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Harper Hall Trilogy

Updated on July 13, 2014
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As a retired librarian, Yvonne finally has time to read! She enjoys sharing some of her favorite books and media with friends.

Anne McCaffrey Dragon Riders of Pern

I fell in love with Anne McCaffrey's Pern and its people and dragons when I was in graduate school in the '70's. Since then, I have read every Anne McCaffrey book that I could get my hands on, and many of them twice.

The books that hooked me were those of the Harper Hall Trilogy: Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums, which was written with teens in mind. The world of Pern is so well crafted, that after reading about it, when one looks up into the stars at night, one can't help but wonder if it's not really out there somewhere. McCaffrey's books are all about overcoming diversity and making the most of a person's special gifts.

Pern, Rudbat's Third Planet

After almost 400 years since the last threadfall on Pern, the Red Star once again comes close enough and the deadly menace begins to fall, burning and devouring every organic thing in its path. Fire and cold will kill it and water will drown it. So the fire-breathing dragons take to the sky again and flame throwers are rediscovered to fight the horrible thread.

Drummer, beat, and piper, blow

Harper, strike, and soldier, go

Free the flame and sear the grasses

Til the dawning Red Star passes.

The Harper Hall trilogy begins in Half-Circle Sea Hold, where Old Harper Petiron has died. Menolly, the youngest of Sea Holder Yanus' children is the only one there who can properly honor the old Harper by singing his Death-song. Menolly is a tall, lanky teenage girl, who is extremely talented. She's so talented at writing songs that Harper Petiron sent a couple of them to Masterharper Robinton.

Menolly's life is not easy. Her father is hide bound and does not believe that girls should pretend to be harpers, but has to allow Menolly to teach the children because she is the only one qualified to do so. Yanus makes her promise not to do any "tuning" (writing songs), but for quick minded Menolly, whose fingers seem to pluck out new tunes by themselves, this is a hard promise to keep.

One day, when she was out gathering greens, she came upon a fire lizard queen and her bronzes on the shore near the Dragon Stones and she marveled at seeing what she thought were mythical beings. Her heart was lifted at the sight, but back at the hold, things went from bad to worse.

When Menolly cut her hand severely when cleaning Packtails and it became infected so badly that they thought she would never be able to use it again, her parents were relieved because they knew they would not have to worry about Harper Hall finding out that a mere girl had drilled the children in their teaching songs.

The Hold soon became unbearable and she began to venture farther and farther away from it. One day, when she was out searching for greens or spiderclaws, she helped a golden queen fire lizard move her clutch of eggs from the high water of the beach into a cave in a bluff near the Dragon Stones. On the way back she wrote a little song about her adventure and hid it among the music in the teaching room.

The little queen, all golden

Flew hissing at the sea.

To keep it back,

To turn it back

She flew forth bravely.

A couple of weeks later, she left the hold early to catch spiderclaws, forgetting that thread was due, and made her way along the beach to the Dragon Stones. She was almost caught out in thread, but she forced her way through the small opening of the cave where the fire lizard eggs were, just in time to see them hatch. She began to catch the little fire lizards and fed them to keep them from leaving the cave and being scored by thread. That's how she impressed nine fire lizards, including a queen, who she named, Beauty. The others are:

bronzes, Rocky and Diver

browns, Lazybones, Mimic and Brownie

blue, Uncle

greens, Auntie One and Auntie Two

Menolly lived holdless for many months and had many adventures, including being rescued by a brown dragon and its rider. And the whole time, half of Pern (including the Masterharper) were searching for her, Petiron's missing apprentice. The rest of her adventures in and out of the Harper Hall are told in Dragonsong, Dragonsinger and Dragondrums. You must read all three.

Dragonsong Harper Hall Trilogy 1

Dragonsinger Harper Hall Trilogy 2

Menolly's life continues as an apprentice at Harper Hall. It is here that she discovers how special her gift of music really is.

Dragondrums Harper Hall Trilogy 3

In the final book, Menolly continues to grow into her talent as she discovers what it means to be one of Pern's harpers.

Dragonmen must fly

When Threads are in the sky!

Worlds are lost

or worlds are saved

By those dangers dragon-braved.

Dragonriders of Pern Series

The Harper Hall Trilogy is a perfect launching pad for the rest of the Dragon Riders of Pern books. In Harper Hall you meet, Menolly, Piemur and Master Robinton, as well as the Weyrleader of Benden Weyr, F'lar, his bronze dragon, Mnementh and Weyrwoman, Lessa and her queen, Ramoth, who you'll get to know better in the first three books of the series, Dragonflight, Dragonquest and the White Dragon.

The dragonmen and women can communicate telepathically with their dragons and dragons can instantly go "between" to escape the ravages of thread or to go from place to place.

The whole world of Pern, from the early settlement of the planet to the civilization that grew and flourished centuries after the first thread fall is heralded in the thirty plus books written first by, Anne McCaffrey, and then later, by her son, Todd.

Dragonflight Dragonriders of Pern 1

Dragonquest Dragonriders of Pern 2

White Dragon Dragonriders of Pern 3

Dragon 1000 Piece Puzzle
Price: 17.99
Visit the world of McCaffrey's Pern with this 1000 piece White Dragon Puzzle. Fun for any dragon enthusiast.

Heroines of Pern

After the White Dragon, McCaffrey wrote several books about some of the heroines of Pern including Moretta: Dragonlady of Pern, Nerika's Story and the Girl Who Heard Dragons. Up to this point, the Dragonrider books are primarily fantasy, even though the origin of the settlement on the planet was based in science fiction.

Genre Poll

Which is your favorite Genre, science fiction or fantasy?

See results

In the late 80's and early '90's several books about the settlement of Pern were written. Dragonsdawn tells the story of how the Dragons came to be. It is a fascinating story that tells of the trials and tribulations of Pern's early settlers and their solutions to the thread-like menace that fell from the Redstar.

It was soon followed by the Chronicles of Pern: First Fall, Dragonseye, The Dolphins of Pern, and the Masterharper of Pern. These books are more in the science fiction genre, in which Anne McCaffrey is a master and a winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards.

All the Weyrs of Pern

Also during this time period, All the Weyrs of Pern was written. It is told during the time of the beloved Masterharper Robinton and harpers, Menolly and Sebell as well as Dragonleaders, F'lar and Lessa, and Lord Jaxom, Ruth, the white dragon's, rider. The discovery of the first settlement on the southern continent reveals the amazing technology of the ancients.

The Question Song - Masterharper of Pern CD

Masterharper of Pern CD

The lyrics of the songs that were written by the harpers are put to music for all to enjoy in the recoding of the book, the Masterharper of Pern on CD.

Alchemy Gothic 2-Pack Playing Cards in Tin
Price: 12.99
Any dragon enthusiast would be delighted with these Gothic playing cards.

Anne McCaffrey Poll

Which of Anne McCaffrey's books have you read?

See results

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