I think what I love most about dragon myths is that regardless of whether these mythical beasts are portrayed as good or evil, they are still amazing to me. After all, what’s not amazing about a giant reptilian creature with wings that can breath fire? It’s something that could never exist in our reality, and yet they might as well be real given how much they appear in our literature, our movies and our imaginations.
I’m not sure where my own fondness for these ancient legends comes from, but it feels like something that has always been there. That’s why when I first got my hands on Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, I knew I would be hooked for good.
The first book in the original series was published all the way back in 1968, gradually giving birth to dozens of stories which took us to every intricate part of the universe McCaffrey had envisioned. The interesting thing is that I started reading the books after I played a video game that was based on the series. Admittedly, the game was nothing to write home about. It was made for the Dreamcast, and even though it had a lot of potential, the game just wasn’t as great as it could have been. That being said, I really loved it. Not for it’s graphics, or it’s dialogue, or even it’s gameplay. No, I loved it because it painted a beautiful image of the bond between humans and dragons that I’d always wished to see if dragon’s ever did turn out to be real… I guess not all childhood dreams come true, but it doesn’t mean you have to stop dreaming them.
When I discovered that the game was based on a series of books, I immediately purchased the first three and fell in love. My first surprise came when I learned that they aren’t actually classified as fantasy, but science fiction! I understood why as I began reading them. For those of you unfamiliar with the Pern universe, here is my simplified summary of it from one of my previous blog posts:
“Basically, it’s a story set in a future where most forms of advanced technology no longer exist, reminiscent of a more medieval time period where the people are governed by lords, the lands are divided into different Holds and Weyr’s, and of course there are dragonriders – hence the title – which is really all the allure you need to get into it.
Humans have colonized a planet called Pern, located in the Rukbat system, and which is under the constant threat of Thread, which is some kind of space spore given off by the another planet called the Red Star every fifty years or so. The only means they have of defending themselves during the Threadfalls, as they call it, are their dragons, an indigenous species on the planet along with fire lizards and other native and non-native organisms, who are able to produce a phosphine gas from the consumption of firestones, which is not only very flammable, but also very potent against Thread.”
Anne McCaffrey created a version of our future where dragons are not only a reality, but they are also the key to our very survival as a species. She had such an incredible vision, and even though she sadly passed away in 2011, I was surprised when I found out that Pern’s legacy had been passed on to her son, who has carried on the series to this day.
Dragongirl is the third book to be published with Todd McCaffrey as the sole author, and even though I didn’t read the sequels, it was written so well that it took me very little time to figure out what was going on, what had taken place prior, and the direction in which Todd is looking to take the stories. So without further ado, here are my thoughts on Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey:
*Note: As is the case with most book reviews, there is the possibility of spoilers. I will try my best to keep it spoiler free though.*
Review: Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey
If you can’t decide whether you’re in the mood for science fiction, fantasy, or romance, then you definitely want to read this book. With plenty of time travelling, epic battles between Dragon and Thread, complex love triangles and a group of memorable and loveable characters, Dragongirl is a beautiful addition to Anne McCaffrey’s legacy.
Dragongirl continues the story of Fiona, a young Weyrwoman who has travelled back to the present time after helping a group of dragons reach maturity in order to continue the long and arduous battle against the deadly Thread that continues to threaten their survival on Pern. She sought to bring hope to the hopeless, and even though most welcomed her with smiles and open arms, the hearts of some were not so easily won over.
It also didn’t help that many of the dragon’s were succumbing to a mysterious illness for which there didn’t appear to be any cure. Needless to say that things were not looking so good, and after the disaster that befall Telgar Weyr, it seemed that all hope was lost to the citizens of Pern.
A very interesting aspect of this book is the relationship that Todd McCaffrey created between Fiona, a seventeen year old Weyrwoman who is very much driven by her emotions, and Lorana, a much older and wiser former Weyrwoman and the protagonist from Dragonsblood, who suffered a great personal loss, and who has not only the ability to hear other people’s dragons, but somehow Fiona’s thoughts as well. This connection they share is both a blessing and a curse, and it makes for a very unique character dynamic between the two.
This book also explores the effects that travelling Between [aka travelling though both space and time] can have on both dragons and their riders. Time travelling, as a concept, is always a tricky thing to deal with in writing, because there are so many different variables and strains of logic that you have to take into account. For instance, if you travel to a certain point in the future and witness someone’s death, can you do something in the past that will prevent it from happening? It also addresses the issue of what kind of physical affects it can have, and how often you can travel to certain points in time.
Admittedly, it took a bit of getting used to for me. Despite his knowledge of the Pern universe and its history, and his ability to give a crucial role to every character in the story, Todd’s writing style is visibly different than his mother’s, and I feel like he has a bit more to learn about story development and pacing. Overall, though, I was very leased with his work, and I look forward to seeing what other stories he’s able to come up with in the future.
What do you look for in a good science fiction story? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on my blog’s Facebook page, and until next time, happy reading!