A small group of settlers have risked everything on the information of a survey of Pern a hundred years or more before. They have traveled 15 years in deep sleep on older spaceships to reach the new planet and to start a whole new way of life. Some come because they want the chance to own their own land, others come for the adventure, others come for riches. When they first arrive on Pern, it truly feels like a paradise. The settlers choose a valley at the base of three inactive volcanoes to be their first settlement, which they call Landing. The settlers are eagerly experimenting with seeds and plants brought from other planets and trying to get animals settled and fertilized. Schools to teach children about their new life are quickly organized. Charter members of the group get first pick of land and set out exploring and claiming their small holdings. Others are content to live in Landing and to wait for their turn to spread out. All seems to be perfect...
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Eight years later, the settlers notice an unusual cloud formation and think that there is a storm coming in. But when silver thread-like things start falling from the sky and devouring anything organic that can be found, paradise turns into a kind of living hell. The only bright spot that can be found in the whole tragedy is that the fire lizards seemed to know when the thread was coming and warned their owners to get inside where it was safe. The colony hopes that the thread-fall was a one-time occurrence, but then they notice the star with the irregular orbit that has slowly gotten closer to the planet and they realize that the thread is going to keep coming back. Many colonists despair and demand that the leaders send out the homing beacon to bring help from earth, but that could take 10 years or more, if help comes at all. Others turn to the fire lizards for answers. Finally, in one desperate action, they ask a geneticist to manipulate the genes of fire lizards to build something bigger - something more dragon sized that would be more effective against the thread. With time running out, all of Pern's hopes rest on the project of one woman...
This book is a stand-alone in the Pern series in that you don't need to be familiar with any other background before you read it, but there are many things that won't really make sense or won't seem important if you are not familiar with Pern's later history. Dragonsdawn answers questions such as how the dragons came to be, how they got their mental connection with their riders, how watchweyrs are different from dragons and why, how the colonists ended up in caves on the northern continent instead of the southern continent where they first settled, how the grubs were developed that ate thread, where the cat came from that caused a plague that decimated the population during Moreta's time, who the first dragonriders were and why they named the Holds and Weyrs what they did. The only complaint that I had was that the story was told from so many different points of view and contained so many characters that you really had to be on your toes while you read it. At the first part of the book, it wasn't so bad. McCaffrey refered to people by their first and last names and many of them were familiar to me because they had holds, weyrs and natural landmarks named after then such as Paul Benden, Emily Boll, Sallah Telgar, etc. Then the last names were dropped and we were left with the first names. After a while I got used to it, but then we had those long stretches of time where everyone got older all of a sudden and there are children and other people to deal with. Good thing there are plenty of references in the book to help you keep track of everyone! Although this book could technically be considered the first in the Pern series as far as chronology goes, I think that it is helpful to read the books in the order that Anne McCaffrey wrote them so that you can fully appreciate the detail of the world that McCaffrey has so painstakingly created. This book is a wonderful blend of science fiction and fantasy and I think anyone would thoroughly enjoy it as there really is something for everyone!
The review of this Book prepared by Debbie
This is a book about the first landing by colonists on the planet Pern. It details the painstaking efforts to start the colony, and the nefarious plans by a small group to steal what they can and escape. All plans are put to the test however when the first fall of "thread" decimates the new colony. Now all efforts must be made to find a way to combat this menace from the sky. And so, Pern's dragons are created!
The review of this Book prepared by Firefrost k Vala