After so thoroughly and completely enjoying Dragonsdawn, I was actually really excited to pick up the next book, Renegades of Pern. Dragonsdawn had taken us back to the very founding of Pern – and actually introduced some legit sci-fi aspects into the books (finally) – SPACESHIPS! SCIENCE! GENETIC ENGINEERING! DID I MENTION SPACESHIPS!? It was a great time, and I could hardly put Dragonsdawn down for the entirety of it’s 300-odd pages.
Renegades jumps ahead about 2500 years, back to where the series itself began. Renegades actually covers a pretty decent chunk of time – it more or less runs parallel to the first six books McCaffrey wrote. In some ways, I think this was McCaffrey’s way of providing us with some background information and tying up loose ends. There were definitely a LOT of stories going on. Since there were three pretty long books since we last met with our original crew, it took me a little bit of time to catch up on things, especially since McCaffrey’s prologue introduces ELEVEN “meanwhile, in another part of Pern…” storylines! ELEVEN! In the first 17 pages! So yes, it was a lot to try to take in and get straight. However, once the story got rolling, it was a lot of fun. Like I’ve said before, I rather enjoy parallel books, so it was fun to see Renegades weaving in and out of the first six books.
The bulk of the tale takes place during the events of The White Dragon, and the book ends just after the ending of that book – the leaders of Pern have discovered the remains of an ancient settlement. As the reader, we know that this is the original landing site (creatively called “Landing”) of the Pernese settlers (from SPACESHIPS!). At the very end of the book, they discover an actual computer – AIVAS: Artificial Intelligence Voice Address System. Of course, Aivas is more or less like magic to the current Pernese people, but as the solar panels for the computer are uncovered, it is able to boot up and tell the people all about their history – and, Aivas says, its primary assignment entered 2500 years ago? To find a way of destroying Thread forever – and Aivas thinks it has done it. (DUH DUH DUHNNNNNNN)
While Renegades had its moments of weakness (especially the story involving Jayge and Aramina – why does Jayge suddenly feel like his only purpose in life is protecting Aramina, who is basically a stranger…??? If I’m honest, McCaffrey does not do love stories well at all), but was still just so much fun that I didn’t really care. It also kind of ended on a cliffhanger, with everyone listening to Aivas tell their history for the first time, and I was pretty excited to find that, when I started All the Weyrs of Pern (my current read), it literally begins the same day that Renegades ends!
I also came across this brilliant little chart on the interwebs that shows roughly how the books line up! It’s actually fabulous and if you are trying to read these books, I highly recommend checking it out. Even though I’m not trying to read in chronological order (this time around), it’s nice to pick up a book and then see where it belongs, since McCaffrey does tend to jump around in time a bit without a whole of explanation other than “during the eighth interval” or some such nonsense, like it’s really going to help me when I don’t remember what interval or pass the last book was during!
One thing that I have to say is that I love how the ancestors of the current Pernese people were actually more advanced than the current generation. In real life, people are so insistent that evolution is the only way, which means (conveniently) that we are way smarter than all the past generations of humans ever! It’s refreshing and fun to read a story where actually the ancestors were the intelligent and advanced ones. We think we’re so clever all the time because of computers and spaceships, but what if we found out that our origins were actually a species even more advanced and intelligent than we are? Love it.
All in all, these more recent books have been great reads, and way more sci-fi-y than the earlier books. I’m still really glad that I am reading the books in published order, though, as I really think that this makes the most sense. I’m almost through the next book (All the Weyrs of Pern), which is also super exciting. Amazingly, I am only about a half or two-thirds of the way through the series as a whole, so don’t worry – more Pern will continue to come your way!