Craft Study: Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey


Title: Dragonflight
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Age: Young Adult +
Is This Part of a Series?: Yes (Book 1 of a trilogy; plus many other books set on this planet)

*I have bought this book multiple times throughout my lifetime and currently have one copy of each book in this trilogy (and a few other Pern books) on my bookcases

*This summary was taken from the Dragonflight page on Amazon.

To the nobles who live in Benden Weyr, Lessa is nothing but a ragged kitchen girl. For most of her life she has survived by serving those who betrayed her father and took over his lands. Now the time has come for Lessa to shed her disguise—and take back her stolen birthright.

But everything changes when she meets a queen dragon. The bond they share will be deep and last forever. It will protect them when, for the first time in centuries, Lessa’s world is threatened by Thread, an evil substance that falls like rain and destroys everything it touches. Dragons and their Riders once protected the planet from Thread, but there are very few of them left these days. Now brave Lessa must risk her life, and the life of her beloved dragon, to save her beautiful world. . . .

Overall Opinion:
This is not necessarily the best book I have ever read, but it is certainly the book I have reread the most times–and I haven’t reached my limit on it yet, either. This book captured my imagination the first time I read it, led me to reading almost all of her other Pern books, set me on the path to writing fantasy, and still leaves me day dreaming about having my own dragon-rider bond. I have always loved this book and always will.

The Nitty Gritty:
During my second semester of the Stonecoast program I was finding myself facing what I thought was burnout: books were not seeming as exciting to me. My only other theory was that perhaps I was so focused on the craft of writing that I would no longer be able to “just” read. Neither was a very pleasant thought. And then I got swept along on a week of whirlwind reading: six books in seven days. A miracle with two small children interrupting me every other breath. And one of those miracle books was my trusty old standby, Dragonflight. I decided to take a closer look at it to see why I enjoyed it. This is what I found:

The first thing I noticed was the characters: all of the characters are multi-dimensional and, more uniquely, perhaps, are established on the first page. Every time a new character was introduced, they were established in an equally succinct manner. Feeling as if I knew the character–and could relate to the character–so quickly did not, however, mean that there was nothing else to learn about them. (Even in later books in this series there are still new aspects and greater depths revealed the longer the reader “journeys” with the characters).

Another difference from traditional books was the point of view structure. Dragon flight is separated into four parts, each one separated from the others by varying amounts of time. And although each part contained the same set of protagonists, they all had a different “antagonist” as well. While not all of these antagonists were traditional bad guys, they all stood between the protagonists and their goals. Over all, it was a very interesting approach to antagonists.

Something else I noticed about this book (after comparing it with the other five books I read during that magical week), was that it was a feel good book. It dealt with strong relationships bonding characters together and providing them with the tools and perseverance to triumph over the difficulties and evils in their lives. The sort of relationships everyone would like to have and be a part of. No wonder I have read it over and over again.

Goodreads Rating: 4.08 Stars (80,146 Ratings)
Amazon Rating: 4.4 Star (372 Reviews)
My Rating: 5 Stars
There are probably things I would do differently if I were writing this story, but there are also plenty of things that I learned from reading it the way Ms. McCaffrey chose to write it. It has inspired generations of readers and writers and has helped the speculative fiction genres grow and evolve. I will always own a copy of this book and I will read it to my children–and myself–many more times in the future.


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