Anne & Todd McCaffrey: Dragonsblood

Dragonsblood
by Anne and Todd McCaffrey
(science fantasy)

Dragonsblood chiefly follows the actions of Lorana, a young woman who’s been trained in healing herdbeasts and is skilled at drawing. Through her friendship with an aging dragonrider and her attachments to her own two fire lizards, she discovers a sickness that seems to be affecting both dragons and their fire lizard kin.

In a related plotline, colonist Kitti Ping’s daughter Wind Blossom is confronted with the fear of potential for illness in the dragons some four hundred years before Lorana would see that fear realized. Now, only the determination of these two women, and the assistance of those who care for them, can save the dragons of Pern from death.

I enjoyed the premise behind this book, and felt the plot was well developed. Todd McCaffrey did quite an admirable job of remaining true to his mother Anne’s world. However, this book did not quite capture the magic of the earlier Pern novels for me. It felt similar to the later books in the series and, while enjoyable, is not a book I would add to a “must read” list. Somehow, even though the characters had depth to their backgrounds I was not caught up by their personalities. I cared what happened to them, yes. But I did not cry when disaster struck, was not grinning like a fool when romances were realized. (On that note, the romances were implied, and nothing was shown. There was even less than the tasteful way Anne wrote intimate scenes in the first few books.)

While this book did leave some glaring plot holes (for example, there are a few characters introduced near the beginning whose fate is left entirely up to the reader’s imagination), it tied up other loose ends quite well. It addressed some issues including why fire lizards were present at Landing, yet became myth by Dragonquest. It is certainly an enjoyable (even if not a riveting) read. Fans of the newer Pern books will probably enjoy it; those who dislike any but the classic trilogies (Dragonquest / Dragonflight / The White Dragon and the Harper Hall trilogy) will probably want to skip it. This is certainly a book to be read after the other Pern books, even though it comes chronologically before most of them.

As for an age rating, I’d say that anyone capable of understanding the language could read Dragonsblood if they so chose. The violence is as tame as the romance; the most difficult section is near the end, when some of the characters are teaching (and learning) genetics. That was more than I wanted to read in a fantasy book, though I skimmed it without any trouble.

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