Dragon’s Blood by Todd McCaffrey

Dragon's Blood by Todd McCaffrey

Dragon’s Blood by Todd McCaffrey

This is the first time I’ve read any of the Pern books by Todd McCaffrey and to be honest I was a hesitant to start it because of some reviews from fellow Pern lovers. I heard that basically his stuff was crap in comparison to Anne’s work and that I shouldn’t give him the time of day. I decided to read it and synthesize my own opinion of his work and I started with Dragon’s Blood.

I started out with the foreword which was written by Anne McCaffrey and after reading I felt a little better about reading a book about my beloved Pern by someone who wasn’t Anne. She basically said in the foreword that Todd was there for the whole process of creating Pern and she read and approved of this book. She also had two of her biggest fans read and approve of the book before it was allowed to be sent to a publisher. I felt a little sad after reading this because I still get feels when I think about Anne passing away.

So, I continued reading. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I think that Todd really captured the feel of Pern and he had all the facts right. The basic plot of the book is that there are two timelines occurring at the same time during the book and characters from both times lines are racing to create a cure for a virus that is infecting and killing dragons. It was nice to see some returning characters from early in the time line, and I liked that there were some new characters introduced. I’m always a little leery about new characters because I never think I will like them as much as the original characters. Fortunately, I feel in love with the characters in this book and I think it was Todd’s ability to write in a way to make the reader empathized with the characters.

One blaring difference between Pern books by Anne McCaffrey and Todd’s was that the overall tone was much darker. Dragon’s Blood was dark. Very dark. Much darker than even the plague themed books by Anne. I felt there was so much death in this book and it was all sudden. It was like, “La, la, la, oh look baby dragon, so cute, much love, omg dead baby dragon.” 😐 BAM. Here I was thinking the main heroine was going to be the next Lessa… nope. I’m currently half way through Dragon’s Fire by both Anne and Todd and I’m finding it very dark as well. Todd seems to have a thing about dead babies…

So, overall I did enjoy reading this book and I feel that Todd did Pern justice, even if his tone is much darker than Anne’s. Of course he will never totally replace Anne as the writer of Pern, but at least he’s giving it his best effort and open to taking feedback from the fans. I’ll continue to read his books and I think I will enjoy them more and more as I get used to all the darkness.

The Masterharper of Pern

Anne McCaffrey 1926-2011, The Dragon LadyR.I.P Anne McCaffrey, 1926-2011. You will be missed and the dragons are still keening for you.

 

“A heart that’s true in harper blue
makes song from heart’s own fire,”
(All the Weyrs of Pern 1991)

This quote is one that I feel best describes the character of Robinton, the main character in Anne McCaffrey’s  book The Masterharper of Pern (1998). If you’ve read any of the Pern series you will know that Robinton is one of the most beloved characters in the whole series and this book specifically outlines his life.

If you don’t understand a word from that last paragraph, here’s a brief background of the planet Pern. Pern is a fictional planet created by Anne McCaffrey. It is the third planet in the Rukbat system in the Sagittarian sector of our night sky. The planet was colonized in the very far future by humans and turned into an agricultural colony. Just at the settlers were getting comfortable a deadly spore named Thread started falling from the Red Star. The Red Star is actually a planet with an eccentric orbit around Rukbat and only comes close enough to drop Thread on Pern every 200 years. Thread is non-intelligent but will devour any organic material it comes into contact with, including trees, animals, and humans. As a way to combat Thread before it reached Pern’s fertile soil, the settlers bioengineered fire breathing dragons by altering an indigenous life form known as fire lizards. The dragons are Impressed at hatching with a partner with whom they communicate telepathically. The pairing is for life and if one of the pair is to die the other would soon follow. Harpers are very important on Pern. They are the teachers, musicians, and peacekeepers of Pern. Robinton is the Masterharper, which means he is in charge of all the Harpers all over Pern.

The Dragonriders of Pern is the series of books that sparked my love of reading. When I was young I hated to read and my school librarian recommended these books to me. It was love. I honestly can’t begin to describe how amazing these books are. Whether you are a fantasy fan or a science fiction fan these books are for you because they are a perfect balance of the two genres.

The Masterharper of Pern is the 15th novel in the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey (and her son Todd McCaffrey) and it takes place 55 turns (aka years) before the beginning of the Ninth Pass of the Red Star to shortly before the pass actually begins (the beginning of Dragonflight).

The story follows Robinton’s life from birth. We meet his mother and father as well as his various friends and distant relatives. We also find out many of the hardships that Robinton faced as he grew up in the Harper Hall, the place where all Harpers are trained. One such hardship is Robinton’s relationship with his father, Petiron, a Master Composer, and the effect is has on his mother, Merelan, a Master Singer. Another adversity that has a lasting effect on the Masterharper is the death of Robinton’s spouse, Kasia.

For those who have read the previous Dragonrider books The Masterharper of Pern is full little aha! moments when we recognized a name of a character only briefly mentioned in other books. For example, we learn the relationship between F’lon (who is F’lar’s father) and Robinton as well as the identity of Robinton’s only son.

For more information on the Dragonriders Series you should visit some of these websites!

Sariel’s Guide to Pern

Suggested Reading Order  **Please note that Todd McCaffrey’s  three newest books are not listed. They are Dragongirl (2010), Dragon’s Time (2011), and Sky Dragons (2012 – forthcoming)**

The Pern Museum and Archives

The Worlds of Anne McCaffrey

Todd McCaffrey, Author, Artist, Pilot, Geek