114 of 119 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2004
This book begins Anne McCaffrey's wonderful long-running series, "The Dragonriders of Pern." Although sold as a book for young adults and looking on the surface like a fantasy novel, "Dragonflight" is actually neither. Certainly, teenagers will (and do) love this book, but McCaffrey's work is mature and complicated enough for older readers of science fiction and fantasy to enjoy it on the same level as they would any work from an author of "mature" novels. And although the word "dragon" conjures up images of heroic fantasy, "Dragonflight" is actually science fiction: it only wears the outer clothing of fantasy. New readers will find this a surprise, as they learn that Pern isn't a "neverland" fantasy world, but an Earth-colonized planet; that the dragons are the native alien species who consume special minerals to chemically create their fire-breath; and that the evil menace that threatens the planet -- the "threads" -- are not supernatural monsters, but spores migrating from another planet that passes near Pern. Perhaps most surprising for a new reader is the focus on time-travel and time paradoxes; some of the most exciting parts of the book deal with the complexities, dangers, and potentials of time-travel.
The story takes place as Pern nears another invasion from the threads, but the planet is unprepared. Many people no longer believe in the threads (it has been hundreds of "turns" since the last attack), and there are fewer dragon dens (called "weyrs") than there once were to produce the creatures who can destroy the threads. Dragonrider T'Lar searches for a Weyrwoman to help him replenish the dragons before it is too late and unit the dragonriders to face the invasion.
This only scratches the surface of a tale full of suprises and unexpted turns. McCaffrey builds an intriguing world and wonderful characters, and each section of the book bursts with new revelations and plot turns. "Dragonflight" is not at all what you expect it to be...and that's an extremely high recommendation in these time when most science fiction and fantasy advertised for younger readers is bland and predictable.
This book also sets up the excellent second novel, "Dragonquest," which you will definitely want to read after this terrific book. Recommend for all fantasy and science fiction fans who have yet to take a wild trip on the back of Pernse bronze dragon.
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Let me get the criticism out of the way first. Over the years, the unending franchise of Pern books has diluted the original magic of this book. After the first two series (this first trilogy, the Masterharper trilogy) and arguably Moreta's story (worth a comfortable 4 stars), McCaffery started trying to fit Pern into a scientific jigsaw puzzle so that it would "make sense." In my view, that was a major mistake, because the glory of this first book, and what made it a true classic, is the degree to which the reader contributes to the world the author created.
Enough of that. This is the classic, and it has earned its reputation. I read this book in the late 70s. I have probably read it a dozen times since then because it is so gosh-darn easy to fall into Dragonflight... and not want to drag myself out again.
I know intellectually that Pern is a made-up universe, but emotionally it's another story. In my heart, I believe it exists. That's how absolutely "real" her world is. The background appeals to our analytical sense of "what if this happened...": forgotten colonists on a generally well-endowed planet, with this one teeny problem: a neighboring planet throws destructive spores at Pern every 200 years, and the residents create genetic telepathic "dragons" which can counter the threat. But the science is left behind, because the story starts thousands of years later, when all the backstory has turned to myth (and not well remembered myth, at that).
But lots of people can create a good world. McCaffrey created marvelous characters to fill it. Like anybody stuck in a "save the world" situation, they try to act heroic, but they fumble because they're just people.
And like the best writers, she makes them come alive with the tiny details. There's one scene, for example, that I can remember with near movie-detail imagery, even when it's been two years since I last skimmed the pages. Lessa, our heroine, spent ten years hiding out as the lowest of filthy servants. The author describes her exaltation as Lessa gets to take her first true bath in years... and how her hair refuses to lie flat, frizzing and curling while she's trying to hold a conversation. It's not an "important" scene, but it paints the background of the world in which she lives, so that we sense the way the people live... not just what they say to one another in the foreground.
I've reviewed a few hundred books on Amazon. If I were permitted only five books on the proverbial desert island, this would be among those I'd choose.
86 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2002
For me, the thing that makes a book a classic is whether or not it comes to mind occasionally in the year after I have read it. If I don't then find myself comparing it to recently read plotlines or movies from the same genre, it would not be worth a five star rating. In this case, I have (drumroll please) over 10 years' worth of ponderings and influence to demonstrate that Dragonflight -- and the entire trilogy -- is an unparalleled classic.
Thumbnail sketch of the plot: a futuristic world barely settled by mankind, which was then cut off from all contact and aid from the motherworld (Earth). Genetic engineering of native life forms to create "Dragons" which form psychic links to individual humans (dragonriders)for life, to aid in fighting a recurring biological threat. Centuries pass between attacks, causing subsequent generations to forget the dragons' purpose, take the dragonriders for granted and weaken their defenses gradually. Now there are signs that the attacks will begin again soon, and the people are caught unprepared. The stage is set for Lessa, a young insignificant, to rise to the top of the dragonrider heirarchy along with F'lar, a seasoned rider, as his mate.
I was tempted to dock a star from the rating based on some formulaic elements: the young, fiery, independant-spirited heroine challenging the restrictive views of her medieval society, the super-Alpha male hero who tries to dominate her but comes to appreciate her in the end...if you've read one, you will recognize the Lessa and F'lar characters, as well as some others as such Romance novel archetypes. Despite this, McCaffrey draws them well and uses her characters perfectly to play up the tension and confusion that Pern is going though. HOWEVER. Even if you could hate everything else about this book (not that that's really plausible), you would still have to hand it to McCaffrey for her magnificent, mysterious, humanchild-esque dragons. It could have had something to do with my youth at the time, but those dragons made and impression on me that lasts to this day and is still the standard in my mind for the believability of any alien character in a novel.
Anne McCaffrey wrote the Harper Hall trilogy and the first Dragonrider trilogy in the earlier days of her writing career. Some have opined that her latter writings show improvement; I disagree with extreme prejudice. Or rather, it is not her writing style (mediocre) that elevates the best McCaffrey books, but that infuriatingly elusive freshness that somehow trickled away after that first decade of mainstream success. The unjaded, imaginative approach to her (un)mythological dragons challenged the reader to discard the "monster" bias and even fall in love a little. No small feat, that.
Thank you, Anne, for the wonder and delight of Pern and its dragons.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2003
Dragonflight (1968) is the first novel in the Dragonriders of Pern trilogy. The settlers on Pern discovered the hard way that their planet is periodically swept by giant virus-like organisms that fall from the sky and eat away living things like an acid. Since these threads are susceptible to fire, the settlers have developed an organic weapon to defend against the infestations: fire-breathing dragons. However, these threads have not appeared for several centuries and mankind is beginning to lose the hard-earned knowledge and customs that form the core of their defense, to the point of letting the dragons and riders of the weyrs dwindle to a fraction of the necessary muster. Now only Benden Weyr is occupied.
In this novel, Lessa had been the lawful heir of Ruatha Hold, but Lord Fax has conquered this hold and four others and now Lessa is posing as a kitchen drudge. Flightleader F'lar of Benden Weyr has come to the High Reaches searching for candidates to impress a Queen in the next hatching. After visiting Lord Fax's Hold, Crom, and the various guild halls, the dragonriders travel to the other five held by the High Reaches, finally coming to Ruatha. Fax's Lady, Gemma, is about ready to birth another child and, when he becomes disgusted with the vile experience provided to him by the hold and with a little nudging by Lessa, Fax renounces his claim to Ruatha in the favor of Gemma's child, if it is male and lives. Lady Gemma dies in childbirth, but the boy child lives. Moreover, Fax attacks Lessa and F'lar comes to her rescue, killing Fax in a fair duel. Lessa then abdicates her claim to Ruatha and flies with F'Lar to Benden Weyr for the hatching.
Eventually thread begins to fall and the Lord Holders learn first-hand why they must pay duty to the dragonriders. Suddenly, old teaching songs and other records are in great demand and the Master Harper, Robinton, finds his craft's services are urgently needed.
This novel is soft science fiction, bordering on fantasy, but "Weyr Search" was first debuted in Analog. The rationale that allows dragons to fly and breath fire is rather slim, but psionic talents have been admitted to the canon on a speculative basis. Aside from these two issues, the Pern series is a fairly standard story of space pioneers who lose most of their technology due to a disaster. The details are mostly borrowed from the middle ages, but with certain modern concepts retained by the Harpers, who are teachers and philosophers in addition to their function as entertainers.
This novel is considered a modern classic in the SF community. "Weyr Search" created an unusual amount of interest among the rather prosaic Analog readership and the sequels have continued to gain popularity. I was among those who read the original Analog stories and have continued to enjoy the author's works. While the plots are rather simple, the character development is first class. Although very prolific, the author is an exemplary craftsperson who never fails to write a satisfying story.
Highly recommended to McCaffrey fans and anyone who enjoys exotic societies, intelligent animals, and political intrigue in a SF setting.
-Arthur W. Jordin
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2007
I'm so frustrated with noninformative and somewhat shallow reviews I've read here, that I've decided to write one of my own. (Yes, like F'lar, I am completely arrogant). No really, I think there is so much more to this book than has come to most folks' attention.. -- if you're just going to say "good story but kinda boring so i'm not sure that I liked it and i think its a stupid story", it seems like a waste of space, but that's just me.
I read Dragonflight first when I was eleven. I didn't get most of the subtleties, but I enjoyed the story, and was spurred to continue on with McCaffrey's Pern series -- mind you, not exactly an appropriate choice for a barely-preteen, but neverthess... When I was, say, fourteen or so I found a copy in the bookstore, and remembering my once-favorite series, dug into it voraciously, this time paying more attention to the finer points of the Lessa/F'lar relationship, noticing things for the first time that I hadn't picked up on as a less mature human being. I was so excited and felt so grown up. :) Now I'm in my late teens, and in this latest read my perceptions are shifted even again. I'm totally fascinated by the power of the personalities of our two main characters -- their intelligence, their comprehension, their ability to manipulate events successfully without the other charries knowing it (outside from the canonical psychic abilities already bestowed upon the dragonriders). However, the point of that monologue was to impress upon you, dear reader, that Dragonflight is an intelligent and multifaceted book which, aside from being an exciting read, has a enough substance that it can be enjoyed from many differerent angles, as can many of our favorite classics.
Which raises the question -- is Dragonflight a classic? Believe it or not, it did come out in 1968, the same year as the infamous TV series Star Trek's second season. By most accounts, TOS is classic. But when we compare with Anne McCaffrey's wonderful novel, one thing comes to light -- DF doesn't "feel" old. Ok, so then I didn't grow up in the sixties, but that said I watch far too much Turner Classic Movies to not be able to accurately place a decade to a work. For all I knew DF came out sometime in the 90's. This I feel, is due to the difference of gender roles between the two. While in TOS, the big three are all men, and out of all those extras, only one woman is ever in any working position on the bridge, in DF I never had the sense that Lessa had been exposed to even the smallest taste of that expected model... I feel, in fact, that there is a backlash to such, as typified in countless postfeminist novels aimed for thirteen year old girls. Girls can ride dragons too! Actually, according to the back flap of my copy, Anne McCaffrey made it her business to overturn the ridiculous characterizations of women in SF. If so, bravo for her; she's done an excellent job.
I feel like a lot of people see this book in light of the rest of the Pern novels, and I would like to posit that DF stands alone in a certain sense. Firstly, it was written without conception (or so I'm guessing) of the long series to follow -- this is one that I could read as a stand alone and be satisfied that it had really, really ended. In the second installment it was pretty obvious that the author had to create some new problems so that she could actually have a plot. Also, stylistically, it feels different, and fresh. As is inevitable when book after book is churned out on the same place/subject, certain cliches begin to form... Also, there is something about the way she places information which wasn't repeated later on, where I feel the books began to get more literal -- but that's just how it seems to me drawing from five year old impressions...
In conclusion, if this is a classic, then may I state here that it is not one in the way of Terry Brooks, or even JRR Tolkein (*resists impulse to state divisive opinion about LOTR*). It's so much more fresh and readable and applicable to real life. If you didn't enjoy it, I'm sorry, but I hope you'll read it again later and get more out of it.
Now wasn't that a wonderful, concise, entertaining and informative review...? Just kidding. In most things, I'm pretty modest, I promise. :)
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Lessa waited 10 long years in hiding for her chance to reclaim her birthright. As the last of the Ruathan blood, she must hide her true identity or be killed by Fax, the usurper who killed all of her kin and claimed Ruatha Hold for his own. When the dragonrider, F'lar, comes on search for some likely candidates to impress dragons, Lessa knew that her time had come. Unfortunately, her plans did not go quite the way she wanted them to and she ends up in Benden Weyr, where she impresses the Queen dragon, the beautiful Ramoth. Even though Lessa is now Weyrwoman and dragonrider, her troubles are far from over. The dragons live to kill thread, deadly spores that fall from the sky and eat every living thing in their paths. But thread have not fallen for over 400 Turns and the people of Pern no longer want to support the dragonriders, of which few are left. F'lar is convinced that the thread will fall again - and soon. Can F'lar and Lessa mobilize the forces of Pern to fight the deadly forces of thread and survive?
Dragonflight is the first book in Anne McCaffrey's highly acclaimed Dragonriders of Pern series. She carefully eases you into the world of Pern and the reader has no trouble visualizing the planet and its people. McCaffrey also has a nice, easy to understand writing style that will make this book popular among young adults and adults alike. Her characters are engaging and anyone will root for the stubborn, opinionated Lessa and her all-too-perfect mate, F'lar. Readers will also love the fact that this book is the start of a long series and that, even though F'lar and Lessa are not the main characters of all of them, they figure into most of them so feel free to get attached to them! If you have not yet read any books by McCaffrey then you are in for a real treat!
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2013
The Kindle version was obviously a bad scan of a physical book, and at nearly seven bucks a copy, I would have expected someone to have proofread the book before offering it here. I've seen pirated copies of books that were better quality. Unfortunately, I can't speak to the quality of the text, I gave up about a third of the way in. Bottom line: buy a paper copy.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2006
This is one of the few books that I've read that can be praised completely for writing, originality, characters, and plot. Anne McCaffrey's story is almost flawless, and it leaves you with the feeling that you've just read a completely satisfying book and you may just have to hitchhike your way to the bookstore if that's what it takes to get the next one.
The bare bones of the story can be summed up more simply than the story ends up being. On the planet of Pern, humans coexist with enormous, telepathic dragons, created to combat the deadly Threads that fall in a schedule based on the movement of the stars above. There has been a long lull since the last falling of the Threads, and during that time the humans have forgotten the danger the Threads present and, as a result, forgotten the importance of the dragonmen. Only one of the old Weyrs remains, and their queen and her rider are spoiled and lazy- enough so that the rest of the Weyr doesn't mourn their deaths. The dragonmen go on a search to find a new rider for the new queen that has yet to hatch. One of them discovers Lessa, a drudge that is hiding a great deal- enough so that F'lar is willing to offer her the position as Weyrwoman.
The truly amazing part behind Pern is the structure of the Weyrs and dragons. Every aspect of it was brilliant and just added so much more to the story. The dragons themselves- telepathic speech, fierce, instinctive personalities- they just remind you that it isn't scaly humans that are part of the story. They're DRAGONS.
The human characters, too, are just as well done. Lessa herself I thought had too much of the please-the-reader aspect in her, but F'lar was great. At last, an arrogant character that shows you can be smart and arrogant together. It doesn't always have to be a bad trait. His and Lessa's relationship was one of the best aspects of the story- but at the same time it didn't turn the entire thing into a romance novel.
Dragonflight was one of the best stories I've read in a long time. It starts rather rocky, but thirty pages in you're hooked on this novel, science fiction hiding behind fantasy elements, and you don't want to put it down until you reach the end.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2005
I typically don't write reviews, because...well mostly because I'm too lazy. However, after reading some of these reviews I felt the need to contribute my own two bits. I've been a long-standing McCaffrey fan for nearly 20 years now. I own every book in the Pern series and most of her other sci-fi books as well. Dragonflight was her first book and the setting is what I would call pseudo-mideival in the sense that the technology in the book is not much better than bronze-age. Horse-drawn carts, iron forges, animal hides used for clothing, writing materials and assorted other uses. If you get past that and realize that McCaffrey has created an entirely different world. That as you read the series (not just the one book), it develops into its own self-sustaining world with its own culture, its own society that advances over the course of the series. This book was written in the late 60s, based on a short story written in the 50s. Yes, women are subservient in the book, yes the men abuse them and use them. If you continue to read the series though, you realize than McCaffrey changes her society into what we would consider more modern thinking. Lessa isn't always subservient, she is one of the two most respected individuals in the entire Pern series, and even then she's always mentioned in the same breath as F'lar.
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. If you do read this and don't think that you like it, you shouldn't give up on the series. Read the two sequels. Even though it was first, it was actually my least favorite of the 3 original Dragonriders of Pern books. I think it was because I enjoyed the way the dragons were written as the series progresses. They each get their own personalities as well. I truly think any fiction lover will love this series whether it's in the same line as what they enjoy or not. I can pick up any book and read it cover to cover in a day, but I've already this series more times than I can count. And it still gets better every time I read it.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2000
I was first exposed to the book Dragonflight at the tender age of 5 - yes that's right, unlike most five year olds who had bedtime stories such as Snow White etc, I got Dragonflight (and Lord of the Rings I may add). And that is what started my fascination with Anne McCaffrey's world of Pern.
As a young, impressionable 5 year old, I have no doubt that the intelligent, resourceful female characters depicted in Ms McCaffrey's novels formed extremely inspiring role models and was probably one of the reasons my mother read these kind of books to me (another one being a book called "The Practical Princess") - that and because she herself was "hooked" on them and with me, found an excuse to read them!!
Of course the fantastic DRAGONS contributed to my interest and love of the books - who wouldn't be fascinated with these huge majestic beasts, and who wouldn't want one for a friend and companion, who empathizes your every thought and feeling. And of course the equally resourceful, charismatic and wonderful hero's of the stories should also be given a significant amount of credit.
As an adult I still love reading Ms McCaffrey's books, and have red and collected all published Pern books and just about all of her other series. I still have the tattered, worn Dragonflight book my mother first read to me some 20 odd years ago - taking pride of place in my collection.
Lessa's raise from kitchen drudge to Queen Dragonrider and the hope of Pern (and F'lars plans for the future) takes readers on a fascinating journey to a new planet where you become acquainted with interesting characters and the awesome DRAGONS for which Ms McCaffrey is so famous for creating.
Dragonflight is a great starting point for people wanting to read Ms McCaffrey's books or any si-fi book for that matter.
Ms McCaffrey's books are moving, inspiring, exciting, romantic, suspenseful and down right enjoyable! I can happily admit that I have laughed, cried and triumphed with the characters of Ms McCaffrey's worlds.
Dragonflight and any of Ms McCaffrey's novels are easy to "get into" and hard to put down - requiring almost no effort to read - they simply flow. They are great for young, old, male and female. They are most definitely not predictable, or boring in any shape or form. There are not many authors who have managed to keep me glued to the pages series after series after series.
Indeed there are not many books I would read more than once, however Dragonflight I have read a number of times.
I hope Ms McCaffrey keeps on writing, because I will keep on reading and eagerly await the new releases.