If you're a fan of George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire (and if you're not, then that can only mean you haven't checked it out yet, and you should), you've probably heard of the "Hedge Knight," novella, which is sort of a prequel to that saga. This is a good place to get that story, as well as a prequel starring Goodkind's Zed as a young wizard.
Goodkind's story, "Debt of Bones," leads off the trilogy, and deals with a time when Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander was much younger than he is in the Sword of Truth novels. Here, he's pitted against Panis Rahl, and must decide whether to put himself, and the fate of the Midlands, in danger in order to fulfill a debt of bones to the daughter of a deceased sorceress. One has come to expect strong storytelling and easy turning of pages from Goodkind, and he does not disappoint here. Martin's story, "The Hedge Knight," follows. Again taking place some time before the events in the Song of Ice and Fire books, "he Hedge Knight" follows the squire of a newly deceased mercenary, who has a desire to make his name in a tournament against some of the biggest names in the business (including a number of Targaryens, who at the time of this story have not yet been banished; in fact, they play a major part in the story, which should be a pleasant surprise to many Ice and Fire fans). Martin's work on this series is always a pleasure, and once again, the is no disappointment to be found here, though one wonders about the loose end to be found.
McCaffrey's "Runner of Pern" is a welcome change of pace from the two that precede it; rather than battles, jousting, and the rest, this is a quiet romantic coming-of-age tale that hits just the right spot, like a lemon ice after a boeuf bourguignon.