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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Fifteen-year-old Menolly allies with magnificent dragons in the first book in the Harper Hall trilogy, set within science fiction legend Anne McCaffrey’s beloved and bestselling Dragonriders of Pern series. For centuries, the world of Pern has faced a destructive force known as Thread. But the number of magnificent dragons who have protected this world and the men and women who ride them are dwindling. As fewer dragons ride the winds and destruction falls from the sky, Menolly has only one dream: to sing, play, and weave the music that comes to her so easily—she wishes to become a Harper. But despite her great talents, her father believes that a young girl is unworthy of such a respected position and forbids her to pursue her dreams. So Menolly runs away, taking shelter in a cave by the sea. Miraculously, she happens upon nine fire lizards that could possibly save her world...and change her life forever.…


by Anne McCaffrey

Overall Book Review:

Dragonsongby Anne McCaffrey is a work of science-fiction that reads more like a fantasy. The first in a loose trilogy, but one of many of Anne’s McCaffrey’s Pern novels, the book centers mainly around Menolly, a well-drawn and empathetic character. She is a gawky, self-effacing teenager with an enormous talent for music, who feels awkward and out of place in a Sea Hold where fishing is more important than playing an instrument.

The author creates a planet where social rules are quite rigid; men and women have their roles and no one is allowed to break them. For Menolly, a girl whose passion for music and harping is thwarted by the dictate that only men can be harpers, life in her Hold is trying. Particularly since her father is most adamantly against her “tunings.”  Her determination to keep her music in the face of adversity makes her a worthy protagonist, and one to root for.

Anne McCaffrey does a good job showing the political structure of her world, as well as sprinkling in elements especially unique to her setting. Her description of dragons and their use in fighting “thread,” a silvery searing rain that kills anything it touches, and the magical “fire lizards” that resemble miniature dragons makes one wish they lived on Pern and could have a fire lizard of their own.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: 1 mild obscenity; 2 derogatory names.

Violence/Gore:  Numerous reports of “thread,” a deadly fall of silvery substance that can wound and/or kill anything living (including vegetation); there is a funeral at sea; character is described as terribly crippled; character is said to have no legs; character threatens a “belting” if he is disobeyed; character is warned she will “get the belt” if she disobeys; a few mentions of a character’s death; a few descriptions of thread, threadfall, and “scoring” (wounds like burns caused by the touch of thread); a character is beaten with a belt (severe enough to leave marks – not overly graphic); a character complains of aching bones; a character cuts her hand; a character’s wound gets infected and there is worry of amputation; a character’s injury heals badly; character falls over a short cliff (not serious, minor injuries); character is attacked by “fire lizards”; a few mentions of a character’s stiff, painful hand; some references to people getting scored to death; a large storm worries a community; a character is in danger from threadfall; newly hatched fire lizards are scored by thread; characters worry about someone getting caught in thread; character is discovered missing; some instances where animals are killed for food; fire lizards are described as making an enthusiastic supper on a dead bird’s entrails; character has a broken leg; recollection of a character hurting her hand; character is caught out in threadfall and tries to run ahead of it; a character experiences “between”; a character wounds her feet; character watches men and dragons’ wounds tended; a few mentions of a character’s sore, painful feet and some instances where dressings are changed; a character realizes an injury was allowed to heal badly; a character recounts escaping thread; a character describes the death of two dragons; A character is pecked by an irate fire lizard; A character walks across hot sand; A character feels the roughness of a scar.

Most of the above instances are not gory or graphic and are mainly very brief references. 

Sex/Nudity:  A husband and wife retire to bed (not sexual); character is described as “shedding” work clothes (not sexual); character raises the back of another character’s tunic to check on injuries (not sexual); character sees fire lizards mating;  character references “birthing” someone; character bathes (not sexual); character “strips” dirty clothes (not sexual); girls flirt at a male character; a dragon is “broody” over her eggs; a character describes two dragons rising to mate; brief discussion about fire lizards mating; female character allows another female character to remove her shoes and clothes to sleep (not sexual, more clinical); character attends a dragon hatching; a male character embraces a female character; character forcibly hatches and impresses a dragon; male character carries a female character (not sexual); character jokingly asks a male character if he has found “the love of his life”; character gently strokes another character’s hand (not sexual).

Most of the above scenes are brief, not graphic, and not sexual.

Mature Subject Matter:

Death, emotional abuse, equality issues, descriptions of survival, mental health issues, physical abuse, familial disgrace, mating (dragons).

Alcohol / Drug Use:

A character drinks a wine mixture a couple of times for sleep assistance; character is given a drug-like drink (fellis juice) a few times; a wineskin is passed around a dining table; characters occasionally drink wine; a character gets tipsy on wine; characters will sometimes request cups of wine.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Fantasy is my bread and butter. I read and write it. I’m obsessed with world-building and fascinated with lyrical prose. I love that I can contribute to the writing community by recommending good books that can actually make a difference in a person’s life.