Dragonheart: Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern
by Todd J. Mccaffrey
Review by Harriet Klausner
Del Rey Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345491145
Date: 11 November 2008 List Price $27.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Five hundred and seven years after landing on the planet Pern, Bemin, Lord Holder at Fort Hold and his daughter Fiona are among the observers watching the young candidates trying to impress dragons as they come out of their eggs. Nobody is more surprised than Fiona when Talenth enters the audience and chooses her as his mate. At the moment of Impression a telepathic exchange of love is formed between the dragon and his future rider.
Dragons and their riders fight against thread which periodically falls, destroying all organic matter. However, due to the Plague that decimated much of the populace, the dragon-rider teams are not up to full strength. Thread is due to fall, which could prove devastating, more so than usual, as an infection is spreading and killing the dragons; this forces the dragons and their riders to go between -- and never return.
As more time passes and more deaths occur, Fort Weyr where Fiona is a weyrwoman is unable to fight the next incursion of thread due to injuries to dragons, and riders as well as deaths of both. A mysterious weyrwoman convinces Fiona to take the injured into the past so they can heal and spend years training before returning to the present to fight thread.
Moving ten years into the past, the time travelers occupy deserted Iser Weyr and make a life with older riders mentoring them even as they heal. When they are in perfect condition they return to their normal time ready to fight thread. Meanwhile Fiona still in the past runs the weyr and makes friends with the Traders who learn not all weyrs look down at them as second class citizens. As Fiona matures, she understands to actually defeat thread in a decade they will need firestone to help them train and the help of the Traders for supplies.
No long term Pern fans will be able to distinguish between the great Anne McCaffrey and her son Todd, author of Dragonheart and Dragonblood, as they obviously share the same DNA. Not since Lessa (see Dragonflight) has a female distinguish herself as a rider like Fiona has. Fiona is brave, spunky and determined to do the right thing. She shares those traits with Lessa but differs as she lives in an earlier century when the riders were not as ruthless as they were in Lessa's time; although the divergence between hold, weyr and craft is becoming pronounced.
Readers will see up close how a weyr functions from a dragon and rider viewpoint. Fiona has a great mentor in her present, Cesca the Fort Weyr weywoman, who treats her like a teacher and a family member. In the past she is taught by a bronze rider who remains behind because he understands the weyrlings must learn to defeat thread. Talenth steals the heart of readers, as do all the fledgling dragons in this series, from the moment they are introduced to the audience. Readers will relish watching Talenth mature from a cute adorable dragonet into fighter with the charm of a person who does not fully grasp the evil of thread though he knows he must risk his life to fight it. Dragonheart is another special McCaffrey tale as the saga strongly continues with the next generation writing the fantasies.