Sunday, November 11, 2012
Anne McCaffrey, master of science fiction reading :)
Before I start today here's a picture of aki and her newest toy.. she has discovered paper bags :) now I cant throw it away cause that would just be mean.
Now onto todays book review... still no stitching done by me, just havent been in the mood.. I finished reading the harper hall trilogy by anne mccaffrey recently. I'll do all 3 at once because they were fairly small and very well connected. First thing I have to say is these books helped to spark my interests in reading, fantasy and science fiction many many years ago. The first time I read them I was in middle school and I can remember reading them a few times in middle school, then again in high school. They are some of the first books that I bought myself after I became an avid reader, and even now after so many years and having read them many times in the intervening years I still love them. I would recomend them to anyone who loves fantasy, dragons or science fiction (even though they aren't as science oriented as many other sci fi books) I would also recommend them if you are trying to get your child into reading. this particular trilogy in a series of many is often found in young adults section of book stores and is shorter than some of the others. Also the main characters of this trilogy are young adults themselves in their teens and becoming adults. Most of the people I have met that read this series found themselves wanting to read more, find out about the lives of other characters that were mentioned and have gone on to continue reading the books about PERN. anyway onto the review.
The first 2 books are about the same character, menolly. In the first book starts with a forward explaining a little back story. Basically it tells you that this world is in the saggitarian sector orbiting a G-type star with 4 other planets, a asteroid belt and a stray planet that was cought and held in an odd orbit. When humans colonized the world they didnt think anything about the stray planet because its orbit only brought it near the planet every couple hundred years. Turns out the red stray planet when it was close enough brought a spore like life form that ate its way through all organic life. The colonists took a lifeform that already existed on the planet resembling dragons of old earth and bred them to be big enough to be ridden. these "dragons" can go from one place to another instantly and can breath fire to burn the spores called thread out of the skies. these books take place many hundreds of years after the original colonists. the planet is called PERN.
the first book "Dragonsong" is about menolly who is the youngest daughter of a seaholder (a holder is the lord of the hold basically the leader, usually a strong willed individual since keeping panicking people calm during threadfall would be difficult, and also they would need to manage everything to do with life inside the hold which would be kinda like a town or village). Menolly is a bit tall and gangly to be a proper girl and she also spent alot of time with the holds harper. Harpers are basically the keepers of history and law. they use song to teach the young of their history, to teach also of duties to weyr (dragons and their riders reside in weyrs and protect the people from thread, in return the hold tithe food and goods to the weyrs) harper songs also are entertainment to some extent. The old harper encouraged menolly to write songs because she had a natural talent for music both in the singing/playing of it and in writing songs that were educational and catchy. Unfortunately harpers were traditionally male so when the old harper sent her songs back to the harper hall as his appprentices work he didnt tell them she was a she nor did he ever name her by name. After the old harpers death while waiting for the new harper Menolly finds herself at odds with her father. He allows her to teach the children their lessons only to keep the children from falling behind but forbids her to play any of her own songs for fear that the fact she is female will bring shame to the hold and to his family. One morning while hunting for seaweed she stumbles upon a fire lizard (small creatures that look like the large dragons and thought to be a myth) trying to save her nest of eggs from the unusually high tide. having fallen down into the cove where the nest is the little fire dragon queen wouldnt let her out till she helped move the eggs to a cave higher up. Menolly finds herself writing a song about the little queens plight and later she accidentally finds herself humming a new verse to the song earning herself a belt lashing from her father which makes her feel more and more alienated from her family. Eventually she cuts herself gutting fish and while its never specifically stated you get the feeling they let the cuts heal wrong to prevent her from playing. About this time the new harper arrives and her family does their best to insure she never sings in his prescence fearing he will figure out she taught the children their lessons, sending her on errands to keep her away from him and pinching her every time she starts to sing. She starts to leave the hold early in the mornings and one day finds herself out as thread starts falling.The nearest shelter to her at the time is the cave where the fire lizards eggs are which she manages to barely get to in time. Here she accidentally impresses (forming a bond with) 9 of the little lizard. She decides to live in the cave with her new friends who provide her with the companionship she missed at home instead of returning home. Then one day she is out when thread fall starts and as she is attempting to run to safety is rescued by a dragon and taken to the weyr where she is discovered by the masterharper who it turned out had harpers out looking all over pern for her. The book ends with her being taken to the harper hall as an apprentice.
Now for the second book "dragon singer". I won't need to tell as much detail for this story because its basically just a continuation of the first. It starts with her arrival at the harper hall. She is put with the girls in a cothold (which I guess is just basically a freestanding house inside the compound) Unfortunately she finds herself at odds with these girls for several reasons. 1st she has 9 fire lizards and had been living holdless for several weeks. leaving her less polished than the other girls. the girls are also afraid of the fire lizards.2nd the girls are not apprentices they are being fostered of sorts, they are just there to learn for a while and then will go home. Menolly is and apprentice and the girls don't think she belongs in their home. this book is basically Menolly finding her place in the new life she finds herself in. Finding new friends mainly Piemur (who is more important later) and becoming comfortable in the fact the things she was forbidden to do in the past she is now encouraged to do. This fact doesn't really sink in till later. The impression she made with the fire lizards is a bit telepathic and a bit empathic, fire lizards are quite as intelligent as the dragons so they don't think in sentences and language as such more feel things. there was an incident with a dragon and his rider (explained in a different book, which I can't recall off the top of my head) and since she has 9 lizards to feel off of she wakes screaming in terror that they were feeling. Later that day during thread fall she finds herself subconsiously creating a song about the cry she heard through the lizards in that moment of terror. She turns around thinking she should write it down she finds the journeyman in charge of her training writing it down as she sang it. At this point it sinks in for her that things really have changed for her. this book ends with her becoming a journeymany and much more secure in her new life and roll.
The third book "dragondrums" isnt really about Menolly but about her friend Piemur and his coming of age. In the second book Piemur is the first friend she makes in the harper hall, he is young and mischievious but not malicious. He is an apprentice to the voice master because of his clear high-pitched voice. he also is very good at the technical aspects of singing till one day his voice breaks as happens to boys during puberty. he is 14 turn (years) old when this happens. this book is about his coming of age of sorts. After his voice breaks he is apprenticed to the master harper because of his ability to put together clues from around him. His job is basically to listen for changes and things going on around him due to conflict going on in other areas. Since noone is suppose to know about this duty of his he is passed off as a drum apprentice. He very quickly finds himself at odds with the other drum apprentices because of his past reputation and his ability to learn quickly and well. The fact that anytime the master harper or his journeymen need a messenger they always ask for him does not help the situation. He has a strong wish for a fire lizard of his own leads him into trouble. He discovers during a mission for the master harper that a holder is passing green fire lizard eggs (which tend to either be all green or not hatch) off as queen lizard eggs, steals a queen egg and accidentally gets sent to the southern continet in a smuggled batch of goods to the weyr of banished dragons and their riders. He escaped and finds himself lost and wandering the southern continent. Eventually the egg hatches at which point he and his queen firelizard start to go towards the friendly hold, finding along the way a baby runnerbeast he names stupid. Eventually he ends up at the hold at the same time Menolly and Sebald(the other journeyman) arrived hoping to find him. This book ends up with Piemur getting his journeymans badge as a drummer (these drums are huge man sized drums used to send messages from place to place) and finding a home on the southern continent. The southern holder accepted him because he had managed to live through 3 threadfalls without shelter marking him as southern continent material..
As usual reading these books has left me with a desire to read more. the world of pern is a very engaging and enthralling world. the books are written in a manner that grabs you and doesn't let you go even after you've finished reading it. Even though I've read it many times I found myself thinking that it couldnt be the I needed more. so now I've picked up another pern book. I am currently reading The chronicles of PERN: first fall. its a book of 5 short stories involving this world of pern. The first story of which is the original survey of the planet before it was colonized.
On a random end note I was showing my southern roots today after work. Went to the diner across the street from my house and had a good southern breakfast. Steak and eggs.. mmmmm good my steak was medium well (closer to medium rare than medium well) eggs sunny side up, gotta love the runny yolk of the egg especially when you dip your steak in it. Grits with enough butter and sugar to kill a horse, I'll admit I'm a southern girl and eat my grits with lots of sugar and butter on them. and buttery toast with jelly.. I don't think it fit into my supposed low fat diet and now I kinda need a nap.