How the Dragonriders of Pern came to life…

Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey

Pern (Chronological Order) #1Pern #9

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Pern Colonial Expedition had reached the most exciting moment of its fifteen-year voyage: the three colony ships, the Yokohama, the Bahrain, and the Buenos Aires were finally approaching their destination.

The story of how it all started. Three colony ships reach the planet of Pern, the colonists settle and all seems to be going well—until the first time deadly thread falls from the skies.

I read this shortly after it had been published in 1988 and then again around 2004. However, I didn‘t remember any of the plot. I knew the general storyline, but didn‘t recall any details. 

I could have done without the conspiracy. It would have been fine for me if McCaffrey had simply concentrated on the settlers‘ struggles to survive and establish their colony. However, that drama lead to one of the most exciting and emotional sequences in the book, so I shouldn‘t complain.

It‘s also a pity that McCaffrey is so conservative regarding gender roles. There are heroic women that fly shuttles and fight thread, but my general impression was that they were the unusual ones. Generally women and men here follow gender stereotypes that feel outdated. And there is an angry guy again, shaking a woman. What is it with the shaking of women?

On the plus side the book is filled with a plethora of unusual vocabulary that I had to look up. Very educational. Beragged (is that really a word or did she make that up?), vituperative, bollixed, primipara, carborundum, cadged… And I rediscovered the Panspermia theory of Hoyle and Wickramansingh.

Despite my misgivings I actually enjoyed myself. There was a complex plot or rather several overlapping plots with good pacing. I never felt bored or lacked action. I liked the main characters and there was just enough character development for them to stay interesting. I adored the dragons. This was a nice backstory to the story arcs of the major books with Lessa, Robinton and Co.

Review from 2004:

This is a re-read, I read it when it was first published, in 1988. 

Not set at the same time as most of the other Pern novels. Instead this is set in the time of the colonists coming to Pern from Earth a long time before that. A bit more Sci-Fi than the others. You find out how the dragons came to be and the dragonriders of Pern, why the dawn sisters are up in the night sky and you live through the founding of Landing – the site where much later Aivas is re-discovered. Some action, some drama and intrigue, something to laugh, something to cry – the usual reliable and entertaining Anne McCaffrey.