"Dragonsong" is the first book in Anne McCaffery's "Harper Hall Trilogy" and is set on the world of Pern. Unfortunately, it's prone to attack from Thread - spores that grow on a neighbouring planet and, at times, can bridge the gap between the two worlds. Thread is deadly to all life : it can only be killed by fire and it's progress is halted by fire and stone. Fortunately, Pern's inhabitants have a useful ally in the battle against thread : dragons. Not only capable of flying and breathing fire, Pern's dragons can also teleport. They also form a telepathic bond with their riders.
"Dragonsong" doesn't tell the story of the great dragonriders, though : it tells the story of Menolly, a teenage girl living at Half Circle Sea Hold. Her father, Yanus, holds the position of Sea Holder, and is essentially the community's leader. Although life there revolves around fishing, Menolly is a talented musician and singer - talents that had been nurtured by Petiron, the Hold's Harper. However, Petiron has recently died and, though the Hold is waiting for his replacement, Menolly feels his loss more keenly than most. Menolly herself would dearly love to follow in her mentor's footsteps - however, it seems that only men can become a Harper. As a result, Menolly's father strongly disapproves of her love for music, and eventually forbids her to sing or play. This leads to Menolly running away from home and discovering a colony of fire lizards - more or less miniature dragons - which had, until then, been considered the stuff of legend.
Although not the first book set on Pern, "Dragonsong" is a useful starting point. It is the first book of the Harper Hall Trilogy, and starts with a brief introduction that covers the history of Pern and its Dragonriders. Menolly proves herself to be a likeable, resourceful character, though a little lacking in self-confidence. Overall, an enjoyable and easily read book.