Day: April 17, 2021

by Anne McCaffrey

Major spoiler alert if you haven’t read the first book in this series. So, what saved the day in Dragonflight was that Lessa travelled back in time to contact the weyrs that in her time had been empty for ages, and brought all those dragonmen forward to her own time to fight Thread. This worked well at first because at the point she travelled back to, the “Oldtimer” dragonmen had been done fighting Thread for a while and were feeling bored and antsy (the Red Star having moved on in its orbit). They were eager for action and to help out. But now, living in a new time, conflicts arise as the Oldtimers have different notions about everything. Traditions chafe with newer ways of thinking and innovation. Arguments and outrage spring up between everyday people, leaders and dragonmen alike. Discoveries are made of rooms in the back tunnels of weyrs with preserved instruments, one is a telescope which gives them a good look at the Red Star for the first time. Someone comes up with the preposterous idea of travelling to the Red Star’s surface on dragons to get rid of Thread at its source. Uh, no. Disastrous notion. But ordinary folk demand things be done, that they try. There’s another means of protection against Thread that turns out to be biological- and it’s not flaming dragons, but something much smaller that eats it. Nobody believes this, even when they see it. (I’m not sure I do, either.) There’s lots of tedious pages in the book of tiresome conversations and meetings and arguments between all sorts of characters I cared little about- but it’s all made bearable by the charm of the fire lizards.

Another new discovery- that these tiny indigenous creatures – which look exactly like miniature dragons and can also wink between– can form a similar bond with humans. Nobody knew because nobody could catch one before, because they always nervously disappeared on approach. But someone stumbles across a nest of fire lizard eggs as they’re hatching, and suddenly has a tiny gold companion (as well as his regular dragon, who views the little flying lizard with something like fond amusement). There’s a huge uproar over the fire lizards, which suddenly become popular and in-demand. Everybody wants one. Some just view them as pets (or annoyances), others think they could be trained to do useful tasks, like carry messages. And some of the dragonmen think that if commoners had fire lizard pets they’d understand the weyrs’ views on things better.

This is big stuff that happens in the book! Meandering through all that are smaller individual storylines- an insufferable man named Meron trying to control other people, a flirtatious nasty woman Kylara irritating everyone she meets, F’lar trying to placate everyone and find ways for the weyrs and holds to better communicate, F’nor getting injured and falling in love, a quiet self-effacing responsible woman Brekke finally getting something she deserves, then facing a terrible loss. There’s a young man who flaunts custom, people puzzling over old scientific instruments they don’t understand and figuring out new technologies, and a spectacular (and terrible) fight between two queen dragons. And that’s just a little bit of it all that I’m mentioning. It’s really quite a lot stuffed into just under 250 pages!

Rating: 3/5
248 pages, 1971

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