This was a shorter, easier read than many of the earlier Pern works. For one, it is a parallel story to Moreta – it is the tale of a minor (but important) character from that book. For seconds, it isn’t about a dragonrider at all, but about the daughter of a Lord Holder. This means that Nerilka’s tale is delightfully free of the complications of remembering so many names!
As I’ve mentioned before, I really like it when McCaffrey treats us to multiple books about the same people, as it is much easier to get into a groove of who’s who. Nerilka’s Story takes that a step further – basically, I don’t think you would even understand the story if you hadn’t already read Moreta. Nerilka is also the first McCaffrey book I’ve read that is written in the first person, which was an interesting change from McCaffrey’s straight third-person narratives to date.
Nerilka’s father is the Lord Holder of Fort Hold. When the epidemic sweeps through Pern, Lord Tolocamp stays true to his selfish, prideful character, and refuses to offer help or much-needed medical supplies. Nerilka, shamed by her father’s actions, runs away to help where she can.
It was really fun to hear the same tale from a different perspective, and Nerilka made an engaging and interesting narrator. Her story is not always a happy one (deadly pandemics don’t usually make for cheery storytelling), but it is one of courage and self-sacrifice. Nerilka is willing to give up her status and privileges in order to do what she believes is right. In classic fairy tale style, she receives her just rewards for her actions.
Nerilka’s Story also gave better closure to the story of Alessan, the Lord Holder of Ruatha Hold, who was a main character in Moreta, but kind of faded out at the end. I was genuinely glad to hear what ended up happening with him when all was said and done. Nerilka did a much better job of looking forward to where Pern was heading following the epidemic.
All in all, I’m still enjoying the Pern novels, some more than others. But all of them are solid reading, and the world with its complicated socio-economic system and history is really impressive. Still about a dozen or so to go, so you can anticipate even more Pern coming your way!