Spoiler Free Summary: Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey is essentially the prequel book that explains the origins of the Dragonriders of Pern series, which is my favorite all time series. Humans have finally arrived at their new home, a planet they immediately being to colonize. But this perfect planet is subject to Thread, a substance that consumes nearly everything it touches. Mankind uses genetics and a bit of fantasy inspired ingenuity to create its defense: dragons.
Character: I read this before I’d even gone to college. It was the second attempt I made at reading McCaffrey (I was much younger and much less a fan of reading the first time I tried). My brother recommended that I read this first so I better understood the world of Pern, and I think it was wise and is wise for readers who like a little more context to things. I mention this here because I don’t remember the character’s names. I know there was a young boy who discovered the small lizards. This felt a bit like Flight of the Navigator meets Mac and Me. (If you can remember either of those movies, you’re old, but you’re awesome!) I loved the way the story evolved from a sort of sci-fi frontier story to a planet threat story to a sci-fi fantasy blend. The characters were a major part of that. As you get to know these characters, you start to invest more in more on them and then the plot. No, I can’t remember these particular names after some 15 years (or even 20), but that only means they weren’t the once-a-generation memorable characters that F’lar and Lessa and Jaxom and Ruth are.
Exposition: I will say this is where I feel McCaffrey is weakest. It’s not to say she’s more offensive in this regard than anybody, but there is a lot of data in this story, and the reader has to be patient. Fans of deep worldbuilding and hard science won’t actually mind a bit. But for someone like me who is more attracted to character, there will be segments of the story that drag down the pace.
Worldbuilding: This. Is. How. It’s. Done. Everything about this story is meticulously thought out and organized perfectly. The foreshadowing is perfect. The usual price for worldbuliding of this caliber is a bit more exposition than one would normally like. For a world this realistic, I’ll happily accept a few pages here and there that make it possible for me to immerse myself in a story.
Dialogue: I actually remember liking the dialogue in the story. This is unique because of how long it’s been since I’ve read it. I remember how the conversations and banter helped me connect more and more to the characters. It was the first story that showed me dialogue can do more than offer backhanded exposition.
Description: Like all sci-fi, this is meticulous. That means it’s a bit more than I personally prefer, but it doesn’t drag down the story. Sci-fi (in my estimation) tends to focus on details that bring worlds and events to life, and McCaffrey is not different.
Overall: Whether you’re starting the series or just want to see a great origin story, Dragonsdawn is a must read for fans of both sci-fi and McCaffrey. If you have someone you think will enjoy Pern, I do actually recommend they read this first. It really helped me wrap my head around the planet before I jumped into the main fall arc. Even if you’re just looking for something to read, you can’t go wrong with this book.
Thanks for reading