Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey

Great account of the founding of Pern.

So this really should be read after the main Pern books, or at least after the first few as it gives away some major spoilers about how Pern came to be. We start off in the colony ships as they approach Pern. There are hints of major wars with aliens and the colonists want to go back to a simpler life, lower technology and more freedom. The first third of the book consists of the landing and the colony setup as they get to know their new planet. The second third is staged around the initial threadfall and the consequences of that and the final part is the move from the southern continent to the north.

The first third is good, not quite as good as I remember but still interesting. It’s in the second third once thread falls that it really gets interesting. The creation of the dragons is really cool and means that all of what comes ahead makes more sense in world. It is well done piece of retconning and works far better than some of her later attempts.

The characters are decent, all pretty much hewn from the same rock but different enough not to be too boring. My main criticism is that they are all too good if you know what I mean. Maybe my cynicism is growing along with my age but their ‘goodness’ I found hard to swallow in parts and seemed unrealistic. The villains, except for Avril when she went all psycho, weren’t even too bad in a lot of respects, honestly I had some sympathy for them as the pious sanctimony of some of the leaders annoyed me too.

Even with that small rant though I did still really enjoy this re-read. Been a while since I read it but it held up pretty well. Still love the story of Sallah and that of Sean and Sorka. It’s great in that it can be read as a standalone with no other knowledge of what went before though it’ll have more impact if you do, there’s a lot of familiar names sprinkled through the pages!

4.5 stars rounded down

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