Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

A young woman discovers her destiny among a cadre of psychic dragons, and hatches a radical plan to save her planet from a deadly threat using time travel.

I wish I had discovered Pern when I was in high school. Dragonflight, one of Anne McCaffrey’s books set in the dragon-strewn world, is perfect YA sci fi fantasy. Lessa is a fantastic heroine whose impulsive acts have big consequences, and the book doesn’t try to achieve too much.

It’s difficult to talk about a classic like this one. I don’t know enough about the canon in order to critique it, and because it’s an older book I’ve been spoiled by its derivatives and am not able to appreciate it as much as if I’d read it when I was younger and more impressionable. I

But it was a fast, relaxing read that brought me great pleasure, so it was just the thing for a time and attention span-strapped new mother.

(And thanks ever so much to Sarah for lending me the three-book volume. I’ll be happily reading the other two before returning it to you!)

16 thoughts on “Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey”

  1. Curious – what three book volume?

    I recall reading DragonFlight and DragonQuest as a pair, with Lessa and F’nor growing into their destinies, and preserving their people from the ancient threat of Thread.

    DragonSong and DragonSinger are more personal, telling of Menolly as she follows her dream of song. Bantam published these two that I got in paperback – I see DelRey doesn’t list them in the list of Pern titles in the frontmatter of MasterHarper of Pern.

    Athenum published the hardcover copy I have of DragonDrums, and no one seems to list that one. I was disappointed over the publisher – many pages shelled out (fell out) of the binding, the first time I read the book. This one ties Piemur from DragonSinger back into the story line.

    Then The White Dragon ties these threads together, brings in Jaxom and Ruth and opens new vistas for the future of Pern.

    Moreta: DragonLady of Pern dips into the history mentioned in the other books, the song “Ballad of Moreta’s Ride”, and explains the story. Nerilka’s Story gives a historical romance type treatment of an interesting woman caught up in a fold of the events in Moreta’s Ride.

    The Girl That Heard Dragons was another spotlight on a girl, caught between her family and a destiny with the Dragon riders.

    DragonDawn begins a new twist on the story line, taken at the beginning of the dragons and riders of Pern.

    At least, these are some of my favorites of the early Pern stories.

    I like DragonFlight and DragonQuest. It has been several years since I read them – I think DragonSong and DragonSinger are more personal, with less scope of society and more a story of a girl and her escape from repression (family’s expectations). But (blushing) the one I re-read most regularly? Nerilka’s Story. Short, almost a novella, I got it signed when Anne McCaffrey was signing books in Mountain View, CA, in the late 1980’s. I believe I also have the DragonSong she signed for me that day. Purple felt tip pen. Publisher’s Inc. bookstore, sunny day. I went during the work day, so the line wasn’t too long at the time – only 30 people ahead of me. Not that that day stands out, or that the author of The Ship Who Sang, Crystal Singer, and Get Off The Unicorn is special to me.


  2. I always loved the Dragonsinger ones about Menolly the best. I have a hardbound volume that includes Dragonquest, Dragonsong and Dragonsinger. I was introduced to the first of these when a friend gave me Dragonquest as a birthday present. Lessa is one of the strongest female lead characters I’d ever met!

  3. I was glad I started reading these when I was younger, like you said. I admit, it has made me hesitant to read other dragon books. Glad you are enjoying them 🙂 I was only too happy to introduce you to one of my favorite fantasy writers. It is kind of like introducing someone to another friend when you know they will both get along well!

  4. Ahh… this trilogy was my first intro to SciFi/fantasy. This and the Harper Hall trilogies are some of the few books I’ll return to and read again and again. I have most of the following books; I’m a bit behind but determined to change that.

    I’ve even mentioned the Pern world on my blog a few times. It’s been a very influential series for me.

  5. I read the Dragonsinger books when I was a young teenager and absolutely adored them. I should have realized there were many more books by McCaffrey I could have been reading since then! Thanks for the review 🙂

  6. DragonQuest is the continuation of DragonFlight. That should come next.

    I would break to read DragonSong and DragonSinger before White Dragon; you gain a bit of insight into a couple of characters and situations that way.

    DragonDrums also builds up a character, introduced in DragonSinger, that shows up in the White Dragon. Good luck finding this one, it isn’t in print near as often. I think DragonSong is probably the most reprinted of this early set.

    Moreta: DragonLady of Pern occurs before DragonFlight, then Nerilka’s Story follows on from Moreta. Both stand alone quite well; my favorite for characterization is Nerilka; Moreta may be better adventure. Moreta explains a ballad mentioned in DragonFlight, ‘Moreta’s Ride’.

    Like the Moreta book, “The MasterHarper of Pern” goes back to before Dragonflight to explain background on the harper Robinton. Note this one was published in 1998 – not contemporary to the early Pern books. It happens before Dragonflight – I think saving it for a followup until after reading the rest would work out, maybe before reading Moreta.

  7. oh that was a helpful post…I read Dragonflight a while ago and wasn’t sure where to head off to next with such a huge selection of stories by her!

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