Let’s change things around this post, but not too far. Staying in what is technically the fantasy genre, let’s look at Dragonflight. This is the first novel of the Dragonriders of Pern original series by Anne McCaffrey.

This novel follows Lessa, the last of the Ruathan bloodline. She lives in Ruatha hold as a servant girl, waiting for the day when she can take vengeance on the man who murdered her family. Then, the dragon riders come on Search; they need a girl to impress the new queen when she hatches. F’lar takes Lessa with him as a prospective. When she impresses the dragon, her life drastically changes. Now, she must use her well-honed cunning to save Pern from the Threads- horrible, parasitic things that fall from the sky and destroy all soil and crops for years. But the dragon riders cannot fight them all and have to transcend time and space for help.

Dragonflight is an excellent debut for the series that spans forwards and backwards and sideways creating a canon that took decades to produce. The series has grown and entertained several generations of readers, as well it should. It’s structure is a lesson in classic construction, it’s characters accessible and easy to understand.

Dragonflight is a captivating story that has some fun and interesting themes, some more subtle than others:

Feminism: Women have a place in Pern, and everyone has their social level. Lessa is a strong female character and is only one of many. Moreta is presented from the beginning as a legendary hero (her own novel appeared later); subsequently Brekke, I would argue is a social hero and very strong character. However, the view is realistic, as not all the queen riders are strong. Lessa’s predecessor is not a great care-taker or even respectable. Her nemesis/protege is annoying and femme fatal in a naive (or maybe just not so bright or too self concerned) sort of way in Dragonflight (we’ll see her become quite the conniving villain in the sequel). Lessa saves the day in a big way.

Honor: the dragon riders thrive or die on honor. During this particular novel, that’s all they have left. They have a strict honor code, and the fortune of being chosen as a rider is a high honor in itself. Not all the riders are as honorable as we might hope, and so is the way of the world.

Destiny: Lessa has a way of both altering destiny and having it chosen for her. Just read the book… it’s a bit of a pardox, but that just makes the book fun. Does Lessa alter fate or did fate alter Lessa? Discuss.

Social constructions: Pern has a modified feudal society that drives the behaviors of it’s inhabitants (please see “honor”) for better or for worse. The way the characters perceived social rights and rules says a lot about their character (usually a direct correlation- very efficient). Social rules and traditions both save Pern and harm it. When do we break the rules? What are the traditions for?

Connectedness: this is a major Pernian theme. Connections to dragons, connections between queen riders and bronze riders (you get to read the book for that one, too), politics dictating personal connections (read into that one, I spent some time wrestling with that one, but then, romantic love is a new concept…), connections between riders and their holds (yikes!), and connections between all of the riders. Add to all of those the connections with tradition, society, history, and their world and universe. Now look at all the disconnects. This is a serious novel about connection.


Dragonflight is an engaging novel. It’s recommended Accelerated Reader (for those of you familiar with the literacy encouragement program in many schools) is early to mid sixth grade. I would not likely recommend this book for children under that age, due to suggestive (though not exactly graphic; really, it’s rather impressively written) content.  It might make some adults uncomfortable to have younger children exposed to the (very limited) content (which is plot-crucial).  The characters are equally engaging and relatable. Inklings is fond of this novel and is a proponent of the series in general.

Inklings Recommended

Ages 11 and up; great book/series for adults as well! (Has a very strong adult fanship.)