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Spoiler Free Summary:  Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey is the first book in the Dragonriders of Pern series (at least what is commonly regarded as the first in the main arc). Humans have lived for decades without a single strand of thread falling from the sky. The dragons are fat and lazy. All the Weyrs save one are empty. Politics have stolen the birthright of one woman who means to take her hold back, but fate has other plans. The ancient threat returns. It’s time for dragons to fly again.

The cover image for this book was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Character:  Here is where I expect there to be a lot of dissension. One can argue the relationship between Lessa and F’lar to be unhealthy (to say the least). This book was written so long ago with a completely different perspective on things. However, these characters are awesome. Lessa is a strong-willed, decisive character. I affirm she was the first true female hero in fantasy. If she isn’t, please try and justify your nominee in the comments below. She absolutely has character flaws and inexperience, but she’s amazing, strong, motivated, and capable. F’lar is a classic rogue hero. Without understanding (or getting into the logistics) of the dragon bond and how everything works, one may strongly disagree about these characters and their relationship, but I don’t. Their relationship and individual arcs are amazing.

Exposition: It takes a degree of patience to enjoy a Pern book. There is a lot of exposition because this world is so different from our own. I wouldn’t read this to my kids because I don’t think they’d appreciate it at their age (and also there are the adult themes and concepts that aren’t appropriate for young readers). However, once they grow more mature and appreciate reading and world building more, I can’t wait to recommend it to them.

Worldbuilding: This amazing wold is the reward for readers patient enough to endure an excessive amount of exposition. This wold has a political structure and a magic system grounded in science. I’ve borrowed from Pern (in several ways). Brandon Sanderson has admitted Pern’s influence on him. McCaffrey laid the foundation for so many in the genre that I’d consider it a must read for anyone who says they are fans of either science fiction or fantasy.

This Camera Press image was found on McCaffrey’s New York Times obituary and used for this review.

Dialogue: When these characters talk, they’re not just spewing exposition to the readers. Yes, there is some of that, but the characters are interacting for their own sake rather than simply to provide information to the readers. Their voices are distinct and unique to them. This is an under-appreciated skill and a sadly underused technique, but McCaffrey is great at it.

Description: While meticulous and (in my mind) a bit much, there’s no denying that McCaffrey’s description is immersive and captivating. I’m not individually impressed by description, so I’m probably harder on her than I should be, but I’m positive fans of deep-immersive worlds will actually be excited by the description in this book.

Overall: Dragonriders is the best series ever. @me all you want, it’s how I feel. Dragonflight introduces a world of imagination and wonder and makes dragons compelling characters rather than just flying horses or monsters to be fought. This book alone (not to even go into the rest of the series) has everything a fan of fantasy and/or science fiction could ever ask for. It’s not one great idea, it’s ten ideas seamlessly woven together into a perfect story.

Thanks for reading

Matt

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