Book Review: Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

Posted February 16, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
Series: ,
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Published by Del Rey Books on April 12, 1979
Pages: 303
Format: Paperback
Source: my own shelves


To the nobles who live in Ruatha Hold, Lessa is nothing but a ragged kitchen girl. For most of her life she has survived by serving those who betrayed her father and took over his lands. Now the time has come for Lessa to shed her disguise — and take back her stolen birthright.

But everything changes when she meets a queen dragon. The bond they share will be deep and last forever. It will protect them when, for the first time in centuries, Lessa’s world is threatened by Thread, an evil substance that falls like rain and destroys everything it touches. Dragons and their Riders once protected the planet from Thread, but there are very few of them left these days. Now brave Lessa must risk her life, and the life of her beloved dragon, to save her beautiful world. . .

Also by this author: The Masterharper of Pern

First in the Dragonriders of Pern fantasy (and science fiction!) series. It is, publication-wise, the first book Anne McCaffrey released. Chronologically, it falls in at fourteen.

I have a chronological list of the Pern publications on my review at KD Did It Takes on Books.

My Take

Words cannot begin to explain how much I adore Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series It’s been so very long since I’ve read it, and it’s begun to prey on my mind! McCaffrey is incredible in how well she makes me see the world she has created. As for that, her worldbuilding is also incredible. The clothing, the architecture, the mores, the culture, the songs, the educational system, the planet itself and its various ecosystems! Then she adds the dragons with their particular culture and their world’s expectations. The series-wide conflict that underlies the whole.

McCaffrey makes you care for her characters, and I cry and laugh and hold my breath as I read. It’s probably a good time for me to remember and thank Dave and Gail for turning me on to this series all those decades ago, lol!

Naturally, each individual story in the series must have its own conflicts, and McCaffrey doesn’t disappoint. In Dragonflight, we’re introduced to a class of people who have fallen so far in their world’s estimation: the dragonriders. Thread, an organic-eating organism, hasn’t fallen in 400 years and most of Pern’s population doesn’t believe it will ever fall again, and they are fed up with tithing food and products to a group they see as parasites.

It’s a struggle for young F’lar to keep up his own and his wing’s spirits, to keep training them for what he believes is inevitable, to hold his temper with what he sees as misguided, nay, stupid management and the humbling of the weyr. It’s in his story that we learn so much about Pern’s past and what F’lar believes will be its future. It also introduces us to the young Lessa, Pern’s future savior.

If you enjoy fantasy, you will adore Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. And if you read this from its very beginning chronologically, you’ll understand why I include science fiction as part of its genre.

The Characters

I don’t plan on my usual litany of characters, instead I’ll hit the highlights.

Ruatha Hold

Lessa is of the Blood, part of the Ruathan bloodline, but she hides herself as a filthy, ancient servant while she plots to overthrow the invader who slew her entire family. Lord Fax is a contemptible conqueror who treats everyone around him with a brutal viciousness. Lady Gemma is his current wife, heavily pregnant. Jaxom is the boy she will bear.

Benden Weyr

The Weyrs were once six-strong, but 400 years ago, five of the Weyrs were suddenly abandoned and no one had any idea what happened.

F’lar is one of the Benden wingleaders. His brother, F’nor, believes fully in F’lar, and between them, their wing is the most efficient and dedicated in their practice games.

R’gul is the current Weyrleader; his bronze dragon flew Jora’s golden queen in a mating ritual. It’s tradition that whatever bronze catches and mates with the senior golden queen becomes that Weyr’s leader. Unfortunately, R’gul is quite hidebound.

The Harper Hall

Robinton is the Masterharper of Pern.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a green sky of a background with a highlit red planet and the Benden mountain range below. It’s the golden Ramoth, with Lessa on her back, flying free.

No, kidding, Dragonflight, for it’s Ramoth’s mating flight that finds F’lar finally in charge as well as Lessa and Ramoth’s heroic flight into the past that saves Pern.

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4 responses to “Book Review: Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

  1. I tried reading a couple of Pern books in college and couldn’t get into them then a few years later I picked up a used copy of Draqonflight and glommed the whole series. 😀 McCafftey had a rich imagination and a way with characters.

    • A couple of Canadian friends turned me on to the series with one of those books in which you can choose from various paths as to which way you go in the book. It was fun to read as the journey changed each time, and it made me want to explore of this brave Pern world.

  2. This is one of the first adult SFF series I fell in love with, after Tolkien’s LOTR. I say “SFF” because while Anne thought of them as science fiction, and there’s certainly no magic, the Renaissance feel of the world gives a fantasy flavor. I still love these books, and reread most of them every few years. This is probably one of those years.

    I was so sad when McCaffrey died, I actually cried. I wish I could get into Todd’s books, but they just don’t have the same feel, somehow.

    • I have to agree with you, Lark. It’s definitely a sci-fi fantasy. It’s a series that I own as well so I can re-read it too. I absolutely adore these books and, yes, I cried too. Anne McCaffrey was so amazing. I was excited when I saw the first Todd McCaffrey book on Pern, slut that I am. I wanted Pern to go on forever! But after reading six of his books. GAG. At least three of those books were like a soap opera. Rehashing the same damned event over and over but using different characters’ perspectives. Gimme a break! And yes, his writing style is off. He doesn’t come anywhere near his mother’s talent. He could use a really good editor. Preferably his mother’s.

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