All the Weyrs of Pern by Anne McCaffrey

A Solid addition to the Dragonriders Series

Anne McCaffrey was inspired in part to write Science Fiction due to some of the ways women were portrayed in the genre. She was the first woman writer to win the coveted Hugo award and one of the female pioneers within the genre. After the original trilogy McCaffrey was encouraged by her publisher to write the Harperhall trilogy aimed at younger readers. To all purposes after the end of The White Dragon it feels like this is where the story was originally going to finish, the Harperhall trilogy manages to add some more background to the world whilst telling some interesting stories and despite their younger reader tags are great stories for all readers within the world she created.  These six books in my opinion are the best of the Pern series but after this there were both sequels and prequels published which vary in quality.

As someone who has enjoyed Anne McCaffrey’s writing since the early 80’s I sometimes like to get my Dragonriders fix and read random books from the series. ‘All the Weyrs of Pern’ is book 11, probably if you’re going to read this you have read the previous books. Most of the Pern books can be read in isolation but I would say for this one you need some knowledge of what has gone before in the timeline. The book follows on directly from The Renegades of Pern with the discovery of AIVAS an AI computer left by the original colonists and uncovered all these centuries later. The AI manages to help the crafts and the Holds rediscover information and skills long lost to history. The greatest thing that AIVAS may be able to do though is help Pern finally get rid of thread forever.

The plot revolves mainly around well-known characters from the series with Jaxom and his White Dragon Ruth taking a lot of the forefront of the story. McCaffrey as always manages to write in accessible way and her characters are always rounded individuals that you care about. One of the themes followed within the text is the fear of new technology and how people react when they feel their treasured traditions are being threatened. The narrative manages to get you invested in the storyline.

I think the books after book 6 lose some focus, however Ann McCaffrey does in most cases manage to keep both the prequels and sequels consistent, which can be difficult for authors trying not to go back on themselves. This book does at points suffer from a few too many story threads flying around but it all manages to pull itself together later in the book. Part of the plot does resolve around both the AI and some computer information, at points because of the progress in Computing since the book was written these bits can feel a little dated, overall they do not take away from the book or narrative.

As a fan of her writing and the series I think they’re all worth a read because I still like to follow some of my favourite characters and discover new ones, but it is one of those series that could have been stopped at several points with no detriment to the overall narrative. ‘All the Weyrs of Pern’ is I think one of the best of the sequels taking the History of Pern and the characters in some very interesting directions.

If you’re a Pern fan you’ll be reading it anyway, if not and you are interested as I suggested earlier the first 6 books are where to start. I will caution there is a difference in style between Dragonflight and Dragonquest, if you don’t get on with the former but still like the overall concept give Dragonquest a chance you won’t regret it.

All the Weyrs of Pern Book Cover All the Weyrs of Pern
Dragonriders of Pern
Anne McCaffrey
Del Rey
1st September 1997
My own copy
Steve Weston

For generations, the dragonriders had dedicated their lives to fighting Thread, the dreaded spores that periodically rained from the sky to ravage the land. On the backs of their magnificent telepathic dragons they flew to flame the deadly stuff out of the air before it could reach the planet's surface. But the greatest dream of the dragon riders was to find a way to eradicate Thread completely, so that never again would their beloved Pern be threatened with destruction.

Now, for the first time, it looked as if that dream could come true. For when the people of Pern, led by Masterharper Robinton and F'Lar and Lessa, Weyrleader and Weyrwoman of Benden Weyr, excavated the ancient remains of the planet's original settlement, they uncovered the colonist's voice-activated artificial intelligence system - which still functioned!

And the computer had incredible news for them: There was a chance - a good chance - that they could, at long last, annihilate Thread once and for all!

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