Review – Dragonflight

Posted October 28, 2013 by Nicky in Reviews / 4 Comments

Cover of Dragonflight by Anne McCaffreyDragonflight, Anne McCaffrey

I was surprised at how well this stood up to the test of time. I originally read these books when I was… maybe ten, eleven? I loved them, though nothing really beat this first one, as I recall. I was afraid that I’d misjudged the books badly, but while I don’t think this is the most wonderful book ever ever ever, I did really enjoy rereading it.

The early sexism in the story drove me to distraction, of course, but that’s mostly a character thing, not a narrative thing: Lessa is a very strong character, and while she isn’t always right, she’s brave, and many of the big events of the book depend on her. She and F’lar are a strong partnership; they balance each other well (him cool and calculating, her emotional and ready to take a leap of faith — though that is, now I think about it, perhaps a little irritating in terms of gender roles) and there’s no doubt that it’s their partnership that saves Pern.

There are problematic things about their relationship as well, and the whole “our dragons are having sex so I will have sex with you whether you want it or not” issue, and no one (even F’lar, a lot of the time) explaining anything to Lessa even when it makes exactly zero sense to leave her in ignorance… but I think Lessa is the heart and soul of the book. I’m having a bit of difficulty seeing the level of abuse other reviews mention: F’lar has a bit of a tendency to shake Lessa; there is that little issue of “dragons made us do it”; when she goes into shock he slaps her to bring her round… He does grab hold of her fairly hard at one point, after she has gravely shocked and disgusted him by attempting to mind-control another dragonrider. I can see how that adds up, but it still didn’t read that way to me. Exercise caution, though.

Of course, out of sentiment and a willingness to be amused, I didn’t try to poke holes in the plot and the various technologies. They may well be there, but I’m willing to be charmed out of it. For now. So for now, I found the time travel issues interesting, and the whole set-up of the problem pretty ingenious.

Review on Goodreads.

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4 responses to “Review – Dragonflight

  1. I read this a very long time ago and a lot of the social mores are “of another time”, but in general I agree with you assessment of the book.

    • Yes, indeed, though given the issue of feminism that would’ve been current at the time, it’s a little odd that Lessa is so dominated by F’lar and there’s nothing seen to be wrong with that. Even she seems to think he’s justified in the way he treats her.

  2. The only McCaffrey I’ve read is her Arthurian novel Black Horses for the King (which I didn’t find memorable though intend to re-read) so never gave her Dragonrider series a chance. If this is the best I might seek it out.

    • I think it probably is the best, though I don’t trust my memory of it all. I think for me it got rather played out the more I read set in this universe. I think I might have liked Dragonsong, Dragonsinger and Dragondrums a lot too, with a different female protagonist; they’ll probably be my next stop for a reread.

      I found Black Horses for the King pretty forgettable too. I doubt I’ll ever go back to that one.

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