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Dragon's Kin (The Dragonriders of Pern) Mass Market Paperback – December 28, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Beloved bestseller McCaffrey has joined forces with her son, Todd, to produce another delightful entry in the Pern series, which began with Dragonflight in 1968. The action here centers on Camp Natalon, the site of a coal mine. Now that the surface seams of coal have begun to run dry on Pern, it's imperative to start extracting coal from deep underground, despite the increased danger. Some of the miners rely on the expertise of the watch-whers, smaller versions of dragons, to help keep them safe in the mines. As Kindan, blind Nuella and master harper Zist puzzle out the lore, habits and abilities of these nocturnal creatures, they find out more about the watch-whers (and themselves) than they thought possible. Fans who have become comfortable with McCaffrey's smooth trademark style over the years will notice no seams-which bodes well for any solo novels her coauthor, the heir apparent, may contribute to the Dragonriders saga.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
The latest Pern novel is something of a family affair, with the creator of one of sf's most splendid and longest-lived sagas collaborating with her son on the latest installment. The story takes place during an unexplored period in the history of Pern, before the coming of the Thread. The watch-whers are already playing a prominent role, however, keeping watch at night at the holds and weyrs and helping in the mines. The protagonists are Kindin and Nuella, young people living in a mining camp. A cave-in wipes out Kindin's father and brothers as well as the old watch-wher, and Kindin moves in with camp Harper. There he learns the skills of being a Harper, including discretion and mediation. Eventually, he and Nuella learn the secret of how watch-whers see in the dark, and about their communication with dragons, which opens a wholly new range of capabilities for the dragon-riders. What with sound narrative technique, above-average characterization, and several of the Pern fans favorite ongoing saga themes, the new book is a guaranteed pleaser as well as a harbinger that Pern, an enduring monument for two generations of sf readers so far, will continue after its originator's departure. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
By this point in the series, McCaffery is down to picking out minor parts of the Pern world that have yet to be explored--she already did the explanatory prequels, she covered fire lizards and dolphins, she's covered harpers and traders and riders. She isn't left with much and so we get Kin, focusing on watchwhers and miners.
This is set between the time of the original series and the prequel books. The disadvantage is that we don't get to see those characters most of us fell so in love with. The advantage is that she (I keep saying she but of course her son is co-author) doesn't have her hands tied as she did in the prequels with having to explain specific rituals, names, etc, a reason those prequel books tend to fall in the lower ranks of quality.
In general, this is a solid book. The characters are mostly interesting enough, though not particularly so and if they aren't all that vividly constructed, they also manage to move beyond being simply cardboard characters. The plot is somewhat predictable--it's hard to imagine a book centered on a mining camp that won't have at its climax a cave-in scene, though perhaps it didn't need to be so obviously telegraphed as it is here. Characters pretty much act as we would expect them to from our very first meeting of them (with perhaps one or two exceptions) and events pretty much fall into the order we expect. None of the characters have the force of a L'essa or a Robinton or a Piemur (even in comparison to their first introduction as characters as opposed to after reading several books about them), nor do any of the inter-relationships have the same emotional strength or passion as is so evident among those earlier characters (or even those earlier characters and their dragons). Granted, this is a high standard, but it is after all one which McCaffery set herself. But if Kin doesn't come close to meeting that standard, it doesn't fall completely on its face either.
That is, except for one curiously grating plot point involving watchwhers going between and which seems predicated on several characters having completely forgotten events from earlier in the book. This was a pretty major flaw to have found itself into the book, and in a stronger work would have had probably more of an impact for the worse, but here is just sort of annoying.
In language and complexity, the book seems geared at a somewhat younger age, though I'm not quite sure why. Dragonsong etc. were also somewhat YA, but I don't recall them being so simple in their language and plotting, though perhaps I'm not remembering correctly. As with those three Harper hall books, there is room here for a continuation with several of these characters, who were likable enough and just interesting enough that I'd pick up another book involving them, though not with the avidness with which I awaited books like The White Dragon or All the Weyrs.
In the end, a serviceable book, an amiable one, but not a compelling one and not an essential one.
The story is set in the Natalon mining camp, and this is one of the first times we�ve had a look at the miners. This is the story of Kindan, a twelve year old boy who seemed older when I read the book. Kindan does not expect anything more out of his life than to follow his father into the mines when he is old enough. All of this changes when there is an accident at the mine and Kindan�s father and brothers are all killed. He is left an orphan and he is taken in by the Masterharper, Zist.
What the title of this book refers to is the watch whers (they appear in several of the Pern novels). The watch whers are dragon like, though smaller and nocturnal, and are used typically as a nighttime guard or as the first warning if anything is going wrong. They are kin to dragons (hence the title) from when humans first settled on Pern. Watch whers play a prominent role in this book (though, the watch wher egg does not appear until close to half way through the book).
At times, �Dragon�s Kin� did not feel like a Pern novel. Dragons play such a limited role, and this story is such a sub-set off of what became the primary storyline throughout Pern. This was a quick reading story, but none of the characters were as engaging as previous characters. There is no Menolly, or Lessa, or F�lar, or Jaxom, or even any of the characters from �Dragonsdawn�. Kindan is too young, and while he may grow into a better character (assuming McCaffrey follows up with these characters), he isn�t interesting enough to build a novel around. The minor character, Nuella, she has potential. �Dragon�s Kin� is a decent enough Pern novel, but it is nothing to get excited about.
Meanwhile, I had a lot of fun reading/listening to this. Dick Hill did the narration. And I think he did a better job acting out this one than others in the Pern series before. Maybe it was the writing combo of Anne and Todd McCaffrey. Maybe I was just more receptive of the story. At any rate, I just found this more fun. And I am glad that those left-over beasts of the original research that resulted in dragons, the watch-whers, can have their day in the Pernese sun. And I loved the kids that were the main characters.
I can never get enough of Anne McCaffrey's work. Glad her son joined in the fun. I look forward to reading more by both. R.I.P. Anne.
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