stuck together. It is very much a product of its time. The authors (like Heinlein) imagine a world with alternative (progressive?) attitudes to food, sex, gender and race) expressed here as alien races) in a bit of a heavy handed way. I think if I had read it as a young teen in the early 1980s I would have been stoked to see a girl space captain.
Profile Image for Jemima Pett.
Author 30 books325 followers
August 18, 2019
When I finished Sassinak, in only a few sittings, I knew I’d enjoyed it, but felt I’d grown out of it… or maybe it’s just my mood at present. Despite Sass growing up and becoming a 40-odd year old Captain/Commander, she still felt like a teen most of the times.

I think the hallmarks of Anne McCaffrey are all there – strong central female character, finding strong male partners to work with, but being too independent to tie them down for long… or are they coming back? But like many of AMC’s books, especially those in conjunction with Elizabeth Moon, it just ends, without there really being a climax. Maybe I’m looking for too much?

I can’t see me rushing for any of the later ones in the series… although I’d like to reread the Petaybee series some time.

A good lightweight scifi for someone in their teens or twenties
Profile Image for Jer Wilcoxen.
186 reviews3 followers
June 2, 2013
I can't believe I'm giving an Anne McCaffrey book two stars, but I have to. The last 50 or so pages left me baffled. I felt like I was reading something written in code. It just didn't make sense. Too little was explained for me to understand what was happening. The first two thirds to three quarters of the book was decent, if not masterful. The characters were a little flat. It would have made for decent sci-fi reading fodder, except the ending was unintelligible. Very disappointing since the messages it carries of equality among peoples, strong women are good women, etc., we need to see more of in our speculative fiction. I will continue to read the others in the series in the hope that McCaffery & Moon worked out the kinks in later books.
Profile Image for Carolyn F..
3,357 reviews51 followers
August 13, 2013
I don't think I've read Anne McCaffrey before. From the cover of some of her books I've seen I thought she was all about fantasy not so much sci-fi. But her writing with Elizabeth Moon worked really well. I've read Elizabeth's work before and loved the Vatta's War series. This book reminded me of that series but with a lot more sex. Although the sex is all behind closed door it's just that it's practically a given when people work together. I didn't see any of that in Elizabeth's previous books I read.

Enjoyable story. I'm planning on reading the rest of the seris.
Profile Image for William Edmondson.
30 reviews15 followers
June 15, 2016
I read this one for r/Fantasy's Book Bingo. I picked it because I am a big fan of McCaffrey's Pern books and Elizabeth Moon's Paksenarrion. Both of them are fantastic authors, check them out! I'm afraid to report that this one didn't hold up as I had hoped. There were some jarring time shifts and deus ex machina going on at the end. There were plot issues that could have been solved with current technology; i.e. Apparently they don't have security cameras or DNA testing in the future.
419 reviews35 followers
October 5, 2021
A fun and interesting read from Anne McCaffrey. Divided into four parts, I found the first half---the slavers' attack gripping. After Sassinak's rescue, the other part of of the book is fairly conventional military SF. Still quite enjoyable. The ending was a bit rushed. Nevertheless, I still found it quite worth my time---acceptable for any reader over 16.
Profile Image for Jerry.
4,630 reviews57 followers
March 5, 2017
Interesting and enthralling space opera.
Profile Image for Sanna.
500 reviews16 followers
July 21, 2022
Sassinak is the series starter in Planet Pirates. Scifi, space opera, military, action.

1POV, 3rd person, past tense. This kindle edition 336 pages, 12th December 2012.

I read this ages ago as print several times, remember it fondly. I had a chance to reread as e-book and enjoyed a lot. I used to read all the McCaffreys and Moons. Great fun. The end part of the book seems a bit a bore these days, but all in all - a great read to my taste still. I'm going to continue with the third title in the series. I remember I loved that a lot, too.
Profile Image for Seth Tucker.
Author 16 books19 followers
May 23, 2019
A very fun read by 2 great female authors. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It was a lot of fun and a lighter read than the Honor Harrington series, which I did not enjoy nearly as much. This is a light read that carries you through the life of the title character covering 30 years from her being captured and enslaved as a child to her first command aboard a Fleet Cruiser.
Profile Image for Jenn.
151 reviews
July 29, 2022
I think I'm finally coming to grips with the fact that distopian-esque futuristic space stories are not my cup of tea. I have only the vaguest desire to continue the trilogy to see what happens next.
Profile Image for James.
147 reviews
August 24, 2017
This has got to be one of the worst books ever written. The characters are so flat they barely exist and the story is so predictable that McCaffrey must have just sat copied a high school writing course word for word.
Profile Image for Maribel Myers.
17 reviews5 followers
August 6, 2017

Enjoyed the read. I'm not sure when it was written but it seemed to be full of some SF tropes. Liked it and will continue to read the series. On to book 2!
Profile Image for JV  Findlay.
213 reviews6 followers
May 10, 2016
Sassinak is the story of a 12 year old child whose whole life was turned upside down when her planet was raided by pirates and she was stolen into slavery. Once trained in as a pilot she was sold off to the highest bidder and forced to pilot other slave trader and pirate spacecraft until one fate fulled day, the ship she was on was captured and she was set free by the terran fleet. The information she had been given by another captured fleet officer lead them back to where she had been imprisoned and all those stolen from her planet were set free.

Once free and adopted by the fleet officer she helped rescue, Sassinak began her life as a trainee and cadet in the Terran Fleet, training to become an officer so she would go back one day and find everyone who was responsible for the pirate and slave trade in the galaxy.

Sassinak is a strong, disciplined woman who has taken everything she was ever taught in life and used it to mold her character, her skills and her ability to lead as a Fleet captain. Now with her own ship, she is on the hunt for pirates and slave traders and get a whole load of adventure along the way.

I enjoyed the story and the cross over of characters from other books written by Anne McCaffrey. It definately held a strong sense of going somewhere and the tension and conflict made the going very interesting, but I struggled with the way the story was told. I think because there was so much in the life of the main character that needed telling, it was written by telling what happened rather than describing to the reader what the character's were thinking or feeling at any point. It felt a little too impersonal and felt like brush strokes of story. I didn't really feel being immersed in the story with Sanninak as she was living through everything.

This surprised me as I know that both authors who collaborated on this Planet Pirates sci-fi series have written fantastic science fiction with strong female lead characters, so I expected much more from them in this series.

3.5 out of 5 stars for Sassinak, the first in the Planet Pirates series. I don't think I'll be reading anymore in the series, just didn't hold my attention well enough.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Jelmeland.
171 reviews3 followers
September 24, 2012
I love "comfort books," and that is what this book is for me. I originally read this series almost 20 years ago, and reading it again brings back that time in my memory. So to me these books aren't just about the story that they tell, but they are also as much about what they remind me of from my life as a younger man. I freely admit that this has some bearing on my rating of the book.

I won't go into the story itself as that is more than adequately covered in the book description on Goodreads, and if you want to read the story synopsis you can easily read it there.

Now as to the book itself, it is a quintessential example of military space opera from the late 80's and early 90's. The story is more about characters, the growth that they undergo, and the trials and tribulations that they endure than they are about the military aspects of the story. This was just before military sci-fi took a turn and became military fiction with a sci-fi veneer, so we don't have the detailed battle movements, the elaborate ship maneuvering, or any of the other trappings you might expect from a military book.

The story is really quite well written, and I personally cannot tell what author wrote what part of the book. To me the writing style in the book speaks more of Elizabeth Moon than it does of Anne McCaffrey, though frankly, both are beloved authors of mine. The character development and progression is deftly handled through the three distinct phases of the primary character's life. There is a nice balance between the different elements in the story, and I really can't complain about the writing style. Sure, it isn't Hugo material, but it is a solid, easy to read story with just enough complexity to make it interesting.

If you are looking for a good "comfort book," or just a nice trilogy to read you can't go wrong by trying this one out.
Profile Image for Alice.
355 reviews1 follower
January 2, 2023
This was fun, especially for an older sci-fi! To me, it felt like an odd mix of Star Trek and Alien–both aesthetically and in the way the world was structured. The story was grounded in a corporate world and aesthetic, but had the idea that the 'military' should work for the benefit of the people (at least in Sass's eyes) much like Trek's Fleet. Because of that it was pretty easy to jump into without needing a deep understanding of sci-fi tropes and is pretty much just corporate and military espionage but in space. A little dry in places, sure, and it skipped over large periods of time a lot, but very fun with some great space battles!

I enjoy both McCaffrey and Moon separately, and it was nice to try and spot within the story moments that felt more like one author than the other. While there's nothing specific I can pinpoint, there were chapters and moments that did feel distinct. Book three felt more Moon, while the opening felt very McCaffrey, for example. I wish there was an interview out there with both authors talking about how they wrote the story together and what they added!

One thing that did stand out to me when I started, though, was the mention of speaking Chinese. It's a casual sci-fi staple and makes some sense if we're assuming this civilisation evolved from an Earth where China continued to be massively important to world wide trade...Except what's 'Chinese'? Mandarin? Cantonese? Hunanese? Chances are they meant Mandarin, but the lack of even bothering to check the name of a real life language shows how simply the book treats cultures. It's not egregious, and there are moments later on that have more depth...but it's noticeable.
Profile Image for Ethan.
431 reviews1 follower
July 18, 2013
Wow, I am so over Anne McCaffrey. From the few books I've read by her, I've gotten the impression that she tends to have ambling plots. There is no real climax because there is no major issue at the center of the story. Instead, it is a sort of episodic plot, consisting of several books. That's fine in and of itself--I just don't find it particularly exciting. What pushed me to give this book such a low rating is that the last 50 pages are very difficult to decipher and come across as a sloppy attempt to tie up some very loose ends. Additionally, I got progressively more irritated throughout the novel by the excessively feminist voice she wrote from. I'm all for women's rights, but when the female protagonist gloats to herself in the mirror every few minutes and proves to be superior to all of her peers in looks, intelligence, cleverness, strength, and vanity, I tend to find it kind of boring. She comes across as just being a tool to emphasize that women can be strong in body and mind, which is a good message, but I don't think it's communicated well. Also, call me a prude, but I think all of these new-age, overtly sexual characters make me want to throw up. It's gross and I don't tend to like protagonists who are sexual predators (not in the illegal sense, but in the constantly seeking new sexual partners sense). I'm not a fan of this style and I'm starting to see it as a pattern in McCaffrey's writing (although I might say the opposite about the things I've read by Moon).
Profile Image for Ethan Nahté.
Author 35 books40 followers
March 8, 2016
Sassinak (Sass) is abducted by pirates as she watches her friends and family be killed. She is taken off planet and sold as a slave where she soon learns that she will be training for the Fleet. She befriends a retired member of Fleet who not only helps train her but becomes a surrogate father to the young girl.

Sass eventually graduates with high marks and the story follows through from her first outing through her eventual command of her own ship. Throughout her journeys she befriends many of her crew, including the non-humans and the Heavyworlders who are normally misunderstood and the subject of prejudice. Then again, the prejudice works both ways as some of the races don't like humans. Sass' character tends to be fair and gains a reputation for being a tough, but accepting and unbiased leader. Her main goal is to find the head of the pirate organization and prevent other worlds from being attacked and enslaved.

The story really reads a lot like a Star Trek novel or film. Fleet is sent out to observe and sometimes assist. The integration of other species and how they co-exist or fight, etc. This isn't a bad thing, and it's difficult to no compare any space story to either Star Trek or Star Wars nowadays. The trick is not to blatantly rip them off or not tell a boring story. McCaffery & Moon do a very good job at maintaining the reader's interest in "Sassinak".
165 reviews3 followers
July 1, 2013
Sassinak by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon is the first book in the Planet Pirates series set in the Ireta universe. The main character is of course Sassinak who is first presented in Dinosaur Planet Survivors as the commander of the rescue ship from the navy. This book however starts out when Sassinak is a young girl on a colony world. After the world is hit by pirates who kill her whole family and put her into slavery she is lucky to be rescued by the navy who become her new family. However even the navy contains many bad apples and she continues to have many difficult adventures as she advances through the ranks. While reading the book I began to think that the whole story was written by Moon on a basic script provided by McCaffrey. The book has much more in common with the space opera for which Moon is better known and the characters could almost be replicas of certain figures in the Serrano Universe. Some of the plot line does not seem quite as controlled of a universe as is presented in Dinosaur Planet but it seems like the pirates in this book do full blown killing and raping. Overall it was fun escapist science fiction in the space opera method.
Profile Image for Caroline.
5 reviews7 followers
November 28, 2011
Like all of McCaffrey's books, this one held my interest. I sat down and read the whole thing without stopping, a testament to the vivid characters and fast-paced plot. Haunted by the memory of her planet's massacre and her own time as a slave, Sassinak joins the Fleet, excels at it, and becomes a commander who has only one goal - to stop planet pirates. However, the book follows the adventures of Sassinak from the time she was twelve to her mid forties, and at times it feels disjointed. Too much is left out. For example, at one point the book just skips fro her being in her late teens or twenties to her being in her mid forties. Also, there are many references that are never really explained. I know that Sassinak got a "five year implant" in her arm, but the book never really tells you what it does. Also, the whole ending of the book seems to depend on an alien species called Thek, but very little detail is actually given about them.

Profile Image for Josh.
853 reviews31 followers
November 26, 2013
Much like "The Death of Sleep", this book has a very interesting premise that is absolutely terrible in its execution. I chalk this up to two things. First is the writing style, which is just not good. Secondly, I think McCaffrey and Moon are science fiction fans, not scientists. This is space opera, not hard SF. Not, about the writing style: There is scant detail given about what is going on, virtually no internal character thoughts or development, and really almost no narrative. The story reads like a series of news reports with most of the emotion and details left out. The narrator only made things worse, with little emotion and no real voices for the characters.

Ultimately a disappointment, written by two science fictions fans who are also very liberal women pushing a totally unrealistic view of the future. In the 21st century, we look back at such ideas and we snicker at how childish it seems now.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 195 reviews

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