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McCaffrey, Anne
(reprint) omnibus: 1978
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Ron Dilg

Book= Fine-
Dustjacket= VG+ to near-Fine

Book is very tight and square; age-tanning is very mild and uniform; no stamps, marks or writing. DJ has a little wear at bottom of front cover, and heavier wear at bottom of (blank) back cover.

omnibus of: DRAGONFLIGHT (1968) + DRAGONQUEST (1971) + THE WHITE DRAGON (1978.) Even though I don't care much for the cover art - this hardcover version will survive re-reading much better than a set of paperbacks.

Anne McCaffrey's best book: Dragonflight. This one makes my personal "top ten" list, and I highly recommend it. While this reads nicely as an episodic novel, it is a fix-up of a novella ("Weyr Search" - Analog October 1967), plus a short novel (Parts 3 and 4: "Dust Fall" + "The Cold Between" as "Dragonrider" - Analog December 1967 and January 1968), with an original novelet in-between. (I wonder if McCaffrey submitted that part ("Dragonflight") to Campbell and he rejected it for sexual content?) "Weyr Search" tied as winner of the Hugo Award for best novella in 1968 and was a Nebula-nominee in 1967. "Dragonrider" won the 1968 Nebula for best novella and was a Hugo-nominee in 1969. I'm guessing that the recent wins of the parts of the novel kept the combined version from showing up on the "best novel" nominations.

[I read my copy often and like it a lot, but for a better plot set-up than the back cover, I'm quoting the flap-copy from a hardcover reprint, which expands on the first-page blurb of this edition]:
For millenia the magnificent Dragons of Pern had given themselves in proud service to mankind. And the men who rode them were a breed apart, with special telepathic powers developed through long centuries to unite them with the dragons in defending the planet from the dreaded silver Threads that periodically floated gently down from space. The Dragonmen, no less than the glorious beasts they rode through the skies, were the elite of Pern, proud inheritors of the right and duty to defend their planet. But it had been long since Pern had needed any defense and the memories of tithe-payers and traditionalists alike were short. The Dragonweyr was shabby, its resources were meager, and, worst of all, the complement of fighting dragons had reduced itself to a handful of squadrons, pitifully inadequate to defend a whole planet if the Threads came. And they would...
There was need for a new Weyrwoman, of legendary stature. Only such a one could stir the Dragonmen into action, could repopulate the deserted weyrs, and return the forgetful populace to their allegiance. But where could such a one be found in these decadent days? It was only nostalgia that took the Dragonmen to Ruatha on their Search. The great line of Ruatha had been destroyed, and grass grew on the battlements of the Hold. But the dragons were restless. Somewhere in Ruatha there was power...

Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey - second to appear in her "Dragonflight/Pern" series. For a really good summary I rely on quotes from a review by Lester del Rey in IF December 1971, where he describes it as "a sequel that in all ways is far better than the original." I don't go quite so far (the first book makes my "top 10" list) - but I liked it a lot.

"...Her use of what is left us from the first book is a fine example of how to rethink a story. We start with a group of leaders who are completely familiar with fighting threads and whose ideas - while proven by experience - are centuries out of date. They are not going to swallow the leadership of the relatively inexperienced F'lar and Lessa for very long - not when they find that the youngsters are filled with notions that could lead to the end of the supremacy of dragonriders in general! We also have a bunch of predictions by F'lar that were too simple and easy in the original - and are now being proved dangerously wrong. And suddenly the history of Pern and its heritage - apparently almost neglected for millenia - becomes important and complicated. We begin with a basis for a fine conflict - but a great deal more is added to heighten it... ...This time we have the textures of a full society. The characters are presented in the context of their varying occupations right through the entertainer-harpists who hold past and future in their hands - and what the danger is to each becomes real. Anne McCaffrey's world comes to life. Incidentally, so does the Red Star and its true menace. The life of the dragonriders is explored in depth. We finally begin to know what it means to be linked to a great brute, to sense the character of the dragons (as well as what they came from) and to realize by being shown - not merely told - what it must be like to have the intimate bond between dragon and rider ripped away by the sudden death of one..."

"Very little is easily obvious in this novel but all seems obvious when the story ends - the mark of a first-rate author. The book is not as simple as its predecessor but it remains alive and easy to read. A list of characters and their place is included; it isn't necessary but it is a convenience... Given the basic elements of the dragons and their powers, it is consistent, logicala and excellent SF. Here is a world, a people and a history. There is no too-simple solution this time, but the careful result of what is well prepared... Dragonquest is the best SF novel I've seen in the first half of 1971. Don't miss it." [-Lester del Rey]

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