Customer Reviews: MasterHarper of Pern (Dragonriders of Pern)
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on May 6, 1998
First, let me say that I'm a die-hard Pern fan, and Robinton is one of my favorite characters from Pern. It was very nice to have a novel which detailed his background so well. However, this novel is severely handicapped by all the same faults found in the later Pern novels. First, there are many re-hashed plots. For example, Robinton's problems with his father mirror Menolly's problems with her father, and they end in the same way (even down to the exact same speech spoken by the Masterharper when each gets promoted to journeyman). Second, the characters are very one-sided, and are sometimes even direct copies of others. For example, Petiron is exactly like Yanus Seaholder; Halanna, when you first meet her, is exactly like Kylara, and when she changes, you never see her again; Manora is fifty years younger than in Dragonflight, but hardly has any physical description other than her "quiet dignity," a phrase used to describe her in every other book. Third, Robinton is a god. He is the best musician on the planet and the nicest person, and everyone looks out for his well-being. Even as a child, his greatest problem was his father, and everyone shielded him from him; Robinton managed to escape from the Harper Hall as a journeyman without ever truly having to face his greatest problem. Except for the fact that Robinton is my favorite character in the series, I would have no real emotional attachment to him in this book--he is too perfect.
I've read every Pern novel and short story that has been published, and some are better than others. This one isn't the worst, but it isn't the best either. It does provide a great history for the other novels. However, in general, McCaffrey's writing suffers from repetition of description and plot, and an inability to create deep characters. The worlds she creates (such as in Pern and the Crystal Singer novels) are beautifully crafted, but the books, especially the later ones, become banal.
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VINE VOICEon January 15, 2001
At the time _Masterharper of Pern_ came out, I was rueing the decline of the Dragonriders of Pern series. After _Dragonsdawn_, the books seemed to lose a lot of their original magic and appeal; even _Dragonseye_, while certainly better than _Dolphins of Pern_, didn't quite live up to standard.

The good news is that _Masterharper of Pern_ *does*. This is a wonderful, vivid, emotional book, clear in detail, strong in character, and with settings one can easily get into. It's a delight to get to meet the father of F'lar and F'nor; likewise, the insight on Fax and his ambitions is welcome. Pern fans and non-Pern fans alike should be able to enjoy this one--it's not just another installment in the series, but a welcome and well-written tale in its own right.

That brings me to the bad news. While _Masterharper_ has all of the virtues I've named above, it has two major faults: consistency and suspension of disbelief. This book just doesn't match up with the earlier ones in some respects. The character of Petiron here doesn't seem like the Petiron Menolly knew in _Dragonsinger_ (granted, age changes a man, but still...). F'lon, while a fine man, does not seem to inspire the sense of respect and even awe that one can pick up about him in _Dragonflight_. Robinton can hear dragons; why, then, was he so surprised to hear them again in _Dragonquest_?

Which leads right into the suspension of disbelief: Robinton, much as I admire his character, is *too good* here. Not only is he a musical genius, not only is he polite and courteous and perfect in every way, but he hears dragons too? Goodness, can't the poor man be allowed any flaws/lackings? That's not the worst part, though: I found that the ending scenes stretched my ability to believe beyond the breaking point, and this marred the book somewhat for me. In fact, the last fifth or so of the pages seemed a cut below the rest; AM did her best work when she was showing us the history we hadn't already seen, rather than history we knew from a new perspective.

Still, when all is said and done, this is still a fine book that tells an excellent story. Just be prepared to blink at it a few times if you're a long-time Pern fan... and if you're new to the series and more fond of flawed heroes than darned near perfect ones, you might want to pass this one up until you've read a few of its predecessors.
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on March 7, 1999
I was intrigued, but disappointed. I have been a fan of Anne McCaffrey's for several years now and have read, re-read, and analysed her books while trying to write my own Pern adventures. And while I applaud her imagination and keen grasp of human relationships and politics, I found that this book just didn't fit in with what I'd led myself to expect by reading her other books. Why, for instance, is Masterharper Robinton so surprised when Mnementh speaks to him for the first time in Dragonquest, if he's practically grown up speaking to dragons? Why does Petiron not disabuse Menolly of her notion that women can't be harpers and what is the problem about sending her to the Harper Hall in Dragonsong, if Petiron's own wife Merelan is called MasterSinger, and girls such as Halanna or Maizella are welcomed at the Hall in Masterharper of Pern? Why does R'gul repeatedly tell Lessa that queens don't fly in Dragonflight, when he's obviously old enough to remember Carola and Feyrith flying around Benden Weyr? Also, I found the idea of Robinton disguised as a drudge at Ruatha Hold just a little far-fetched. And by the way, whatever happened to Lessa's power, the power that kept Ruatha from prospering under Fax, the power to manipulate men's minds for her own ends? This particular aspect of the Ruathan Bloodline wasn't even mentioned in Masterharper. It also seemed to me that the estrangement between Weyr and Hold had been gradual, over the course of generations, not happening in a mere thirty-forty years. Of course Anne McCaffrey has the right to change and improve her writings in any way that pleases her, and perhaps I'm too much of a purist, but I found this particular rendering of Pern too different from her original books. It just didn't ring true in my ears. However, I found the style of writing better than her more recent offerings, a little bit deeper, not quite as shallow as The Second Chronicles of Pern, or as hasty-sounding as All the Weyrs of Pern. I was interested to find out what happened, in spite of my misgivings, and I found it all probable, even believeable (if I discounted the information I had gleaned from her earlier books), but I had expected something completely different.
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on January 6, 2000
With this novel Anne McCaffrey gets away from some of the weaknesses that have plagued recent novels in her saga of the planet Pern--the excessive number of viewpoint characters and storylines and the rushed quality of the plotting. Masterharper of Pern is the story of one of the author's favorite characters, Robinton, and covers his childhood, adolescence and early manhood. In it we learn much of the "backstory" behind the "Dragonriders of Pern" trilogy, the beginnings of which this book overlaps with.
Lovers of the Pern novels will most likely enjoy this book--although not the best book in the series, I found it to be superior to any since "Dragonsdawn." If you are new to the series, it is not the best one to read first--start with "Dragonflight" and "Dragonquest." Read "Masterharper" if you like them.
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on April 2, 2016
This review doesn't cover the plot; just my impression of the book. I've been reading the Pern books off and on for the past twenty years. I decided to read them in chronological order this time--skipping the awful additions written by Anne's son Todd--to catch the ones I missed. Now although Anne is purported to be The Masterharper of Pern's author, the lackluster skimming style and lack of characterization in this book is suspiciously reminiscent of Todd's writing, and that makes me wonder. Maybe Todd actually wrote this book and his aging doting mother palmed it off as her own. Anyone familiar with the style of her books written earlier will be led to ask what happened later on in her life to produce such an ugly uninteresting child. Skip this one. Really. Just skip it. It doesn't add to or enrich the series in any way.
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on June 9, 2016
Ann McCaffrey made Pern a world that is so real I feel like I have been there, Robinton has been my favorite character in the whole series. A man of principle and emotion. I would love to sit and have a tea with him! If you haven't read the Pern books, Please do. There is a series list that will guide you through the novels. Start at the beginning and get to know each character in depth. Ann McCaffrey's Pern books are the standard against which all books in this genre should be measured!
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on June 25, 2016
A wonderful addition to the PERN universe. Master Robinton is one of the most loved characters Ms McCaffrey ever came up with so it was wonderful when he got his own. My only complaint was the jarring end of the novel. Having started at his birth I would have preferred if she had taken it all the way to his death. But other than that this book is a very satisfying read.
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on June 19, 2000
This story is generally about the life of Masterharper Robinton, prior to Threadfall, with additional details about Petiron, Fax, and others. The book does not entirely stand alone, as it is necessary to have read other books about Pern to establish the setting. It does not always mesh correctly with other books in the Pern series (for example, the gratuitous mention of Thella in Chapter XVIII does not match the details in "Renegades of Pern"). The book is fast paced at some points, and a little slow in others, with side digressions into different segments of Robinton's personal life. It is a good story if you want to fill in additional details about Pern, including some of the inter-relationships between people, and the development of some characters or incidents that show up in other books which are later chronologically (although published earlier). Overall, the characters are well developed, including the relationship between Robinton and his parents, and the various sub-plots wind together well.
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on April 22, 2016
Anne McCaffrey is one of my favorite authors and is creator of my favorite literary character, Masterharper Robinton. I was so glad to be able to learn more about this extraordinary character. This is also the first time I've used the kindle-audible blend where you can download your audio title and read along with it inside the kindle app, what an amazing experience!!
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on April 21, 2016
This book was considerably better than the last couple. I am attempting to read them as the posted series recommends.
This one was definitely more entertaining In itself and so I would recommend it to others to read and enjoy. No additional B S from Todd MacCarthy promoting "Alternative lifestyles" to increase sales.
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