I did wonder on why there was a new ‘Dragonriders Of Pern’ book after so long and was told that Gigi McCaffrey wanted a novel out there to celebrate her mother, Anne McCaffrey’s 50th anniversary since her first Pern novel, ‘Dragonflight’. 50 years! Now I know I’m getting old.
There are two things that are apparent from starting this book. After a brief history of Pern, it’s set in the time period of F’lar and Lessa, although the latter’s actions are mentioned, there seems to be a rule not to go in that direction. The principle character is the journeyman harper, Piemur, as under Masterharper Robinton and Journeyman Sebell orders he is discreetly spying in the Southern Weyr where the dragons are in ill health.
So far so good. What is a little jarring is the mention of telepathy and teleportation as neither words are known to the inhabitants. To them, the dragons move ‘between’ where travelling distances or time or both. Telepathy isn’t even considered a word. Although Gigi McCaffrey uses the term as well, it shouldn’t be seen as an optional choice.
I suspect I won’t be alone in looking at Gigi McCaffrey here as a novice writer in her mother’s reality here. The majority of readers, like myself, are likely to be long-term experts on Pern, having read all the novels far more than new readers. Saying that, some of the explanations within the text are obviously there to inform them more than us.
From a plot point-of-view, the reveal of what is going on is given to us, the readers, fairly early on and rather more incomplete to the harpers so we know we have to wait for them to catch us up. Actually, McCaffrey offers two solutions and, without going spoiler, it’s obvious once you remember who can do what. Knowing the Southern Weyr dragons are also ill must surely be a clue to the final resolution.
It looks like I’ve been pronouncing Piemur the Nabolese way ‘Pie-muir’ all these year and not how others in Pern call him, which isn’t actually given. Addressing Piermur himself, we are reminded that he’s supposed to have a strong sense of humour but we don’t really see examples of that. Show not tell would have worked better. After all, a sense of humour can balance out the most grimmest situation.
You’ll notice I’m being careful on how much I should reveal. However, I do wonder if the death of someone close to Piemur is supposed to be an outlet for Gigi McCaffrey’s memories of her mother.
I was very critical of her brother, Todd, in lacking empathy when writing his stories of Pern. Although Gigi has teething problems with her writing, she has a lot more sympathy to Pern and is more like her mother. I do think if Pern novels are to continue it is time we need to move on to what happens next in its history than forever filling in events in its past.
Despite some criticisms, Gigi McCaffrey has done well on her first outing and as long as we don’t have to wait for another anniversary before she writes another book, she has made a more promising start.
(pub: Del Rey/Random House. 346 page hardback. Price: $27.00 (US), $ (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-101-96474-3)