Saturday 22 April 2017

Pern books

It seems ages since I last posted. It is ages! Easter and the school holidays seem to have got in the way of everything this month so my book count for April is going to be well down I suspect. But there's no harm in that... it's been a fun couple of weeks with the grandchildren, they grow so quickly you must enjoy every moment with them.

Another reason for less reading is that I've become terribly addicted to the TV series, The Game of Thrones. We bought the boxed set a few weeks ago to see if we would like it... various people I know love it so I thought we might too. And goodness me we really do. I wasn't sure at first. It's very adult... quite a lot of sexual content and heaps of violence. But if you can get beyond that the storylines, acting and sets are amazing. We're on season three at the moment and fair galloping along. Plus... the books are calling to be read after I've finished with the TV series.

Anyway, books!

Anne McCaffrey's Pern books have long been a favourite of mine. I read the first two, Dragonflight and Dragonquest, in the early 1970s when I was in my early twenties and I remember being totally smitten with the fabulous world McCaffrey had created. It was many years after that that I finally got back to Pern with The White Dragon and The Harper Hall trilogy. Since then I've been slowly catching up with the many other dragon books Anne McCaffrey has written.

No sooner had I started All the Weyrs of Pern when I realised the book I should be reading was Dragonsdawn. This is because at the beginning of All the Weyrs it talks a lot about the original settlers but doesn't actually tell their story. Dragonsdawn does just that. The settlers were originally from Earth, all looking for a peaceful, agrarian way of life. They set up a settlement where they land, call it 'Landing', and for around eight years things go well. People gradually move out of Landing to set up their own farms or craft centres - life is idyllic. Small dragon-like animals have been discovered and many taken as pets. Then comes the day when thread falls from the sky like rain. People die, land and crops ruined. What is this horrific 'thing' which eats everything in its path? Where is it coming from? How long will it last? Questions need answers but in the short-term the settlers must find a way to fight the thread in the air before it can hit the ground and do tremendous damage. Is it possible the dragonettes might harbour an eventual solution?

Jump forward 2,500 years and we have the events of All the Weyrs of Pern. The inhabitants of present day Pern have discovered the remains of Landing where their ancestors first settled. The computer system, AIVAS, is still working and it doesn't take the likes of Jaxom and Piemur long to get it up and going. It seems that AIVAS is the font of all knowledge and the inhabitants of Pern have a lot to learn. Their ancestors slowly lost all of their technical know-how as they concentrated on fighting thread with dragons. They have to relearn what their forebears knew and quickly. AIVAS thinks they could eradicate thread forever but there is much to learn and only a short period of time in which to do it.

Thoroughly enjoyed these two connected books, particularly Dragonsdawn. When I first read the two initial dragon books all those years ago it didn't occur to me that there was a real back story to the tales of Lessa and F'lar and their dragons. I thought I was reading fantasy when in fact I was reading science fiction. I've just about made the adjustment! Because Dragonsdawn is pure sci-fi with its Earth settlers arriving on Pern to start a new way of life... the start of thread... and their use of the little dragonettes to find a way to fight the dreaded scourge. It's all fascinating stuff. When I'd finished that I went back to All the Weyrs of Pern which updates the story of the rediscovering of 'Landing' and how AIVAS has the current population relearn the knowledge that's been lost for 2,500 years. Again, fascinating. Towards the end one bit upset me to the point of tears. Pern fans will know what I'm referring to. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable couple of weeks with the dragons of Pern and I'm not going to stop as I'm reading a book of short stories that lead on from Dragonsdawn... Chronicles of Pern. Although I do plan to move onto to something crime based alongside that, as I miss my mysteries.

These two books are my books 9 & 10 for Bev's Mount TBR 2017 reading challenge.



DesLily said...

Needless to say.. the Pern series is my absolute favorite! Thru the whole series she stays true to her characters and you just feel you know them all.. and their Dragons too! I know I've said it before but her son Todd (even though Ann helped him Transition into it,) changed too much and after a few books of his I let go of the series.. But there is no other fantasy/ sci fi series like Pern!

Cath said...

Pat: You're so right. You know them so well, even if it's several years between books, it's like coming back to an old friend. I probably won't be bothering with her son's books as I have hardly heard anything good at all about them. Nope, there's nothing quite like the Pern books... in *any* genre to be honest.

BooksPlease said...

I've probably said this before but each time you write about a fantasy/sci-fi series I think I'd like to read it, but I never do! Anyway, I've just checked the library catalogue and they don't have a copy of Dragonsdawn,so next time I go to Barter Books I'll see if they have a copy. But I am confused because when I looked at Fantastic Fiction I see that Anne McCaffrey has so many different series I just don't know where to start!!! And looking at Amazon I'm even more confused - they list Dragonsdawn as book 9 in the Dragon book series. Help ...

Oh, and I'm glad you're enjoying Game of Thrones so much!

Jeane said...

I have not read this series in ages, and I really ought to! I still remember how thrilled I was with my first exposure- Dragonflight was a surprise birthday gift when I was a teen. It took me a long time to find Dragonsdawn, and that one plus All the Wyers never really worked as well for me- I think I was thrown off by the inclusion of sci fi in what I thought was a fantasy series! I never got past the book that includes dolphins, either... wonder how they would all sit with me now.

Cath said...

Margaret: there are kinds of opinions on what order to read AMc's Pern books. Personally, I would read the first two books she wrote first, Dragonflight & Dragonquest. Then the 3 YA Harperhall books which are delightful, Dragonsong, Dragonsinger & Dragondrums. *Then* The White Dragon. If you're still keen after that you can fill in the gaps by asking me which ones to read next as there is a logical order.

I've become a GoTs *addict*. No hope for me at all. LOL

Jeane: I too was so thrilled with Dragonflight when I first read it. It was everything my fantasy and science fiction heart wanted in a book. I found All the Weyrs slightly more technical and scientific than I really wanted. Some of the magic left when there were logical explanations for everything. I know that seems a bit perverse. But I still enjoyed it.

BooksPlease said...

Thanks, Cath!

GeraniumCat said...

So glad that both you and DesLily agree with me about her son's books. I found them quite upsetting because he behaved so ruthlessly with familiar characters. After reading the first two I decided that I wouldn't read any more, I'd stick with going back for re-reads of the others. I love her detailed world-building, and I enjoy the dolphins too, as dragons and fire-lizards make their appearances there from time to time.

PS I have got SO much to catch up with on your blog :-)

Cath said...

Geranium Cat: I haven't actually read any of her son's book yet but both Deslily and my daughter tell me they're not as good as those by Anne herself. What a shame... I don't think I'd like characters I know and love to be dealth with like that to be honest.

Val said...

I really must try a Pern book (can I confess I did a double take when I read your post title ...probably because I need new reading glasses and got my vowels confused ..oops)

Game of Thrones is brilliant fun isn't it....most addictive! Athough being a tad squeamish I'm glad my OH persuaded me to try the second episode after I had baulked at the first (Silly me)

Cath said...

Val: Oh yes, you can confess to that... and I do it all the time, sometimes with hilarious misreadings.

As to Games of Thrones I would like it to be less violent and less porny (you read that right LOL). I think the excellent storylines would hold up without the gratuitous nudity and head chopping. I can quite see why you baulked... I look away quite often. I still love it though.

Judith said...

Hi Cath,
I'm very interested that you have loved Game of Thrones. We have several friends who have loved it as well. (In each case, one spouse has been a lover of fantasy novels, yet the partner has also become addicted.) This makes me wonder if Ken and I should give it a try. Don't worry, we loved The Sopranos despite the porn and the violence. Characterizations plus and superb writing and plot-crafting!

I'm so glad you had a wonderful Easter vacation with your grandchildren. Do they live near you, or do they come to you for a stay?

Best wishes,

Cath said...

Judith: I've been quite shocked at exactly how addicted I've become to Game of Thrones. You said The Sopranos had, 'Characterizations plus and superb writing and plot-crafting'... this is *exactly* what GoTs has and why I'm so hooked. Also some terrific acting. Peter Dinklage is marvellous and there are too many others to name. I think worth a try.

We're lucky in that our grandchildren seem to enjoy visiting. Our grand-daughter comes to stay... she lives about 20 miles away. Our grandson lives just 10 mins away so tends to visit for the day during school holidays.