Top critical review
Am I the Only One Who Had MAJOR Problems with this Book?
on May 23, 2001
I seem to be in the minority, but I had major, major problems with ALL THE WEYRS OF PERN and I fear this book has really ruined Pern and destroyed what made it special. Stuff that bugged me (SPOILERS):
1. THE MODERNIZING OF PERN. Do we really want a modern Pern? I don't know about everyone else, but I loved the medieval setting and dark atmosphere of DRAGONFLIGHT, the tension between dragonriders and Lord Holders, and especially reading about life in the Weyrs. Despite the title, this book was not actually about the Weyrs! What a shame that McCaffrey seems to be veering away from them.
2. TRASHING AND SLASHING OF BELOVED CHARACTERS FROM THE EARLIER BOOKS. Lessa as portrayed in the first book has always been my favorite Pern character. So why is it that with each successive Pern book Anne McCaffrey seems more and more determined to give her a bad name and ruin her? The characterization did not seem consistent to me. I also did not like or believe the way F'lar manipulated and lied to her. It was never his style before (he always treated Lessa as an equal and never underestimated her), and Lessa should be too clever to fall for it anyway -- since she is good at manipulating others herself. These two used to be one of SF's most dynamic couples. Does someone acutally prefer *this* version of F'lar and Lessa?
And lets not even mention Robinton. Do we really want Pern without Robinton in it? Pern without the Masterharper?
3. THE PREPOSTEROUSNESS OF THIS PLOT! Okay, they find a computer and it tells them *exactly* how to get rid of Thread! How convenient (Can you say "deus ex machina"?). Also, all these medieval people just learn to use computers and mass produce what they need? Yeah right. I can't even get my mom to use a computer and you want to tell me people who don't haven't even had electricity until now are going to catch on to using computers that fast?
And duplicating all they need in 4 years? With nothing going wrong?! When even NASA has had disasters? Starting from medieval technology? Um, I don't think so.
4. THE ERADICATION OF THREAD. Do we really want to read about Pern without Thread? Isn't the struggle to survive on Pern what makes this series compelling and dramatic? Doesn't it give the dragons and dragnriders their purpose? I would rather Thread was impossible to eradicate so we could have more dramatic stories about brave men and women battling Thread and struggling to survive on Pern.
5. WHY DOES JAXOM ALWAYS GET TO HAVE HIS CAKE AND EAT IT TOO? Seriously, isn't he supposed to be a Lord Holder? What the heck is he doing leading all the dragonrider missions? Why are F'lar and the other Weyrleaders letting Jaxom do their job? Doesn't he have a Hold to run?! And how come Lessa had to give up Ruatha Hold so she could be a dragonrider and now Jaxom gets to rule Ruatha and go to the Red Star while Lessa doesn't get to do either? This does not seem fair to me, especially since Ruatha belonged to Lessa's family and Jaxom's father murdered them.
I loved Jaxom as a little boy in DRAGONQUEST but ever since THE WHITE DRAGON he has seemed like a spoiled little rich boy to me... The dragonrider / Lord Holder thing could have been an interesting conflict and made a great character but instead Anne McCaffrey always lets him have his cake and eat it too, trashing F'lar, Lessa, F'lessan and others just so Jaxom can hog the spotlight. Ug.
6. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE WOMEN ON PERN? Have they all turned into Stepford Wives? Pern has always been a sexist society but usually there has been a Lessa, a Menolly or a Sharra somewhere in sight who would try to fight for freedom and equality. In this book it seems like all the men are running the show, and the women are staying home barefoot and pregnant! I never thought I would see the day.
7. A HUGE GAFFE / OVERSIGHT. A friend of mine pointed this one out: If the Dragonriders divided the virus into three batches and went back in time to the two long intervals to infect the Thread with it all those centuries ago, why has Thread been falling just as strongly? It should have been weakening all along centuries ago if the virus was starting to infect it.
All in all, I was really bummed by this book, which took eliminated so much of what made Pern special to me -- life in the Weyrs, conlficts between dragonriders and holders, Thread battles, F'lar and Lessa's spirit and heroism, Robinton's wonderful wit, the dark medieval atmosphere, strong women, plots with some credibility... I found ALL THE WEYRS OF PERN so depressing I have been afraid to read any more recent Pern books. If anyone else felt as I did, please post a review, so that I won't feel alone... I miss the old Pern so much!!!