Nerilka is a hardworking rather plain daughter of the Lord Holder of Fort Hold. She spends most of her summers gathering and laying up medicines and other stores. She spends the rest of her time helping in the kitchens and sewing or whatever other work needs doing. When her father decides to take some of her younger, unmarried sisters to the Ruatha Gather in hopes of snaring Lord Alessan as a husband, she believes that she will get to go too, but her father leaves her behind. Nerilka thinks that this is very cruel because her best friend was Lord Alessan's first wife before she was killed in a tragic runnerbeast accident and she used to write to Nerilka about Ruatha. Nerilka would give just about anything to see it.
When Fort Hold hears the terrible news about the sickness spreading across Pern, Nerilka immediately takes as many stores to the Harper Hall as she can, knowing full well that her father would never give them anything. Her father forces one of the dragonriders to bring her back to Fort Hold, flagrantly disobeying the rule of the Masterhealer to stay where you were when the sickness started to spread. Nerilka soon learns that her mother and all of her sisters died of the plague. Her mother is barely in the ground before her father brings his mistress and her family into the Hold. Nerilka cannot bear to serve someone younger than herself who lords it over everyone at the Hold. When she overhears her father denying the Masterhealer and Masterharper medication and other supplies, Nerilka sneaks out several large sacks of the essentials and leaves with them. She starts treating the illness at a camp just outside of the Fort Hold and then travels to small holdings that are far away from Hold and Weyr.
Nerilka soon hears that Ruatha Hold is all but desolate, she knows that she is needed most there. She arrives to discover that Lord Alessan has lost all of his family, but his sister Oklina. As she struggles with the few survivors of Ruatha Hold to develop a vaccine that can save all of Pern's livestock, she finds herself falling in love with Lord Alessan. She knows that he will never care for her, especially since he loves Weyrwoman Moreta, but when news of the terrible tragedy of Moreta's death reaches Ruatha, it changes everything...
Nerilka's Story is essentially the same story contained in Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern, but told from a different perspective. This is the first time in the series that Anne McCaffrey wrote a book about someone other than a dragonrider or a Harper so it was very interesting to see life on Pern from a completely different perspective. I liked Nerilka - she kept trying to stand up for herself and to do what was right even when everyone else was trying to hold her back and keep her down. I also enjoyed seeing the story of Moreta from an outsider's point of view and learned a lot about Pern at the time of Moreta that I didn't know before. My only real complaint about the book is that it is so short! I was able to read it in about 1 hour (I am a fast reader, though). If you have enjoyed any of Anne McCaffrey's other books in the Pern series, I know that you will enjoy this one!
This report prepared by Debbie