So, as I mentioned in earlier reviews, I am attempting to read all of McCaffrey’s Pern novels in their published order. It’s a little more complicated than it sounds, simply because the two trilogies that make up the first six books are actually mixed up?? So while Dragonsinger is the fourth book in published order, it’s the second book of the second trilogy… go figure.
Dragonsinger continues the story of Menolly, who, at the end of Dragonsong, left Benden Weyr to live at the Harper Hall, to be trained as a Harper. As with Dragonsong, I found Dragonsinger to be significantly more enjoyable the second time around – with a baseline of Pern culture under my belt, so much more of the story made sense. The Harper Hall trilogy is not as in-depth as the Dragonriders trilogy; McCaffrey seems to assume that you’ve read her other books and kind of know about the world she’s created.
I really like Menolly, and enjoyed watching her learn about life in Harper Hall. My two beefs with this book? The first is that the book supposedly only covers the first week (????) of Menolly’s life in Harper Hall?? It really, really feels like way more time has passed. In one of the last chapters, it says something like “Menolly couldn’t believe that only a sevenday had passed since she arrived at Harper Hall,” and I found myself thinking, “Me, either!” I mean, seriously. The story would have been way more plausible if it had covered, say, a month. It just seemed a little absurd that Menolly went from knowing absolutely nothing about the Harper Hall culture to being completely accepted and getting promoted to a journeyman in only a week…????
My second personal annoyance with the book is just that McCaffrey makes some of the people annoyed that a girl is trying to be a Harper, with lots of anti-female prejudice, etc. The reason this annoys me is similar to the reasons it annoyed me in Tamora Pierce’s “Protector of the Small” series – first, women are doing all sorts of awesome things in both Pierce’s and McCaffrey’s worlds – so why is it having a girl do this one specific thing throws everyone into a tizzy?? It just doesn’t seem sensible that women are critically important in the Weyrs, that they work in other trades, that they can fly dragons and fight thread, that they can be Holders – but OH MY GOSH SHE WANTS TO WRITE MUSIC AND PLAY INSTRUMENTS OUR BRAINS CANNOT HANDLE THIS THERE IS NO POSSIBLE WAY THAT A MERE WOMAN CAN DO THIS THING! ???????????? I just. I run into this in fantasy a lot. Either make it so that women are genuinely prejudiced against, so a woman doing a thing is legitimately a big deal, or create a world where women are equal and do lots of things, so a woman doing this thing is, while possibly new, an acceptable thing. Having women do absolutely everything except for this one thing, and then having everyone flip out about them doing this one small thing, just doesn’t make sense.
But anyway. That is an old annoyance that I rehash frequently. :-D Overall, Dragonsinger was a great read, and one that I was honestly sorry to see end. I’m quite enjoying this series and looking forward to the rest, including The White Dragon, which I just started yesterday!!
Just catching up on all your Pern reviews now! Woah, I didn’t realize it was only a week’s span for Dragonsinger either! Your second annoyance is actually something I never fully considered – I thought of it as a non-traditional gender roles trope, yay girl power, that sort of thing, haha. (I would be interested in seeing that done for males, actually.) It IS pretty dominant in fantasy books, and probably stem from historical events (although how music-making in this Harper series came about to be “gender-locked”, I’m not sure… maybe it came from bards/poets being male?).
Woot, woot, so glad you’re back!!!! I am enjoying the Pern books way more by reading all of them in order… I was sort of meh about the Harper Hall series the first time around, but it was way better the second time, because everything just makes MORE SENSE.
I have no problems with a book exploring a woman doing something new and different and wowing everybody with her ability to do it just as well as the men, but I guess it’s the inconsistency that annoys me. It doesn’t seem logical to me that everyone is like “Women can do 99% of things that men can do just as well as the men, but this 1% thing NO WAY IN THE WORLD SHE CAN DO THIS BECAUSE IT IS SPECIAL.” I dunno. Personal views/tendency to eye-rolling, I suppose. :-D
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