by Anne McCaffrey

Paperback, 2002



Local notes



Del Rey (2002), Edition: Reissue, 320 pages


To the nobles who live in Benden Weyr, 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.… (more)


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User reviews

LibraryThing member fyrefly98
Summary: The Dragonriders of Pern protect their planet from the ecological disaster of invading Threads, whose coming is predicted by the red star. But there hasn't been a Threadfall in centuries, and the dragonweyrs are mostly empty, with most common people believing that the Threads are gone for good. Only the riders of Benden Weyr keep the old traditions, and that includes a search for a girl to become Weyrwoman, and form a psychic bond with the newly-hatched queen dragon. Rider F'lar believes he has found a suitable candidate in Lessa, a serving girl who bears the last of a noble bloodline. Once Lessa Impresses the queen dragon, and her dragon mates with F'lar's dragon, he becomes Weyrleader, but Lessa has a mind of her own… and both of them will be needed in order to face the threat of imminent Threadfall.

Review: Errrrm, I don't know about this one, y'all. I mean, yes, this is a classic, and yes, it is referenced all the time, and yes, it's a product of its times and shouldn't necessarily be judged by today's social norms and all, but: damn. This is a prime example of an otherwise interesting world and engaging story being almost ruined for me by the super-gross gender politics involved.

I mean, okay. The dragons? Are awesome. And I totally see the seeds of later telepathic and vaguely snarky dragons being planted by this story. I totally get why Mori from Among Others spends so much time wanting to Impress a dragon. The world is also interesting. I found bits of it vaguely cliché (probably unfairly, since this came before most of what I'm comparing it to), and McCaffrey's method of leaving some details of her worldbuilding unexplained didn't always sit entirely well with me, but it eventually all made sense, and it all worked in service of the story, which was cool, internally consistent, and went in some directions that I wasn't expecting.

But. BUT. The gender politics. Like, there's this whole system in which girls are basically kidnapped from their homes to try to Impress the Queen, and then not really allowed to do anything once they do become Weyrwoman, and then it's assumed that whichever male dragon their dragon mates with, they will have sex with that dragon's rider, (ostensibly because their telepathically-linked dragon sexy-time emotions are too strong to be resisted?) and essentially become his concubine. Gross! And worse, this is the way it is, with no indication that anybody sees anything much wrong with the system. I honestly didn't realize until almost halfway through that we were supposed to see F'lar as a protagonist and not a villain. He is arrogant, he's rude, he's calculating, and he's not particularly nice to Lessa most of the time, alternating between condescending to her, ignoring her, and shaking her senseless for disobeying his orders. Well, all that, plus this:

"He caught her arm and felt her body tense. He set his teeth, and wishing, as he had a hundred times since Remoth rose in her first mating flight, that Lessa had not been virgin too. He had not thought to control his dragon-incited emotions, and Lessa's first sexual experience had been violent. It had surprised him to be first, considering that her adolescent years had been spent drudging for lascivious warders and soldier types. Evidently, no one had bothered to penetrate the curtain of rags and the coat of filth she had carefully maintained as a disguise. He had been a considerate and gentle bedmate ever since, but, unless Remoth and Nementh were involved, he might as well call it rape. Yet he knew, someday, somehow, he would coax her into responding wholeheartedly to his lovemaking. He had a certain pride in his skill, and he was in a position to persevere." --from time point 5:00:15

(My notes from this point say: SUPER GROSS AND RAPEY, DUDE. Which: yeah. And this is the hero! We're supposed to be rooting for him!)

Lessa herself is pretty awesome, except when she's anxiously trying to win F'lar's approval (or not get shaken.) I would have liked the book a lot better if the backbone she clearly has was on display the whole time. The story itself is quite good, and there are times when the gross gender issues are pushed to the background, but they were never entirely out of my head, which didn't exactly ruin the book, but did definitely make it less enjoyable than it could have been. 3 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: I understand why it's considered a classic of SF/F, and there are a lot of really good elements to the world and the story and some of the characters. I found the gender politics pretty off-putting, but if you're able to treat them as a regrettable product of their time, there's a good story underneath. I'm not in a big hurry to read the next book in the series, though.
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LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
This is often seen on lists of must-read fantasies, but it's really science-fiction (albeit with a fantasy feel). Pern is a lost colony of Earth. Dragons were bread from a species native to that planet--and are the natural enemy of the "spores" that periodically cause havoc.

This is an influential book--you can see the similarities in other books, not just ones also featuring dragons, but ones that also feature close human/creature bonds, such as Lackey's novels featuring horse-like companions. Lessa is a strong and memorable heroine, and other characters in this book are just as appealing (particularly the Masterharper Robinton).

This is one of those books that was in my permanent library until it literally fell apart in repeated readings. I do think at a certain point the series (there are about 20 books) lost its verve, even before her son began writing many of them, and I no longer pick up the new ones--but certainly the first three in the Dragonriders of Pern and Harper Hall series are enchanting and come to a satisfying resolution even if you don't hunt up more.
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LibraryThing member apatt
I read a few Pern books in my teen, I thought they were readable but at the time I was not all that taken with them. At that age I was not too discerning, I cared nothing for characterization, dialogue or prose. I read only for fun and escapism, not for the artistry of the works. Well, I am way out of my teen now, and I have cultivated an appreciation finesse to compensate for my own deficiency in that department.

Since her recent passing tributes have been pouring in for Anne McCaffrey from numerous quarters, including major sf/f writers including Neil Gaiman, David Brin, Lev Grossman, and Vonda McIntyre. These tributes reminded that I never really gave Anne McCaffrey's books a fair chance. Now is as good a time as any to start exploring them in earnest.

When I first heard about this series decades ago the idea of fighting threads did not fill me with enthusiasm, I mean fighting threads? May as well fight balls of yarn! I thought. Ah, but then there are threads and there are Threads, these things are more menacing than I ever gave them any credit for. They are basically mindless, true, but so are zombies and the threads are even more deadly. They burn and they burrow and they are of course relentless

This is not a YA book, it is not action packed, those looking for heart pounding scenes of dragon conflagration are not likely to be satisfied. The major strength and enduring popularity of this book - and I imagine the entire series - is the immersiveness of Pern. The slower chapters depicting day to life on Pern is what makes the world realistic, after all life is not full of nonstop action on a daily basis. The author wants you to live with her characters not go on missions with them. That said she really makes you wait for the threads to make an appearance though!

This is also not a fantasy book, not in the sense that Lord of the Rings or The Wheel of Time are. Anne herself has always been adamant that she is a science fiction author, no disrespect to the wonderful fantasy genre of course, but she deliberately backed the Pern fantasy tropes of dragons and medieval life with science. Pern is a planet, the dragons are genetically engineered and the lack of technology is due to some event that caused a fall of technological civilization. So no magic, no elves, no unicorns and no Dark Lord with a funny name (thank gawd!). The author's meticulous attention to details is awe inspiring.

Anne's prose style is - as her legions of fans would attest - is beautiful, clean, clear, concise and literary. The main characters are skillfully fleshed out, unfortunately my one complaint is that the protagonist Lessa is unrelentingly ill-tempered and willful to the point of being a pain in the posterior. I am looking forward to many more visits to Pern.

"That was well flown, I say. Well flown".
RIP Anne.
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LibraryThing member fuzzi
I really believe that Anne McCaffrey's best works were the first couple of series she wrote, the Dragonriders of Pern and the Harper Hall of Pern.

This book was the first in the first series, and a well-written book it is, with good character development. I especially love how McCaffrey wrote Robinton, the Master Harper, and Fandarel, the Master Smith. I find myself grinning as I read, enjoying the back and forth of the lesser characters.

The plot: the last Weyr of Pern has experienced the death of the last female dragonrider, and her dragon is dying as well, but not before she has laid one last clutch of eggs, including a queen egg that only needs a strong woman to bond with once it hatches.

A search is conducted, looking for the right person to help bring the Weyr back to respectability, and to increase the strength of the dragons and their riders, who are the only defense against an upcoming attack by another planet's spore, aka "Thread".

Good plot, good story, believable, enjoyable. What more could one wish? A sequel? ;)

And thus was an entire universe created, and a legacy for book lovers.
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LibraryThing member RussianLoveMachine
Somehow my middle-school self missed the appallingly misogynistic aspects of this book. I get that the book is a product of its time, but a hero who is constantly shaking the heroine, to the point where she's actively afraid of provoking that reaction, is not okay. The worldbuilding is incredible, and later books in the series seem to be somewhat less problematic, but this one is about as sexist as its pulp-style cover implies.

For awesome dragons without the sexist aftertaste, try Naomi Novik's Temeraire series.
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LibraryThing member draigwen
This book has been a bit of a battle for me. On the one hand it's nicely written, kept my attention, and had characters that I've adored. On the other hand, it's had every feminist bone in my body (and I'm not much of a feminist, so there aren't that many) on edge. While the key character in the novel is female, and a strong character, she annoys the hell out of me. She does stupid things (that fortunately turn out for the best). And while she is quite a hero and hugely important she is, to some extent, just a sex object. It's hard to explain without giving away spoilers, which I don't want to do. It's not like she's some Xena wearing skimpy armour - she's not a sex object in that sense - but her character is necessary because females are needed to procreate, and procreation is crucial in this book.Despite this, I really did like the book. I loved some of the characters (although I could have done with more characterisation and less jumping between times and missing out character growth). The plot is simple, and the enemy unusual, and in so many ways this shouldn't work as a book. But somehow it does. I wonder how the other novels (of which there are a lot) can take this further, as this book seems to sum up the lifecycle of the whole of Pern. I'm interested to read more, however, so will probably be ordering the next book on my kindle.… (more)
LibraryThing member TadAD
I absolutely loved this book when I first read it. I reread it a couple of years ago and the luster had diminished somewhat. However, it's still original, well-crafted and a lot of fun to read.

It's somewhat hard to put the Pern books into series as the various story lines such as Dragonriders and Harper Hall intertwine in time. Most folks call this the first of the Dragonrider trilogy, even though there are some stories about the dragon riders set earlier in time. This is followed by Dragonquest and White Dragon.… (more)
LibraryThing member Ailinel
The first novel in McCaffrey's popular, long-lived, and prolific series, Dragonflight dances along the edge between science fiction and fantasy. The story opens on a colony world where dangerous thread fall (deadly spores) from a sister planet long ago isolated the colonists from Earth. Over time they lost much of their technology, excepting the dragons long ago engineered to connect to humans who have a slight telepathic ability and fight Thread. In the novel's time much of history has become vague legend or lost entirely, and the world Pern has become a feudal society.

Four hundred years have passed since Thread scorched the land, and dragonriders have become a small group, detested by Holders and viewed as a useless relic of a bygone age. Dragonrider F'lar is certain that Thread is about to fall once more, and the dragon riders are ill prepared. Less, a girl who spent the past decade engineering the death of the man who murdered her family, no sooner executes her revenge than she is taken as a potential dragon rider for the new queen. With the secret ability to hear all dragons, recklessness, fearlessness, and a desperate need to control her own fate, she will be the catalyst through which the future of Pern will be decided.

The story is enthralling and its characters vivid. One small point of contention for me lies in the relationship between Less and F'lar. I found the way it developed difficult to believe, and felt the dichotomy of their relationship flip-flopped without any real reasoning. On a personal note, I was uncomfortable with and disturbed by the gender politics and with dragonriders' sexual practices, particularly that they were forced into a mental 'heat' when their dragons mated and regularly slept with other riders when they were unable to give clear-minded consent. One character almost manages to admit to himself (almost, as he determines dragons being involved changed the situation) that he had raped a young woman.
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LibraryThing member Narilka
I admit I went in to Dragonflight with some trepidation. Sometimes older scifi novels just don't hold up, specifically for me when it comes to the science aspects. I sometimes have a hard time turning off that part of my brain that keeps pointing out how wrong the old school science is considering the advancements society has made in the years since the books publication. Turns out I needn't have worried as this is more of a medieval style fantasy with some touches of scifi mixed and, most importantly, dragons.

Lessa is the sole survivor of Ruatha Hold when Fax the usurper came and killed everyone. Lessa has stayed unnoticed by disguising herself as a kitchen drudge, plotting the day she can take Ruatha Hold back as rightful heir. Turns out that fate had something else in mind when Lessa meets and bonds with a queen dragon. Dragonriders have always protected Pern from Threads, malignant spores that drop from the sky when Pern's sister planet's orbit comes too close as dragon fire can burn Threads out of the sky. Threads have not fallen in such a long time that many no longer believe they exist and resent the need to pay tribute to the Dragonriders. Now the time of Threads have come again and it's up to Lessa and the remaining Dragonriders to address the planet wide threat.

I absolutely loved the premise of this book and the world of Pern. I can see how this series gained such a huge following. Who wouldn't want to bond with a dragon and become it's rider? The portrayal of relationship between dragon and rider is easily my favorite thing about the book. I also love the old school "dragons are awe-inspiring creatures to be feared and respected" thing. It really makes me wish I'd read this when I was younger as I think younger me would've devoured the entire series in a heartbeat. The writing is rather pulpy, the pacing uneven, with most everything working out way too conveniently, and I wasn't particularly drawn to any of the human characters, but dragons! More dragons please!!

What caught me completely off guard were the gender roles in the book. Fair warning: This book was written in the 1960s and is a product of its time. I was surprised just how badly the sexism came across, especially from a female author. The relationship between F'lar and Lessa is highly problematic and basically abusive by today's standards. I can see how this could be off-putting to modern readers.

Still I found it to be an entertaining enough read and I'm glad to have read this classic. That said, I don't feel the urge to continue this series any farther.
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LibraryThing member ConnieJo
This was pretty great. The most interesting parts were definitely the time-travel elements, which I wasn't expecting when I started the book (I bought it on sale, thought I'd give it a try). I thought all that was pretty well-handled, and I especially liked how it dealt with the larger dragon population of Pern.

I also liked the threat of the threads, I thought that was a great reason for the dragons and the culture of dragon riders to exist.

Lessa grated on me more than a little. She led a rough life, and I could see her being aggressive about the restrictiveness of the Weyr and the fact that the male population seems to want to keep her in the dark. She's a great, strong female character, and I wanted to like her. But she blows up in anger a lot, does things that are ill-advised, and just makes a lot of bad decisions seemingly as a result of the Weyr not educating her properly and her getting impatient. She reminded me a lot of Claire at the beginning of Outlander, when she made a lot of assumptions, bold statements and bad decisions based on what she thought was going on, so the other characters were constantly bailing her out and dealing with her misconceptions. It drove me crazy. Part of the problem with Lessa is that I felt like the passage of time in the present was (ironically) a little vague. So between angry outbursts, there may have been years passing. But all we read about was her being angry, so she came across a bit too negative for my taste.

I did like that F'lar liked her because of her strong personality, I appreciate it when characters acknowledge the flaws in others and like them because it makes them who they are. But as another reviewer points out, I was pretty uncomfortable with Lessa and F'lar's relationship throughout. Lessa rarely seems attracted to F'lar as a partner, and F'lar mentions that their sexual relationship seems forced. Lessa sometimes shows jealousy, but we hear far less from her about F'lar than we hear from F'lar about Lessa, so it felt forced.

Actually, in general, I couldn't get into any of the characters. But the plot and world were so good that I was able to forgive it that.

But there were a lot of good ideas. I'll probably return to the series at some point, probably skip to a book without Lessa to see how I like it.
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LibraryThing member BruceCoulson
People love this series, and this book; but I'm not one of them.
LibraryThing member melydia
Lessa is a young girl who bonds with a queen dragon and joins the dragonriders to fight the Threads, a vague enemy which sounds more like a natural disaster than anything. I’ve read a lot of fantasy in my day, but this was my first visit to Pern, and I spent much of the time wondering how in the world so many books managed to be written in this series. The characters are shallow and not especially likable, the names are all spelled with apostrophes (ugh!), the writing was awkward and flowery, and the paradoxes brought on by time travel were frankly tiresome. I guess if I had some kind of existing affinity for dragons I would have been more drawn in, but I don’t. I sincerely doubt I’ll be reading anything else set in Pern.… (more)
LibraryThing member DeusXMachina
First reread of a Pern book after I first discovered them in the 1980s because I inherited a whole bunch of them from a friend. Back then, I was overwhelmed. Now, I can't find much good to say, at least about this volume. Especially Lessa is a spoiled brat, and that she jumps as soon as F'lar asks her to only makes it worse. Not much development, neither in them as characters nor in their relationship.… (more)
LibraryThing member Girl_Detective
Loved it as a teen. Found it sexist and cliche-ridden as an adult.
LibraryThing member earthlistener
Dragonflight is the first book in a highly acclaimed series. It deserves its acclaimed status. Anne McCaffrey begins her series by easing the reader into the world of Pern and describing how the world of Pern works around its characters and settings. While on the surface this book may look like a fantasy novel, this series is not necessarily a fantasy or even a science fiction work. It creates its own world and does not relay on the clichés and stereotypes of novels based around dragons and other similar subjects used in these works. It is unique and original, and all around interesting story. A wonderful read.… (more)
LibraryThing member atreic
Nearly everyone I know read and loved Pern when they were a teenager, so I thought it was about time I caught up. I do wish I'd found this book at the same time as everyone else, but I did enjoy it.

It has dragons! Except it's not fantasy, it's sci fi, because they are dragons on a colonised planet that are essential for fighting alien spores! And just when you've got your head round that, there's a Big Reveal, and you find out they are time travelling dragons! I mean, what's not to like about a strong female lead and time travelling dragons?

It is a bit problematic, or at least it's not a book about consent. Lessa is taken from her home and placed in mortal danger to possibly bond with the queen dragon without an explanation or any choice. And F'lar and Lessa's relationship, with its snark and power imbalance and dragon induced sex is probably not a model for the young. But Lessa is clever and powerful and changes history.

It's interesting to run the story in reverse. Our good guys are good because they stayed alert and guarded the old ways and protected Pern even after 400 years of waiting. But if there really had never been another attack from the threads, they would have been quite foolish. They are Right to have faith and stay vigilant, and are the heros because of it... but that moral does make you wonder, would it have been good to wait for 1000 years? Forever?
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LibraryThing member klarusu
The first of the Pern series, and to my mind a good, solid fantasy novel. It goes without saying that you have to enjoy the genre to get any pleasure out of this kind of novel and I must state up front that I do, although I often class this kind of book as 'guilty pleasures' as I use them as a way of switching off and losing myself in a great tale! To that end, it has to be said that Anne McCaffrey has created a brilliant world to lose yourself in. In a world where dragons, impressed at a young age by their riders, fly through space in an instant by going 'between' and where Holdlords and Craftmasters rule the common people, a search is on for a female to impress the new queen when she hatches from the single queen egg laid by a dying dragon. This tale is the backdrop for intrigue, action and romance and is very well executed. Anne McCaffrey writes with immediacy and accessibility and creates a vibrant world that left me rushing out to buy the next batch of books. The characters are alive and, as is often not the case in fantasy novels from male authors, there are strong male and female leads. Go on, try it out! You might find yourself addicted.… (more)
LibraryThing member jshillingford
This should be a classic of science fiction & fantasy literature! Lessa is a servant who lives in filth, but she holds a secret. She is descended from the rightful rulers of her keep - the family murdered by the present Lord Fax. She will have her revenge - or, that was the plan until F'lar entered her life with the chance to bond with a dragon queen. Ramoth will change her life forver. Anne McCaffrey wove a spell when she introduced us to the Dragonriders of Pern. Now, dozens of books later, Dragonflight still stands as one of the best in the series. This Easton Press edition is quite beautiful, with red leather, inset stain ribbon marker, and gilt edging.… (more)
LibraryThing member ragwaine
OK but has aged badly.
LibraryThing member Meggle
The first novel in Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series. A very enjoyable sci fi/fantasy. The world of Pern is wonderfully imagined and the story had a lot of unique elements. I have to say I've never read a book with time traveling dragons before.
LibraryThing member Storeetllr
If you're looking for great literature, this isn't it, but if you like science-fiction and what you want is a great read with wonderful characters (including the dragons), then I suggest this book is for you.
LibraryThing member fastfinge
This book was my introduction to pern. Honestly, it didn't do that good of a job; I doubt I will ever be back. The story wasn't captivating, the characters
were poorly developed, the dragons were developed even less, and the whole thing couldn't decide what sort of atmosphere it wanted to settle on. I'm guessing
the author intended the dragons to be wonderful and loyal companions, but for me they held a near constant air of vaguely creepy mind-controlling symbiosis.
Needless to say, this broke the story for me. If what you're looking for is strong and well done companion characters, I recommend Mercedes Lacky highly
to you; she may not have been first, but she knows what to do with characters and how to develop feeling in the reader.
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LibraryThing member scampus
Along with its sequel, Dragonquest, this is the best and most creative of Anne McCaffrey's ever-expanding anthology of books about probably her most-loved fantasy creations, the Dragons of Pern and their riders.
LibraryThing member DragonFreak
The first book in the very long series couldn't be better. The author did a really good job with her opening book. The only thing I didn't like is the pace of the book was too fast. Never had that happened to me. It's just kind of wierd when in talks about a certain thing and time and the next place they are talking about something else that who knows how much time has passed. I guess that's just a writing style.… (more)
LibraryThing member alwright1
So the story in this book was interesting, as were a lot of the ideas. As a librarian, I of course enjoyed the problems of information storage and dissemination. However, the gender politics and chauvinistic attitudes are just icky, and I didn't find any characters to like or cheer for. Even as the main characters' attitudes towards one another changed over time, I didn't get to know them any better or care about their codependent, borderline-abusive relationship. I'm curious about how the culture handles their looming environmental crisis and how the arrival of the new cast of characters changes their technology, but not enough to continue on with the series any time soon.… (more)


(1862 ratings; 3.9)
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