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The Masterharper of Pern (Dragonriders of Pern) Mass Market Paperback – November 28, 1998
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From the Inside Flap
In a time when the deadly scourge Thread has not fallen on Pern for centuries--and many dare to hope that Thread will never fall again--a boy is born to Harper Hall. A musical prodigy who has the ability to speak with the dragons, he is called Robinton, and he is destined to be one of the most famous and beloved leaders Pern has ever known.
It is a perilous time for the harpers who sing of Thread--they are being turned away from holds, derided, attacked, even beaten. In this climate of unrest, Robinton will come into his own. But despite the tragedies that beset his own life, he continues to believe in music and in the dragons, and he is determined to save his beloved Pern from itself--so that the dragonriders can be ready to fly against the dreaded Thread when at last it returns . . .
About the Author
Anne McCaffrey is one of the world's most popular authors. Her first novel was published in l967. Since then, she has written dozens of books, of which there are more than twelve million copies in print. Before her success as a writer, she was involved in theater. She directed the American premiere of Carl Orff's Ludus de Nato Infante Mirificus in which she also played a witch.
McCaffrey lives in County Wicklow, Ireland, in a house of her own design, Dragonhold-Underhill, so named because she had to dig out a hill to build it.
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I do agree that The Masterharper is painted here a bit too perfect--I think perhaps the author could have better integrated the Petiron as portrayed in other books and made Robinton more believable if there had not been so much perfection and maturity on Robinton's behalf in his later dealings with his father--and perhaps even more of a change of heart by his father. (now realizing for some reason what he has missed, but sorry too late for forgiveness from his son).
I also found the way the author arranges for Robinton to witness the Search of Lessa first hand strained credibility. One last nit pick--Anne McCaffrey is usually very good about making sure her character ages and time lines track from one book to the next--but if Sebell is 10 when his character is introduced in this book ---then he is much older than I assumed by Dragondrums and the White Dragon and takes a heck of a long time to make Journeyman and Master.
These items kept the book from a five star.
I also find the blatant inconsistencies to the former books to be a major turn-off. Apparently Robinton can speak to dragons although the entire series prior to this book makes it very clear that he can NOT and was shocked on one occasion when a dragon spoke to him. As mentioned above, Petiron is transformed from a caring old man in the 'singer series to a despicable egomaniac in this book. There are many others. Does the author have the liberty of changing the facts as she writes? Sure, but it dilutes the storyline. These facts aren't evolved, they are completely changed.
Now some good things. The central world of Pern is there. Pern, thread, and it's dragonriders are one of the most engaging and brilliant creations in all of science fiction writing. This book is worth reading for that fact alone. It's just a letdown from the high entertainment of previous works.
Born into a musical family and raised in the Harper Hall Robinton showed extreme talent from his earliest days to the delight of all around him but his own father. Never quite understanding or recovering from this rejection Robinton grew to excel at his profession even though his dream of becoming both a harper and a dragonrider was not to be. His friendship with F'lon, father of F'lar and F'non is shown as well as the beginnings of many of his relationships throughout Pernese society. Many of these relationships have be alluded to in other books in the series.
Perhaps the most touching aspects of the book are his ill-fated romance and the recurring losses that seem to plague Robinton's life.
For fans of the series this is a 'must read'. If you are new to Pern I highly recommend the series and this prequel would be a good place to start, then continue through the rest in the order they were written.