Book Review: The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey from The Dragonriders of Pern

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Spoiler Free Summary:  The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey is the third book (sort of) in the Dragonriders of Pern series (at least what is commonly regarded as the first in the main arc). No one thought much of Lord Jaxom’s little white dragon, Ruth. But Jaxom believed. The two begin training to work together. Jaxom wants nothing more than to prove his dragon is indeed special. However, not even Jaxom can imagine just how special Ruth really is.

Character:  I must be honest here. I’ve made it clear that Dragonriders is my favorite series ever, and Ruth is my favorite character ever. His relationship with Jaxom is so beautiful. Strangely, this book doesn’t have the action and suspense of a Mistborn book (my third favorite series). It’s not a thrilling ride. Instead, it’s a bout a friendship that defies the odds, and that’s why the story is so powerful to me. As a person who has been blessed with truly lifelong friendships, this story connects with me in a way that it might not for others. Still, when people talk about a boy and his dragon story, this is it. This, again, is proof that dragon stories don’t have to be about action. I’m not anti-action at all. I usually enjoy it more. But I think it bears contemplation that as much as I love action, I love characters I can connect with more. Writers should take that to heart. If you connect your readers to your characters, they won’t care what the plot is. They’ll care what happens to the characters no matter how physically dangerous the stakes are. There are still stakes in this story, and there’s even physical danger. But I read this story (at least three times so far) just to hang out with two characters I dearly love.

Exposition: As Dragonriders progresses, the exposition becomes less of a crutch. I barely even notice any here. There are some scenes where the dialogue gives us some data, but it’s well woven into the conversation in a natural way. At least two books into the series (there are books that fall between that I don’t believe one “has” to read), McCaffrey finds a rhythm that lets the pace move faster. I will say this, there is absolutely a mandatory reading order. If you pick up The White Dragon, and you haven’t read the other two books I’ve reviewed, you’re going to be very lost.

Worldbuilding: Just when you think this wonderful world can’t get anymore fascinating, McCaffrey opens up a whole new dimension (literally). This story takes the overall arc in a direction that gives the main characters a new hope. While some could argue the story builds slowly, I affirm McCaffrey allows readers to sink into her world the way one likes to sink into a hot bath. Sure, there are some intense moments, but the payoff is well worth it.

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

Dialogue: The dialogue here does have a few scenes where the characters are moving the plot along. It’s pretty easy to tell, but it’s at least woven into conversations that are relevant and motivating to the characters. There are several adorable conversations between Ruth and Jaxom that really help to build on their relationship. This is still very good dialogue, but it might not be as great as the first two books.

Description: McCaffrey is always so effortless in her description. Reading one of her books makes me feel like a two-year-old trying to finger paint. However, the brilliance of her work isn’t in complexity. Instead, it’s in the simplicity. She doesn’t beat the reader over the head with details. Instead, she gives you small details that make a location or action feel more real, and that’s how description should be.

Overall: The White Dragon is my favorite book in my favorite series featuring my two favorite characters, so I’m a little biased. However, this book is guaranteed to yank the heartstrings of anyone who has ever been a a part of a powerful friendship. It’s touching, dramatic, and powerful. So here’s the challenge. Read the three books I’ve reviewed so far. If you’re not in love with the characters by now, you probably lack a human heart, but I won’t make you read the rest. Ultimately, this is a story that shows that faith in friendship can help people achieve more than anyone thought possible, and I for one find that a beautiful thought.

Thanks for reading


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