Welcome to the land of wonders, where time travel is possible, space travel a reality, and "what ifs" come to life. Join me as I explore new worlds--and old ones--filled with scientific wonders, new civilizations, and strange new mysteries to consider.
This review does not represent the opinions of the general public. It reflects my personal thoughts and opinions on the book.
That said, on to the review!
The original settlers of Pern wanted nothing more than to escape the increasingly polluted environments of their technological homeworlds. The pastoral planet, Pern, with its great mineral wealth and notable distance from well-traveled trade routes, seemed to be the perfect place to live. The colonists landed and propogated, spreading out across the Southern Continent. They even made friends with one of the species resident to Pern: the dragonets, or what would later become "fire lizards." It proved to be a fortuitous alliance, because shortly after their arrival on Pern, the settlers faced the terrible threat whose evidence had eluded the survey team's best efforts at deciphering: Thread! Now, fighting for their very survival against the threat from the Red Star, the settlers have only once choice: genetically engineer the fire lizards--who had evolved natural defenses against the Thread, including telekinesis--and train them to fight!
Dragonsdawn gives us a chance to look at the origins of two races: the human settlers of Pern and the telekinetic, teleporting, telepathic, time-traveling dragons that so figured into the rest of the Pern novels. Human characters are again the mainstay of the story, though the story--settling a new world and facing its unique dangers--is capable of carrying the novel quite far. It's nice to know where names like "Benden" and "Lemos" and "Bitra" and "Tillek" and "Telgar" came from...though I'm slightly at a loss to understand why Lemos and Bitra, who weren't the nicest people in the world, should be the namesakes for two of the three loyal holds in F'lar's and Lessa's time. Well, at least "Bitra" hold is well-named: later books show plainly that its inhabitants run along similar lines to Avril Bitra, from whom the hold takes its name.
But to mention Telgar...this is one of the best sections in the entire novel (and it will be poignantly returned to later). Sallah Telgar has to be one of the best heroines I've yet encountered, giving Moreta a run for her money in claiming top tragic character in the Pern novels. We get to see her pursuit of Tarvi Andiyar--now simply "Telgar" following his wife's sacrifice--finally culminate in marriage and family. We also get to see how much she lost when she died, since until then she didn't realize how much Telgar actually loved her. I challenge anyone to read that section and the bonfire section that follows and not remain dry-eyed!
As far as I'm concerned, few can meld science fiction with fantasy so cleanly as Anne McCaffrey. Perhaps her dragons aren't necessarily fantasy--not when you understand their origins--but just imagining great winged beasts soaring through the skies with flaming breath...fantastic!
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