I my memory this is my favourite Pern book, closely followed by the Haperhall books. There is a lot more going on than I remembered. Or that I thought of happening in another book of the series. This is definitely a worthwhile refresher.
We finally get to read more about my favourite dragon Ruth and about a ton of fire-lizards. Plus there is adventure, a conspiracy and plenty of exploring of the Southern continent and the past. Jaxom has to come to terms with his double role of Lord Holder and Dragonrider. Although he isn‘t allowed to be either and chafes at the restrictions put upon him. In the meantime Ruth grows and matures in unexpected ways.
F‘lar and Lessa are in the sidelines in this storyline and we get to see more of the characters from the Harperhall novels. Which makes me wonder why this book was put into a collected edition with the first two books of the series, although the three Harperhall novels are set before it chronologically. But I guess this way you come full circle with all of the issues that are raised in Dragonflight and Dragonquest and the various plotlines are tied up neatly.
McCaffrey is still not very good at writing love scenes in this and we are still dealing with antiquated gender roles. But then, this is set in a medieval, feudal society, so that actually fits. The women do all the cooking and act as servants to the men, the actual servants are faceless drudges (I always deeply disliked that term), the farmers are beholden to their lords and the droit-de-seigneur is alive and well. Jaxom‘s dealings with Corana are not stellar, but he is a product of the society he grew up in.
Is this still my favourite? I think it is neck to neck with Dragonquest, which has a more focussed and streamlined plot. The White Dragon is longer and more meandering, with several highpoints. This could have easily been several novellas, stuck together.
Here is the chronological order of the current timeline and the books I plan to re-read:
Dragonflight — re-read in September 2020
Dragonquest — re-read in October 2020
Dragonsong —> Harperhall, plan to read after White Dragon
Dragonsinger —> Harperhall, dito
Dragondrums —> Harperhall, dito
The Renegades of Pern — I might skip this one, it doesn‘t sound essential to the main plotline.
The White Dragon — re-read in November 2020
All The Weyrs of Pern
The Dolphins of Pern
The Skies of Pern
I never before realized that the Harperhall books are aimed at a different age group, aka YA. None of those books released in the years 2000+ are part of my planned read above. I‘ll decide after reading those, if I will pick up the newer offerings, co-written with Todd McCaffrey (set before Dragonflight).
What I wrote in 2013:
My all-time-favourite Pern novel. The ultimate underdogs of Pern. The rider should never have become a rider and the little dragon was a discard from the get-go. So they stick it to all of them and show the finger to those snobby other riders, dragons and assorted nobility…