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Spoiler Free Summary:  The Renegades of Pern by Anne McCaffrey is the fourth book (sort of) in the Dragonriders of Pern series (at least what is commonly regarded as the first in the main arc). The renegades of Pern are cast-outs. They are those who live outside of the protection of a hold. Jayge is a trader, but when another holdless group composed of outlaws seeks Thella, one who can hear all dragons, he must protect his clan and his people.

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

Character: This was easily the most forgettable cast for me. Part of it is that this story is a side-story. The overall plot doesn’t move one inch in this story. The world is still great, but because these characters are so new to me, I had trouble giving them a chance because I wanted to see what was happening with the main cast. So I’m not saying these characters aren’t good, but I might recommend one read this after the series as sort of a side quest that’s interesting and entertaining. I wonder what others think. If you have feelings on this particular story, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Exposition: This story had an expected increase in exposition because McCaffrey took the story in a new direction. By opening up the world more, she had to help readers understand these new details. For me, the combination of less familiar characters and more exposition brought this story down. I still enjoy it, but I don’t enjoy it nearly as much the others in the series.

Worldbuilding: This is still the calling card of the whole series. As frustrating as it may be to read a whole story that doesn’t advance the main objective of the saga, it’s still amazing to see that no matter how vast one may think this world is, there is still so much more to see, and that’s the reward of the series and what this book brings to it. These kinds of books are best after the saga is done so that you can truly appreciate what the book is doing rather than resent it for what it was never designed to do in the first place.

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

Dialogue: This is about where McCaffrey usually lands for me. The dialogue is interesting and detailed. It’s not just about moving the plot forward. Her dialogue probably isn’t as memorable as Koontz or Butcher, but it feels real, and that’s always a plus.

Description: The details McCaffrey adds are always what gives her stories more life. What I appreciate is that those details are sprinkled in and through the prose in a way that doesn’t overly bog down the story. I normally just keep description light to avoid the issue, but that takes away from the immersive feel of a story. What one should do is aspire to be more like McCaffrey in technique. The idea is to try and actually see the world as it happens, and she shows the world to readers in that manner. Based on what I recall from this story, I think there’s a lot that here that really adds to the overall feel of the world. Using the holdless to show that point of view was a truly inspired idea.

Overall: I always have a strange appreciative resentment for stories like this. They’re cool because of how they expand a world, but they’re frustrating in that they don’t advance the plot forward. The answer is simple with a series like this. Read the “main arc” books and enjoy them. Then come back and read a story like this to add depth to an already amazing world. By all means, read this. Just don’t read it hoping it’ll do something it was never intended to do.

Thanks for reading


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