- Audio Cassette
- Publisher: Brilliance Audio; Abridged edition (Nov. 25 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1593551827
- ISBN-13: 978-1593551827
- Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 3.2 x 17.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 145 g
- Average Customer Review: 47 customer reviews
Dragon's Kin Audio Cassette – Abridged, Audiobook
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About the Author
Anne McCaffrey, the Hugo Award-winning author of the bestselling Dragonriders of Pern® novels, is one of science fiction’s most popular authors. With Elizabeth Ann Scarborough she co-authored Changelings and Maelstrom, Books One and Two of The Twins of Petaybee. McCaffrey lives in a house of her own design, Dragonhold-Underhill, in County Wicklow, Ireland.
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Secrets and subterfuge are rife, but Kindan and Nuella discover more about themselves and watch-whers, allowing them to help save others.
The basic plot is as follows. Kindan wants to be a Harper, and has vocal and musical talent. He's about eleven or twelve when the book opens, and is kind of at loose ends; his favorite sister is marrying, his brothers are distant, and as the youngest of nine children, his father seems rather remote. Kindan does have a close friend, Zenor, who's a few months older, but that's about it.
And things are even more odd in this family than in most, because Kindan's father is bonded to a watchwher (distant cousins of both the fire lizards and the dragons), and lives different hours than most people as watchwhers are nocturnal. At any rate, Kindan doesn't realize how different his life is than most, although his friend Zenor does (and is envious of it).
And because of where he lives, Kindan gets to know more about watchwhers than most people. This might be considered an advantage by many, but not by Kindan. His heart is elsewhere.
Then disaster strikes, and most of Kindan's family gets wiped out in a mining accident. The watchwher dies helping to get the few miners who survived the accident out of the mine, and Kindan is left totally alone for the first time in his life. He has mixed feelings about this, but for the most part, those feelings are never brought to the fore.
Because of this, Kindan doesn't feel totally fleshed out as a character; he's never allowed to fully grieve. And even amidst a bunch of folks who are also grieving, I doubt Kindan -- or any child, no matter how mature -- would be as matter of fact about losing all his family.
Be that as it may, because Kindan is no more than twelve, he can't live alone, and he's not cut out for work in the mine. Fortunately, everyone realizes this, and he goes to live with the Harper. A brief idyll ensues, as Kindan enjoys helping the Harper and gets to know Nuella, a blind girl whose been hidden from most of the folks at the minehold due to her disability.
Then another disaster happens in the mine, and its determined that another watchwher must be sought. For whatever reason, the minehold of Natalon (that's the head miner) is now considered to be accursed by some (although this is never fully gone into, either), and no grown watchwher or his/her handler will go there.
However, if a watchwher can be raised from the egg, then they'll have some protection. Watchwhers are good in mines; they can detect bad air faster than humans can, and as they see by infrared, they're very good at rescue as well (as was seen by the loss of the previous watchwher).
What does this have to do with Kindan? Plenty, as he's the only person in the minehold -- the only one -- who knows anything at all about watchwhers.
(Spoiler warning below) *****
Basically, Kindan is forced to go find a watchwher egg despite not really knowing much about how to raise a watchwher. Then, after he brings it home and it hatches, Nuella shows a great talent with the watchwher, but does not bond with the new fledgling, so the new watchwher (dubbed Kisk) stays with Kindan.
How does this all play out? It's for you to read. (Don't want to spoil it any more than that.)
**** end of spoiler warning ****
The reason this gets three stars, rather than the four I was initially contemplating, is that the characterization (other than that of the blind Nuella) isn't as strong as most of the other Pern books. But it is at least the equal in characterization of the latter books (starting with "All the Weyrs of Pern" and continuing outward from that year), and it reads easier than most of those.
But is it the equal of the earliest of the Pern books about Lessa and F'lar? No. Is it the equal of the earlier YA novels about Menolly, Sebell, and Piemur? No.
So, although this is a good coming of age tale (and is definitely intended for younger audiences in my opinion, although older readers also will enjoy the book), and although it reads fast and easily, it's not great.
And what makes it less than what it could have been lays solely along the lines of characterization. This book doesn't make the reader look for underlying meaning. In "Dragon's Kin," the underlying meanings are either too plain, or too subtle; either one might have worked, but not both.
One final comment: I believe that Todd McCaffrey helped this book, rather than hindered. This book has much more life than most of the last books (anything after "All the Weyrs of Pern" in sequence) except for "Master Harper of Pern," and I think that's because of Mr. McCaffrey's contribution. And it's because of the life and liveliness of the book that I read until the end, and (for the most part) enjoyed it.
In this novel, Kindan is the youngest child of Master Miner Danil. His sister Silstra is betrothed to Journeyman Smith Terregar. So he is very excited when his friend Zenor shouts that the caravan carrying the Smith is within sight of the watch station on the heights. Running and even bouncing up the hill, Kindan arrives breathlessly to see the large drays and brightly painted wagons of the traders. He convinces Zenor to run the news back to Natalon.
When Zenor interrupts a discussion to tell the chief miner the news, Natalon's Uncle Tarik carps about his style of reporting; Uncle Tarik complains about a lot of things and obviously feels that he should have been selected as chief miner. Zenor is then sent to inform the rest of the Camp. On the way, he is called aside by his friend Nuella, Natalon's daughter whose presence is being kept secret from the rest of the camp; Natalon is afraid that her blindness is genetic and knowledge of it could damage the marital chances of his other children. Zenor is the only one outside her immediate family who knows Nuella is there.
Terregar is not the only person to arrive with the trader caravan; Master Harper Zist has come to replace Journeyman Harper Jofri. Master Zist has formerly been the Vocals Master at Harper Hall, but a tragedy in his family has led to him leaving the Hall. One of the reasons for selecting this obscure mining camp was Journeyman Jofri's reports on Kindan's fine voice. Master Zist has plenty of opportunity to hear for himself as they rehearse for Silstra's wedding.
After the wedding, Kindan is apprenticed to Master Zist and gets some intensive coaching in vocals and drums. Soon thereafter an accident in the mine leaves Kindan an orphan and he moves in with Master Zist; Tarik and his family acquire the house built by Kindan's father. With many of the older children working in the mine to make up for their losses, Kindan is the eldest child remaining and takes over the supervision of all work schedules for the younger children.
Along with the human casualties, the accident has also cost the miners their only remaining watch-wher. Minor accidents and mishaps start plaguing the miners and Natalon is convinced that some of the problems result from the lack of a watch-wher. He secretly negotiates the trade of a lot of coal for a watch-wher egg. Since his father was the previous wherhandler for the mine, Kindan is chosen to hatch and raise the new watch-wher.
The whole deal is news to Kindan and he wonders if he knows enough to raise a watch-wher properly. He does remember enough to beg permission for the egg from the queen watch-wher and he does ask the wherhandler what to feed the newly hatched watch-wher, but so much else is unknown to him. Nuella and Zenor, however, pitch in to help him and soon Master Zist obtains additional help from the Benden Weyr Leader.
In this story, Kindan and his friends learn much more about watch-whers than anyone else on Pern. Since watch-whers are nocturnal and used in the deeps of the mine, Nuella contributes her knowledge of moving through darkness. Kindan learns a lot about moving in the dark and has the bruises to prove it.
Needless to say, this story turns Kindan and his friends into heroes. Despite the disparaging remarks from Uncle Tarik and his cronies, the watch-wher proves herself in the worst possible conditions. Moreover, the knowledge they develop leads to better communications between the common folk and the Dragonriders.
This story is suitable for younger readers, but was also enjoyable for this much older one. Recommended for McCaffrey fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of young people and smart animals learning together.
-Arthur W. Jordin
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