The Dolphins of Pern

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This is quite a different book from most of the recent Pern books because of its leisurely pace. Its a nice read, although it feels like not much actually happens in the book. Unfortunately the plot is pretty much a cliche at this point — child has special affinity for animal X, parents don’t understand, child pursues said affinity anyways, falls out with parents, ultimately proves that animal X is actually super awesome and important for Pern, group hugs. So, this book is an ok read, but lazily plotted and nothing much happens.

[isbn: 0345368959]

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The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall

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This is an anthology of Pern stories. It doesn’t really stand on its own though, you’re much better off having read the other Pern books first. The stories are:

  • The Survey: P.E.R.N.: this story feels quite lazy. There are new characters, but they aren’t well introduced. They find the planet later called Pern, and explore it, but the story is entirely descriptive with no real plot to speak of. A story that’s only interesting if you’re obsessed with all things Pern. Its especially important that you’ve read Dragonsdawn before this story.
  • The Dolphin’s Bell: this story recycles characters introduced in Dragonsdawn to tell another side of the evacuation from Landing story. Its an ok story, but its not ground breaking.
  • The Fort of Red Hanrahan: covers the settlement of the second Hold on Pern. This story feels more like a real story, even if it is a bit shallow. Better than the previous two stories.
  • The Second Weyr: this is more of a traditional dragon rider story, and quite good. It doesn’t feel as much like an afterthought as the other stories, and was a good read. The title is a bit of a fib, as this story explains the existence of the next three weyrs.
  • Rescue Run: this was a good story too, covering why the settlers were never rescued.

Overall, I’d say this collecting was ok, but nothing particularly special.

[isbn: 0345368991]

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The Renegades of Pern

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This book starts off in quite a disjointed manner, with the introduction of a variety of seemingly unrelated characters. The only thing that they all have in common is that they’re holdless. However, as the book progresses these characters are all weaved together into a relatively cohesive story line. I say relatively because there are gaps in the story telling, which can be a little jarring.

Interestingly, this book also clarifies some of the events of the others in the series. Most satisfyingly it includes more detail of the buried settlement at Landing than The White Dragon did, which ties in nicely with the introduction provided in Dragonsdawn. This gives me hope that later books will take the science fiction track I’ve been wanting them to for a while.

[isbn: 0345369335]

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The Dragonlover’s Guide to Pern

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I bought and read this book for the short story “the impression”, which is ok but not fantastic. Overall the book isn’t really my thing — its mostly a potted history of Pern and a nearly exhaustive coverage of the various weyrs, holds and craft halls that inhabit the planet. To be honest, I’d rather learn that stuff as I read the series, instead of reading a summary. Overall I think this book isn’t particularly great, although its nice to have read the short story at the right time in the sequence.

Having just read Dragonsdawn, there are also some inconsistencies which grated a little (the use of HNO3 for example, and how much knowledge of the Oort cloud the survey team had string to mind as examples).

[isbn: 0345412745]

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Dragonsdawn

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This book was similar to the other McCaffrey books I’ve read in that it felt like it lost its way in the middle for a bit. I’d been looking forward to this book for a while, because I really wanted to see the science fiction aspects of colonizing a new planet and developing a genetically engineered dragon explored. While this book did that, I don’t think it focused on the elements I wanted to — there was little discussion of the mechanics of either of these things, and instead a big sub plot about a jewel thief which was irrelevant and annoying. Overall, this book was ok, but not fantastic.

[isbn: 0345362861]

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Nerilka’s Story

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This book takes place over almost exactly the same period as Moreta. However, its not a rehash of those events, as it is written from a different person’s perspective. There are enough points where the two story lines meet for the books to make sense as a pair, and I’d recommend reading them back to back.

This book is an incredibly fast read (I knocked it over in a few hours on a flight), and its a bit more positive than Moreta, which has a pretty sad ending. However, this book isn’t the happiest book ever written either.

I’ve seen commentary that says this book is mostly about how unattractive Nerilka is physically. I dispute that though — the book is about how the human spirit is more important than breeding or good looks, and how Nerilka’s efforts to do the right thing in a time of crisis have a lasting impact.

I enjoyed this book.

[isbn: 0345339495]

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Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern

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Moreta is a book about a pandemic, and its hard to make those fun… If you’ve bothered to find out anything about the book in advance (or read the preceding Pern books, where it is referred to), you know that its not going to be a fun ride. On the other hand, the book is an interesting read, and its educational to find out how much knowledge has been lost in the Pern universe between Moreta and Lessa. For example, its clear in Moreta that everyone knows they moved from the Southern continent, whereas that is much less clear in the books set in Lessa’s time.

Its hard to say that a book about thousands of people dying is enjoyable. However, the story is a gripping one, and I’m glad I read it.

[isbn: 034529873X]
[award: nominee hugo 1984]

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Dragondrums

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This is the third book in the Harper Hall trilogy (after Dragonsong and Dragonsinger). I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other two. This book focuses on Piemur instead of Mellony, and the first half is about his pubescent turmoil, which is probably why I didn’t enjoy this book as much. I had similar objections to The White Dragon, which is a very similar book to this one. However, the second half of the book is pretty good, and overall I thought it was a useful contribution to the overall story line of the series.

[isbn: 0553258559]

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Dragonsinger

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This book is interesting because its 200 or so pages only cover a seven day period. Its a coming of age story that continues directly on from Dragonsong, and overlaps somewhat with The White Dragon (if only peripherally). This book has parallels with Pawn of Prophecy in my mind, mostly because they’re both about young children being taken under someone’s wing and given the time they need to develop their talents.

I liked this book, which gives me hope for the rest of the series.

[isbn: 0553258540]

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