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Dragonriders of Pern #1-3

The Dragonriders of Pern

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Alternate cover edition can be found here.

Finally together in one volume, the first three books in the world's most beloved science fiction series, THE DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN, by Anne McCaffrey, one of the great science fiction writers of all time: DRAGONFLIGHT, DRAGONQUEST, THE WHITE DRAGON. Those who know these extraordinary tales will be able to re-visit with Lessa, F'lar, Ruth, Lord Jaxon, and all the others. And for those just discovering this magical place, there are incomparable tales of danger, deceit, and daring, just waiting to be explored..

864 pages, School & Library Binding

First published October 12, 1988

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About the author

Anne McCaffrey

579 books7,009 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 641 reviews
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,625 reviews239 followers
November 5, 2020
Why is this one of my favourite fantasy series of all time? Sentient dragons, talking telepathically to their riders. People fighting the good fight on dragonback. A really cool world. Entertaining story telling. This is really fun to read. Eat your heart out, Christoper Paolini!

The first 150 pages are a lot of set-up and world building. I can live with that in such a long running series. The romance is mostly non-existent. They meet, they become a pair due to external circumstances, they seem to be fond of each other eventually and maybe in love and definitely possessive.

I can‘t say how many times I have read this series. Pretty much constantly as a teenager. Unfortunately I do not have my old paperbacks anymore, I gave them all away 25 years ago, when I moved. This is the first re-read since then. And it is definitely the very first time I am reading it in the original English. And now there are some additional books that I have never read.

So, Dragonflight...

The fun truly starts for me, when Robinton shows up. He is one of my favourite characters of the series. The three Harperhall books are my favourite story arc as well. But first there is this, the beginning of the Dragonriders of Pern.

I have questions now that I didn‘t ask in the early 80s, when I read this for the first time.

If this had been my first read, I might have given it three stars. Or 3.5 stars, rounded up? Anyway, nostalgia demands 4 stars, despite the above. Yes, I will read Dragonquest and The White Dragon.


Update October 2020, Dragonquest...

My first re-read since being a young adult. I went into Dragonquest with slight apprehension. I never much liked the drama with the Oldtimers and Kylara always grated. But we also get fire-lizards! Love them! Want one! I didn‘t remember that they show up for the first time in Dragonquest. My memory had placed them securely with Menolly and the Harperhall trilogy...

The language feels a little dated sometimes, however that feeling disappeared as I delved deeper into the story.

The gender roles are old-fashioned. But I think that is largely on purpose and there are some indications that it could or should be different. There are some hints at non-normative pairings, because what do you do when you ride a green dragon, right?

Characters in general are not explored much emotionally. The developing romance between Brekke and F‘nor delves a little deeper and I enjoyed that part. Writing sex scenes is not something that McCaffrey did well, even for the non-graphic variety.

The dragons feel more real to me than they appeared to be in my memory, with more pronounced personalities and intelligence.

In this one they find some more ancient tech. As a teenager I found that confusing. And now I find it surprising that they just grab any old tech they find and use it. As if it was perfectly normal to live in a quasi feudal, medieval society, find a microscope or a telescope, figure out how works and just use it. If they regressed in their technological level, wouldn‘t that rather be like magic and very unsettling for them? How can they be at the level they are and then back-engineer electrical wiring, etc.?

Anyway, I ended up enjoying this book very much, more than Dragonflight.


Onwards to The White Dragon...

I my memory this is my favourite Pern book, closely followed by the Haperhall books. There is a lot more going on than I remembered. Or that I thought of happening in another book of the series. This is definitely a worthwhile refresher.

We finally get to read more about my favourite dragon Ruth and about a ton of fire-lizards. Plus there is adventure, a conspiracy and plenty of exploring of the Southern continent and the past. Jaxom has to come to terms with his double role of Lord Holder and Dragonrider. Although he isn‘t allowed to be either and chafes at the restrictions put upon him. In the meantime Ruth grows and matures in unexpected ways.

F‘lar and Lessa are in the sidelines in this storyline and we get to see more of the characters from the Harperhall novels. Which makes me wonder why this book was put into a collected edition with the first two books of the series, although the three Harperhall novels are set before it chronologically. But I guess this way you come full circle with all of the issues that are raised in Dragonflight and Dragonquest and the various plotlines are tied up neatly.

McCaffrey is still not very good at writing love scenes in this and we are still dealing with antiquated gender roles. But then, this is set in a medieval, feudal society, so that actually fits. The women do all the cooking and act as servants to the men, the actual servants are faceless drudges (I always deeply disliked that term), the farmers are beholden to their lords and the droit-de-seigneur is alive and well. Jaxom‘s dealings with Corana are not stellar, but he is a product of the society he grew up in.

Is this still my favourite? I think it is neck to neck with Dragonquest, which has a more focussed and streamlined plot. The White Dragon is longer and more meandering, with several highpoints. This could have easily been several novellas, stuck together.


Here is the chronological order of the current timeline and the books I plan to re-read:

Dragonflight — re-read in September 2020
Dragonquest — re-read in October 2020

Dragonsong —> Harperhall, plan to read after White Dragon
Dragonsinger —> Harperhall, dito
Dragondrums —> Harperhall, dito

The Renegades of Pern — I might skip this one, it doesn‘t sound essential to the main plotline.
The White Dragon — re-read in November 2020
All The Weyrs of Pern
The Dolphins of Pern
The Skies of Pern


I never before realized that the Harperhall books are aimed at a different age group, aka YA. None of those books released in the years 2000+ are part of my planned read above. I‘ll decide after reading those, if I will pick up the newer offerings, co-written with Todd McCaffrey (set before Dragonflight).
30 reviews
December 27, 2008
The world Anne McCaffrey built is nice, but her view on women (the most positive example is of an indipendent resourceful woman who also happens to be very *manipulative* and revengeful), their subservient role to males, how men always know best, bug the hell out of me. I don't know if that's because she wrote those books in the late 60s and 70s or cos her POV is kind of old-fashioned regarless of the time she grew up in, but whatever the reason, I cringed quite a lot, especially while reading Dragonflight. In the other novels, I didn't wince quite as much: I guess tptb told her tone down her POV a little. I might read more of this saga (later, later on. I'm not ready yet) cos her universe is fascinating, but I hope McCaffrey's view on women changed in later novels. FYI, this is coming from someone who isn't a fanatic feminist.

Also? There's the thing about the mating dragonflights and how they affect the dragonriders. I...kind of don't want to think about it too much.

BUT if you're looking for stories about a whole different universe, how people colonized it, chose to live, their traditions etc, then this is the book for you. *That* part was great!
Profile Image for Tom Merritt.
Author 42 books1,763 followers
June 4, 2013
I must admit the first volume kept me interested because of the world and I had to turn a blind eye to a small amount of awkwardness and even some rather dates relationship dynamics. However by the third volume, The White Dragon all of it is worth it and I've fallen in love with Pern. It's clear that McCaffrey knew the world and its history.mit suffuses through everything that happens. I also like that its a world not a series. I don't feel pressure to keep going but instead know that whenever I need a pleasant respite from other worlds, I can easily visit Pern.
Profile Image for Jim.
77 reviews7 followers
March 27, 2013
Wow, this takes me back. Loved this book when I read it. Bought it knowing nothing about it, as part of my membership bundle in The Science Fiction Book Club. Ahh, the Days of Yore. Looking back, at the beginning the characters seem stiff and cliche, but it loosens up as it goes along. The sensibilities of a different generation are seen in the attitudes and personalities of the characters, which seem a bit archaic by modern thinking. The start of a epic series of books well worth reading.

OK, story time. In 1993, Anne McCaffrey did live chat on Compu-Serve, which no or few authors had ever done. Since the online world was a lot smaller in those days, or because it was poorly promoted, I got to chat with Anne (and a moderator I think) for about 15 minutes ALL BY MYSELF. Awkward at first (for me at least), since I felt obligated to keep up the conversation. I'm sure it was disappointing for her having only one fan show up. I hardly remember what we talked about now, I wish I'd kept a transcript. I do remember talking about where characters were headed in their development, and which characters I liked and disliked. And other books and authors I liked. A fond memory of one of my favorite authors.
Profile Image for Dana Stabenow.
Author 111 books1,909 followers
April 28, 2023
A reread after many years, which holds up well. Not much style but a lot of substance--settlers fleeing a dying Earth emigrate across the stars to a planet in orbit around Rukbat. A story for our times for sure.

Only--uh-oh--until...after they've landed and moved planetside they discover that an erratic body that transverses their Rukbat's solar system drags a bunch of toxic waste into their orbit to rain down on the planet where it destroys every living thing, them included, every 200 years. In response they bioengineer one of Pern's indigenous species, tiny telepathic teleporting dragons, into great big enormous dragons, all of whom share the ability to sear Thread from the sky with their fiery breath.

Okay, fine, good, good, until...remember erratic body, aka the Red Star? Sometimes it stays away for four hundred years at a time, during which the Pernese tend to forget why they bred and are tithing to support those big dragons and their riders because Thread obviously is gone for good, right?

Until...it isn't.

These three, plus the Harper Hall trilogy, plus All the Weyrs of Pern will tell the tale in full, although there are other books in the series which dot all the i's and cross all the t's. McCaffrey had a great imagination and human beings are the same everywhere, here or on Pern. Recommended.
Profile Image for Desirae Renta.
3 reviews
October 17, 2012
This book took me from earth to 3000 years in the future where some humans escaped earth's planetary warfare to a planet called Pern. Pern is a planet scientifically much like our own except for the erratic red planet that passes by every few hundred years which thrusts a silvery carbon eating menace called thread. The settlers befriend creatures called firelizards which breathe fire on the thread destroying it before it destroys every living thing living on Pern. Through genetic modification large firelizards were created and named dragons. These magnificent creatures born to protect Pern and chose certain people who possessed the right stuff to fight thread and protect the planet.

I would recommend this series of books to anyone who loves science fiction. Not only are these 3 novels full of suspense and adventure you tend to fall in love with certain characters. The relationships of the people are well developed and engaging as we'll as the complex relationships between the people and their awesome dragons.

Join the DragonRiders (warriors, thread fighters, and peace-keepers), harpers (musicians and educators), and other heroes and heroines as they work to protect Pern and uncover secrets long forgotten.

Which color dragon would you impress?
23 reviews
November 15, 2011
This book was a very huge disappointment. This series is what led me to detest Anne McCafrey. The dialogue was poor and contrived, the diction was everywhere, ornate one second, and layman's the next second. Throughout all three books, I did read them all sadly, there was no growth whatsoever. The people didn't change, no one got better. Even the sentient "dragons" were stagnant from birth in action and character. There was little plot besides the "worms" eating crops, and the discovery of a planet like mars dropping the worms. For a fantasy novel with "dragon-pterodactyl-thingy" riding, spaceships and terrorizing planets, you would think the threat to the world would be something more than a tiny silver worm that ate crops. Even the inter-political strife within the dragon rider order took place with maybe twenty pages, it happened, there was a bad guy, then it was resolved, quickly, and nothing really happened because of it. This was terrible. Save yourself the trouble and don't read this. If you're truly curious, just get the first book by itself, and watch the 1940's feminist movement again with pterodactyl-dragons thrown in. (sounds good, but isn't)
Profile Image for Fredrick Danysh.
6,844 reviews159 followers
June 20, 2020
This volume contains three separate novels relating to Pern and its dragons. In Dragonflight it has been so long since Thread have fallen that some Lords no longer want to support the wyers. F'lar and Lessa create a new legends of what the dragon can do. Dragonquest is the story of trying to reach the red star. A rare white dragon is born and in an unheard of action bonds with Jaxon, the young Lord Holder of Ruatha.
7 reviews
June 12, 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.

17 reviews2 followers
December 27, 2007
Pretty standard pulp fantasy with a bit of a sci-fi bent. Entertaining & a good read, but nothing tremendous. Dragonflight begins the Pern series, and Dragonquest picks up pretty much right where Dragonflight leaves off, but The White Dragon takes place several years and 3 books later, so it can be somewhat jarring if you haven't read the Harper trilogy (the 3 intervening books).

Strong points (all 3 books):

1. Generally likeable main characters who cooperate well against external threats. In this respect, the dynamics are somewhat like Lord of the Rings, where the good guys need to work in perfect harmony (Denethor & Boromir excepted) to overcome their obstacles. Contrast that to the Wheel of Time books, where the good guys' problems stem not only from external sources, but from mistrusting each other, infighting, failing to share vital information, and general petty squabbling amongst themselves.

2. Good pacing. Generally the plots move along well, and almost every scene (except some in White Dragon, more on that later) moves one or more of the plotlines forward.

3. Awesome job of handling time-travel. Saying any more would be a spoiler, but it was really well done. One of my favorite aspects of the books.

Weak points:

1. A fair amount of implausibility. Not a big deal for me, but for some people it is. It seems difficult to believe that Thread could perfectly survive the heat of entering Pern's atmosphere from space, then be incinerated by dragonfire. Also, the energy requirements to keep teleporting dragons around would probably denude the planet. But like I said, not a big deal for me.

2. (White Dragon only) There's a little too much "Jaxom is horny" stuff. It is pretty realistic, because 18-year-old guys pretty much spend all day just being horny and checking out women, but I actually found it distracting at a couple of points.
Profile Image for Tim.
670 reviews16 followers
February 6, 2017
I had not read any of these books in something like 25 years and only had the vaguest of memories of what the books were about. I knew there were dragons (obviously) and they were used to destroy something called Thread that fell from the sky but that was about it, and that I enjoyed the books as a kid. So it was with great enthusiasm that I revisited the series with this handy collection that covers the first three novels in the Pern series.

I was surprised to discover it was a science fiction series and not fantasy, despite the trappings this isn't a medieval society in a made up kingdom, it's actually the story of humanity after they had gone to the stars and colonized other worlds and lost the technological know how from days past. Pern is a world where society had declined and stagnated and was only just beginning to find the lost secrets of the past again. While they are able to breath fire, the titular dragons are genetically engineered creatures, not the mythological beasts that typically frequent these kinds of books.

All that said, I had a blast reading these books again. Anne McCaffrey seems like an author whose works I should revisit now as an adult.
Profile Image for Dj.
594 reviews22 followers
August 23, 2015
This isn't the first time I have read this series of books, hell not even the second or third. It is interesting to me, how some books I read back in the days of High School, don't hold up as well the older I get. Others though hold up well to the test of time, Dragonriders is one of those. Each time I read a book, no matter what the book is, I find myself discovering new things, or remembering things that had slipped my mind in regards to the book. It is always fun when these discovery's add to the enjoyment of a book. This is the case with the Dragonrider series. I have once again come away feeling upbeat after reading the three books (the first three written in the series) and impressed with McCaffrey's ability as a wordsmith. While her science is light it is acceptable on the level that it is presented, this book is more character and interaction driven and makes full use of that. Maybe not as heavy duty as Dune or Lord of the Rings in that regard, but still quite able to stand on its own and hold a place as a classic.
Profile Image for Bill.
408 reviews96 followers
September 10, 2022
I've read this multiple times from when it was 1st published as well as most of the following novels, duologues and trilogies. It is a favorite epic fantasy of mine. I consider it one of the best speculative fiction series extant.

I've argued the genre of this series - fantasy vs sci-fi - since CompuServe days. To me it has always felt like fantasy and this 1st trilogy is certainly epic fantasy. Granted it becomes Sci-Fi as the Southern continent is explored and discoveries of origins made. I genrize these novels individually on their own merits. I am aware the author considers them all sci-fi. I do not consider that especially relevant, but just one person's opinion.
Profile Image for Darren.
30 reviews4 followers
July 6, 2008
I enjoyed the first book very much. While I enjoyed the other two, I felt the writing reverted to the "he said, she said" of other follow-on fantasy novels (any number of David Eddings books qualify). The world of Pern is novel and the dragon/rider relationship is intriguing to read about. It's a worthwhile read, but I don't feel the full potential was achieved due to a lack of depth and more telling than showing.
Profile Image for Scottsdale Public Library.
3,224 reviews211 followers
November 29, 2018
The Dragonriders of Pern is a fantastic trilogy packed full of adventure and encourages you to rise above the doubts of others. All three books have great messages about perseverance, plus fantastic dragons and fine lizards. If you enjoy the trilogy there is an additional trilogy, The Harper Hall, which continues the story. Enjoy! - teen reviewer Sofia D.
Profile Image for L.E. Doggett.
Author 9 books33 followers
May 19, 2017
One of my very rare Five stars.

Very good writing, an ingenious world. The dragons are worth reading about, the characters are real and stay in character. The actions scenes are great, so are the descriptions. The plot follows itself as it should. This is the first three books which are a trilogy. So you can get the full read with this set.

I fully recommend all three. A little dark in places and a surprise ending, not sure if the all the main characters are always likable but they are real. A great read.
Profile Image for Amie's Book Reviews.
1,522 reviews166 followers
August 11, 2022
This is a collection from Anne McCaffrey's famous and much loved "Dragonriders of Pern" book series.

I have read this series multiple times and I have to admit that she is a fantastic storyteller and world-builder.

I am Rating this collection as 4 out of 5 Stars and highly recommend this series to fantasy book lovers.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Profile Image for Zermeena.
160 reviews2 followers
June 25, 2021
I read Dragonquest in this trilogy. I have have read these books many times and always find something new. Of the three in the trilogy, Dragonquest is the most exciting.
Profile Image for Gere Lewis.
105 reviews3 followers
October 22, 2012
I'm going to do this review in parts as I read each book in the omnibus.


Here is your introduction to Pern. This reads like part science fiction, part fantasy, and part historical fiction. The planet of Pern seems to be set much like medieval Europe in the way the holds and weyrs are set up, as well as how the people interact with one another. Then there are dragons with their riders, born to fight the parasitic threads that fall from the sky when the red star passes over Pern. The story grabs the reader early and doesn't let go until the very end.


Some of the characters in this book made me angry and kept me angry almost from start to finish. Fortunately, the characters that were making me angry were characters that were supposed to make me angry. The author definitely did her job there without beating you over the head with the fact that the reader is supposed to dislike these people. She let their actions dictate the feeling of the reader. This book takes the reader a few steps closer to the goal of ending the threat of thread. In this book, dragons will be lost and a new dragon(s) will be found and impressed. All in all, an exciting read that was well worth my time.


I liked this story very much, just like the first two. That being said, at the end of it I had a "that's it?!" moment or ten. First of all, I kept waiting for Jaxom's name to be properly contracted. It seemed to me that he could be Lord J'xom or whatever without much to do by the end of the story. I felt for sure that they would do it at the confirmation. By not doing so, I felt that the end result was after everything that Jaxom and Ruth did for everyone on Pern, the dragonriders still refused to give them their due as a Dragonrider of Pern. One other thing still bothers me. In Dragonquest, Mirrim was a sweet and gentle person with a streak of independence that happened to impress three firelizards. In The White Dragon, Mirrim was a complete bitch that seemed to treat everyone like garbage and somehow managed to impress a Green Dragon, the first woman to have ever impressed a fighting dragon. This rather abrupt transition with zero explanation and only vague references made to how upsetting it was for a woman to have impressed a fighting dragon, annoys me to no end.

I enjoyed reading this omnibus to no end and look forward to reading more in this series.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lora Shouse.
Author 1 book28 followers
November 23, 2021
The Dragonriders of Pern is a set containing the first three of the Pern novels. I believe these were the first ones written, although some of the many other volumes of the series take place earlier in the history of Pern while others happen later. If you like these, there are enough other books that you can live happily on Pern for quite a while.

The worldbuilding in these books is fantastic. It does take a while, as there is a lot of background to cover, but ultimately you find that the amount of truly unbelievable stuff in the context of this place is comparatively small. The characters are mostly nice, or at least relatable – except for those few who just aren’t – despite Lessa having a quick temper and a few of the others being easily alarmed.

Before reading these books, I was mildly puzzled why the author would consider them science fiction rather than fantasy. To me, dragons sort of equal fantasy. However, there is a rather long prologue that explains how fugitives from Earth long ago came to the planet they call Pern and crash-landed so that they couldn’t leave. It also explains all about “thread” – the main problem that has been plaguing the inhabitants of Pern pretty much ever since. “Thread” is a) sort of spores for some sort of fungus-like substance that will eat up nearly everything organic that it touches, and b) falls to Pern from another nearby planet whenever this planet is in range. There is more technical stuff, like how a sort of harmonic convergence of the other planets in the system has kept this other (red) planet out of range for a long time in recent years, breaking what had been a regular cycle of thread falls. Many of the residents of Pern came to believe that the scourge of Thread had ended forever.

But it’s baaack!

To combat the thread, the inhabitants found a native species that they call fire lizards that can breathe fire. The fire destroys the thread. Over the years they bred these fire lizards to be bigger and breathe more fire so that they are now dragons and can be ridden. A complex culture has grown up around the dragons and the people that ride them. Like baby birds imprinting on their mothers when they hatch, dragons bond with their future riders at the time of their hatching. The dragons can communicate telepathically with their riders. When either a dragon or a rider dies, the other member of the pair is devastated, suffers deep depression, and may die themselves soon after.

Volume 1: Dragonflight

The main character of the first book is Lessa. She is the daughter of the former Lord of Ruatha Hold. (A hold is an agricultural unit ruled by a Lord. Pern culture is quasi-medieval despite their spacefaring roots.) Her parents were killed years before by a neighboring Lord who took over that hold and several others while looking to increase his wealth and power, etc. Lessa has never forgiven him and is determined to regain her rightful place as the Lady of Ruatha. However, her destiny turns out to be something completely different.

Lord Fax comes to Ruatha to check on his holdings, which he has mainly ignored for years, bringing his pregnant wife. While he is there, F’lar, a dragonrider from Benden Weyr (the weyrs are the strongholds where the dragons and their riders live), the main remaining weyr, comes looking for women to be candidates to bond with a new dragon queen due to be hatched shortly. Also, during this time, Fax’s wife gives birth and dies. Lessa assists at the birth. Apparently, Fax’s wife is a distant relative of hers and has some Ruathan blood. This is why Fax has married her, to give his claim to Ruatha, or one of the other holds he has invaded, more legitimacy. There is some complicated maneuvering, the upshot of which is that Fax’s new baby son is declared heir to Ruatha and left in the care of Lytol, a former dragonrider whose dragon has died, and Lessa goes to Benden Weyr where, in due time, she bonds with the newly hatched Dragon Queen and eventually becomes the Weyrwoman of Benden Weyr.

Lessa has a rather prickly personality, and she rebels against some of the entrenched customs of the weyrs. But she is committed to the overall good of Pern, and she has some creative ideas and a few special talents., which she uses to enhance the ability of the dragonriders to deal with thread when it begins to fall again.

Volume 2: Dragonquest

One of Lessa’s ideas for dealing with thread in the Dragonflight book was to bring back some of the dragonriders from centuries before, the last time that thread fell on Pern. They came bringing most of their people with them, and they did a great job when they first arrived. But they turn out to have some outdated ideas of their own importance and expect to be able to get anything they want from anybody. This leads to problems with the holders and craftsmen of the present, not to mention the younger dragonriders. Lessa and F’lar, who is now her mate and Weyrleader of Benden Weyr, spend much of this book dealing with these and similar personality problems.

Also in this book, they rediscover fire lizards and find that they can be impressed. Previously fire lizards, who had primarily lived in the southern continent, had been unwilling to be caught. But F’nor, F’lar’s half-brother, manages to impress one. The fire lizards are really cute and a lot of fun.

We meet several other important people in this book, including the Masterharper, Robinton, who in addition to being sort of a bard and historian, is a useful adviser to the dragonriders. We also meet Brekke, who first shows up as a healer and later impresses a dragon of her own who suffers a terrible accident when her queen and another queen who is also trying to mate come too close together, killing both of them. Brekke and F’nor become very close.

An attempt is made to travel to the red planet to destroy thread at the source. It doesn’t work out well.

Volume 3: The White Dragon

It’s several years later. (Some of the other books may actually belong in the interval between Dragonquest and The White Dragon.) Fax’s son, Lord Jaxom, is now a young teenager. Jaxom has impressed a most unusual dragon, even though Lord Holders are not supposed to be candidates for impressing dragons. The dragon, whose name is Ruth (although it is a male dragon – we think) is about half the size of the other dragons, and he is white. But he is very popular with the fire lizards, who have proven to have their uses.

The people of Pern are exploring the southern continent with a view to moving some of their people there, as the population seems to be increasing now where before it had gotten very small. In the process of this exploration, they find the remains of the ships in which their ancestors originally came to Pern.

Meanwhile, Lessa and F’lar, while not as central to this book as to the first two, are still kept busy smoothing over the interpersonal problems that insist on cropping up between the other citizens of Pern. And Robinton has his hand in everything.
Profile Image for Lisa (Harmonybites).
1,834 reviews332 followers
September 2, 2010
Here in one volume are the first two novels--and in my opinion the best three--of McCaffrey's Pern series: Dragonflight, Dragonquest and The White Dragon. They often wind up on best fantasy lists, though technically they're science fiction about a lost colony of Earth. The dragons were bred from native dragonettes and bonded to human riders who imprint them at hatching. They were created and maintained to fight an inimical spore that comes from space. The setting has the feel of medieval or Renaissance Europe--with Lord Holders and powerful guild Masters sharing power with the dragon riders.

The characters are memorable and appealing: Lessa, F'nor, F'Lar, Brekke, Jaxom, Robinton--and that includes the dragons such as "The White Dragon"--Ruth. (Lessa, incidentally, is that rare thing in science fiction--a female protagonist and point of view character.) These three books aren't notable for style or for provoking thought, but they're fine, entertaining novels that bear rereading--science fantasy comfort food. I don't feel the later Pern books are as winning, but these three come to a satisfying resolution.

(And McCaffrey has other books I love more in a classical science fiction vein like The Ship Who Sang and Crystal Singer. Almost all her books feature strong romantic elements and strong female protagonists.)
Profile Image for Bigal-sa.
121 reviews2 followers
July 20, 2020
I have tried to read this series several times in the last ten years, and cannot complete it. I either got bored or frustrated while reading it. This time round, I managed to finish the first book Dragonflight, and thought it was probably worth 2.5* (which I downrated to 2).

What really gets me is that nothing really goes wrong for the good guys.

One of the Wikipedia entries for this book maintains it is science fiction: at best this is preteen fantasy.
Profile Image for Erik Graff.
5,008 reviews1,117 followers
September 2, 2011
I actually enjoyed reading the beginning of this trilogy and those parts which were more concerned with the planet, its colonization and its periodic interplanetary crises. As it when on, however, it became increasingly a fantasy, rather than a science, fiction. Not only was it just a fantasy, but it was a rather typical one, employing over-used dragon themes and idealized mediaeval social structures. By the completion of page 750, I was thoroughly bored.
Profile Image for Jerry Aubin.
Author 11 books79 followers
December 29, 2015
I truly LOVED these books as a child 30 years ago. I tried re-reading them to my ten-year-old (same age as when I read them) and was really taken back by how much I thought the writing was horrible. Whatever charm I saw as a ten-year old was gone as an adult. My ten-year-old really did not like them either. He found them confusing to keep track of who was who.
Profile Image for Susan.
1,583 reviews90 followers
August 28, 2018
My introduction to Anne McCaffrey.

I was given this for my 13th birthday by (of all people) my psychiatrist! I suppose it was his way of showing my foster-family that he, at least, supported my scifi habit.
7 reviews
June 2, 2015
Almost one thousand pages of wasted time. I kept waiting for ANYTHING to happen, no character development, awkward worldbuilding,
Profile Image for Phillip Murrell.
Author 9 books62 followers
July 20, 2019
This book combines the first three novels of the Pern series. It was a fascinating world with unique ideas, but I couldn't find a story in it. Characters would constantly repeat things (e.g "not dragon versus dragon" or "the Red Star can't be reached") but then these talking points would be dropped to focus on the next shiny object without any resolution. It lacks action, proper villains, and realistic characterizations of culture. For example, religion (of any kind) doesn't appear to exist. These people use ridiculously obvious dialogue like "looking lens" and "sweetbreads" but have evolved beyond the point of any form of deity? You could argue the dragons fill this void, but I don't buy it. Not everyone can have a dragon; what do the other people do?

Overall, I found the books tedious. I tried hard to like them, but I think this is just a series meant for a different person in a different time. That being said, I can see how a properly adapted television series or film franchise could work. If they ever get one off the ground, I'll watch, but I will never read about F'lar and his ilk again.
Profile Image for Michele.
7 reviews
July 14, 2017
I loved this series. I go back every so often and re-read them. They are still good, years after I first discovered them.
Profile Image for Raven.
380 reviews4 followers
May 27, 2021
Boy, Jaxom has been visited by the Suck Fairy since I read these books many years ago. He was a highly sympathetic character right up until he comes of age, and then he is a creep to women in a way that doesn't read well at all in the modern era. That hadn't stuck in my memory, but did make reading the third of the included books here rather less than fun.
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