I buddy-read this with Sarah from Dragons & Zombies because we both like dragons (and zombies) and Elizabeth Moon’s Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, which we first tried to read, was too boring to continue with. Dragonflight was a slight improvement.
Dragonriders of Pern (book 1)
Dragonflight is the first novel in the Dragonriders of Pern classic fantasy series. It’s about a planet called Pern that uses dragons to overcome the Threads, offshoots from a planet that sprouts destructive formations when it orbits close to Pern.
Dragonflight begins with a girl called Lessa planning revenge on the man who brought about the end of her family and stole her birthright. However, Lessa does not yet know that her life is about to change for the unexpected because the dragonmen are on a search for a female to bond with the new dragon queen and help prepare for the return of the Threads. (Goodreads)
Dragonflight has been on my TBR ever since I heard that it is a classic of the fantasy genre. Because it’s about dragons, I expected to like it, which I did at first, but it didn’t keep my interest. I was immediately curious about the planetary aspect of the story, which I did not expect because I’d never heard of Pern referred to as a planet or that it was threatened by one, and was drawn in by Lessa, who was pretending at something she’s not to succeed in her revenge.
So I was interested in the first 100 or so pages of the story, right up to where Lessa makes connection with the dragon queen. However, after that the plot began to drag in some places and I began to dislike some of the characters. Also, there is time travel and I do not like time travel.
Though I liked how independent and headstrong Lessa is, I didn’t like how she regarded the women around her. She has nothing positive to say about any of them and they are almost all perceived as weak. It’s the same with F’lar, a leader among the dragonriders whose perspective we also read from. The only woman he grudgingly respects is Lessa, who he mistreats. I did not like him. I did not like that he raped Lessa (which was not discussed other than to have F’lar reflect on it briefly), I did not like that he shakes her every time that he gets frustrated with her, and I did not like that he’s an asshole in general. Actually, all the dragonmen are assholes. I’ve yet to see one unassholey man in the book.
I also expected there to be more focus on the dragons, but the story was instead about the humans and their problems. I think the quips from the dragons that show their personality was the best thing about the story, but that didn’t happen often enough.
As Sarah said when we discussed the story, “it felt like a long introduction and then it was over.” I think that’s a good summation of my reading experience with this. There’s a lot of buildup, but the climax and resolution does not equal to the amount of buildup we had to read through. So I was unsatisfied by the end. I guess book 2 is when all the exciting things will happen, but I don’t plan to read it.
Overall: ★★☆☆☆ ½
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
There are many, better, fantasy books out there that have dragons in them.
15 thoughts on ““Dragonflight” by Anne McCaffrey”
The books are very in line with the late 60s. Are they dated, yes. Ideals have changed since then but she presented dragons in an unique way from any then current writers. I liked the later books as the author explores the world she created. I read them as a teen and my love for dragons came from the McCaffrey books. 🐲❤️
Yea, it’s interesting the way she chose to present dragons because they have to be fed a mineral in order to breathe fire. That would have stuck out to me when writing the review if I wasn’t so annoyed by story and characters overall.
I’ve never read this but the cover always kinda grabbed me, with the green sky and the dragon. I’ve heard some of the same criticisms, unfortunately, so I’m not likely to read thee, but good to see your thoughts on it in case I do. At least I’ll be prepared. 😦
It’s a fantasy classic. I’m glad I read it though I didn’t like it much.
Oh dear. I know the Pern books are dated, but I have Dragonflight already waiting for me on my bookshelf… and your comments are things I’ve read before in other reviews of the book. I guess I’ll just have to keep all of that in mind when I finally read it.
Yea, I saw some negative reviews of it on Goodreads when I started to reading it, but I ignored them. Now I understand why they were negative. I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it, but I can say that I’m glad I read it – that I got in a fantasy oldie.
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Dragonflight definitely is a bit dated. I’m not sure we’re even supposed to ‘like’ Flar and Lessa. I read them all as a teen but enjoyed them more re-reading them as an adult. I really like the Jaxom (White Dragon) stories as it moves into a more sci-fi genre. The dragons are super cool and some of the lesser characters like Piemur and Flessan are my favourites. Lot’s of intrigue and the talking dolphins are fun too!
Oh, talking dolphins sound interesting! 🙂
I think F’lar and Lessa are intentionally unlikeable characters, but I really could’t stand F’lar.
He grows on you as the series goes on. You have to read the whole series to really get the back story but you can read ‘The Dolphinriders of Pern’ as a stand
alone. I quite like Anne McCaffrey in general. The Crystal Singer books and the Pegasus series are also well worth reading.
Oh, I wondered if that might be the case. This one was so short that I thought the second is a must-read to really understand all.
Thanks for the other recommendations. 🙂
Huh that’s a bit of a bummer. I feel like I’d have the same opinion of it as you two did, if all that stuff is so prominent. 😑 Ah well, plenty of bookfishes in the sea
True dat! I’m glad I tried it though.
Aw man, Pern is one of my favorites. I do think some of it hasn’t aged well though. I remember one of the original trilogy when there was a big reveal about the world building kind of blew my mind back in the day, haha. I think the Harper Hall trilogy still holds up really well though (from what I remember). They’re shorter and more adventure-y.
If I wander back to McCaffrey books, then I might try that one.
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