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Dragon's Kin (Dragonriders of Pern Series #17)
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Dragon's Kin (Dragonriders of Pern Series #17)

4.1 70
by Anne McCaffrey, Todd McCaffrey

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Beginning with the classic Dragonriders of Pern, Anne McCaffrey has created a complex, endlessly fascinating world uniting humans and great telepathic dragons. Millions of devoted readers have soared on the glittering wings of Anne’s imagination, following book by book the evolution of one of science fiction’s most beloved and honored series. Now,


Beginning with the classic Dragonriders of Pern, Anne McCaffrey has created a complex, endlessly fascinating world uniting humans and great telepathic dragons. Millions of devoted readers have soared on the glittering wings of Anne’s imagination, following book by book the evolution of one of science fiction’s most beloved and honored series. Now, for the first time, Anne has invited another writer to join her in the skies of Pern, a writer with an intimate knowledge of Pern and its history: her son, Todd.


Young Kindan has no expectations other than joining his father in the mines of Camp Natalon, a coal mining settlement struggling to turn a profit far from the great Holds where the presence of dragons and their riders means safety and civilization. Mining is fraught with danger. Fortunately, the camp has a watch-wher, a creature distantly related to dragons and uniquely suited to specialized work in the dark, cold mineshafts. Kindan’s father is the watch-wher’s handler, and his son sometimes helps him out. But even that important job promises no opportunity outside the mine.

Then disaster strikes. In one terrible instant, Kindan loses his family and the camp loses its watch-wher. Fathers are replaced by sons in the mine–except for Kindan, who is taken in by the camp’s new Harper. Grieving, Kindan finds a measure of solace in a burgeoning musical talent . . . and in a new friendship with Nuella, a mysterious girl no one seems to know exists. It is Nuella who assists Kindan when he is selected to hatch and train a new watch-wher, a job that forces him to give up his dream of becoming a Harper; andit is Nuella who helps him give new meaning to his life.

Meanwhile, sparked by the tragedy, long-simmering tensions are dividing the camp. Far below the surface, a group of resentful miners hides a deadly secret. As warring factions threaten to explode, Nuella and Kindan begin to discover unknown talents in the misunderstood watch-wher–talents that could very well save an entire Hold. During their time teaching the watch-wher, the two learn some things themselves: that even a seemingly impossible dream is never completely out of reach . . . and that light can be found even in darkness.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Beloved bestseller McCaffrey has joined forces with her son, Todd, to produce another delightful entry in the Pern series, which began with Dragonflight in 1968. The action here centers on Camp Natalon, the site of a coal mine. Now that the surface seams of coal have begun to run dry on Pern, it's imperative to start extracting coal from deep underground, despite the increased danger. Some of the miners rely on the expertise of the watch-whers, smaller versions of dragons, to help keep them safe in the mines. As Kindan, blind Nuella and master harper Zist puzzle out the lore, habits and abilities of these nocturnal creatures, they find out more about the watch-whers (and themselves) than they thought possible. Fans who have become comfortable with McCaffrey's smooth trademark style over the years will notice no seams-which bodes well for any solo novels her coauthor, the heir apparent, may contribute to the Dragonriders saga. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Especially appropriate for younger teens, this new book in the Pern series is set in an "Interval," when the Red Planet and "Threadfall" are not an immediate threat. When his father, elder brothers, and his father's watch-wher are killed in a mining collapse at Camp Natalon, Kindan, now an orphan, must give up his dreams of being an apprentice to the new Harper, Master Zist. Instead he must raise and bond with a new watch-wher, Kist. (Smaller than dragons, watch-whers are useful in the mines because of their ability to "see" in the dark.) But Kindan's friend, Nuella, the blind daughter of Journeyman Natalon, understands the unique powers of watch-whers, and she is entrusted with training them to communicate with dragons. With Kist, she rescues her father and other miners after another mine collapse. The characters of Kindan and Nuella are engaging. The setting and camp rivalries are integral to the plot. Telepathic communication, as in other books about Pern, is a central theme. The introduction of dragonriders from Benden Weyr and information about the history, society, and culture of Pern will enable readers to connect back or forward to other books in the series. Although there is a lackluster quality to this novel, making it less powerful than others in the series, it could encourage teens to read McCaffrey's previous novels. Young adult librarians will want to consider adding this one to their collections for its appeal to McCaffrey fans and readers of fantasy and science fiction. VOYA Codes: 4Q 5P J S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2003, Ballantine, 304p., Ages 12 to Adult.
—Hilary Crew
Library Journal
While the colonists of the mining camp Natalon on planet Pern prepare for the cycle of "Threadfall" (a sort of deadly confetti), their search for the planet's coal intensifies. Two young people, Kindan and Nuella, and Zist, a paint-by-numbers curmudgeonly teacher with a heart of gold, discover how the beasts called watch-whers (the titular dragon's kin) communicate and see in the dark. The whers are then harnessed to aid the Pern folk. While the thread and whers prove intriguing, listeners will long for more "hard" sf and more action, especially early in the story when this feels all the world like a coming-of-age tale (think Peggy Leon's Mother Country in space). Narrator Dick Hill does an admirable job bringing the rather simple characters to life. The Pern series began before many of its readers were born; some puzzle over both its longevity and its popularity. While this is undoubtedly low-quality Pern, it remains essential for public libraries where the series is popular.-Douglas C. Lord, Connecticut State Lib., Hartford Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Fifteenth in the Dragonriders of Pern series, with McCaffrey's son Todd taking up the dragon reins as co-author and heir. The McCaffreys must have an ever-reinvigorated field of adolescent and adult readers to draw on for their fanbase. The Skies of Pern (2001) added some new twists to the vast saga, the recovery of ancient technology to divert the Red Star, Pern's sister planet, and wipe out the remaining Threadfall (although Thread has been wiped out before and yet fallen again in later novels as the Red Star returns). Aivas (artificial intelligence) no longer works, and the ultraconservative Abominators resist all social change. Thread does return here as the story looks far backward to an earlier bonding of dragonriders and the distant cousins of dragons, called watch-whers (the dragon's kin). Thread is bare, silvery wisps that fall from the sky when the Red Star draws near; they suck every nutrient out of all organic matter, including flesh and soil, but genetically engineered and enlarged fire lizards chew phosgene and burn Thread before it lands. Pern, a strange mix of the scientific and medieval, has run out of coal, and watch-whers help sniff out tunnel-snakes and noxious and explosive gasses as miners dig for new seams. When a caravan comes to Camp Natalon, young Kindan has to wash Dask, the telepathic watch-wher, and learn a dragon song from the aged Master Harper, all for a big wedding. When he sings at the wedding, Dask sings along with him. Later, Dask dies while leading rescuers to a tunnel collapse where miners are trapped. Kindan finds himself helping the Master Harper as Miner Natalon promises a winter's supply of coal to Aleesa the WherMaster if she'll allow Kindan thechance of a watch-wher's egg. He's to get an egg from the queen's clutch-if she'll let him. Much hangs on the hatching of Kisk from that egg. Should charm the young.

Product Details

Random House, Incorporated
Publication date:
Dragonriders of Pern Series , #17
Product dimensions:
6.60(w) x 9.26(h) x 1.00(d)

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Read an Excerpt


In early morning light I see, A distant dragon come to me.

Kindan was so excited that he practically bounced as he ran up to the heights where Camp Natalon kept its drum, fire beacon, and watch.

“They're here! They're here!” Zenor shouted down at him. Needing no further urging, Kindan put on an extra burst of speed.

Breathless, he joined his friend on the peak where they kept the watch. Looking down at the valley, he could plainly see the large drays rolling ponderously up toward the main camp. Leading them were the smaller, but bright and cheerfully painted domicile wagons owned by the caravanners.

From the watch heights, not only could he see all the way across the lake to the bend where the trail turned out of sight, but he could also see the fields on the far side of the lake, which had just been cleared, ready for their first planting of crops. Closer in, he could see where the trail forked, the more heavily traveled way heading up to the depot where the mined and bagged coal was stored, the lighter way leading toward the miners' houses on the near side of the lake.

Most of the houses were in three rows arranged in a U shape around a central square. The open, northern end of the U faced the road. It was there that smaller spice gardens had been planted. And it was in front of those, closer to the main square, that wedding preparations were in progress—for Kindan's own sister's wedding.

None of those houses were “proper” houses, built to withstand Threadfall. But Threadfall was a long way off—another sixteen Turns—and the miners were glad to have the temporary comfort oftheir own housing, convenient to the new mine.

Midway from the square to the hill was a separate house and a large shed. The house was Kindan's home and the shed housed Dask, the camp's sole remaining watch-wher. Dask was bonded to Kindan's father, Danil.

Hidden from the watch point by the bend of the hill was a much larger and sturdier dwelling—the full stone hold of Natalon, the head Miner in the camp. North of it, separated by a walled-in herb garden, was a smaller but almost as well-built dwelling, the home of the camp's Harper.

Just beyond the Harper's dwelling—the edge of which was visible from the lookout—the hillside, a spur from the western mountain, turned abruptly and the plain in front of it rose toward the peak of the mountain, with another spur about two kilometers distant forming a valley. Two hundred meters from the bend and a hundred meters west of the lookout was the entrance to the mine.

The boys knew the valley like the backs of their hands, even though it was changing daily and Kindan had been there only six months himself. They paid no attention to the view. Today, not even the novelty of the wedding preparations interested them: The two boys had eyes only for the trader caravan winding its way around the lake below them.

“Where's Terregar?” Zenor asked. “Can you see him?”

Kindan squinted and shaded his eyes against the sun with his hand, but mostly for show. The distance was far too great to make out one person in the whole caravan.

“I don't know,” he answered irritably. “I'm sure he's down there somewhere.”

Zenor laughed. “Well, he'd better be, or your Sis will kill him.”

Kindan favored this comment with a glare. “Hadn't you better get back on down and tell Natalon?” he asked.

“Me?” Zenor replied. “I'm on watch, not a runner.”

“Shards!” Kindan groaned. “I'm all out of breath, Zenor.” He added in a lower tone, “And besides, you know how much Natalon wants to hear this news.”

Zenor's eyes widened. “Oh, yeah, I do! Everyone knows that he was hoping your Sis would stay at the Camp.”

“Right,” Kindan agreed. “So just imagine how mad he'll be at hearing about it from me.”

“Ah, come on, Kindan,” Zenor replied. “There's good news with the bad—that's a whole caravan approaching, not just a wedding.”

“Which he has to host,” Kindan snapped back. He sighed. “Well, if you insist, I'll go back down.” He paused dramatically, eyeing his smaller friend. “But Sis said that I've got to wash Dask tonight.”

Zenor's eyes narrowed as he considered this. “You mean, if I do the running, you'll let me help wash the watch-wher?”

Kindan grinned. “Exactly!”

“You would?” Zenor repeated hopefully. “Your dad won't mind?”

Kindan shook his head. “Not if he doesn't find out, he won't.”

The added enticement of doing something unsanctioned brought a gleam to Zenor's eyes. “All right, I'll do it.”


“Of course, washing a watch-wher's not the same as oiling a dragon,” Zenor went on. The thought of Impressing a dragon, of becoming telepathically linked with one of Pern's great fire-breathing defenders, was the secret wish of every child on Pern. But dragons seemed to prefer the children of the Weyr: Only a few riders were chosen from the Holds and Crafts. And no dragon had ever visited Camp Natalon.

“You know,” Zenor continued, “I saw them.”

Everyone in Camp Natalon knew that Zenor had seen dragons; it was his favorite tale. Kindan suppressed a groan. Instead, he made encouraging noises while hoping that Zenor wouldn't dawdle too much longer or Natalon would be wondering at the speed of his runner—and might remember who it was.

“They were so beautiful! A perfect V formation. Way up high. You could see them: bronze, brown, blue, green . . .” Zenor's voice faded as he recalled the memory. “And they looked so soft—”

“Soft?” Kindan interrupted, his tone full of disbelief. “How could they look soft?”

“Well, they did! Not like your father's watch-wher.”

Kindan, feeling anger on Dask's behalf, stomped firmly on his emotion, remembering that he still wanted Zenor to run for him.

“Is the caravan getting closer?” he asked, hinting broadly.

Zenor looked, nodded, and sprinted away from the watch point. “You won't forget, will you?” he called back over his shoulder.

“Never!” Kindan replied. He was delighted at the thought of help with what he was certain was going to be a particularly thorough bathing of the coal mine's only watch-wher, the night before a major wedding.

At the bottom of the hillside, after his long, warm scramble down, Zenor paused and looked back up to where Kindan was now standing watch. It was warmer in the valley and the air was thicker, partly from the moisture in the fields, and partly from the smoke already beginning to rise from the Camp's fires. Catching his breath, he turned to search for Miner Natalon. He steered for the largest knot of people he could find, figuring that the Camp's leader would be there. He was right.

Natalon was a rangy sort of a man who stood taller than the average. Zenor's father, Talmaric, had called Natalon a “youngster” once, but only in a low voice. After hearing that, Zenor had tried to imagine Natalon as young but couldn't. Even though Talmaric was five Turns older than Natalon, Natalon's twenty-six Turns might have been a full hundred when compared to Zenor's meager ten.

Zenor considered calling out, but there was still a lot of confusion over the right title for Natalon. He'd be “Lord Natalon” if the Camp proved itself and became a proper Mine but that was still to happen and no one quite knew how to address him now. Zenor opted for worming through the crowd and grabbing at Natalon's sleeve.

Miner Natalon was not pleased to have someone yank on his sleeve in the middle of an argument. He looked down and saw the sweat-stained face of Talmaric's son but couldn't remember the child's name. It had been so much easier six months earlier, when there'd only been himself and a few other miners seeking out a new seam of coal. But finding that seam, and still others after it, had been exactly what Natalon had hoped for—to start a Camp and prove it into a Mine.

Talmaric's son yanked again. “Yes?” Natalon said.

“The caravan's approaching, sir,” Zenor said, hoping that “sir” would not affront the Camp's head miner.

“How soon, lad? Don't you know how to make a proper report?” a querulous voice barked above Zenor's ears. He turned and saw that the speaker was Tarik, Natalon's uncle. Zenor had had several encounters with Tarik's son, Cristov, and still bore bruises from the last meeting.

Rumor had it that Tarik was furious that Crom Hold's MasterMiner hadn't put him in charge of seeking out new coal. Another rumor, whispered quietly among only a few of the Camp's boys, was that Tarik was doing everything in his power to prove that Natalon was unsuited to run the Camp and that he, Tarik, should be placed in charge. The last set of bruises Zenor had got from Cristov were the result of an ill-placed comment about Cristov's father.

“How long until they arrive, Zenor?” a kinder voice asked. It was Danil, Kindan's father, and the partner of the Camp's only surviving watch-wher.

“I spotted them at the head of the valley,” Zenor replied. “I imagine it'll be four, maybe six hours until they reach the camp.”

“They'd get here faster if the roadway were properly lined,” Tarik growled, casting a reproving glare at Natalon.

Copyright© 2003 by Anne McCaffrey and Todd J. McCaffrey

Meet the Author

Anne McCaffrey, one of the world’s most popular authors, is best known for her Dragonriders of Pern® series. She was the first woman to win the two top prizes for science fiction writing, the Hugo and Nebula awards. She was also given the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement in Young Adult Fiction, was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and was named a Science Fiction Writers of America Nebula Grand Master. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1926, McCaffrey relocated to Ireland in the 1970s, where she lived in a house of her own design, named Dragonhold-Underhill. She died in 2011.

Todd McCaffrey, Anne’s son, is a computer engineer living in Los Angeles. He is currently working on a solo Dragonriders of Pern novel, Dragonsblood.

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Dragon's Kin (Dragonriders of Pern Series #17) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Holy cow. I mean, honestly. You can be a fan of the Pern novels without throwing a hissy fit because this particular book was not so focused on dragons you could count the flakes on a poorly oiled hide. For myself, I loved this book. It's a reminder that not every man, woman, and child on Pern is a dragonrider. They cant be. And the people of Pern rely on miners, and crafters, just as much as they do the dragonriders. And since Lessa, WEYRWOMAN OF ALL WEYRWOMEN, was friends with a watchweyr, and hid in its den, I think people should take a second look. The watchweyrs are there for a reason, and there is a reason this book was written. After all... why else would there have been so much controversy about the watchweyrs when dragons were first being engineered...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Loved it! It's great to know that we can continue to read about Pernese population. Though the story starts out sounding sad it quickly turned around and took us to a great new adventure with new characters and new creatures. We now learn that the watch-wher had a greater purpose and the people around them are just as interesting. Great story!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hey all, I'm a die-hard 'Dragonriders of Pern' fan so imagine my delight when I received an early copy of the unpublished 'Dragon's Kin' autographed by Anne & Todd McCaffrey! Well after reading the book several times I can confidently conclude that it is awesome! It is well-written for the most part though it is not quite up to par with most other 'Dragonrider' books (though this is just my opinion, of course). It is very interesting if you want to learn more about Pern. If the only thing you like about Pern is the dragons then this is not the book for you since it focuses on watch-whers. I loved this book and would reccomend it to any 'Dragonrider' fan!
melodyk16 More than 1 year ago
Having read all of the Pern series, this one adds another view of life and living with all those wonderful Dragons and their riders. I hope that Todd McCaffrey will continue where his mother left off
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all of the earlier books written by Anne. Todd is not as capable. This book was written more in a style that jr. high students would find easy. Not a total disappointment, but the story lacked depth.
hm1wil More than 1 year ago
This is a great follow on to Dragons Dawn which introduces the reader to a diffent "dragon" line. Even though its not technically a dragon tale, I loved this book. We start to see the lost of knowledge over time and it's impact on Pern's citizens. It's a reminder that not every man, woman, and child on Pern is a dragonrider. The people of Pern rely on miners, harpers, and crafters, just as much as they do the dragonriders. And since Lessa, WEYRWOMAN OF ALL WEYRWOMEN, was friends with a watchweyr, and hid in its den, I think people should take a second look. The watchweyrs are there for a reason, and there is a reason this book was written. After all, why did Wind Blossom create them in the first place, could she have foresaw the need in mining for coal & metals? Only Anne or Todd can say in future novels.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having been privileged to receive an advance copy of Dragon's Kin, I can only say SUPERB. Anne & Todd return to the characterizations that brought the series to prominence. The people are real not supermen/women. I only hope she will follow on with this line. BUY IT!!!
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Why? Why? Why?.......
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Guardian105 More than 1 year ago
This is what I say to customers who are skeptical of reading Todd McCaffrey's take on the Dragonriders of PERN: Anne had a huge history to work with. She wrote a little bit about the beginning, a little bit about the middle, but mostly about the 'present,' which includes F'Lar and company. As opposed to potentially angering diehard/hardcore fans of this series, Todd has taken a chunk of history that his mother did not touch upon and calls it his own. Perfect solution.
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I liked the part where Kindan was taking care of the new watch-were.
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