I am reviewing Dragonsong as part of the Anne McCaffrey Reading Challenge which I am hosting here.
If you would like more information on the Challenge, check out my post here.
I cannot even begin to tell you how much I loved reading the Harper Hall trilogy. It has been a pure moment of wonder and pleasure and I am definitely an addict by now (had just finished reading Dragonsong in a sitting that I started Dragonsinger!).
Dragonsong starts with a very descriptive foreword explaining the creation of Pern, the dragons and the existence of Threads (deadly things falling from the Red Star) but as soon as the book starts, Anne McCaffrey's brilliant story-telling gets you hooked to the page.
We follow Menolly living in a remote Sea Hold ruled by her father. Menolly has a very strong passion for music and she has been helping the Hold's Harper Petiron during the last years of his life to teach the children the ballads and instruments. Harpers are very important on Pern, not only do they teach children about the story of the planet, but they also spread news and entertain people in the various places of Pern. Menolly has such a strong passion for music that she regularly invents new tunes and songs. Unfortunately for her, being a Harper is reserved to men only and Menolly's strict father forbids her to play and especially to invent new tunes.
She soon finds life in the Hold unbearable as she gets beaten by her father if he hears her play a tune of her own invention. One day where she finds herself outside of the Hold during Threads, she finds refuge in a cave on the beach where she befriends some fire lizards (very small animals looking like dragons) who don't seem to mind her music as much as people in the Hold.
Menolly is an amazing character to follow, and I thought her fight to live her music was fascinating to read. One of the biggest themes in the book is the fact that women can't be harpers and how they are only allowed to do a few things. The Hold being very small and remote, the mentalities are very set and Menolly's love for music clashes with the very strict way of living. She is prepared to do all it takes to live her passion. The trilogy is an amazing example of woman empowerement.
The music, in this book and in the others of the Harper Hall trilogy, is the second main character of this book. I found that Menolly's talent and her need to play music is brilliantly portrayed and all along the novel I found myself wanting to hum those tunes alongside her. We'll see more in the second book of the trilogy, Dragonsinger, the importance of harpers in Pern.
The fantasy world is so brilliantly built and vividly described that I could picture each scenes in my head. I really love dragons and most particularly the small fire lizards (I want one!). The relation Menolly has with them is simply adorable!
Menolly lives in a Sea Hold where the community survives on fishing and the description of the every day life in the Hold is very detailed and you can nearly feel the salty wind on your face while reading Anne McCaffrey's words. The hardship of living in such a remote setting explains the personalities and organisation of the people living there and how they contrast with Menolly's.
Anne McCaffrey is one of the best fantasy writers of all time and the Harper Hall trilogy, starting with Dragonsong, is a beautiful story of the fight of a musically-gifted girl to play and sing even if it means leaving her family and home. If you are a fan of fantasy, dragons and/or music, this book is definitely for you. Even though the book has been published for the first time in the 1970s, the story hasn't aged one year and readers from all ages will love to discover Menolly and her fire lizards' story.
Thanks to Transworld for providing me a copy of this wonderful book!