Dragonsong is a novel written by Anne McCaffrey in 1976. It is the first in the Harper Hall Trilogy. The other two novels are Dragonsinger and Dragondrums.
Dragonsong was one of the books cited when McCaffrey's "lifetime contribution in writing for teens" made her the 1999 recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award.
The protagonist of Dragonsong is Menolly, a fourteen-year-old girl living in a fishing "Hold" in the fictional world of Pern. Fixed gender roles make Menolly an outcast, as she is unskilled at traditionally feminine tasks and excels in the masculine field of music. She chooses the dangerous world outside the Hold instead of allowing her natural talents to be suppressed. This novel starts seven years after Dragonflight, the first book written, set in the Pern universe, in which flesh and plant-eating Thread began to rain intermittently from a nearby planet.
Menolly, youngest daughter of Masterfisher Yanus, Sea Holder of Half-Circle Seahold, is a gifted musician who is punished for using her musical talents after Petiron, the Harper who encouraged her talent, dies. Finding life at the fishing community unbearable because her father does not allow her to express her musical talents, she runs away from home. Menolly takes refuge from falling Thread in a caveâ"and discovers hatching fire-lizards, the precursors to the great dragons which are Pern's primary defense against Thread. Isolated from civilization in her cave and forced to care for nine baby fire lizards that she Impressed, Menolly quickly learns to be resourceful and independent. Freed from the restrictive role forced upon her by her family, she indulges her passion for music.
Menolly is out foraging one day when she is caught in Threadfall. She is rescued by a dragonrider, T'gran, and his brown dragon, Branth, who takes her to Benden Weyr. As she is adjusting to the liberal lifestyle of the Weyrfolk, she is discovered by Masterharper Robinton, the Masterharper of Pern, who has been searching frantically for Petiron's mystery apprentice. He discovers that she is the writer of two songs that Petiron (his father) sent him and offers her a place at the Harper Hall as his apprentice.
Review: "Dragonsinger" picks up pretty much immediately after the end of "Dragonsong", with Menolly's arrival at Harper Hall. This story covers her settling into the Hall and starting on the path to being a Harper.
Over all I enjoyed the story told in this book. It was fun seeing Menolly meet all the different teachers at the Hall and otherwise adjust to life outside of the Seahold.
The biggest problem that I had with this book is that the plot and characters are a bit simplistic. However, keeping in mind that this book was written for young adults and not for actual adults, I don't hold this against the book.
Certainly a good book for lover's of Pern who want all the stories they can, and for young adults looking for something good to read.
I read the first book in the Harper Hall Trilogy last year on the advice of a friend. To be honest, it wasnt my favorite. I found the characters hard to connect with and the world pretty difficult to jump into as this is a small part of the larger Dragonriders of Pern series.
What brought me back to continue with the series was the fire lizards. When reading Dragonsong I would think about them even when I wasnt reading and I became a little heart-sick over the fact that they were fictional. They are amazing creatures and I just wanted to see what more trouble they could get up to!
I didn't find myself disappointed, as the fire lizards are front-and-center in this story and make themselves known on practically every page. While Mennoly's journey (no pun intended) is worth reading, it is really the interactions of the fire lizards, and how they may-or-may-not-be connected with people, each other, and dragons, that is the most interesting aspect of this tale to me.
New characters introduced in this second volume were much more appealing than those in Dragonsong. The Masterharper, Sebell, Oldive, and Groghe were all welcome additions to the story.
I can see how this could be a very defining and important series to read for a young adult. I have read many reviews of these books stating how they were integral to their childhood reading experiences. Obviously, I am only just now reading them in adulthood and I cannot help but wonder if a bit of the magic is lost on me. I hope not.