I don’t think there’s a fantasy nerd out there who hasn’t read a book by Anne McCaffrey! I first started reading her novels in 4th grade, and I became so enamored of her world that when my parents bought me a kitten-sized dragon plushie for Christmas, I walked around with it on my shoulders and called it my Fire-lizard.

Dragonsinger was the first book by her that I read. I instantly fell in love with the world of Pern – the Harpers, the telepathic dragons, everything.

Since Dragonsinger is part of the Harper Hall Trilogy, it has more of a focus on music instead of on the telepathic relationship between dragon and rider. This was actually one of the greatest appeals to me, since I love music (alas, I cannot produce any of my own, but I treasure well-performed pieces).

The intricacy of McCaffrey’s social structures is what makes her work truly stand out. The interweaving of Craft, Hold, and Weyr cultures and how they balance each other out mirrors our own world, but isn’t instantly recognizable. These structures provide a strong backdrop for her stories and actually influence the way events turn out. It’s always nice when an author remembers to play by his/her own rules. Too often, it is easy to put characters into situations that could never conceivably happen within the established mythology and then bend the rules to explain it all. McCaffrey never slips up like that, and the consistency of her world make the drama all the more poignant, exciting, or joyous. (I think specifically of Brekke’s attempted re-Impression and subsequent failure and recovery).

The other stellar part of McCaffrey’s world is the frequent humor sprinkled throughout her series. Always plausible and rather dry, even the slap-stick fits her world so well that it never comes across as foolish and often provides much-needed relief to the seriousness of Weyr struggles or the jostle of power between the Holders.

Anne McCaffrey has definitely earned her place as a staple in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. With her gift for visual and emotional writing and her multi-layered world, she’ll always have a place on my bookshelf.

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