Pern Dating System
Recommended Reading Order
Anne McCaffrey’s “Dragonriders of Pern” series is a science fiction series (but with something of the flavour of a fantasy series) describing the lives of humans and dragons on the planet Pern.
Pern is colonised by people from Earth. However, they don’t realise until a few years later the hazard caused by a rogue planet, the Red Star, in their solar system. Its erratic orbit only brings it close to Pern every 250 years. But when it does, a “mycorrhizoid” spore lifeform crosses space from the Red Star to Pern, and rains down from the sky as threadlike filaments. It devours any organic matter – plants, animals and humans, and even the carbon-based plastics that the early settlers use. A “Pass” of the Red Star lasts for 50 years, with Thread falling periodically during this time.
The colonists build accommodation in cave systems, and in buildings made of stone, to protect themselves and their livestock from the Thread. And they breed creatures from an indigenous lifeform, which they call dragons, because of their similarity to the mythical creatures of Earth. These winged creatures are able to fly, and to breathe fire when they chew firestone, thus being able to burn the Thread as it falls.
The dragons are also telepathic, and each develops a close rapport with its rider. A dragon can communicate mentally with other dragons, but also with its rider. A person needs to be empathic and have mild telepathic ability to be able to “Impress” a dragon at the time of its hatching, thus becoming its rider.
Another ability the dragons have is to go between, that is, to almost instantly transport themselves, and anyone they are carrying, from one place to another. The void they pass through is bitterly cold, and there is no sense of sight, hearing or touch. After a while, the humans discover that the dragons can also travel in time, but the transit time is longer. Because of the hazards associated with travelling between times (“timing it”), it is discouraged and kept secret, with people rediscovering it from time to time.
Dragons vary in colour and size. From largest to smallest: the gold female called the queen, the male bronze, the male brown, the male blue, and the female green. The queen lays the eggs. The greens are capable of laying eggs, but since their offspring would only be the smaller dragons, they are included in the fighting-wings, and the firestone makes them infertile. The queens and their riders form a separate queens’ wing when they fight Thread, but since they mustn’t chew firestone, the queens’ riders use flamethrowers.
With the chaos of having to adapt to fight Thread, the colonists lose contact with Earth, and a lot of their technological knowledge, being reduced to a more primitive lifestyle.
The dragons and their riders live in “Weyrs” – a word used to describe habitations of dragons, which are mostly cave systems in extinct volcanoes. Other people live in Holds, ruled by the Lord Holders. Smaller holds are set up within the territory of the Major Holds, under the Lord Holder’s jurisdiction. There are also Crafthalls, where people with special skills live and work.
A significant group within the Crafts are the Harpers. These people sing and play various instruments (not necessarily harps). Experienced harpers are posted to Weyrs, Holds and Crafthalls to entertain the people, but also to educate them, especially the children. The history and culture of Pern is taught to them in song. Harpers also travel around gathering and spreading news, and are often influential in negotiation and arbitration.
A major social type of gathering in Pern is the Gather, held at the various major Holds from time to time. These are much like fairs or agricultural shows of our own world. People come from all around, food is sold, and livestock displayed and sold. There may be runner beast races. And there is music from the harpers, and dancing.
My reviews below have been organised according to the internal chronology of the series. I initially based this on the Wikipedia entry: List of Pern books, but have made adjustments where I have thought necessary.
The order of the internal chronology is different from the order of publication. See my section on Recommended Reading Order below.
Anne McCaffrey wrote all the Pern stories until 2003; after that Anne’s son Todd McCaffrey wrote some of the stories, and some were written by both of them.
The stories of the Second Interval and Third Pass were written either by Todd McCaffrey, or by both Anne and Todd McCaffrey. Todd’s approach seems to be different from his mother’s, in that these stories seem to have been planned out as an integrated whole, and incorporate lots of complex time travel. This contrasts with the rest of the series (written by Anne), where the stories seem to be planned one story at a time, although sometimes filling in gaps, or telling stories set concurrently with previous stories.
Anne McCaffrey died on 21 November 2011.
In 2018, Anne’s daughter Gigi McCaffrey published a story for the series, called Dragon’s Code. This is set in the Ninth Pass, within the original sequence of books written by Anne McCaffrey.
In the chronological framework below, the point of reference is “Landing”, when transport ships arrived and human settlement began. Years, or “Turns” around Pern’s sun, are counted After Landing or “AL”.
The year the colony ships landed is referred to as Year 1. Chapter 2 of Dragonsdawn is headed “Pern date 18.02.01”, with a footnote explaining, “Eighteenth day of twenty-eight, second month of thirteen, First Year of Landing”. A few days seem to elapse before the first shuttle lands on Pern at the end of the chapter. Obviously the Pern calendar was adjusted so that Year 1 starts before the actual landing. I’m guessing that the reason was so that the seasons occur in the expected part of the year. (This seems to be supported by the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere occurring a few days before the end of the calendar year in Red Star Rising/Dragonseye.)
Dates in Dragonsdawn and The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall, are given as a Pern date (like the above example), or just a year, counting from the year of landing. The first reference to using the term “AL”, or “After Landing” seems to be in Red Star Rising/Dragonseye (which is set at the beginning of the Second Pass). Because the year of landing was Year 1, the actual elapsed number of years since landing is actually 1 less than the After Landing date. (After a few hundred years this discrepancy is not significant.) The use of the term “Turn” to replace “year” is introduced in Red Star Rising/Dragonseye. (The term “Turn” does, however, seem to have been used to some extent since the First Pass, as it is used in the First Pass parts of Dragonsblood. It seems that Todd McCaffrey has inadvertently introduced an inconsistency here.)
By the Ninth Pass, the people of Pern seem to have forgotten how long they’ve been on the planet, and the only dating system seems to be relative to the current Pass. When they encounter Aivas in All the Weyrs of Pern, they discover that it is 2525 years since landing.
However in The Skies of Pern, it is reported (by an Abominator – can you really trust what they say?) that in year 2524 [old reckoning], Aivas made a correction by adding 14 years to the date, making it 2538. Here it seems that the people had been keeping track of the years, except that they lost 14 years along the way, which Aivas corrected. The chapters are headed with the “Aivas Adjusted Reckoning”. Thus there seems to be a contradiction between the two books. (Maybe the harpers had been keeping track of the years while the rest of the population had forgotten their history.)
I don’t know why Anne McCaffrey found it necessary to make this modification. Maybe it was to correct some inconsistency in the series, but I don’t know what it would be.
The Dragonlover’s Guide to Pern states: “A single revolution around Rukbat takes this world 366 Earth days. (A Pern day is a little over twenty-four hours long; the Pernese count 362 days to their year, with a leap year every sixth year.)”
[On this basis, since there are 13 months, if they are all about the same length, there would be 11 months of 28 days, and 2 months of 27 days. In a leap year, the extra day would presumably be added to one of the short months.]
Conflicting with this, Dragongirl states: “The Pernese calendar is composed of thirteen months, each of twenty-eight days (four weeks, or sevendays) with a special ‘Turnover’ day at the end of each Turn for a total of 365 days.”
Dragongirl has to be regarded as giving the canonical situation, rather than the The Dragonlover’s Guide to Pern. However, it seems to me an amazing coincidence that Pern has the same number of days in its year as Earth has, although I would still assume, as stated by the Guide, that the length of Pern’s day (and therefore its year) is different from Earth’s.
Thus a Pern year (or Turn) is very close to an Earth year, so lapses of time in years, and people’s ages, can be thought of as essentially the same as what we are familiar with.
The orbit of the Red Star is about 250 years, the Pass being about 50 years, and the Interval about 200 years. A long Interval, when a Pass is missed, is about 450 years. (Of course these figures can’t be exact, but it is convenient to assume they are for the purpose of the chronology. There is a table of Passes and Intervals in Chapter VII of The Dragonlover’s Guide to Pern.) These are the dates I use for each of the Passes and Intervals.
The planet Rukbat 3 was surveyed about 200 years before settlement.
|The Survey: P.E.R.N.c (1993), in collection “The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall” (1993)
A spaceship from the Exploration and Evaluation Corps (EEC) arrives in the Rukbat solar system. (The EEC is part of the Federated Sentient Planets (FSP), of which Earth is a member.) The third planet of the system appears to be hospitable.
On board are 4 crew members: a woman – Shavva – and 3 men, Castor (the captain), Ben Turnien, Mo Tan Liu. The other four members of their team had died on previous planets visited on their current mission, which has caused some depression in the remaining members.
They notice the Oort cloud, but are not in position to examine it.
Probes confirm that the third planet is hospitable – very much like Earth. The team do, however, notice widespread circular bare patches on the planet, and wonder about the cause. They are not deep enough for meteorites. Maybe they are caused by a local fungus on a huge scale.
Castor had been injured on one of the previous planets, so he has to stay on board the ship in orbit, while the rest shuttle to the surface. Shavva pilots the shuttle, and puts them down in southern hemisphere.
Because of their reduced numbers, the team members have to double up on their duties.
They observe the various animal life. Of particular note are some graceful flying creatures – green, blue, brown, bronze, golden – which they see performing aerial acrobatics. (These of course are the creatures later called dragonets or fire lizards.)
They find minerals, but not enough to interest a mining consortium.
On completion of the survey, Castor initials the report P.E.R.N. – parallel Earth, resources negligible – and adds a C in the top corner – suitable for colonisation.
Landing occurs in AL 1. The First Pass lasts from AL 8 to 58.
Three spaceships, Yokohama, Bahrain, and Buenos Aires, carrying 6,000 colonists, arrive on Pern from Earth, an Earth that is part of the interstellar Federated Sentient Planets (in a universe where many of the author’s other books are set).
All the colonists, except for a few of the ships’ crews, have spent the 15 years travel in “deep sleep” (suspended animation), so have not aged.
The spaceships remain in orbit, and the colonists are transported to the planet’s surface by shuttles. They land in the Southern Continent. The leaders of the colony are retired Admiral Paul Benden, and Governor Emily Boll.
Sallah Telgar is a shuttle pilot, who has also worked as one of the bridge crew on the spaceship Yokohama. She overhears another shuttle pilot, Avril Bitra, making some kind of plans, and decides to keep an eye on her. Eventually this will lead to heroism and tragedy for Sallah.
Two young people who have arrived with their families are a girl called Sorka Hanrahan and a boy called Sean Connell. They soon become friendly with each other. They are the ones that first find the indigenous creatures, like small dragons, that come to be called dragonets (although Sean persists in calling them lizards), and learn how to “Impress” them. Soon many of the colonists have dragonets.
By Year 8 of the Pern colony [AL 8], the colonists have spread across the Continent, having established their “stakes”. But then there is an unexpected fall of Thread, leading to many deaths of people and livestock. The dragonets are seen to breathe fire to destroy the Thread. (This leads to the creatures being renamed fire dragonets, although Sean calls them fire lizards – the term that eventually stuck.) [The term “dragonet” is later used to refer to young dragons.]
The colonists use air sleds, armed with flamethrowers, to combat Thread. These aerial vehicles are the main form of transport around Pern, and can hold a few passengers plus equipment. However, their use in combating Thread is hard on the vehicles, and they become damaged, and their power packs are getting depleted.
If only the dragonets were bigger! Kitti Ping, the colony’s expert geneticist, uses advanced genetic engineering techniques to produce a much larger version of the dragonets, which are called dragons. 18 dragons are produced. Sorka and Sean are among the successful candidates to become dragonriders.
Going against the vote of the majority of colonists, Ted Tubberman, the colony’s botanist, sends off a message capsule to the Federated Sentient Planets, for help with the attack of Thread. After he is “Shunned” by the rest of the colony, he steals genetic engineering technology, and develops a grub that eats Thread, and restores plantlife attacked by Thread – this is ultimately beneficial. He also breeds big cats, however these kill him, and escape into the wild. These “felines” will be a dangerous hazard to inhabitants of the Southern Continent centuries later.
It takes some time for the dragons and their riders to train – to learn to fly, to go between, to chew phosphine-bearing rock to produce fire.
The source of Thread is investigated, and the colonists learn that it is a planet with an erratic orbit (later to be called the Red Star). The planet is cometary in behaviour, collecting material from the Oort cloud, dragging it in a cometary tail, resulting in a 50 year Pass. [I personally don’t think an organism as complex as this could have originated in space. It makes more sense for it to have been brought to the Oort cloud by a planet – maybe the Red Star itself.]
The Southern Continent becomes increasingly subject to earthquakes, and it becomes obvious that the main settlement at the original landing site (Landing) must relocate to the Northern Continent. This becomes especially urgent when the nearby volcanoes erupt.
[This crossing from the Southern to the Northern Continent becomes known as “the Crossing”, or sometimes “the Second Crossing” to distinguish it from the original crossing of space from Earth to Pern.]
|The Dolphins’ Bell (1993), in collection “The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall” (1993)
This story begins towards the end of Dragonsdawn, at the time of the Crossing, and continues a little beyond Dragonsdawn.
Dolphins came in the spaceships with the colonists. These dolphins are intelligent, having been enhanced with the Eridani mentasynth technique, and have learnt to speak the human language, which they do in a squeaky abbreviated form. They are now swimming in Pern’s seas. There is a team of dolphineers – humans who are trained to interact with, and communicate with, the dolphins.
By this time many of the colonists have ocean-going ships and boats, for fishing or for pleasure. The dolphins assist sailors in trouble, and provide advice on the sea conditions. There is a bell at the wharf at Monaco Bay, at Landing, for the humans to summon the dolphins, or vice versa.
As the story starts, it is necessary for the colonists to evacuate the Landing area because of the volcanic eruptions. And there are lots of property and supplies to be moved, by all available ships and boats.
Jim Tillek and Ezra Keroon, formerly captains of the spaceships Buenos Aires and Bahrain respectively, are in charge of the flotilla.
Jim calls the dolphins to assist – to tow some of the smaller loads, and to escort the ships. The dolphineers come on the trip, including a woman called Theo Force, who is allocated to Jim’s ship, the Southern Cross. Jim and Theo soon become quite friendly.
The trip is going to take several days to get to Fort Hold on the Northern Continent. They will have to sail along the coast of the Southern Continent, and then cross the sea to the Northern Continent, negotiating two strong currents during the crossing.
It soon becomes apparent that it is necessary to split the flotilla into two – the faster ships and the slower ones. Ezra goes ahead with the faster flotilla, while Jim, in the Southern Cross, remains with the slower flotilla.
Thread falls on the way, but they are prepared. The ships are fibreglass, and therefore Threadproof. Threadproof plastic covers have been created for the sails, and Threadproof doors for those ships with open cabins. And the people wear Threadproof plastic “coolie hats”.
But then a devastating storm comes up. The crews are kept busy fighting to control their ships. Many ships are damaged, and the crews injured – including Jim and Theo. Dolphins help rescue the people and recover the cargo. It is necessary to land on the shore of the Southern Continent, and delay for several days recovering, and repairing the ships.
Then ships arrive from Fort Hold, to bring medics, and to assist with the rest of the trip.
|The Ford of Red Hanrahan (1993), in collection “The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall” (1993)
It is now Pern Year (AL) 19, 10 years after the Crossing. Fort Hold has become quite crowded. The dragons and their riders (including Sean and Sorka) are now in Fort Weyr, having previously moved out of Fort Hold.
Peter “Red” Hanrahan (father to Sorka) is a vet and a breeder of horses. He has found a suitable cave system for a new Hold, and has organised a large group of people, who will go with him and his extended family. Red has already visited the site, and some of his people are already there, setting things up. It is now time for the main group to move there.
The party sets off, with their horses, ox-drawn wagons (converted air sleds), and other livestock.
The trip takes a few days, and it is necessary to cross a river. They arrive at the river in the dark. There is a ford, but the river is rising, but if they don’t cross now, it will be days before they will be able to again.
Red and his son Brian locate the ford under the water, and mark it with ropes and lanterns. And then they have the difficult job of getting everyone, and all the animals, to cross. Luckily Sean arrives on his dragon Carenath, with fear of the dragon providing the incentive for the oxen to cross.
So they arrive at the Hold. Over the next several days, everyone starts working to get the place up and running.
They have brought the airlock door from one of the shuttles to be used as the main door of the Hold. The installation of the door becomes a big ceremony, which Paul Benden and other visitors attend, as well as Sean and Sorka, and some of the other dragonriders, with their dragons.
And Red announces the name of the new Hold – Ruatha, from Rua Atha – Red’s Ford – in the Irish language of his original homeland.
|The Second Weyr (1993), in collection “The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall” (1993)
Set in AL 28.
Sean and Sorka are Weyrleader and Weyrwoman of Fort Weyr – so far the only Weyr of Pern.
The Weyr is crowded. There had been an unfortunate incident when three queen dragons came into heat at the same time, fought and were critically injured, nearly killing each other. It is concluded that queens need to be kept separate if one comes into heat, and that it is undesirable to have too many in a Weyr.
Torene is rider of queen dragon Alaranth. She and others locate a suitable site for another Weyr, on the east coast. They are all very enthusiastic about it, so Torene speaks privately to Sean and Sorka, trying to persuade them to establish it as the second Weyr.
(The practice of compression of dragonriders’ names begins – explained as how dragons communicate their riders’ names to each other, during the rapid fighting of Thread.)
(At this stage, green dragons are still ridden by women. This causes complications if a rider becomes pregnant. The dragon and rider have to be absent from the fighting force, and join the queens’ wing, since flying between could cause a miscarriage. [As we know from books already published, later in Pern history green dragons will only be ridden by men. Mirrim, in the Ninth Pass stories, breaks this rule, and starts a new trend.])
Sean announces to the gathered Weyrfolk that three new Weyrs will be established: the east coast one, which Torene and her friends have discovered; one near Telgar Hold; and one on Big Island (later to be called Ista Isle).
The practice of Holds tithing (providing a proportion of their produce) to Fort Weyr has already been established. This will be extended to the new Weyrs, with Holds tithing to Weyrs according to the territory the Weyrs will be protecting.
The people of Ierne Island in the Southern Continent will be moving to the Northern Continent. (These apparently are the last people left in the Southern Continent.) They will be establishing Holds in the vicinities of the two new Weyrs other than Telgar Weyr.
The distribution of dragons and riders, amongst the Weyrs, old and new, is decided by lot. Torene is allocated to the east coast Weyr. (She wonders if the lottery had been rigged in her favour.) She and the other riders allocated to that Weyr decide to call it Benden Weyr, after the late Admiral Paul Benden.
Sean announces that the Weyrwoman of each of the new Weyrs will be the rider of the queen dragon who first rises to mate. And the Weyrleader will be the rider of the bronze or brown dragon who successfully mates with the queen.
The riders allocated to Benden Weyr proceed to set the Weyr up. They all know that Torene’s dragon Alaranth will be the first to mate. But which man will be the successful Weyrleader, and therefore Torene’s partner?
|Dragonsblood (2005) by Todd McCaffrey [First Pass parts]
This story is split between two time periods, the First and the Third Passes. See the entry under the Third Pass for the main story.
Setting: From AL 50 to AL 59: First Pass, ending at the beginning of the First Interval.
Before coming to Pern, Kitti Ping had learnt advanced genetics from the alien Eridani race, and had passed this learning on to her daughter Wind Blossom. In Dragonsdawn, Kitti Ping had used this knowledge to develop the dragons from the fire lizards. After Kitti Ping’s death, Wind Blossom had created the watch-whers. They seemed like a disappointment, but (we learn in this book) they actually were more successful than generally thought. [For more on watch-whers, see my review of Dragon’s Kin.]
Along with the science of genetics, Kitti Ping and Wind Blossom had learnt the philosophy of the Eridanis, that the scientists responsible for modifying the genetics of a planet’s ecosystem continued to be responsible for the planet for the rest of their lives, and passed that responsibility on to their descendants.
But now that their technology is starting to fail, Wind Blossom feels frustrated that it will no longer be possible to continue that responsibility.
After the Crossing, there seemed little need to continue with genetics work, and Wind Blossom had studied medicine, and become a medic. She is based at Fort Hold, and involved in the work of the College and the infirmary. (These of course are the forerunners of the Harper and Healer Halls.) [Presumably these are the earlier versions, still incorporated into Fort Hold, as in the Second Pass story Red Star Rising/Dragonseye, these institutions have only just been built as separate buildings some distance away.]
Although [in Dragonsdawn] Ted Tubberman’s genetics experiments to produce grubs and large felines were unauthorised, Wind Blossom had felt that he had been her co-worker in her field. When Tubberman’s grandson Tieran is brought to her with injuries from a watch-wher attack, she thinks it is fitting that she is the one to perform the surgery on him.
And Tieran becomes her student in genetics, as Wind Blossom’s daughter Emorra had been previously. But Wind Blossom’s strict attitude had driven Emorra away (although she didn’t go far), and she had become the Dean of the College. And now Tieran also leaves Wind Blossom and becomes a drummer in the Drum Tower, the drums being used to send messages to other settlements.
Two fire lizards arrive suddenly at Fort Hold, one dead, and both have been suffering from a severe illness. Wind Blossom declares a quarantine, to avoid the disease spreading to other fire lizards and to dragons. But there are no other creatures affected, and after examining the two fire lizards, Wind Blossom and Tieran conclude that they have come back from the future. [We realise of course that these are Lorana’s fire lizards, from the Third Pass parts of Dragonsblood.] Later the dead body of Lorana’s dragon Arith also arrives.
What could have caused the illness? And is there some way they can leave some message for the future owner of these fire lizards and dragon? Wind Blossom and her two former students come together to work on the problem.
AL 58 – 258.
|Rescue Run (1991), in collection “The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall” (1993)
2 years after the end of the First Pass. 49 years after Theodore (Ted) Tubberman sends off his message capsule, 9 years after Landing. Maybe AL 59 or 60. [Note – this conflicts with Dragonsdawn, which states the capsule was sent off in Pern Year (AL) 8, i.e. 7 years after Landing.]
The spaceship Amherst, from the Federated Sentient Planets (FSP), is performing a search of the Sagittarian Sector for any incursions from the aliens referred to as Nasties. On the crew is Lieutenant Ross Benden, who is the nephew of Admiral Paul Benden.
The ship’s computer indicates that there is an orange flag against the Rukbat system. There is a message from Pern’s botanist, Theodore Tubberman, sent 49 years previously, that the colony is under attack from some hostile organism. [In Dragonsdawn, Ted Tubberman had sent off the message capsule to the FSP against the majority vote of the colonists.]
The ship’s science officer, Lieutenant Saraidh Ni Morgana, takes samples from the Rukbat system’s Oort cloud – performing experiments in a spacepod positioned remotely from the ship. She discovers the nasty Thread organism.
Ross Benden takes a landing party, including Saraidh Ni Morgana, down to Pern in the ship’s gig, Erica. As they orbit, they can see no signs of habitation on the Northern Continent. [Since all the colonists are living in cave systems, and with very little high technology, they are not easily detected.] Benden homes in on the beacon at Landing. The place is deserted, and they find the remains of the dead Thread organisms.
There is a second homing beacon, 1200 kilometres south of Landing, where they find a small community living in a dwelling carved into the cliff face.
This is Honshu Stakehold. It had originally been the home of Kenjo and Ito Fusaiyuki, who had had three sons and a daughter. But Kenjo, who had been a shuttle pilot, had been murdered by Avril Bitra. The head of the household is now Stev Kimmer, a not very pleasant man. He had been an associate of Avril, and had assisted Tubberman to send off the capsule. Then he had moved in with Ito, and fathered more children. There is now an extended family of 11. The three Fusaiyuki sons have a somewhat cool attitude towards Kimmer.
The family welcome the landing party into their home. Kimmer says that he doesn’t know where the rest of the colonists had gone, but insists they must all have been killed by Thread. The family have explored areas of the Southern Continent, but found no one.
Kimmer takes Benden in his air sled (reactivated with power packs from the Erica) to nearby settlements, to check that they are deserted.
Benden wonders if the Erica has enough fuel to evacuate the remaining colonists. And he feels all the time that Kimmer is concealing something from him.
AL 258 – 308
|Red Star Rising (UK title) / Dragonseye (US title) (1996)257-258 AL
After a 200-year Interval, the time is coming for the Red Star’s return, as predicted in the records, and indicated by signs such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The dragonriders are practising their drills. Medics are training in providing medical attention for Thread victims, others in how to be groundcrews, and use flamethrowers.
All the Holds are preparing, and warning their people, except Lord Chalkin of Bitra Hold. Chalkin is greedy, and cruel to his people. And he doesn’t believe that Thread will fall.
With the expansion of Fort Hold, the Teachers College and the Infirmary have had separate annexes built. These are the forerunners of the Harper and the Healer Halls. Students are taught to be teachers at the College, and then sent out to the Holds to teach the children there.
Clisser is the head teacher at the Teachers College. Considering that people need to be taught properly about Thread, but concerned that the teachers are overworked, he decides to exclude all material from the syllabus which doesn’t relate to life on Pern. This would eliminate a lot of information about Earth and the Federated Sentient Planets, and the science and technology which Pern no longer has. But it needs to include information about the colonial Charter, people’s rights, and Lord Holders’ responsibilities. And the threat of Thread when the Red Star comes. He proposes a separate apprentice system for the Professions (thus indicating the beginnings of the CraftHalls).
The staff and students are generally skilled in music, and perform at gathers. Clisser proposes that, with his revised syllabus, much will be taught by songs and music. This will have the advantage of being remembered well into the future.
Iantine, a portrait artist, takes a job with Lord Chalkin at Bitra Hold, to paint pictures of his children. However Chalkin interprets the contract strictly, and won’t release him until Chalkin accepts the paintings as “satisfactory”. Iantine spends an unpleasant time in the Hold, with poor accommodation, and the cold of winter, and has no money until the contract is complete. The contract lasts longer than he expected. And then he leaves in the wintry cold and snow, and is rescued by a dragonrider from Telgar Weyr. He has become ill, and recovers at the Weyr.
Debera had been accepted as a candidate for Impression at Telgar Weyr, but her father, wishing to marry her off to the son of an associate, does not tell her of the Weyr’s invitation. But she finds it just in time for the Hatching, takes a horse, and rides to the Weyr with her father in pursuit. And she manages to Impress a green dragon, Morath. [At this time there are both men and women who are riders of green dragons.]
Iantine and Debera become friendly, but Iantine feels that Debera is resisting allowing the relationship to proceed further. Is she concerned that this could conflict with her relationship with her dragon?
Concerned about Chalkin’s lack of responsibility, and his cruel treatment of his people, some of the Lord Holders decide to remove him from his position. This takes some persuasion amongst the Lord Holders, as the Charter requires the decision to be unanimous.
Clisser comes up with another idea to indicate when the Red Star is coming. The Eye Rock and Finger Rock are positioned at each Weyr, so that when the Red Star can be seen through the Eye Rock at dawn on the Winter Solstice, Thread will start to fall in the following spring.
[Fire lizards have disappeared from human communities by this stage, and dragonriders visiting the Southern Continent can’t find any there. It is suspected that they have been killed off by a plague. However, they turn up again in the Second Interval and Third Pass stories, so this isn’t the last we see of them before the Ninth Pass.]
AL 308 to 508.
|Dragon’s Kin (2003) by Anne & Todd McCaffrey
Set starting 16 Years before the Third Pass (about AL 492), and covers a period of about 2 years.
Kindan is 10 years old at the beginning of the story. He lives at a Mining Camp headed by Natalon. The Mine is a coal mine, the coal being used in the making of steel. The Camp is dependent on Traders, who bring supplies and buy their coal.
Watch-whers are distant relatives of dragons. Kitti Ping genetically engineered dragons from fire lizards in Dragonsdawn. After Kitti Ping’s death, her daughter Wind Blossom attempted to create new improved dragons. The result was disappointing; she created a clumsy, ugly creature, overmuscled, and with eyes sensitive to daylight, and with small wings, so that they apparently couldn’t fly.
Watch-whers are therefore used for guarding human habitations at night. They are loyal to their owners and their families. They have also proved useful in the mines, being able to see in the dark, and to detect poisonous gases.
Kindan lives with his family. His mother had died when Kindan was born. His sister marries at beginning of this story and moves away. That leaves his father and several brothers. Kindan’s best friend is Zenor.
Kindan’s father Danil is a wherhandler. Kindan has the job of washing his father’s watch-wher, Dask.
Nuella is Natalon’s daughter. He keeps her hidden, because she is blind, and he thinks it will reflect badly on him if people think all his female descendants will be blind. But Nuella secretly wanders around the Camp. And she is taught to sing and play music by the Camp’s Harper, Master Zist. Zenor finds out about her, and later, Kindan does too, but they agree to keep the secret.
There is a cave-in at the mine. Although critically injured, the watch-wher Dask keeps digging to rescue the miners. However, some of them have been killed, including Kindan’s father and some of his brothers. And Dask dies of his injuries.
Kindan and his other two brothers are fostered out to various families. Kindan is fostered by Master Zist. Because of Kindan’s musical abilities, Zist starts to train him as a harper.
The miners feel they need a new watch-wher to protect them in the mine. So because of Kindan’s experience with his father’s watch-wher, he is selected to be the new wherhandler. (It looks as if Kindan may have to give up hope of becoming a harper.) He is taken by a dragonrider to collect an egg from the queen watch-wher belonging to Master wherhandler Aleesa.
Thus begins the long and difficult period of feeding and looking after a young watch-wher. Nuella and Zenor are often on hand to help Kindan. Not much is known about these creatures. Zist is able to collect the meagre knowledge about them from other places that have them. They are somewhat like dragons. They have telepathic abilities, but not as strong as dragons. Kinda’s watch-wher is a green female, who tells Kindan her name is Kisk. Kindan had previously seen Dask fly – but only at night when the air is denser – and go between, and had seen his father ride Dask on one occasion. Nuella figures out that watch-whers see heat images, rather than light in the visible light range.
Secretly, Kindan, Nuella and Zenor go on trips into the mine, taking Kisk to train her.
Weyrleader M’tal of Benden is a personal friend of Master Zist. He and Wingleader J’lantir from Ista Weyr take a personal interest in watch-whers. When they find out about Kisk, and Nuella’s experience with her, J’lantir takes Nuella to various other places with watch-whers so that she can train the wherhandlers.
Returning to Camp Natalon, Nuella discovers there has been another cave-in at the Mine. Kindan, Nuella, Zenor and Kisk, and some of their friends, venture into the mine, and Kisk plays an important part in the rescue which follows.
[This story introduces watch-whers, in a much more detailed way than any of the stories published previously.]
|Dragon’s Fire (2006) by Anne & Todd McCaffrey
Book 1: Pellar
Setting: AL 483 – 494. The later part of this period occurs concurrently with Dragon’s Kin.
Pellar is the main character in this story.
Harper Zist and his wife Cayla adopt an abandoned child, a boy whom they call Pellar. Pellar is unable to speak, or make any sound. He learns to communicate with chalk and a slate, which he hangs around his neck.
During this period, people are often “Shunned” by their Lord Holders. They are cast out of their Holds for some misdeed, and become homeless. Some of the Shunned have committed serious crimes such as murder. Some Lord Holders are cruel, and cast their people out for some minor offense. There is a growing community of homeless people. This includes the children of the Shunned, who have never done anything wrong themselves.
Zist is concerned about the homeless people, especially since Thread will be falling before long. He, Cayla, and their daughter Carissa, spend some time travelling among them, pretending to be Shunned themselves, attempting to learn about them, and find a solution. (Pellar had to stay back at the Harper Hall, as he may have been a child of the Shunned himself, and someone might recognise him, which would blow their cover.) But Cayla and Carissa catch an illness from the homeless people, and die.
Zist returns to the Harper Hall to bury his wife and child, and return to being a father to Pellar. Pellar has progressed in his musical studies (playing and making instruments), and becomes Zist’s apprentice – something of a peculiarity – a harper unable to sing.
Still concerned about the homeless, Zist and Pellar decide to go where there is evidence of thefts – to Camp Natalon, where coal is going missing. Zist goes openly, as the Camp’s Harper, whereas Pellar camps out in secret in the wild country nearby, and reports to Zist periodically, sometimes surreptitiously in person, but more often sending his fire lizard Chitter.
(From here on, to the end of Book 1, the story occurs concurrently with Dragon’s Kin. However, we now discover that more is going on, and Zist has more secrets, than we previously realised.)
Pellar discovers a band of homeless, led by a harper called Moran. Zist had previously sent Moran to investigate the homeless, but had heard nothing from him since. But Moran is out of his depth, and finds himself unable to do more than look after his band, becoming caught up in the scavenging and stealing with them. The other members of the band include the cruel and unscrupulous boy Tenim, willing to kill to achieve his greedy ends, and a girl called Halla, concerned to look after the younger children. The band wanders around the local district attempting to survive.
Pellar gets into a fight with Tenim, and almost dies. Zist, concerned about this, gives him another task, to locate Aleesa, the Whermaster, as Camp Natalon needs a watch-wher.
After some travelling around the country, searching, Pellar locates the WherHold, where a small community live. Aleesa and her male companion Jaythen are paranoid, and threaten to kill Pellar at first. But he stays with them for a period, and they learn to accept them. He persuades them to sell watch-wher eggs to a number of buyers willing to become wherhandlers. Then he sends word to Zist that the eggs are available.
Pellar realises that Tenim will attempt to steal a watch-wher egg for money, and sets up a false trail for him. But Tenim catches up with him and there is a violent encounter. Book 1 ends with Pellar missing, possibly dead.
Book 2: Dragon’s Fire
Setting: AL 494 – 495, with the epilogue in AL 498.
Cristov and Halla are significant characters in this story, with Kindan and Pellar playing lesser roles.
In Dragon’s Kin, Cristov had been an unfriendly rival to Kindan, but then becomes his ally by the end of the book. In Book 1 of Dragon’s Fire, we see things more from Cristov’s point of view, how he starts by following his father Tarik’s ideas, but gradually comes to see that Tarik is wrong, and starts to think for himself.
Continuing from the end of Dragon’s Kin, Tarik, who is one of the mine leaders, is found to be responsible for the cave-in, and therefore criminally negligent. He had also been stealing coal, which he had been giving to Tenim. He is declared Shunned, and sentenced to work at a firestone mine.
Firestone is dangerous, as it explodes in contact with water. But it is necessary for the dragons to fight Thread, and is also needed, at this time, for drills, practising for when the Pass begins. There is only one firestone mine, as all the previous ones have exploded, generally killing everyone in the mine.
But Tarik’s mine also explodes, although he survives, and D’gan, Telgar’s Weyrleader, takes him to work on a new mine in Telgar’s lands. The cruel and arrogant D’gan provides him with just the bare necessities, works him hard, and rounds up Shunned and homeless people to work with him. Among these is Pellar, who had been found injured, and having lost his memory.
Cristov, believing Tarik is dead, and that Tarik had been responsible for the mine explosion, agrees to establish a new mine in High Reaches, assisted by a fellow-miner, Toldur. The High Reaches weyrfolk willingly provide all the assistance they can.
Tenim decides to leave Moran’s band, and heads off on his own. He finds out about Tarik’s new mine, and goes there, pressuring Tarik to provide him with firestone, believing that he could get good money for it.
Moran, being afraid Tenim is making another attempt on the wherhold, heads off, leaving Halla with the children. But Lord Fenner, of Crom Hold, takes pity on the band of children and takes them into the Hold.
Lord Fenner wants to contact the Shunned. He wants to provide lands and employment for them, so they will have shelter when Thread comes. Halla volunteers to go and contact them. But once on her way, she discovers Tenim’s trail, and decides she must find out what he is up to.
Tenim sabotages Tarik’s mine, causing it to explode – killing Tarik and injuring other miners. But Pellar escapes, and now his memory returns.
And learning of Cristov’s mine, the vindictive Tenim goes and does the same there. Pellar arrives in time to rescue Cristov. (And Halla rescues Pellar.)
It seems than Pern has run out of locations to mine firestone.
Kindan is now an apprentice at the Harper Hall. He is given the task of searching the Archives for information about mining firestone. He finds an early Record mentioning fire lizards breathing fire, and that the people had tracked this to firestone on the beach on the Southern Continent. He finds this puzzling, since fire lizards don’t chew firestone, and firestone would just burn up when the tide covered it. But then why are fire lizards called that? Is there a kind of firestone, that had been used in the past, that doesn’t explode on contact with water?
D’vin, a dragonrider from High Reaches, takes Cristov to the Southern Continent to find this other kind of firestone. And once they find it, Cristov goes searching for the same kind of rock on the Northern Continent.
And he finds it, although he gets caught in a landslide. Pellar and Halla arrive in time to rescue him (again).
Cristov recovers at High Reaches Weyr. When he returns to the site where he found the firestone, he discovers that Pellar and Halla have established three mines there. The Shunned and homeless have flocked to the site to take up employment there. (Moran has made up for his past failure by directing them there.) In the new Fire Hold they will have shelter when Thread comes.
|Dragon Harper (2007) by Anne & Todd McCaffrey
Setting: AL 495. Epilogue in AL 497.
Kindan has been at the Harper Hall for some months.
Vaxoram is the senior apprentice at the Harper Hall, and a bully. He picks on any of the apprentices he perceives as being weak.
It is unusual for girls to be at the Harper Hall, but now there are two: Kelsa and Nonala. Vaxoram starts to pick on them as well.
When Vaxoram threatens the girls, Kindan challenges him to a duel. (This is a common way for disagreements to be worked out in Pern – and can potentially result in the death of one or both of the participants.) But Kindan wins, and the penalty for Vaxoram is to become Kindan’s servant, although Kindan permits him to continue his harper studies. And given this situation, Vaxoram’s behaviour improves.
There are several fire lizard eggs delivered to Fort Hold, and Kindan is invited to have one of the fire lizards when it hatches. There he meets Koriana, the daughter of Lord Holder Bemin, and they fall in love. But Bemin does not approve of a relationship between them.
But then Koriana comes to the Harper Hall for some studies, and the romance continues.
The people of Pern are starting to fall sick and die from a severe form of flu – referred to as the Plague. The apprentices of the Harper Hold are tasked with searching the Archives for information about treatment. They find indications of a previous occurrence of the illness, and Kindan, Vaxoram and Koriana travel to Benden Weyr to search the Records there. There they find evidence that the Weyrs were affected at the time of the previous Plague, and it is decided that the weyrfolk must not come in contact with communities affected by the Plague – this would risk the ability of the Weyrs to fight Thread when the Pass begins.
Kindan and Vaxoram return to the Harper Hall, and Koriana to her Hold. The sickness has arrived at the Hall, with many of the occupants becoming sick and dying. Continuing to search the Archives, Kindan and Vaxoram accidentally set the Archives on fire, and are banished from the Harper Hall to Fort Hold.
But at Fort Hold people are also sick and dying. Kindan, Vaxoram, Koriana, and Lord Bemin, and all who are able, spend many days attending to the sick. And some of them also succumb to the sickness.
Eventually the Plague passes, but with a terrible loss of life.
|Dragonheart (2008) by Todd McCaffrey
[Note Dragonheart, Dragon’s Time and Sky Dragons involve time travel, so the order of the books according to the chronology can be misleading. These books should be read in publication order. See my section on Recommended Reading Order below.]
The first part of this story is set in AL 507 – 508 (the end of the Second Interval, leading in to the Third Pass), concurrently with Dragonsblood.
The second part (when Fiona and the other dragonriders travel back in time) is set in AL 498 – 501 (during the Second Interval).
The Epilogue (the return to their own time) is set in AL 508.
The story centres on Fiona, daughter of Lord Bemin of Fort Hold. All members of the family other than Fiona and her father died in the Plague, including Kindan’s love (Fiona’s older sister), Koriana. Fiona hero-worships Kindan. He had saved her life, and been her carer later.
Bemin and Fiona (13 years old) attend a Hatching at Fort Weyr, and without intending to, Fiona Impresses a hatchling queen dragon, Talenth. So Fiona becomes a junior weyrwoman.
When dragons start getting sick, it is necessary to send all fire lizards away to the Southern Continent, as it is possible for the disease to spread between dragons and fire lizards.
The Third Pass begins, and dragons are dying from both the sickness and from their injuries while fighting Thread. During a night fall of Thread the Fort Weyr dragons are joined by a flight of watch-whers, led by Nuella (from Dragon’s Kin) mounted on her gold watch-wher Nuellask.
K’lior, Fort’s Weyrleader, hits on a plan, to send his injured dragons and riders back in time 10 years to the abandoned Igen Weyr, so they will have time to recover, and to send the weyrlings (the young dragons and riders) back so they will have time to grow up and undergo the required training to fight Thread. Only the less injured, and the weyrlings who can already fly, would go back. Dragonrider T’mar is included as the weyrlings’ trainer.
But the night after the departure, a mysterious woman riding a gold dragon turns up, and leads Fiona and Talenth and the remaining weyrlings back in time – the dragons jumping and gliding to go between. And with a group of other unknown dragonriders, the mysterious woman also takes the more injured dragons and riders back in time.
So Fiona becomes the Weyrwoman of Igen Weyr. Their presence has to remain secret from most of the people of Pern. They establish a friendly trading relationship with a nearby group of Traders to obtain supplies.
Fiona sets up a situation which exists in her own time, assisting Nuella and Zenor to set up a combined wherhold and goldsmith crafthall, at a location shown on the map as where gold can be found. This involves visiting Aleesa’s wherhold, to obtain a watch-wher egg, and delivering it to Nuella at Camp Natalon. (This is the egg from which Nuellask will hatch.) And persuading people from the main Crafthall to come and staff the new crafthall.
The weyrlings, including Fiona and Talenth, train, and learn to fly and fight Thread.
After 3 years in the past, they return to their own time, 3 days after they had left.
|Dragon’s Time (2011) by Anne & Todd McCaffrey
This story continues on from Dragongirl. It is set partly in the Third Pass (AL 508), and partly in the Second Interval, for a period of 3 years, starting 3 years earlier than the first part (probably AL 505 – 507). In addition, there are various other trips in time.
Desperate to solve the problem of the dwindling numbers of dragons, Lorana borrows Minith, the queen dragon belonging to Tullea, Benden’s Weyrwoman, and travels 50 years into the future (to the Third Interval). There she encounters an older Tullea, apparently as sharp-tongued as ever. Tullea tells her there will be no help forthcoming from that time, and sends her back.
Lorana and Minith arrive back at the Red Butte, 10 years before her own time (AL 498 or a bit later). There she meets Tenniz, a Trader with the Sight, whom Fiona had met during her time in Igen Weyr (in Dragonheart). Tenniz gives her a hint to what she must do next.
Lorana, on Minith, flies between up to the Dawn Sisters. These are a set of lights seen in the sky at dawn, which look like stars, but are actually the three huge spaceships orbiting Pern, that had brought the original colonists to the planet. Lorana and Minith arrive in space, outside the Yokohama. They are able to breathe for a while because dragons bring a bubble of air with them when they fly between. Repeating this trip several times during the day, Lorana is able to look down on different parts of Pern as the ships orbit the planet. [There is a contradiction here with All the Weyrs of Pern, where the ships are stated to be in geosynchronous orbit.]
Lorana sets things up for Fiona’s move to Igen Weyr in Dragonheart – she turns out to be the mysterious woman referred to in that book.
Back in AL 508, Fiona and the others realise that Lorana had flown into the future, but wonder if and when she is coming back. Through a combination of intuition, and a statement passed on from Tenniz, Fiona realises Lorana had flown to the Dawn Sisters. The Weyrleaders and Weyrwomen take turns flying between to the spaceships, and from there they see – a large island halfway around the world, which they hadn’t previously known about.
Fiona and others from her Weyr, and all the weyrlings from all the Weyrs, travel back in time to 3 years previously, to the large island, which they call the Great Isle – or the Great Isles, since it is actually two islands, which they call the Eastern and the Western Isles. [In The Skies of Pern, in the Ninth Pass, the Great Isles would be referred to as the Far Western Continent.]
There Fiona meets Lorana again. The dragonriders establish a settlement on the Eastern Isle. There they will have time for the weyrlings to grow up and train, for the female dragons to lay eggs, and for new dragons to be hatched, and to be Impressed by Candidates.
But there are two hazards on the Great Isles. There are large felines, which the dragonriders call Mrreows, having never seen these creatures before. And there are large tunnel snakes, much larger than the ones back home.
Over the three years, female dragons become pregnant, and lay eggs. (This includes greens as well as queens, as the young greens have not yet chewed firestone.) And the dragonriders gather Candidates from the Holds of that time, advising the Holders to keep their presence secret. But the Hatchings are not completely successful, as tunnel snakes eat the eggs, and Mrreows attack the settlement. Only relatively few eggs hatch successfully.
At the end of the three years, Fiona, Lorana, and all the dragons and riders old enough to fly, attempt to return to their own time. The youngest weyrlings remain behind in the care of dragonriders Xhinna and Taria.
But Fiona’s group encounter an obstruction (a “knot”) in time – the moment when D’gan’s dragonriders were lost in time (in Dragonsblood); the feelings of fear from those dragonriders are communicated to Fiona’s dragonriders – how will they escape this trap?
|Sky Dragons (2012) by Anne & Todd McCaffrey
This story continues on from Dragon’s Time. It is set concurrently with the Second Interval part of that book (i.e. probably AL 505 – 508), since Xhinna and her fellow dragonriders travel back 3 years in time before the date (late 507 AL) they are at at the end of Dragon’s Time, but this time they are on the Western Isle.
Book 1: Sky Weyr
The story is set initially in late 507 AL on the Eastern Isle of the Great Isles, and then for the remainder of the story probably in 505 AL on the Western Isle. Xhinna was introduced in Dragonheart: she was a teenager treated as an outsider by some people at Fort Weyr – partly because she had been taken into the Weyr as an abandoned child, but also because of her sexual orientation – she prefers girls to boys. But Fiona befriended her.
Xhinna hadn’t gone with Fiona back in time to Igen Weyr, but after Fiona returned (in Dragongirl), Xhinna had gone with her to Telgar Weyr. There, Xhinna met Taria, and the two girls had become lovers. They had both Impressed dragons at a Hatching: Xhinna a blue (unusually for a girl) called Tazith, and Taria a green called Coranth. Xhinna and Taria were among the weyrlings who travelled back in time to the Great Isles in Dragon’s Time.
Three years later, when Fiona’s group return to their own time, Xhinna and Taria remain behind with the new weyrlings who are not yet able to fly. Kindan also remains with them. He had at last Impressed a weyrling dragon (Lurenth), and has been renamed to K’dan. He continues his role (from previous books) as Weyrlingmaster – trainer of weyrlings.
But Thread starts to fall, and Xhinna takes the others three years back in time, to the Western Isle: this other half of the Great Isles had not previously been occupied. Xhinna, as the rider of one of the only two dragons capable of flying, becomes a de facto leader – in charge of their small community.
To avoid the tunnel snakes and Mrreows, they set up living areas in the tops of broom trees – this community becomes known as Sky Weyr. It is a difficult time. Taria’s dragon is injured by a Mrreow, leaving Xhinna’s dragon as the only one which can fly. Xhinna spends a lot of time transporting people to hunting locations for food. Eventually they build a corral on a plateau, to keep herdbeasts.
Xhinna attempts to return to the future, but is prevented by the knot in time. Then a group of dragonriders comes back to them from the future, sent by Fiona. (The knot in time only prevents forward time travel through a particular point in time.) X’lerin, the bronze rider, becomes the Weyrleader, but recognising Xhinna’s leadership ability, appoints her as a Wingleader. But some dragonriders resent this, believing that as a woman, and a blue rider, she is not capable or leading.
Taria’s dragon Coranth becomes pregnant, but when no better hatching location can be found, she just lays her eggs on the beach.
In order to gather Candidates, Xhinna travels back in time to just after the Plague years, to gather young people orphaned by the Plague. At Crom Hold, she helps bring about an event known from history: the recapture of the Hold by the rightful heir Lady Nerra, from her brother.
Xhinna returns to the Western Isle, with her Candidates. But Taria transfers her attentions to the male dragonrider J’keran. J’keran makes a bad alcoholic brew, which makes him and Taria act crazy. He attacks Xhinna with a knife, and she takes weeks to recover. J’keran and Taria flee to who knows where.
Tunnel-snakes attack the eggs again, and only a few hatch. It is later discovered that some of the unhatched dragons died of the cold.
Some people suggest that that young Mrreows can be domesticated, and trained to fight to tunnel snakes. But Xhinna is not convinced that these creatures can be trusted.
How are they going to produce enough new dragon hatchlings? Can they overcome the cold and the tunnel snakes? Pern is depending on them.
Book 2: The Sky Dragons
The main part of Book 2 is set in late 507 AL on the Western Isle. The Epilogue is set 8 months later, in 508 AL.
Fiona’s group had been rescued from the knot in time, as had D’gan and his dragonriders. The dictatorial and misogynistic D’gan had taken up the leadership of Telgar again, and did not recognise Fiona’s authority. Disgusted by his treatment of her, Fiona, and all the dragonriders from her time of leadership at Telgar, returned to the Western Isle in the past, arriving probably towards the end of 505 AL, after the events of Book 1. They establish five Weyrs in the Western Isle, in addition to Sky Weyr. When the story opens, two years have passed since the arrival of Fiona and her dragonriders.
The problems of the Book 1 have all been resolved. The populations of both humans and dragons are increasing. When they return to the Northern Continent, the problem of the shortage of dragons will have been solved. And Taria had returned, and she and Xhinna had reconciled.
The knot in time remains, so no one can travel between back to the future, and so they all just have to live through that period, returning to the Northern Continent after Fiona’s group had last left there.
This means that Thread will begin falling on the Great Isles before they return to the Northern Continent. In order to observe the pattern of Threadfall, dragonriders under Xhinna’s leadership fly between up to the Dawn Sisters (as they previously had in Dragon’s Time). And they discover that Thread begins falling earlier than had previously been thought from their history.
And so the dragons start fighting Thread.
Having learnt to fly their dragons high into the atmosphere (as well as into space), Xhinna’s dragonriders discover they can flame Thread just as it is opening out from the pods, at the limits of breathable atmosphere. So the fight against Thread is waged high in the sky, as well as closer to the ground. But there are hazards with flying so high. The dragons take a bubble of air with them, but there is a chance of dragon and rider passing out when their air runs out, and falling to their deaths. It is soon established that only the smaller blue and green dragons and their riders may fly high into the atmosphere, with the larger browns, bronzes and queens ready to catch them if they fall.
And so, 8 months into 508 AL, the dragonriders of the Western Isle return to the Northern Continent.
AL 508 – 558
|Dragonsblood (2005) by Todd McCaffrey [Third Pass parts]
This story is split between two time periods, the First and the Third Passes. The main story is in the Third Pass; but see also the entry under the First Pass.
This is the first book in this series written solely by Todd McCaffrey. It is a complex story involving 2 separate periods in the timeline, alternating between the story lines, and with connections between them.
Setting: AL 507 to 508 – From the end of the Second Interval into the Third Pass.
There are currently 5 Weyrs: Fort, Benden, High Reaches, Telgar, and Ista. Igen Weyr has been abandoned, and its weyrfolk incorporated into Telgar Weyr. D’gan, formerly of Igen Weyr, is now the Weyrleader of Telgar Weyr. He is strict and proud, and keeps aloof from the other Weyrs.
There are more friendly relations between Fort, Benden and Ista. For some reason High Reaches has remained out of communication with the others.
The main character in this story is Lorana. She is the daughter of a beastherder, but is now an orphan, living at Lemos Hold. An old dragonrider, J’trel, from Benden Weyr, discovers her, and takes her under his wing (so to speak). Lorana has two fire lizards (gold Garth and bronze Grenn), one of which (Grenn) Lorana has treated for an injury, having learnt healing techniques from working with herdbeasts.
J’trel takes her first to the Igen coast, so that her fire lizard can recover on the warm beach. Then discovering Lorana’s skill in drawing, he arranges that she travel around Pern by ship, to draw the various creatures.
But after the trip has commenced, one of the sailors assaults the captain and takes over the ship. Another sailor helps Lorana to escape in the ship’s boat. But she falls overboard in a storm, and not wanting her fire lizards to die with her, she urges them to leave her, using her strong telepathic power.
But she survives, and the Benden Weyr dragonriders find her and bring her back to the Weyr to be treated and to recover. She is cared for by K’tan, a dragonrider who is the Weyr’s healer, and Kindan, who is now the harper assigned to Benden Weyr.
But the dragons and fire lizards of Pern are getting sick, and dying. Lorana is concerned she may have brought the disease from her fire lizards to Benden Weyr, and is about to leave, just as a Hatching occurs, and without meaning to, Impresses a dragon, Arith. And so she stays at the Weyr as a dragonrider.
Lorana discovers that she is able to communicate with any dragon, and is also able to follow them mentally as they travel between. And her healing skills enable her to treat sick or injured dragons.
The Third Pass begins.
M’tal, the Benden Weyrleader, takes all the Weyr’s dragons, including the sick ones, to fight Thread. But sick dragons make mistakes, and there are many deaths, from the sickness, the Thread, and the chaos. Afterwards he adopts a policy of excluding sick dragons from the flight.
D’gan, the Telgar Weyrleader adopts the opposite policy – as long as dragons can fly, they must fight Thread. This will eventually lead to tragic consequences.
But dragons are continuing to die, and sometimes their riders with them. If a cure is not found, there will soon not be enough dragons to adequately protect Pern.
Lorana and Kindan search the Weyr’s records to find a cure for the dragons’ sickness. Lorana eventually finds records at Fort Weyr referring to secret rooms at Benden Weyr. There are rooms blocked off by cave-ins, and Kindan gets his miner friends to excavate them.
Lorana’s dragon Arith has caught the sickness. In desperation, Lorana attempts to treats her with medication found in one of the rooms, but gets it wrong. The dying dragon goes between, and her body ends with Wind Blossom in the First Pass.
Another of these rooms provides teaching materials on genetics, provided by Wind Blossom from the First Pass. Lorana, Kindan and others take the course. There is another room which requires a password to enter. But what is the password? And will that room provide the answer?
When the Telgar dragonriders fly to fight Thread, D’gan’s dragon, who is sick, passes on unclear coordinates. As a result, the Telgar dragons and riders are all lost between. Lorana attempts to reach out mentally to rescue them, but fails, but in the process contacts Wind Blossom across time.
|The first part of Dragonheart is at the end of the Second Interval, leading in to the Third Pass, concurrently with Dragonsblood. Fiona and the other dragonriders then travel back 10 years into the past. In the Epilogue they return to their own time in the Third Pass.
The review for this story is given under the Second Interval.
|Dragongirl (2010) by Todd McCaffrey
Set in AL 508.
Continuing on from Dragonheart – the return of Fiona and the others from the past. The first part of the book overlaps the last part of Dragonsblood.
Fiona and the other dragonriders return to Fort Weyr in their own time. Fiona has gained a lot of experience in her 3 years as Weyrwoman at Igen Weyr in the past.
Soon after [as described in Dragonsblood], all the dragons and riders of Telgar Weyr are lost between. As the rider of the oldest queen dragon not currently leading a Weyr, Fiona becomes the new Weyrwoman of Telgar, and many of the dragonriders from Fort Weyr (especially those who had been with her in Igen Weyr) go with her.
The rest of the Telgar weyrfolk (the non-dragonriders) are distressed at the loss of their dragonriders, but given that D’gan had been a harsh Weyrleader, they are pleasantly surprised at the change of leadership. Fiona also goes out to the Holds in the Telgar area to explain the change in the Weyr leadership, and they too are pleased with the change.
[As told in Dragonsblood,] Lorana discovers the cure for the dragons’ sickness, and she and Kindan arrive at Telgar to treat all the dragons. And preferring not to return to Benden Weyr, with the sharp-tongued Weyrwoman, Tullea, they stay at Telgar.
Fiona’s dragon Talenth rises to mate, and T’mar’s dragon Zirenth becomes the successful mate. This makes T’mar the new Weyrleader of Telgar.
Fiona soon has two lovers, the Weyrleader T’mar, and Kindan, whom Fiona has been in love with since childhood. And Fiona shares Kindan with Lorana. But despite this, Fiona and Lorana become good friends. (Sexual relations in the Weyrs are generally fairly free, but this is a bit unusual even by Weyr standards.)
Dragon numbers in Pern were already low because of the sickness, and the loss of the Telgar dragons, but they (and often their riders as well) are still dying from injuries during Threadfall. Soon there will not be enough dragons to properly protect Pern.
If they could go back in time, this would provide a chance for the dragons to lay more eggs, and the hatchling dragons to grow up. But this would cause a paradox – there is nowhere it could have happened in recent years, or people would have noticed, and it would have become generally known. (They dare not go back any further in time, as this will take them to the plague years.)
But prophecies made by Tenniz, a Trader with the Sight, suggest that there may be hope.
|Dragon’s Time continues on from Dragongirl. It is set partly in the Third Pass, and partly in the Second Interval, when Fiona and other dragonriders travel back 3 years into the past to the Great Isles, remaining there for 3 years.
The review for this story is given under the Second Interval.
|Sky Dragons continues on from Dragon’s Time.
Fiona’s group had been rescued from the knot in time, as had D’gan and his dragonriders, and returned to Telgar Weyr in 508 AL. One group of dragonriders return to the Western Isle in the Second Interval in Book 1 of Sky Dragons.
Disgusted by D’gan’s treatment of her, Fiona, and all the dragonriders from her time of leadership at Telgar, return to the Western Isle in the Second Interval in Book 2 of Sky Dragons.
Prevented from travelling forward in time by the knot in time, the dragonriders remain on the Western Isle until after the date Fiona had last left Telgar in 508 AL.
The review for this story is given under the Second Interval.
AL 1508 – 1558
|Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern (1983)
Late in the Sixth Pass, AL 1541.Moreta is Weyrwoman of Fort Weyr, rider of the dragon Orlith. Moreta’s partnership with the Weyrleader, the bad-tempered Sh’gall, is one of convention rather than love, determined from the fact that their two dragons had mated.Two Gathers are held on the same day – at Ista and Ruatha Holds.
At Ruatha, Moreta meets Alessan, the new young Lord Holder of Ruatha, and they enjoy each other’s company – watching the racing of runner beasts, and later dancing together. As the story develops, a romance begins between Moreta and Alessan.
Some sailors had rescued a feline, from the Southern Continent, found floating on an uprooted tree in the ocean, and since such creatures are unfamiliar, they show it off at the Ista Gather. However, this animal carries a virulent disease, which soon spreads to both runner beasts and humans.
Capiam, Masterhealer of Pern, declares a general quarantine due to the epidemic. The message goes out on the drums.
Many people catch the disease, and many die. Since Thread is falling, the dragonriders still have to fight Thread, but with dragonriders sick or dead, their numbers are diminished. The dragonriders from all the Weyrs have to combine to fight Thread, rather than protecting just their own territories.
Moreta had returned to Fort Weyr, but then came down with the disease. But eventually she recovers. Then she is kept busy treating injured dragons, at which she is quite skilled. But Moreta’s dragon Orlith is now on the Hatching Ground, having just produced a clutch of eggs. So to get to the injured dragons, Moreta borrows the dragon Holth, belonging to Leri, the retired Weyrwoman.
Capiam remembers an ancient treatment for viral diseases – producing a serum from the blood of people who have recovered from the disease, and injecting it into other people to provide immunity. Similarly for runner beasts. People from the Healer and Harper halls search the old Records to try to find ways of coping with the disease. And Capiam learns that they should expect a second wave of the disease. They must vaccinate all humans and all runner beasts in Pern. The only way this can be done is for dragonriders to deliver the vaccines – and they will have to travel between times, to make all the deliveries in time.
When one of the Weyrleaders refuses to allow his dragonriders to make deliveries, the other dragonriders have to cover their allocated areas. But only Moreta is familiar with the locations of all the small holds in the Keroon plains, and she takes on these deliveries, riding Holth.
The flight is exhausting, Moreta and Holth making many trips, shifting in time, to get all of the deliveries done in the one day. A ride that will lead to tragedy for Moreta.
The Ballad of Moreta’s Ride is still sung in the stories of the Ninth Pass – notably in Dragonsinger when Menolly and the harpers of the Harper Hall perform it.
|Nerilka’s Story (1986) (novella) – coincident with Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern.
Nerilka is a minor character in Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern, but the few references in that book suggest there is more to be told about her.
Nerilka is the daughter of Tolocamp, Lord Holder of Fort Hold.
She is disappointed that she isn’t taken to the Ruatha Hold Gather, with her parents and four of her sisters.
Tolocamp returns to Fort Hold, breaking quarantine. Nerilka’s mother and her four sisters die of the plague at Ruatha. Tolocamp brings his mistress Anella to Fort Hold, and establishes her as the Lady Holder.
Tolocamp sets up a quarantine detention camp for people arriving at the Hold. Many of the occupants are healers and harpers attempting to return to their Crafthalls in the Fort Hold complex.
Nerilka doesn’t take to Anella. When Tolocamp refuses to give medical supplies from the Hold’s stores to Masterhealer Capiam, this is the last straw for Nerilka, and she leaves the Hold and goes to detention camp, taking medical supplies with her. She works there as a healer, despite having no formal training.
When the quarantine is lifted, she travels about providing healing at the small settlements, and ends up at Ruatha Hold – meeting Lord Holder Alessan there. (She meets Moreta fleetingly.) Initially Nerilka conceals her identity, giving her name as Rill (the short form of her name). She gets involved in the preparation of vaccines for runner beasts.
When the news comes of Moreta’s death, Alessan is devastated. But Nerilka is there to comfort him – and possibly do more than that.
|Beyond Between (2003) – short story in “Legends II: New Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy” (2003) (edited by Robert Silverberg).
Set during the end of Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern.
This story adds an epilogue to Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern. Being concerned with a kind of afterlife experience, it possibly should be regarded as apocryphal.
Moreta, riding Leri’s dragon Holth, delivers the last package of vaccines to Thaniel, at his minor beasthold. Then being exhausted from all the flying, especially since they have been timing it, they go between, intending to go home to Fort Weyr. But Moreta has failed to visualise their destination for Holth, and they remain in the black realm of between, which eventually changes to grey.
After a time, they encounter another rider on a dragon. This is Marco Galliano, a dragonrider from the first group of dragonriders of the early settlement, who was lost [in Dragonsdawn] when his dragon Duluth went between to avoid a collision with an air sled. Marco leads Moreta and Holth to Paradise River Stakehold on the Southern Continent, the place from which Marco had disappeared.
Marco has existed in a kind of limbo for centuries, and constantly checks for dragons and riders in the grey realm of between. He explains that Moreta has died, and continues to exist as a ghost. Normally when dragons commit suicide by going between forever, they actually pass through between to a place beyond – presumably the place people go to when they die. Sometimes the dragons’ riders go with them. But because Moreta has arrived on a dragon other than her own, she and Holth are not able to continue to that place beyond.
Moreta and Holth attempt to fly home, but they are only able to return to Thaniel’s beasthold, the place from where they disappeared. Thaniel’s runner beast Rusty is somehow able to sense the presence of a dragon, and screams and rushes about. Thaniel himself senses something, but can’t see or hear anything, and becomes frightened. Moreta and Holth repeat the attempt over several nights, and Moreta manages to scratch a message on the ground, “Get Leri. Moreta.” And finally Thaniel sees Moreta and Holth by the light of the moon.
So Leri, and Moreta’s dragon Orlith, arrive at Thaniel’s beasthold. With each rider joining with her own dragon, the two pairs fly beyond between.
The Eighth Interval lasts from AL 2058 to 2508 AL (450 years). It is the Second Long Interval.
|Early in the Eighth Interval, Lessa arrives, travelling back in time on her dragon Ramoth, as described in Dragonflight.
The inhabitants of 5 of the 6 Weyrs (i.e. all but Benden Weyr) return with her to the Ninth Pass, but without the rest of Pern’s population knowing what has happened.
|The Masterharper of Pern (1998) – set 55 years before the Ninth Pass (AL 2453) until the first part of Dragonflight.
Robinton is born in the Harper Hall, to Petiron (MasterComposer) and Merelan (MasterSinger). Robinton’s mother, Merelan, sings beautifully, and is always loving towards him. His father, Petiron, doesn’t pay much attention to Robinton, except to be strict with him, and is jealous of Merelan’s love for him.
Robinton has musical talent from a young age. Petiron is an expert composer, writing sophisticated music for professional singers. But even before becoming an apprentice, Robinton composes tunes which anyone can sing, songs which are adopted by the Hall, and then spread to the Holds by the harpers. But Petiron is oblivious to Robinton’s ability. Merelan is distressed that Petiron doesn’t appreciate their son. She accepts a posting to Benden Hold, and takes Robinton with her.
At the Hold, Robinton meets Falloner, from Benden Weyr, and they become good friends. Falloron later Impresses a dragon, and is renamed F’lon. [He would eventually become the father of Fallarnon (F’lar) and Famanoran (F’nor).]
Back at the Harper Hall, Robinton is accepted as an apprentice. By this stage Petiron has recognised Robinton’s talents, but to diffuse the difficulties between father and son, MasterHarper Gennell directs that Robinton be taught by the usual teachers of apprentices rather than by Petiron.
Robinton is promoted to journeyman early, at the end of his third year, and is sent on assignments – in turn to High Reaches, Benden and Tillek Holds. In addition to the Major Holds, Robinton’s duties take him around the country to the minor holds, travelling by runner beast.
At High Reaches Hold, Robinton encounters Fax, the nephew of Lord Holder Faroguy. Fax is a cruel and ambitious man, who holds a significant minor holding within the High Reaches territory.
At Tillek Hold, Robinton meets Kasia, the love of his life. But tragedy would follow.
Returning to the Harper Hall, Robinton is promoted to MasterHarper of Pern. He and his father have become somewhat reconciled by this time, but to avoid difficulties, Petiron requests to be assigned elsewhere, and chooses Half-Circle Sea Hold (thus placing him there for Dragonsong.
After Faroguy dies, Fax duels with, and kills the heir, Farevene, and takes over High Reaches Hold. He gradually takes over neighbouring territory by stealth. But then in a violent move, he captures Ruatha Hold, and kills all members of the Ruatha Bloodline. The other Lords Holder do not have the means to depose him.
But then, some years later, F’lar conducts a Weyr Search, as described in Dragonflight.
[There are several references to the Charter in this story, and Robinton has seen what he thought was the original. These references seem unusual, since previously published books of the Ninth Pass give the impression that the Charter was long since lost and forgotten until Aivas reintroduces it. Maybe elite educated people such as the harpers had retained knowledge of it. It is stated in The Skies of Pern that the original was located in a case for which Aivas provided the code to open, so what Robinton had seen must be a copy – maybe one of the computer printed copies printed in Red Star Rising/Dragonseye, before the technology failed.]
|Runner of Pern (1998) – novella later collected in “A Gift of Dragons” (2002 collection).
Set shortly before the Ninth Pass, so occurs sometime during the timeframe of Dragonflight.
The Runners of Pern are people who run on foot across the country delivering messages and packages – effectively Pern’s postal service. (They are not to be confused with runner beasts, which are also sometimes called runners.) There are Runner Stations spread across Pern, which are residences, stopping places, and delivery points for the messages. These are linked by specially maintained springy mossy paths called traces.
Tenna comes from a family of Runners, and has recently become an apprentice Runner herself. (The Runners consider themselves equivalent to a Crafthall.) She is in the process of running her first Cross – crossing the Continent from east to west. As she approaches the Runner Station at Fort Hold, she is run off the trace by a rider on a runner beast, and falls into a sticklebush, and suffers cuts and abrasions, as well as the hairlike sticklebush slivers penetrating her arms and legs.
Completing her run to the Station, she reports the incident. The Station management care for her, and call in a Master Healer. The rider had been Haligon, son of Fort’s Lord Holder Groghe. Haligon is known for riding on the traces, which he has no business doing. They decide to report it to Lord Groghe. And they insist that Tenna stay at the Station a few days to recover, and this will enable her to attend the Fort Hold Gather.
Tenna decides that at the Gather she will have it out with Haligon. But this works out differently from expected, and she finds Haligon penitent, and quite pleasant.
[Tenna, Haligon and the Runners are mentioned again in The Skies of Pern.]
AL 2508 onwards. (Presumably shorter than 50 years due to the events in All the Weyrs of Pern.)
|Dragonflight (1968) – first novel written.
Incorporates two previously published novellas “Weyr Search” (1967) and “Dragonrider” (1967-1968).
The story starts shortly before the Ninth Pass.
Part I: Weyr Search
When Lessa’s home, Ruatha Hold, was captured by Lord Fax, and her family killed, Lessa hid herself, and disguised herself as a servant girl, hoping to one day regain ownership of the Hold.
Now, years later, F’lar and his team of dragonriders from Benden Weyr are on a Search for candidates to Impress the dragons soon to be hatched from the now deceased queen dragon’s eggs. They arrive at Ruatha Hold.
It is 400 years since the last Pass of the Red Star, and many people think that Threadfall is a thing of the past. Many of the Lord Holders have lost respect for the dragonriders, and wonder why they should make their tithes (provision of supplies) to the Weyrs.
At Ruatha Hold, F’lar discovers Lessa, and persuades her to come as a candidate to Benden Weyr – she has a good chance of becoming the Weyrwoman – the rider of the new queen dragon.
Part II: Dragonflight
Lessa has Impressed the new queen, Ramoth, and become the new Weyrwoman.
R’gul, the old Weyrleader, is very conservative, and follows a course of appeasement and non-interference towards the Lord Holders. Unlike F’lar, he does not believe that Thread will fall again. But F’lar believes the signs that the Red Star is approaching.
The time comes for Ramoth’s mating flight, and F’lar’s bronze dragon Mnementh is the successful male. And according to tradition, this makes F’lar the new Weyrleader. This enables him to insist on the tithes from the Lord Holders, and make preparations for Threadfall.
Part III: Dust Fall
Lessa insists that F’lar teach her and Ramoth to fly between. In the process, Lessa discovers that Ramoth can fly between times.
The first Threadfall takes the dragonriders by surprise, but F’lar, having learnt from Lessa about flying between times, takes his dragonriders back to the beginning of the Threadfall and manages to destroy it.
F’lar meets with the Lord Holders and Craftmasters to work out ways of combating Thread. Besides the dragons flaming it as it falls, there need to be teams of people on the ground with chemical sprays and flamethrowers.
F’lar is concerned that there are not enough dragons to continue the fight against Thread. In the past there had been six Weyrs, but for some unknown reason, the other five were abandoned after the previous Pass.
F’lar decides to send a group of dragonriders back ten years in time, to the unoccupied Southern Continent, to set up a Weyr there, and breed additional dragons.
Part IV: The Cold Between
The breeding program on the Southern Continent is only partially successful, as humans become distressed when they are present twice in the same time. There is still concern that there are not enough dragons.
A tapestry is found at Ruatha Hold that shows the Hold as it was 400 years ago, at the end of the last Pass. Knowing that it is probably dangerous, and against F’lar’s wishes, Lessa and Ramoth travel back in time 400 years (and then Lessa takes some weeks to recover). Lessa meets the dragonriders of the other Weyrs of that time, and asks them to travel forward in time, to help with fighting Thread.
|The Smallest Dragonboy (1973) – short story later collected in “A Gift of Dragons” (2002 collection). Also in “Get Off the Unicorn” (1977 collection).
Keevan is the youngest and the smallest boy at Benden Weyr, and the other boys pick on him, especially Beterli. But Keevan has been selected to be a candidate for Impression.
Then Keevan hears the dragonriders discussing whether so many candidates should be selected. There are always more candidates than hatchling dragons, and not all candidates are successful. Some dragonriders suggest that the youngest boys should be excluded.
Keevan is doing his chores when Beterli teases him, hinting that the decision has been made to exclude him. In the struggle that follows, Keevan is knocked unconscious.
He wakes up in bed with a sore head and broken leg. It seems his injuries will prevent him attending the Hatching.
Then he hears the adult dragons humming. The eggs are about to hatch! He struggles out of bed and stumbles towards the Hatching Ground. But is he too late?
It is seven years after the close of Dragonflight. There are problems between the modern people and the Weyrfolk brought forward from the past – the “Oldtimers”. The Oldtimers insist on autonomy of the Weyrs, and have an authoritarian attitude towards the “commoners” – the people of Hold and Crafthall.
Another problem arises. Thread has so far been falling according to the schedule F’lar had determined from old Weyr records, but suddenly this changes: Thread is not falling according to the schedule, the locations are different, and the frequency has increased. The dragonriders need to be on constant alert.
In an argument with Oldtimer dragonriders, F’nor – F’lar’s half-brother, and second in command – is injured, and taken to Southern Weyr, which is being used for the treatment and recovery of injured dragonriders. There he is cared for by Brekke, Southern’s junior Weyrwoman, and the two of them fall in love.
On the beach on the Southern continent, F’nor discovers fire lizards. Humans have not had contact with these creatures before (during this period), but F’lar notices their great similarity to dragons, apart from their small size, and concludes that these are the creatures from which the early humans on Pern had bred the dragons. He and other people at Southern manage to Impress some of the fire lizards.
When F’lar visits F’nor on the Southern continent, he notices grubs in the ground which eat the Thread as it burrows. These may be another way to combat Thread.
At a gathering for a wedding at one of the Holds, T’ron – the Oldtimer Weyrleader from Fort Weyr – picks a fight with F’lar, accusing him of interference in Weyr autonomy, and is obviously trying to kill him. F’lar wins, injuring but not killing T’ron. And as victor, he declares that all who do not support him are exiled to Southern Weyr. T’ron and some of his people from Fort Weyr, and T’kul and his people from High Reaches Weyr, move to the Southern Continent. The other Oldtimers remain on the Northern Continent, agreeing to be subject to Benden Weyr.
As a result, the previous occupants of Southern Weyr, which includes Brekke, relocate to High Reaches Weyr. But then Brekke’s dragon commences her mating flight – but so does the dragon belonging to Kylara, the senior Weywoman, with devastating consequences.
A distance-viewer (i.e. a telescope) has been found in one of the abandoned rooms at Fort Weyr, through which the surface of the Red Star can be seen. The Lord Holders urge F’lar to take the dragonriders to the Red Star to destroy the Thread at its source. But is such a thing possible?
|Dragonsong (1976) – during Dragonquest, closing almost simultaneously.
Menolly is a 15-year-old girl, the youngest daughter of Sea Holder Yanus, of the Half-Circle Sea Hold. The men of the Sea Hold are fishermen.
Petiron is the Harper assigned to Half-Circle, and Menolly spends a lot of her time with him, learning to sing and play instruments. Petiron is pleased with her abilities, and sends two songs she has written to the Masterharper at the Harper Hall.
But Petiron dies of old age. Menolly, being the only person with musical abilities, is given the Harper’s job of teaching the children, until a new Harper arrives. But Yanus believes that girls should not be musical, and forbids her from playing music she has written herself.
The new Harper, Elgion, arrives. Menolly is prevented from showing her musical ability to him, and instead is sent on lots of errands outside the Hold, such as gathering food.
Menolly cuts her hand badly while slicing packtail fish, and the cut becomes infected. It takes her a long time to recover, and her mother tells her she will no longer be able to play instruments.
On one of her errands, Menolly finds a group of fire lizards on a beach. The queen fire lizard is attempting to move her eggs away from the rising tide. Menolly helps her move the eggs to a cave in the cliff.
Menolly goes to visit the fire lizards again at the time of the Hatching. But feeling unappreciated in the Hold, she decides not to go home again. Thread is falling, and to prevent the newly hatched fire lizards flying out of the cave, Menolly feeds them – and ends up Impressing nine fire lizards! Menolly remains in the cave for weeks.
Meanwhile, Elgion is trying to locate Petiron’s “apprentice”, the writer of the songs sent to the Harperhall, who seems to have taught the children well. Yanus tells him it was a fosterling, a boy who has returned to his own Hold. But Elgion begins to work out the truth.
Menolly is out collecting food when Thread starts to fall. She runs desperately for the cave, running her feet raw. A dragonrider sees her, and takes her to Benden Weyr. There her injured feet are treated by a girl called Mirrim (the fosterling of Brekke from Dragonquest). Menolly finds acceptance in Benden Weyr, which she did not get at home, and the people are most impressed with her fair of nine fire lizards.
Menolly is present at a Hatching of Ramoth’s eggs – an occasion at which people from all over Pern are present – including Elgion, and Masterharper Robinton. Robinton learns of Menolly’s musical abilities, and invites her to come to the Harper Hall – to become a harper.
|Dragonsinger: Harper of Pern (1977) – during seven days following Dragonsong.
Menolly arrives at the Harper Hall. She is an apprentice harper – in fact the only female harper in Pern at this time. She becomes good friends with an apprentice called Piemur.
There are four girls learning music as paying students, but not to become harpers. Initially Menolly is accommodated in the cottage with them. But Dunca, the woman who runs the cottage, doesn’t approve of Menolly and her fire lizards. And some of the girls resent her. Later Menolly is relocated to a room in the main Hall.
Menolly’s supervisor is Journeyman Sebell. She has lessons with the Masters in music playing and singing, and also writes her own songs. Menolly’s instrument is the gitar, although she had also learnt to play other instruments from Petiron. She also joins in other general harper activities – singing as a choir, and singing and playing at the gather.
Masterhealer Oldive treats Menolly for her injured hand and feet. She still has trouble getting around for a while. Her hand is stiff and scarred, but she is able to play the gitar, although to begin with she finds some chords difficult.
The harpers are impressed when the fire lizards join in the singing with them. They had learnt to sing (wordlessly) in the cave with her (in Dragonsong), as she sang and played her reed pipes.
The harpers are also impressed with Menolly’s musical abilities; she had learnt well from Petiron.
|Dragondrums (1979) – closing before the end of The White Dragon.
Piemur has a beautiful boy soprano voice, but then his voice breaks. Masterharper Robinton reassigns him – officially as apprentice to the Drummaster. But unofficially, he will be going on covert missions for the Masterharper, supervised by Sebell and Menolly (now a journeywoman).
The drum section’s role is to send messages by drumbeat to other parts of Pern. The drum apprentices are also often sent off as messengers, which fits in with Piemur’s covert role.
But there is resentment from the other drum apprentices. Piemur learns the drum measures faster than the others. He also seems to be sent off on all the attractive trips, such as to gathers, with Menolly. So the apprentices play pranks on him.
On another occasion, Piemur and Sebell go off to a gather at Nabol Hold, disguised as herdsmen – to listen for talk about possible forbidden trade between Lord Holder Meron, and the exiles of Southern Weyr. Also, since Meron is dying, to find out who his likely heir will be.
Piemur sneaks into the Hold, pretending to be a servant. He finds and steals Meron’s queen fire lizard egg, and hides in a sack in a storeroom. But during the night, dragonriders from Southern collect the stores, and Piemur ends up on the Southern Continent.
Piemur escapes into the wilderness, taking his fire lizard egg, and survives by fishing and living off the land, taking shelter during Threadfall.
|The White Dragon (1978) – incorporating the short story “A Time When” (1975).
Jaxom is an orphan who inherited the position of Lord Holder of Ruatha at birth. His guardian Lytol is Lord Warden of Ruatha, and performs the duties of Lord Holder until Jaxom is of age, and is confirmed in his position.
As a boy, Jaxom caused some consternation by Impressing the dragon Ruth – being a dragonrider is in conflict with his role as Lord Holder.
Ruth was the runt of the clutch, a white male dragon, smaller than other dragons, and an unusual colour. Since it was expected that Ruth might not live, Jaxom was permitted to stay at Ruatha Hold as Lord Holder, keeping Ruth with him, rather than join the Weyr.
Fire lizards gather around Ruth wherever he goes. Due to his smaller size, they can relate to him better than to other dragons. And there are indications that fire lizards have race memory.
Now as a young adult, Jaxom is unhappy about his status. He is not a real dragonrider, as he has not been permitted to fight Thread. And he is not a proper Lord Holder, because Lytol still performs those duties.
A crisis occurs when a queen dragon egg is stolen from the Benden Weyr Hatching Grounds by three bronze dragons – presumably from Southern Weyr. Benden Weyr dragonriders want to take action against Southern. But then the egg is returned – no one knows by whom, and the situation is diffused. But the egg must have been transported back to the past, and kept there for a while, as it is closer to hatching than before.
But fire lizards communicating with Ruth reveal where in time the egg had been taken. Jaxom realises it must have been he and Ruth who had returned the egg. Jaxom and Ruth travel back in time to Southern Weyr, to rescue and return the egg to Benden Weyr. But they decide to keep their adventure secret.
F’lar and Lessa are concerned about D’ram, a former Weyrleader, who has disappeared, and has presumably travelled back in time. Masterharper Robinton believes D’ram has gone to a cove on the Southern Continent that Robinton and Menolly had discovered. Jaxom and Menolly fly on Ruth to the cove, so Ruth can talk to the fire lizards there. This leads to Jaxom and Ruth locating D’ram 25 years in the past.
N’ton, Weyrleader of Fort Weyr, agrees to teaching Jaxom and Ruth to fight Thread. But, exhausted after a training session, Jaxom flies Ruth to the Southern Continent cove – but then collapses, suffering from a disease called fire-head. He comes to, some days later, discovering that Brekke and Sharra have been caring for him. Because it was dangerous to move him, they have built a shelter for him there at the cove. Sharra is the sister of Lord Toric of Southern Hold. Toric had set up the Hold when F’nor first established Southern Weyr, and his sympathies are with the North, rather than the Oldtimers now at Southern Weyr.
Master Robinton collapses of a heart attack, and has to retire as Masterharper. But now Jaxom sees people arriving at the cove from all over Pern, to build a new Hold for Robinton, which would be named Cove Hold.
Jaxom and Sharra have spent a lot of time together, and are falling in love. But Piemur, who has been exploring the Southern Continent, turns up, interrupting their romance. Also Toric seems likely to oppose a match between his sister and Jaxom.
The fire lizards have told Ruth about the original settlement, centuries ago, on the Southern Continent, and the evacuation to the Northern Continent. When Robinton and Menolly arrive at the cove, Robinton organises Jaxom, Sharra, Menolly and Piemur as an exploration party to find remnants of the original settlement.
|The Impression (1989) – short story by Jody Lynn Nye and Anne McCaffrey in “The Dragonlover’s Guide to Pern”.
Occurs during the events of The White Dragon.
Felessan, son of F’lar and Lessa, is selected, along with several other boys, to be Candidates to Impress the young dragons soon to be hatched from Ramoth’s eggs. He is nervous and excited. Will he be successful?
|Dragon’s Code (2018) by Gigi McCaffrey
Concurrent with The White Dragon and The Renegades of Pern. Finishes before Piemur meets Jaxom and Sharra at the cove where Jaxom is convalescing.
It is 3 years since Piemur was assigned to Southern Hold at the end of Dragondrums by Masterharper Robinton.
Piemur’s initial responsibility was to teach the resident harper Saneter the new drum measures for communicating with neighbouring smallholdings. But this didn’t take long. And as is normally part of the duties of a harper, Piemur has also taught the children of the Hold when Saneter was indisposed or unavailable. But the Masterharper has also given Piemur a series of other tasks. This included exploring and mapping the vast Southern Continent. [In The Renegades of Pern it was Holder Toric who assigned Piemur to do this, but this is not necessarily a contradiction. Piemur could have received instructions from both of them to do this.]
But the Masterharper’s latest assignment for Piemur, which Piemur feels uncomfortable with, is to spy on Southern Weyr, to observe the welfare and demeanour of the dragonriders there.
In Dragonquest, many of the Oldtimers were exiled to Southern Weyr, and are effectively cut off from the rest of dragonrider society. Master Robinton is looking for opportunities to reunite the dragons and riders of Southern Weyr with the rest of Pern.
(Toric’s sympathies are with the North, rather than with Southern Weyr.)
Now, as Piemur watches the Weyr, he sees many of the dragons, with their riders, fly off to collect numbweed, which is useful for treating injuries. He notices that many of the dragons are coughing, suffering from some mysterious illness.
Then he sees a dragonrider, T’reb, arriving on his green dragon Beth. T’reb, apparently agitated, heads for the cabin of another dragonrider, B’naj. Piemur eavesdrops on their conversation.
T’reb tells B’naj about how he had seen the queen dragon Loranth in some distress at the Hatching Grounds. Her rider Mardra had to coax her to come away from there.
T’reb had met some men from Nabol on the North Continent. These men had been disinherited by the late Lord Holder Meron, and they propose to help Southern Weyr in exchange for Southern Weyr’s help to gain land in the Nabol region. T’reb is planning to meet with one of them. T’reb is also planning something else, but Piemur can’t hear what he is saying.
When T’reb leaves, and flies off on Beth, Piemur tells his fire lizard Farli to follow T’reb and find out where he is going. In the meantime, Piemur returns to his runner beast Stupid and rides him to the Southern Weyr Hatching Grounds.
Unlike other Hatching Grounds which are kept neat and tidy, these Grounds are in a mess, with debris and egg shards scattered around. Piemur finds an almost intact eggshell; it has a faint rotten smell, malformed yolk and some congealed fluid. It appears that Loranth had produced an egg, but with no live baby dragon.
Farli returns, and following her guidance, Piemur rides Stupid through the jungle to a cove, where he sees two men. Piemur remains hidden in the trees while he observes them and listens to their conversation.
Their names are Toolan and Cramb. Toolan had met with T’reb, who had asked for two accurate drawings of the cove – one in daylight and one at night showing the stars. Cramb is an artist; he will be doing the drawings. Cramb sets to work while Toolan has a nap.
While watching, Piemur thinks back to his time at the Harper Hall. Before his voice broke, he was a very good singer, often being the lead singer in the choir.
As night falls, Cramb proceeds to the second drawing, showing the scene by night. Then Toolan and Cramb lie down to sleep, so Piemur sleeps too.
In the morning T’reb arrives on Beth. He accepts the drawings somewhat dismissively. After he leaves, Cramb asks Toolan what is really going on.
Toolan tells him that T’reb wanted to cove as a location to hide something – probably illegal trade goods. In return, the Southern Weyr dragonriders would help the men of Nabol take possession of land across the border from Nabol.
Piemur is shocked. Crom, where he was born and where his kin live, is across the border from Nabol. In his alarm, he hits his head against a branch. The two men hear it, and see him there. Piemur runs for it.
Piemur arrives back at the Hold, exhausted, thirsty and sunburnt – he has lost his hat. Toric tells him Southern Weyr has been closed to outsiders. Piemur says he needs to report to Master Robinton. Toric says he has already sent a message to the Masterharper, and he will be here soon.
A few hours later, N’ton, the Weyrleader of Fort Hold, arrives on his bronze dragon Lioth, and Master Robinton and Journeyman Sebell are with him.
Review to be continued. I need to rewrite what I’ve written so far, going into less detail.
[Dragon’s Code is quite consistent with The White Dragon. However there are definite contradictions with The Renegades of Pern. Gigi McCaffrey is either unaware of potential conflict with The Renegades of Pern, or has decided to ignore that book. More detail to come.]
|The Girl Who Heard Dragons (1986) – novella later collected in “A Gift of Dragons” (2002 collection). Also in “The Girl Who Heard Dragons” (1994 collection).
Set early during The Renegades of Pern.
Aramina is a young girl who is able to hear the telepathic communications of dragons. Her parents, Dowell and Barla, had left a minor hold within Ruatha’s jurisdiction at the time of Fax’s capture of it, and have since travelled around holdless, her father getting jobs where he could. As the story starts, Aramina’s family (which also includes her younger brother Pell, and her younger sister Nexa) are living in the caves in the Igen area, along with many other holdless people.
However, the self-styled Lady Holdless Thella has started to take an undesirable interest in Aramina, having apparently learned about her gift. Dowell and Barla decide it is time to move on. So they load up their possessions into their wagon pulled by dray beasts.
On the way, Aramina hears the dragons, and learns that Thread is due to fall. They have to hunt out a cave to take shelter. But while Dowell is attempting to repair the wagon, it falls and traps him, rendering him unconscious. Aramina calls out mentally to a nearby dragon, which turns out to be K’van’s dragon Heth. K’van and Heth come to the rescue, free Dowell and transport him to the cave that Pell has found.
But Thella has not given up on Aramina, and makes an attempt to capture her.
|The Renegades of Pern (1989)
Period covered: The prologue begins during the Eighth Interval, around the time Fax captures several holds, including Ruatha. The main story starts at the time of the first fall of the Ninth Pass, and continues up to just after the end of The White Dragon.
There are two main threads to the story, which eventually come together:
(1) Jayge, Thella and Aramina. This story expands on the short story told in The Girl Who Heard Dragons.
(2) The Southern Continent, Piemur and Toric. Piemur’s story continues from where it ended in Dragondrums, and continues up to and beyond where he comes into the story in The White Dragon.
Thella is the sister of Lord Holder Larad of Telgar Hold. She is cruel and vengeful. If someone crosses her, she takes revenge – sometimes even killing the person who has offended her. Coming to a disagreement with her brother, she leaves her Hold, and finds an abandoned hold in the mountains. She gathers together a band of lawless men – the renegades – and they make raids on holds for supplies, generally when the occupants are out in the ground crews fighting Thread, so the masses of homeless people are blamed for the thefts.
Jayge is a member of the travelling trading family, the Lilcamps. They travel around, with wagons drawn by herdbeasts. In between travelling they may stay for a period in one place, and take jobs where they can.
Thella, and her right-hand man Giron, encounter the Lilcamp wagon train when Thella and Giron are in pursuit of Aramina, and ask for directions. Jayge, not trusting Thella, is not very helpful. As recounted in The Girl Who Heard Dragons, Thella manages eventually to capture Aramina, but Aramina is rescued by dragonrider K’van.
But later, Thella and her band take revenge on Jayge’s trading group, ambushing them, and killing some of them. Jayge joins a band of men hunting down Thella’s renegades. They manage to catch most of them, but Thella and some of her inner circle escape. But Jayge knows that Thella will go after Aramina again, and travels to Benden Weyr to warn them to keep her safe.
Toric is the Holder at Southern Hold. He wants to expand his claimed territory as much as possible within the Southern Continent. To this end he has placed several subordinate holds, with people working for him, throughout the land, with some of his men working the ancient mines.
Piemur had been assigned to Southern Hold by the Harper Hall at the end of Dragondrums. He becomes friendly with Toric’s sister Sharra. But Toric wishes to avoid a relationship there, having more ambitious plans for Sharra. So he sends Piemur exploring and mapping the Southern Continent, as part of his extending his claim. Piemur travels on foot, accompanied by his small runner beast, Stupid, and his queen fire lizard, Farli.
Piemur eventually meets up with Jaxom and Sharra at the cove where Jaxom is convalescing (the later location of Cove Hold), as described in The White Dragon. He realises at this point that he has lost Sharra to Jaxom.
But when the original settlement at Landing is discovered, and excavation begins, Piemur meets Jancis, a young journeywoman from the Smith Crafthall, and a romance begins between them.
|All the Weyrs of Pern (1991)
While excavating the original settlement (Landing), the people of Pern discover a building containing Aivas (Artificial Intelligence Voice Address System) – a sophisticated computer, which talks.
Aivas has been dormant since the Crossing, 2500 years ago; the solar panels had been covered with dirt and ash, so Aivas had been without power.
Aivas tells the people who discovered it (or him) the origins of humans on Pern. Soon people from all over Pern are thronging to the site to see the computer, and hear of their origins.
Aivas is also able to provide information about technology which has been lost since the original settlement. People from all the Crafthalls come to Aivas to learn improved techniques for their crafts – known to the first settlers, but forgotten over the centuries. Healers learn new techniques to treat their patients.
But some people don’t like all the changes that Aivas has brought, and over the course of the story, there are several attacks on the Aivas installation, and the people associated with it.
Aivas works out a way to eliminate Thread, but does not give the people details, ostensibly because it requires scientific knowledge they don’t have. The plan requires development of advanced skills for the people of Pern. A group of people are selected for special training – this includes Jaxom, Piemur and Jancis. Additional computer workstations are set up, from equipment which has been stored for centuries in the nearby Catherine Caves.
2 years after the discovery of Aivas, they are ready to move on to next stage.
The 3 spaceships which brought the settlers to Pern are in geosynchronous orbit.
Piemur’s fire lizard Farli has been trained on a mock-up of spaceship Yokahama‘s bridge. Now, Farli flies between to the real spaceship, to turn on life support. Then Jaxom and Piemur fly on Ruth to Yokahama, first to recover the spacesuited body of Sallah Telgar, who had died on board 2500 years before. She is given an elaborate funeral at Telgar Hold, by her distant descendants.
Then various people go on board Yokahama (flying between on dragons), and also to the other ships, to perform various duties, or just out of curiosity, including to gaze at the planet Pern below.
Dragons and fire lizards can survive in space – dragons can hold their breath for 15 minutes, fire lizards shorter. On Aivas’s instructions the dragons practice spending time in space. Some spacesuits are found on board, and people learn how to manufacture additional spacesuits.
Aivas’s plan involves all the bronze dragons – from all the Weyrs of Pern. The dragons and their spacesuited riders will venture out into space, to the Red Star. Somehow the rogue planet will be diverted from its course. Jaxom and Ruth will have special role to play.
Aivas has an additional component to the main plan. On board Yokohama, Sharra, Mirrim, and others have the task of dissecting the ovoids, which are the dormant form Thread has while travelling through space. Somehow, learning the nature of the organism will help in its defeat.
|The Dolphins of Pern (1994) – during and immediately after All the Weyrs of Pern.
Humans had lost touch with the dolphins, and had forgotten that there had been a partnership with these intelligent sea creatures. This had apparently occurred in the Year of the Fever (AL 16), when many people in Fort Hold had died.
But dolphins had not forgotten, and continued their duties of escorting ships, and rescuing sailors from danger. They kept their knowledge of human speech, but the humans did not recognise the sounds they made as speech. The sailors referred to the dolphins as shipfish.
Jayge and Aramina had made their home at the Paradise River Hold on the Southern Continent, at an ancient stakehold occupied by people before the Crossing. They have a young son called Readis. Alemi, Masterfishman, brother of Menolly, had come to Paradise River, and established a fisher hold within the Paradise River Hold territory.
Alemi and Readis go on a fishing trip together, on a boat in the ocean. A fierce storm comes up, and the two are rescued by dolphins – and Alemi and Readis recognise that the dolphins have human speech.
Aramina becomes scared of her son’s experience, and being afraid he would get into difficulties swimming with the dolphins, makes him promise never to go into the water unaccompanied. She also requests Jayge and Alemi not to get Readis involved with dolphins, and not to discuss them in his presence.
Alemi goes to Aivas at Landing, and learns all he can about dolphins from the computer. The dolphins’ bell at Monaco Bay has been recovered from the sea, and Alemi discovers he can call dolphins to him by ringing the bell. Back at Paradise River, he uses another bell to call the dolphin pod located in that area. And so he re-establishes contact with the dolphins. The language of humans and dolphins have drifted apart over the centuries, but soon the dolphins are learning the modern form of the human language. Alemi tells Pern’s Masterfisher Idarolan about the dolphins, and their ability to provide assistance to sailors and tell them where the best fishing is, and soon all the fishermen are communicating with the dolphins. Dolphins’ bells are set up at various places on the coasts, and sailors use their ships’ bells to call the dolphins.
T’lion, rider of dragon Gadareth, is from Eastern Weyr, a new Weyr on the Southern Continent. His main duty is to transport people around. This brings him to Paradise River Hold frequently. He meets Alemi and also gets involved with dolphins. Not realising Readis’s mother’s attitude towards dolphins, he takes Readis along with him.
On one of the occasions, Readis gets a thorn from the sea in his foot. The poison from the thorn makes him very sick, and he ends up with a withered leg. Aramina unjustly blames the dolphins for this.
When a school is established at Landing, to teach children all the new knowledge that Aivas has brought, Readis and other children from Paradise River go along. Readis takes the opportunity to learn all he can about dolphins from the Landing computers, and resolves to become a dolphineer, like those of the ancient time. But he knows his mother would not approve.
|The Skies of Pern (2001)
At the end of All the Weyrs of Pern (about halfway through The Dolphins of Pern), Aivas had deactivated himself, considering that now that the Red Star had been diverted, the people of Pern should develop on their own. However there are still working computers at Landing, and computer access to historical records. The advanced technology which Aivas introduced continues to be in use.
However, there is a revival of the Abominators, those who consider that Aivas, and all technology introduced by him, are Abominations. They attack the main Healer Hall, and all of the lesser healer halls, destroying equipment and supplies. They also attack facilities such as the Glass Crafthalls. Later they attack the PrinterHall. Some of the Abominators are captured and exiled, but the leaders remain elusive.
F’lessan meets Tia, a female green rider from Monaco Bay Weyr, and they begin a romantic relationship, tentative at first.
Monaco Bay Weyr, more often called Monaco Weyr, has been renamed from Eastern Weyr. [Female riders of green dragons seem to be becoming more frequent. Like Mirrim before her, Tia had not been an official Candidate, but the newly hatched dragon had located her in the stands.]
Looking ahead to the end of the Pass, after which Thread will never fall again, dragonriders are considering their future occupations. Generally they are planning to have holds in the Southern Continent, which still has lots of unoccupied land.
F’lessan had located Honshu Hold, occupied by the Fusaiyuki family in ancient times. F’lessan claimed it as his own, for himself and his dragon Golanth, and called it Honshu Weyrhold. They live there when their Threadfighting duties permit. By the end of the story, Tia and her dragon Zaranth are living there with them.
Unlike other dwellings of the early settlement, many of the ancient artifacts remained at Honshu, and the place has become something of a museum for visitors. There is an air sled, now without power, and an observatory with a working telescope. F’lessan and Tia discover they have a shared interest in astronomy.
A comet (referred to as the Fireball) appears in the sky, heading for Pern. Fortunately it lands in the sea, instead of on land, but even so, the resultant tsunami floods and brings destruction to all the coastal areas. Monaco Weyr is destroyed. The dragonriders are kept busy – and make use of travelling in time – evacuating the Weyr, and other settlements, such as Fisherholds. Afterwards many of the occupants of Monaco Weyr stay at Honshu, until the Weyr is rebuilt.
After the experience of the Fireball Flood, it is decided that more observatories should be set up across Pern. There are several telescopes stored in the Catherine Caves. This will enable them to be better warned about objects falling from the sky. And it would provide occupation for dragonriders after the Pass, as well as other people.
Tia’s dragon Zaranth is discovered to have another ability – telekinesis – the ability to move things with her mind. Could this draconic ability be developed to the point of diverting celestial objects heading for Pern?
Near Honshu, F’lessan, Tia, and their dragons are attacked by felines. Zaranth uses her telekinetic ability to fight off the felines. The other dragons, coming to assist them, learn to use the same ability. But F’lessan and Golanth are critically injured, and take some time to recover.
|After the Fall is Over (A proposed book in progress as at 2011) – set after the Ninth Pass in “New Era Pern”.|
|Ever the Twain (2002) – original to “A Gift of Dragons” (2002 collection).
Neru (Ru) and Nian are twin brother and sister. They are 16 years old, and live at Lado Hold on Ista Island. The two are very close, and have never been apart.
Neru daydreams about being a dragonrider, and hopes he will be selected.
Dragons arrive on Search from Ista Weyr, for Candidates for Impression. The green dragons select Candidates on the basis of detected empathic strength. Nian is selected, and two others, but it seems that Neru is being ignored.
Nian asks that Neru come with her, if only to watch the Hatching. Learning that they are twins, the dragonriders realise that Nian’s empathic field is masking Neru’s, and agree to take him along as a Candidate. The Candidates are flown to the Weyr.
The time for Hatching arrives. Nian is so concerned with watching whether Neru is Impressing a dragon, that she doesn’t notice the queen hatchling dragon creeping up behind her until it is practically on top of her.
And then realising that the dragon in Neru’s chosen egg is struggling to break out, Nian contrives to “accidentally” fall on it, cracking it with her dragon’s feed bowl. (Normally eggs which do not hatch are left alone, on the assumption that there is something wrong with the dragon.)
So both of them manage to Impress dragons, and they discover that their close relationship has now been transferred to their dragons.
[It is not clear when this story is set, as it has no characters, or identifying events shared with any other story.
The Pern Wiki entry for this story, at http://pern.wikia.com/wiki/Ever_The_Twain argues, I think quite convincingly, that this probably occurs during the Second Pass. The main factors that lead to this conclusion are that there are female green riders in this story, and that fire lizards are present in human settlements on the Northern Continent.]
| The Dragonlover’s Guide to Pern (1st edition 1989, 2nd edition 1997) by Jody Lynn Nye with Anne McCaffrey.
The second edition of this book contains material from the additional books published since the first edition. This review is based on the second edition.
This book contains background material for the series. Jody Lynn Nye consulted with Anne McCaffrey, so I imagine that it could contain additional information from Anne McCaffrey not contained in the books.
The Guide covers the following topics:
|The Atlas of Pern (1984) by Karen Wynn Fonstad
Authorised by Anne McCaffrey.
This book was completed in 1984 based on the first seven Pern novels and in collaboration with Anne McCaffrey.
My reviews above are organised according to the internal chronology of the series. This order is different from the order of publication.
The first books written are set in the Ninth Pass, but later books are written in the past relative to that time.
There is a suggested reading order on Anne McCaffrey’s website, which follows the order of publication: http://pernhome.com/aim/2006-Pern-Reading-Order.pdf.
Here is my own suggested reading order. I have been largely guided by the document on Anne McCaffrey’s website, but have made some modifications. I have built up the list as I read the books, making comments on the development of the series as I proceeded. Note that Anne McCaffrey tended to overlap many of her books’ chronologies. I suspect that many of her stories were drafted well before the publication dates, possibly concurrently with her writing of other stories, or from material edited out of books published earlier.
The stories of the Second Interval and Third Pass have been written either by Todd McCaffrey, or by both Anne and Todd McCaffrey. These stories involve lots of complex time travel, so the order according to the chronology can be misleading. These stories should be read in publication order.
- Dragonflight (1968)
The first book of the series starts just before the Ninth Pass, long after the inhabitants of Pern have forgotten how they came to the planet from Earth.
- Dragonquest (1971)
Ninth Pass. Continues on from Dragonflight.
- The Smallest Dragonboy (1973), in: Get Off The Unicorn (1977) and A Gift of Dragons (2002)
Ninth Pass short story. The main character is Keevan, renamed to K’van at the end of the story.
- Dragonsong (1976)
Ninth Pass. The first book of the Harper Hall Trilogy. The main character is Menolly. Overlaps Dragonquest.
- Dragonsinger: Harper of Pern (1977)
Ninth Pass. The second book of the Harper Hall Trilogy. Continues with Menolly as the main character.
- Dragondrums (1979)
Ninth Pass. The third book of the Harper Hall Trilogy. The main character is Piemur.
- The White Dragon (1978)
Ninth Pass. The main character is Jaxom. Probably best read after Dragondrums, since when Piemur appears late in the book, he has already had the experiences described in Dragondrums. (Note – Piemur has also had most of the experiences described for him in The Renegades of Pern at this point.)
- Moreta: Dragonlady Of Pern (1983)
Having referred to the Ballad of Moreta’s Ride in the Ninth Pass stories, the author now goes back to Sixth Pass to tell the story in detail.
- Nerilka’s Story (1984)
Sixth Pass. Concurrent with Moreta, this novella expands on the story of Nerilka, a minor character in Moreta.
- The Girl Who Heard Dragons (1986) in: The Girl Who Heard Dragons (1994 collection) and A Gift of Dragons (2002)
Ninth Pass novella. The main character is Aramina. This story should be read before The Renegades of Pern, as it is expanded in that book.
- Dragonsdawn (1988)
The story of the original settlement. Begins before the First Pass.
- [The Dragonlover’s Guide to Pern, 1st edition (1989)]
- The Impression (1989), in: The Dragonlover’s Guide To Pern (1989)
Ninth Pass short story. Main character is Felessen, son of Lessa and F’lar, renamed to F’lessan at the end of the story.
- The Renegades Of Pern (1989)
Ninth Pass. The prologue gives background of the various characters appearing in the book, and begins during the Eighth Interval, around the time Fax captures several holds, including Ruatha (ie during the backstory of Dragonflight). The main story starts at time of the first fall of the Ninth Pass, and continues up to just after the end of The White Dragon.
The story of Aramina, from The Girl Who Heard Dragons, is expanded on, but told here from the points of view of Jayge and Thella.
Piemur’s story in this book carries on from where it ended in Dragondrums, and continues up to and beyond where he first appears in The White Dragon.
- All The Weyrs Of Pern (1991)
Ninth Pass. Continues on from The Renegades of Pern. As the original settlement is discovered, and people learn about their history from Aivas, there are references back to Dragonsdawn.
- The Survey: P.E.R.N.c (1993) in: The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall (1993)
Goes back to the original survey by the Exploration and Evaluation Corps (EEC), 200 years before settlement. Some details of this had already been referred to in Dragonsdawn, and the story had been outlined in The Dragonlover’s Guide to Pern, 1st edition.
- The Dolphins’ Bell (1993) in: The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall (1993)
First Pass short story. Begins towards the end of Dragonsdawn, at the time of the crossing to the Northern Continent (“the Crossing”), and continues a little beyond Dragonsdawn.
- The Ford of Red Hanrahan (1993) in: The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall (1993)
First Pass short story. AL 19: 10 years after the Crossing in Dragonsdawn and The Dolphins’ Bell. The main character is Red Hanrahan.
- The Second Weyr (1993) in The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall (1993)
First Pass short story. AL 28. The main character is Torene.
- Rescue Run (1991) in The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall (1993)
Short story. 2 years after the end of the First Pass (i.e. into the First Interval). Published before the other stories in The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall, but the events in this story occur last chronologically, and this story appears last in the book. This story involves the arrival on Pern of a landing party from the spaceship Amherst. However, they only find one small community at Honshu Hold on the Southern Continent. The rest of the population of Pern is believed to be dead, and there is no interaction with them. The story does not depend on any of the other stories in The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall, except the fact that all other colonists have crossed to the Northern Continent.
- The Dolphins of Pern (1994)
Return to the Ninth Pass. During and immediately after All the Weyrs of Pern. Continues the theme of dolphins from The Dolphins’ Bell.
- Red Star Rising (UK title) / Dragonseye (US title) (1996)
The events leading up to the Second Pass. A new cast of characters who have not experienced Thread due to the 200-year Interval. It is a transition story, with the ways of Earth being replaced with the ways of Pern.
- [The Dragonlover’s Guide to Pern, 2nd edition (1997)]
- The Masterharper of Pern (1998)
Eighth Interval story. Prequel to Dragonflight. Tells the life of Robinton up to the events of “Weyr Search” in Dragonflight. Includes more details of the rise of Fax. Anne McCaffrey explains in the Acknowledgements that she wrote the book in response to requests to explain some things prior to Dragonflight.
- Runner of Pern (1998) in “A Gift of Dragons” (2002 collection)
Novella set in the Eighth Interval, shortly before the Ninth Pass.
- The Skies of Pern (2001)
Ninth Pass story. Continues on from The Dolphins of Pern.
- Ever the Twain (2002) – in “A Gift of Dragons” (2002 collection)
Short story. Period unknown.
- Beyond Between (2003) in: Legends II (2003) (anthology edited by Robert Silverberg)
Short story. Occurs during the end of Moreta: Dragonlady Of Pern, in the Sixth Pass.
I previously had this listed to be read immediately after the pair of stories, Moreta: Dragonlady Of Pern, and Nerilka’s Story, given that it occurs chronologically during that period. On reflection, I think it is best read in its publication order. However, I suggest you read it before embarking on the complex set of Third Pass stories.
- Dragon’s Kin (2003) by Anne & Todd McCaffrey
First book written by both Anne and Todd McCaffrey. Set in the Second Interval, 16 years before the Third Pass. The main characters are Kindan and Nuella. Watch-whers (the dragon’s kin of the title) are introduced in a more detailed way than stories published previously.
- Dragonsblood (2005) by Todd McCaffrey
First story of the series written solely by Todd McCaffrey.
This story is split between two time periods, during the First and the Third Passes.
The First Pass story, with Wind Blossom as the main character, continues on after The Second Weyr. From the description of watch-whers in Dragon’s Kin we come back to Wind Blossom, their creator.
The Third Pass story occurs several years in the future of Dragon’s Kin. The main character is Lorana. Kindan, from Dragon’s Kin, also appears as a significant character.
- Dragon’s Fire (2006) by Anne & Todd McCaffrey
Second Interval story. Starts a few years before Dragon’s Kin, then continues concurrently with it, and then beyond it.
Dragon’s Fire and Dragon Harper fill in the period between Dragon’s Kin and the Third Pass parts of Dragonsblood.
- Dragon Harper (2007) by Anne & Todd McCaffrey
Second Interval story. Continues on from Dragon’s Fire. The main character is Kindan, the main character from Dragon’s Kin, who also appeared to a lesser extent in Dragon’s Fire.
This is the story when the Plague occurs, referred to in several stories set chronologically later in the Second Interval and Third Pass.
- Dragonheart (2008) by Todd McCaffrey
The first part of this story is set at the end of the Second Interval, leading in to the Third Pass, concurrently with Dragonsblood.
The second part (when Fiona and the other dragonriders travel back in time) is set 10 years earlier, during the Second Interval.
In the Epilogue they return to their own time in the Third Pass.
The main character is Fiona.
Note Dragonheart, Dragon’s Time and Sky Dragons involve time travel, so the order of the books according to the chronology can be misleading. These books should be read in publication order.
- Dragongirl (2010) by Todd McCaffrey
Set in AL 508 in the Third Pass. Continuing on from Dragonheart – the return of Fiona and the others from the past. The first part of the book overlaps the last part of Dragonsblood.
Fiona continues as the main character, with Lorana returning as a significant character.
- Dragon’s Time (2011) by Anne & Todd McCaffrey
This story continues on from Dragongirl. It is set partly in the Third Pass, and partly in the Second Interval, when Fiona and other dragonriders travel back 3 years into the past to the Eastern Isle of the Great Isles, remaining there for 3 years.
Fiona and Lorana are the main characters.
- Sky Dragons (2012) by Anne & Todd McCaffrey
This story continues on from Dragon’s Time. It is set in the Second Interval, with the Epilogue set in the Third Pass. The period is concurrent with the Second Interval parts of Dragon’s Time, as Xhinna and her fellow dragonriders travel back 3 years into the past to the Western Isle of the Great Isles. They are later joined by Fiona and her dragonriders from Telgar. They all remain there until 508 AL in the Third Pass, before returning to the Northern Continent.
Xhinna is the main character.
Wikipedia: The Dragonriders of Pern
Wikipedia: List of Pern books in Pern historical order
Sariel’s Guide to Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern Books