Dragon Harper(CD)(Abr.) Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook, CD
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From Publishers Weekly
As a terrible plague sweeps Pern, a brave Harper apprentice emerges as a true hero in this satisfying third collaboration between McCaffrey mère and fils (after 2006's Dragon's Fire). The danger this time is not the deadly Thread but a virulent disease, similar to our world's 1918 influenza epidemic or the more recent outbreaks of SARS. Kindan, a young apprentice of the Harpers' Guild who's dedicated to music, education and healing, had hoped to become a dragonrider, but failed to bond with a dragon at the last hatching. Then his education and budding romance with a lord's daughter are disrupted by the epidemic, which poses a particular threat to the dragons and dragonriders who will be needed to fight the approaching Thread. The McCaffreys depict the crisis vividly, with enough detail to make the tragedy all too real and with enough hope to keep fantasy fans happy. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Praise for Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey
“The McCaffreys’ second fire-breathing collaboration . . . proves why these fabled dragons still cast a spell.”
“Grittier than the early parts of the series; Todd’s apparently brought a wider, more current worldview to Pern.”
–The San Diego Union-Tribune
“Superb storytelling . . . essential for Pern fans of all ages.”
–Library Journal (starred review)
“A guaranteed pleaser [in] one of SF’s most splendid and longest-lived sagas.”
From the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The poor book can't even be internally consistent - a plague that kills young people in their prime somehow wipes out every journeyman and master at the harper hall? Make up your mind does it kill young or old?
Knowing a plague is coming and that isolation of the Weyr is critical to survival even basic quarantine precautions are not followed? If they had quarantine procedures why not follow them.
And for heaven's sake what happened to the Healer Hall? Why on earth would a plague centred book focus on Harpers?
A critical emergency that is passed to a junior harper? Copying dusty records is more important that the people dying around you?
A shame and a shambles.
Todd - please find someone other than your mother to give you some honest feedback. The book could have been fixed - your characters were likeable and your premise a good start - but you need a lot of help with plot development.
And shame shame shame on the editors - it's your job to make sure the book is a good one.
No tension, no drama, no story - you can't sell books just because they contain dragons (well, I guess you can - but your audience is slipping rapidly away).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Time-wise, the book picks up just after the events of Dragon's Kin and Dragon's Fire. Harper apprentice Kindan is having a tough time at Harper Hall--he can't find something he's good at and he and his friends (Verilan and two girls--Nonala and Kelsa) are tormented by the requisite school bully Vaxoram. Kindan eventually challenges Vaxoram to a duel and Vaxoram becomes his servant and then friend. Soon after Kindan impresses a fire-lizard and at the hatching meets and falls in love with Koriana, daughter of Lord Holder Bemin of Fort Hold (who has Harper "issues" and is no way going to allow his daughter to hook up with one). Then we get the by-now-too familiar plague sweeping across Pern, killing nearly everyone. Kindan and his young friends frantically search the records to find a cure and then gradually take on even more duties as the adults begin to falter before the plague's onslaught.
Where does one start when detailing all the problems with the book? How about plot? The biggest problem has already been mentioned--we've seen it all before. The plague. The search through records. The sense of urgency. The exhausted survivors trying to save the others. The young apprentice constantly being bullied and having to stand up for himself. Dragons going between. Fire Lizards being impressed. If one can't have originality, then one can hope for the comfort of familiarity. But there's a fine line between familiar and stale and Harper crosses that line. Add in the sketchiness of much of the plotting (almost no sense of what is happening elsewhere, who else is combatting this plague and how) and some implausibility tossed in as well, and the book just can't rely on plot to save it.
The same sense of staleness resides in the characters who are at times overly familiar (Kindan has echoes of Piemur) but have none of the spirit or freshness of the characters they are pale shadows of. Some are mere caricatures--the bully and the redeemed bully. And, hearkening back to the major flaws of Dragon's Blood, too many lack a consistent core. A character gloats over another then less than a page or two later speaks with pride of the same person he was just gloating over. Characters switch moods on utter whims, with no sense of reason. Vaxoram's switch from bully to devoted servant is simply unbelievable, with not even a facade of complexity tossed in. Characters learn to fight with their complete opposite hand in under a week. Try dribbling a basketball with a week's practice in your off hand. Now imagine fencing with it. There's suspension of disbelief and then there's not even bothering to pretend it's believable. A character gets the smart idea of surgical masks to help contain the killer flu, but then simply waits around for full-fledged masks to be delivered rather than jury-rig something out of all the material at hand (such as the sheets flapping around outside since the laundress is dead). And the list goes on.
There are other issues as well--flat side-characters, clumsy introduction of feminist issues (it's not the raising of the issue, it's the painfully clunky way it is done), the reliance on "timing" once again to solve a problem (with all its attendant questions/paradoxes, an unnecessary prolog that plays at being coy but is self-evident to any Pern fan and that adds nothing to the plot,
Is there anything good? Actually, yes. While way too familiar, the plague plotline, once it starts going and focuses solely on Kindan's role as healer, is by far the strongest part of the book. The action is tight, focused, well-paced. Characters start to flesh out a bit and one starts to actually care about some of them. It's a sizeable chunk of the book, about a third, and since it comes in the end it means the book leaves a relatively positive taste in your mouth once you finish it, no mean accomplishment after how bad the first two-thirds of the book were.
But a third of a book is still just a third of a book. The fact that it comes at the end means the memory of the book is more positive than it has any right to be, but it still doesn't make it a good book. So I can't recommend this book. Though I fear most Pern fans will read it anyway, hoping against hope and experience--just be forewarned. Anyone who hasn't read the Pern books yet will obviously start with the first ones so it will be long period of enjoyment before they get to the lower quality of the latter books. I envy them their journey and would recommend that current Pern fans can better spend their time retracing their steps in the series rather than continuing forward.
I'll let you know how the next one turns out--though I fear we all already know.
1. If this is supposed to have happened before "Moreta's Ride",why is there no mention of this previous, major plague in that work; if it happens subsequent, why don't the people of Pern have the benefit of that previous experience.
2. Somewhere on Pern, there is a "Healer's Hall". Every other profession has a power base but healers don't? If they exist, as logically they must, where are they? Where is there the group of people trying to find a cure as in Moreta's day?
3. By all accounts, the ability to impress fire lizards is discovered in Lessa's day but here they are, all over the place. PLEASE do not tell me the records were lost! Weyr records were lost when most of the Weyrs of Pern went forward in time leaving their records untended. The rest of Pern, however, went on its merry way and the Harpers kept their records intact. Where are the teaching Sagas about this in Lessa's day?
4. Finally, since when are major tasks, like finding information about plagues, left to the bumbling efforts of adolescents, WITHOUT ANY SUPERVISION? Look at the original Pern books where many adolescents appear as major or minor characters but only under the direction and supervision of adults.
In addition, I find the total concentration on "superteen" Kindan a little lacking in the color and richness of Anne McCaffrey's solo works. Compare this with three novels in "Harper Hall of Pern" and you can see the difference.
Unfortunately, this should have been written as the other side of "Moreta's Ride" - the same history from the point of view of the people of Pern, rather than the Weyrs. Unfortunately, that would have required leaving out the firelizards and weaving in a far more complex tapestry.
No more plagues! Enough already! It was great in Moreta and Nerilka's Story, but that's it. I appreciated what someone noted in a comment, that when Anne took a small piece of one book (such as ship-fish) and spun it off into another entire novel, there was genius at work. I for one would really, really like to see such moves again. Please. New things, not recycled old ideas again...and again....and again.
And I too agree that the very young apprentices (13-ish, I think?) were given far too much latitude in this story for their age, despite the fact that such a society would have much more mature youngsters than our own does. I missed the adult subtle nuances and interplays, the brilliant conversations and decisions and actions. The leadership of the young people truly was unbelievable, and that honestly made me sorrowful, because I felt so let down.
A few things that really intrigued me: I liked the mention of massage as a healing art, and crystals. I liked the pushing of "feminist" ideas, even if it was a little forced, as pointed out by another reviewer.
I love Pern. I've loved it since I was 12-years-old and read The White Dragon for the first time. This series had succored me, given my own imagination flight, and allowed me to delve back into it time and again with a sigh of pleasure and familiarity. So whenever a new Pern novel comes out, I am so hopeful, and I read it, because I just have to. And each time, I get a little bummed out.
Yes, it's still Pern. And yes, Todd McCaffrey is learning his new trade, he is fine-tuning his abilities with each new book. And perhaps there will be brilliance later on. But...I'm still disappointed, and my hopes are getting more and more dimmed with each new book. I've lowered my expectations, and that's what makes me sad.
Can I also humbly suggest, Todd, that you do indeed follow your own path as a writer, perhaps with your own series one day? And that if you do continue on with Pern (and I must admit that I cannot bear for the series to die just yet, despite my dwindling lack of faith in it), you perhaps take into account some of the ideas of fans--such as, no more plagues. And taking small ideas from one book and expanding them in another. And having excellent copyeditors and line editors go over each book to ensure its accuracy, pacing, timing, style--I found several inaccuracies in Dragon Harper that made me wince. And I have no idea whether or not detailed notes are kept on each novel, that list character traits, etc., but if not, perhaps it might be wise to consider such a system so as to ensure catching the inaccuracies that are immediately noticeable by readers?
And please, please, please--I too want another book set in Lessa and F'lar's time, to continue on with those first, most beloved characters (even if it's about the deaths of those two particular characters, which is of course inevitable....) It's hard to let go of that which we love!
So yes, I will keep reading this series. It seems to be a part of my own family, in a way, and I cannot stop loving it, even when it has fallen into a bit of dysfunction. I can only implore its creators to help it get back on its mighty dragon wings and fly gracefully, where it belongs.
While it is pretty well-written, I was really disappointed that it slogged through yet another "oh, my, Pern is infected with a strange ailment and only the children and the dragons can save us now, boo hoo". What's this number 3 or number 4?
I could criticize the too tidy ending, too, but really the main complaint is this: Why should anyone shell out 26 bucks retail for the same recycled story?
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