Dragonflight is the first book written in the long-running Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. [It is not the first in the Story of the Planet of Pern.]
The first segment of Dragonflight was a 1968 Hugo awardâ"winning novella (called Weyr Search) prior to publication of the entire book. The second segment (called Dragonrider) received a Nebula Award in 1968.
Pern is a planet inhabited by humans. The original colonists were reduced to a low level of technology by periodic onslaughts of deadly Thread raining down from the sky. By harnessing the indigenous flying, fire-breathing dragons (with some genetic alteration to make them larger), humanity finally managed to gain the upper hand. The dragons, with their human riders, destroyed the Thread in the skies over Pern before they were able to burrow into the land and breed. However, an unusually long interval between attacks, centuries in duration, has caused the general population to gradually dismiss the threat and withdraw support from the Weyrs where dragons are bred and trained. By the time of this novel, only one Weyr remains (the other five having mysteriously disappeared at the same time in the last quiet interval), maintaining a precarious hand-to-mouth existence.
Dragons are telepathic; each bonds to a single human being when first hatched. They come in various colors which are generally correlated with their size, blue, green, brown, bronze, and gold queens. Bronzes, as the largest males, are by tradition the only ones who compete to win the queens in their mating flights. Queens, however, are always the largest dragons. As their human counterparts are linked mind-to-mind, the humans mate when their dragons mate.
Dragonflight chronicles the story of Lessa, the sole survivor of the noble ruling family of Ruatha Hold on the northern continent of Pern. When the rest of her family was killed by a cruel usurper, Fax, she survived by disguising herself as a drudge (a menial servant).
F'lar, wingleader at Benden Weyr and rider of the bronze dragon Mnementh, finds Lessa while Searching for candidates to Impress the Queen egg which is about to hatch. After defeating Fax in single combat (following the rules of the Pernese code duello), F'lar convinces Lessa to give up her birthright as Lord Holder of Ruatha Hold and join him at Benden Weyr. Lessa Impresses the Queen dragonet Ramoth and becomes the Weyrwoman, the new co-leader of the last active Weyr. On Ramoth's first mating flight, Mnementh catches her, and by Weyr tradition, this makes F'lar the Weyrleader.
Lessa and F'lar warn a dangerously unprepared Pern of the impending Thread reappearance. The general response is disbelief, as the last threadfall was 400 years ago, and the stories about threadfall have receded from recent history into legend and myth. It is not until the first Thread begins to fall that they are believed by the general populace and indeed even by some dragonriders.
One Weyr by itself is not enough to defend the planet; there used to be six, but the other five Weyrs have been empty and abandoned since the last Pass. In a desperate attempt to increase their numbers, a new queen, Prideth, and her rider, Kylara, are sent between times (a recently rediscovered skill), back ten turns, giving Prideth time to mature and have Clutches. Stretched to the breaking point, Lessa travels four hundred turns into the past to bring the five 'missing' Weyrs forward to her present. This not only provides much needed skilled reinforcements in the battle against Thread, but explains how and why the five Weyrs were abandoned: they came forward in time.
A beautifully told story though the character relationships are quite thin. The characters are well-developed, however, as individuals and even though this isn't the best of the series it is still very good and a nice start to a great set of fantasy novels.
Pern has fallen into disrepair. Because there has been no danger from the terrible threads that threaten the planet with destruction every few hundred years, traditions are being lost to the wind like dust. The people of Pern no longer understand why they should bother to remove the greenery from their homes, why they should have to give gifts of food to the Dragonriders. They dont do anything except leech. The threads are a thing of the past.
One of the leaders of the Bronze dragons feels differently. The Threads have been too long absent, and the death of their useless Wyerwoman, the companion to the queen dragon, leaves room for improvement. A search is called and Lessa, a kitchen maid who had her lands taken from her birthright is spirited away to the Wyer, the home of all dragons to see if she is fit to be companion to a queen.
Ok, you can shoot me now. Get it over with. Because youre going to want to kill me once I say this next sentence: I didnt like Dragonflight.
I know, I know! Its a classic, the basis of most modern dragon books, blah blah blah. Im sorry, I STILL didnt like it. I dont know why I just didnt get it. The plot is simple enough: girl becomes bound to a dragon, together they have great powers, must save the world. That part I get. I suppose the plot was a little TOO simple. There was no real adversary. Ok, yeah so the Threads have the potential to destroy the worldbut essentially the Dragonriders are fighting against nature, not exactly an exciting adversary that you can love to hate.
I also didnt love McCafferys characters. I tried to like Lessa, I really did, but I just couldnt get over the fact that she was a brat who thought that it should be her way or the highway. She was in no way loveable or relatable, and the main male character left the same things to be desiered.
Towards the end McCaffery jumps off the deep end by messing around with time travel. I had enough to keep straight with all the scheming and mystery going on and then she throws a wrench in the mix by adding in time travel? I was so confused. I still am to tell you the truth. Just thinking about it makes my head hurt.
The bottom line is, McCaffery failed to make me CARE at all. I didnt care about the characters, I didnt care about Pern and its destruction, I didnt care that the space time thingy was going to be messed with. I felt no love or concern for any of Dragonflights characters including the dragons (and I love dragons!). I just didnt get any emotion out of Dragonflight, and in my book that just doesntwellfly.
I love the Pern Series. I have been reading it since I was a pre-teen. And I still go back and re-read it over and over.
This book was pretty good and very complicated. I just didn't like the big time jumps they had between all the main sections.