Sere's Reviews > The Dragonriders of Pern

The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
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U 50x66
's review
Dec 27, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: fantasy

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!
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Becca Just a thought on the view of women, but here's how I interpreted it (I also can't speak beyond the first three, as I've not read more yet):

Pern is written/described as a world which was inhabited from another planet, and which was once technologically (and one can infer from that, probably also culturally) rich. However, over the years, much information was lost in passing down (such as why they were to watch for the grubs). I saw the attitudes toward women being more evidence of some of the archaic, more primitive roots that they'd returned to.

Additionally, over the course of just the first three books, you see slight nuances of that attitude changing. Lessa becomes a person with a fair amount of power over Pern, and becomes increasingly less manipulative throughout the books (save for the scene in White Dragon where she wanted to set dragon on dragon, though I read this to be more her reaction to her connection with Ramoth than Lessa, who usually has a bit more sense than that when left to her own). Aside from Lessa, we get a female dragonrider, Mirrim (although I have to admit disappointment in Mirrim's overall character, though I would attribute it to the attitudes she unlikely faces as being the only female green rider - attitudes that are probably fairly similar to what Jaxon faces). I think that the strongest female character we see is likely Menolly, the Harper Girl (and a big reason that I'd like to read the Harper series). She speaks her mind, explores places, and even takes lead in the seastorm that would've otherwise proved disastrous for her and Harper Robinton.

I think that sometimes, it's less a matter of what opinions the author has on these topics, and more a matter of the sense of the world they're trying to provide. The notions towards women in the trilogy are often very archaic, and I think that overall, it contributed to the feel of Pern as being a culture that hasn't quite yet flourished and become fully civilized (or whose culture has reverted through years of lost information)

Marc Her treatment of women was discordant. I found the frequent slaps to hysterical females (and their "thanks I needed that") dated at best.

Lauren One of the reasons I stopped reading these books (I got through the first 3) was largely because of the treatment of women. I know that they were written in the 70s and women's lib was just getting started, but Lessa is constantly being shaken and slapped. Like Becca, I also noticed that there was some improvement over the course of the books, but I just go so frustrated with how women were treated so dismissively that I couldn't keep going. I think Becca makes a good point about how this is less about what the author thinks and more about the world that the story is taking place in, but even so, after two tries with these books, I just couldn't get over it.

message 4: by Christina (new)

Christina the role of women in this book is more about what society has become not about the authors views. As for Lessa, her issues stem from the trauma she suffered, not an authors view point. in subsequent books both atv three begining and end of the time women are v scientist world and military leaders.

message 5: by Tash (new) - added it

Tash Read the series set in this world but mostly written by her son. Starting with Dragons Kin. 'Kin' features a male lead, but later this set introduces Fiona and Lorana, much better female leads. It also introduces other 'sidekick' females who do not constantly get shaken and so forth. Later there is even a gay female lead.

message 6: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael I first read these books back in the '70s and have to admit I didn't notice the treatment of women at that time. Rereading them now, I to found the attitude a bit dated and surprising.

message 7: by Kelley (new)

Kelley Ceccato The Harper Hall books hold up better than the ones in this omnibus, IMO, because in Harper Hall, the narrative is very clearly on Menolly’s side, and the limitations others place on her due to her gender are framed as wrong. I didn’t feel like the narrative of Dragonflight had the same sympathy for Lessa, and Mirrim is so unlikable that we’re encouraged to take the part of those who wish she’d “stay in her place.” That’s why my enthusiasm for Pern is measured. I want to ROOT for heroines, not to find myself repeatedly thinking they deserve a good shaking.

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