Dragonsblood

( 70 )

Overview

In Dragon’s Kin, bestselling author Anne McCaffrey did the unthinkable: for the first time ever, she invited another writer to join her in the skies of her most famous fictional creation. That writer was her son, Todd McCaffrey. Together, they penned a triumphant new chapter in the annals of the extraordinarily popular Dragonriders of Pern. Now, for the first time, Todd McCaffrey flies alone. And Dragonsblood is proof that the future of Pern is in good hands. After all, dragons ...
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Overview

In Dragon’s Kin, bestselling author Anne McCaffrey did the unthinkable: for the first time ever, she invited another writer to join her in the skies of her most famous fictional creation. That writer was her son, Todd McCaffrey. Together, they penned a triumphant new chapter in the annals of the extraordinarily popular Dragonriders of Pern. Now, for the first time, Todd McCaffrey flies alone. And Dragonsblood is proof that the future of Pern is in good hands. After all, dragons are in his blood. . . .

Never in the dramatic history of Pern has there been a more dire emergency than that which faces the young dragonrider Lorana. A mysterious fatal illness is striking dragons. The epidemic is spreading like wildfire . . . and the next deadly cycle of Threadfall is only days away. Somehow, Lorana must find a cure before the dragons–including her own beloved Arith–succumb to the sickness, leaving Pern undefended.

The lyrics of an all-but-forgotten song seem to point toward an answer from nearly five hundred years in the past, when Kitti Ping and her daughter Wind Blossom bred the first dragons from their smaller cousins, the fire-lizards. No doubt the first colonists possessed the advanced technology to find the cure for which Lorana seeks, but over the centuries, that knowledge has been lost.
Or has it?

For in the distant past, an aged Wind Blossom worries that the germs that affect the fire-lizards may one day turn on larger prey–and unleash a plague that will destroy the dragons, Pern’s only defenders against Thread. But as her people struggle to survive, Wind Blossom has neither the time nor the resources to expend on a future that may never arrive–until suddenly she uncovers evidence that her worst fears will come true.

Now two brave women, separated by hundreds of years but joined by bonds transcending time, will become unknowing allies in a desperate race against sickness and Threadfall, with nothing less than the survival of all life on Pern at stake.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
The mantra of writing teachers everywhere -- write what you know -- is a phrase taken to heart by Todd McCaffrey, who, according to his celebrated mother, spent his childhood "immersed in the Pern experience." In Dragonsblood, the very first Pern novel written solely by someone other than Anne McCaffrey, her son asks the question: What would Pern be without its dragons?

Just when Pern needs its dragons and dragonriders the most -- during Threadfall -- a mysterious respiratory ailment begins to kill off the beasts. The one person capable of unraveling the mystery is Lorana, a young woman with unparalleled telepathic abilities who is destined to be "the best Weyrwoman Pern's ever seen." As more and more dragons become afflicted with the plague and die, Lorana uncovers the potential answer hidden deep in Pern's ancient archives. Almost five centuries earlier, one of Pern's original colonists, Wind Blossom -- a geneticist whose mother actually created the dragons from indigenous fire-lizards -- left an invaluable legacy for those smart enough to understand it…

After more than 15 Pern novels (Dragonflight, The White Dragon, The Renegades of Pern, et al.) and countless short story collections and companion books, Todd McCaffrey has adeptly taken over the reins from his mother, offering a novel that not only lovingly and scrupulously expands the already richly described realm but also turns it upside down with a masterfully intricate plot. Longtime fans of Pern will be pleasantly surprised with Dragonsblood. The torch has been officially passed! Paul Goat Allen

From the Publisher
Praise for Dragonsblood

“Todd McCaffrey does something I didn’t think anyone could do; he writes Anne McCaffrey’s Pern. Not just a novel set in Pern, but Pern. The people, the places, the characters and challenges. This is Pern, in the hands of a new master-grade Harper, carefully trained in the old traditions, but scoring his own ballads. May the saga continue!”
–DAVID WEBER, New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow of Saganami

“Dragonsblood is a strong, lively story, with vivid, interesting characters and plenty of exciting action. Todd has captured the tone as well as the familiar settings of the Pern books. Pern fans (and newcomers to the Pern universe) have reason to rejoice.”
–ELIZABETH MOON, Nebula Award—winning author of Marque and Reprisal

“For Pern lovers, the good news is that Todd McCaffrey has inherited his mother’s storytelling ability. His dragons and firelizards, his harpers in Harper’s Hall, carry on the great traditions–and add much to them. Huzzah, Todd! You have learned wisdom indeed.”
–JANE YOLEN, award-winning author of Briar Rose

“Dragonsblood is cause for celebration! A worthy addition to one of the grandest traditions in the literature of the fantastic, this is a lock-the-door, take-the-phone-off-the-hook, send-the-kids-out-to-play, curl-up-and-enjoy adventure!”
–DAVID GERROLD, author of Blood and Fire

“The torch has been passed and burns more brightly than ever in this latest chapter of the venerable Pern saga, the first of what one hopes will be many solo efforts by the son of series creator Anne McCaffrey. . . . This stand-alone tale fits beautifully into the existing history and style of earlier books while still breaking new ground.”
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“McCaffrey convincingly spins a dramatic, thoroughly captivating tale, steeped in the lore and well-drawn characterizations of the people and the dragons for which the Pern novels are prized. Fans old and new will be delighted by his continuance of a beloved saga.”
–Booklist

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly
The torch has been passed and burns more brightly than ever in this latest chapter of the venerable Pern saga, the first of what one hopes will be many solo efforts by the son of series creator Anne McCaffrey (Dragons of Pern). The narrative shifts smoothly between Wind Blossom, one of the original colonists of Pern, who's struggling to create a legacy for future generations before she dies, and Lorana, a young dragonrider born 450 years later with unusual talents for healing and telepathy. A genuinely spellbinding set of time travel puzzles and paradoxes is set against the moving backdrop of two populations struggling to survive: the children of the colonists, learning to live in a new world as they lose the technology of the old one, and the dragons of Lorana's time, who are dying of a mysterious plague just when they're needed to protect Pern. The strength of the two women and the mysterious connection between them is gradually revealed through a number of surprising and sometimes heartbreaking parallel occurrences. This stand-alone tale fits beautifully into the existing history and style of earlier books while still breaking new ground. Despite being geared toward the existing fan base, it will be quite accessible to new readers. In her introduction, the elder McCaffrey writes, "son, you done did good and me proud!" Even the most nepotism-wary will concur and eagerly look forward to the next installment. Agent, Donald Maass. (Jan. 25) FYI: McCaffrey co-wrote the previous Pern novel, Dragon's Kin (2003), with his mother. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Near the end of the Second Interval, a deadly illness strikes the dragons of Pern, which leaves dragons and dragonriders unable to combat the deadly Threadfall that periodically rains destruction on the planet. Hints of a cure lie in the words of an eerie and seldom-sung ballad written hundreds of years in the past, and only a young woman who hears the speech of all dragons has a chance to solve the riddle and save her world. In his first solo novel, the author-who co-wrote Dragon's Kin with mother Anne McCaffrey (who provides the introduction here)-continues the Pern saga with a story set in two periods of the planet's past. Compelling characters, both human and dragon, and a tightly woven plot make this tale of courage, sacrifice, and love a priority purchase for sf and YA collections. Highly recommended. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Son and collaborator Todd's first solo Dragonriders of Pern novel, with mother Anne's introductory blessing. The Red Star, Pern's sister planet, always returns after 50 Turns and sends its Threads to exterminate all organic life on Pern. Though destroyed in an earlier novel, the Red Star is here again, back in AL 58, once more threatening a devastating invasion of Threadfall. Dragonrider factions of different wings find they must get along if Threads are to be gobbled up midair or killed in the ground. Again there is much dragon lore to take in, especially about birthing, care of eggs, and the aging of dragons. New readers may struggle for their footing as the story switches between two periods. In AL 508 the dragons are nearing extinction as their DNA winds down. Verses about knowledge in a hidden room, which must be rediscovered if the dragons are to be saved, suggest that help will be found in AL 58, 450 years in the past. On hand in AL 508 is youthful artist and harper Lorana, an orphan, and in AL 58 the elderly healer Wind Blossom, whose mother bred the first great dragons from little fire-lizards. Series fans were not all that delighted with the joint effort Dragon's Kin (2003), which had inconsistencies with earlier installments, but the saga can probably coast on its affectionate readership. Agent: Donald Maass/Donald Maass Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345441256
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/27/2006
  • Series: Dragonriders of Pern Series , #18
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 240,881
  • Product dimensions: 4.17 (w) x 6.86 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Todd J. McCaffrey

Todd McCaffrey is the bestselling author of the Pern novels Dragonsblood and Dragonheart, and the co-author, with his mother, Anne McCaffrey, of Dragon’s Kin, Dragon’s Fire, and Dragon Harper. A computer engineer, he currently lives in Los Angeles. Having grown up in Ireland with the epic of the Dragonriders of Pern,® he is burst-ing with ideas for new stories of that world, its people, and its dragons.

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Read an Excerpt

ONE

Red Star at night:

Firestone, dig,

Harness, rig,

Dragons take flight.

Fort Weyr, at the end of the Second Interval, After Landing (AL) 507

Four men stood in a knot around the Star Stones of Fort Weyr. The sun was just above the horizon, casting the harsh shadows of early dawn at winter’s end. Each man wore the prestigious shoulder knots of Weyrleader. Their warm wher-hide jackets proclaimed them the leaders of Benden, Fort, Telgar, and Ista Weyrs.

K’lior, Fort’s Weyrleader, was host and the youngest present. He was also the newest Weyrleader, having gained his position less than a Turn before.

He glanced back to the Star Stones—to the Eye Rock, which bracketed the Finger Rock, which itself was lit by the baleful Red Star. Thread was coming. Soon.

The air was made more chilly by the steady breeze blowing across the plateau where Fort’s Star Stones were placed. K’lior suppressed a shiver. “Fort is still wing light. We’ve only had the one clutch—”

“There’s time yet, K’lior,” C’rion, Ista’s Weyrleader, judged. He pointed at the Red Star and the Eye Rock. “Thread won’t fall until after the last frost.”

“There’s no doubt, then, that Thread is coming,” K’lior said, wishing the other Weyrleaders would disagree with him.

For over two hundred Turns, the planet of Pern had been free of the threat of Thread falling from the sky.

Now that peace would end.

The Red Star’s return would bring the Thread that would try, once more, to devour all life on Pern.

For the next fifty Turns, the dragons would rise to the skies, flame Thread into lifeless char, or, failing, watch in horror as it burrowed into the rich soil of Pern to destroy all organic material with mindless voracity.

“Telgar’s ready, K’lior,” D’gan declared. He turned back from the Star Stones and the dawning light to gaze at the others, who were obscured by the sharp shadows of the early morning light. His words were firmly emphasized by the distant rumbling of his bronze, Kaloth. “My wings are at full strength and I’ve two clutches on the Hatching Grounds—”

One of the other Weyrleaders cleared his throat loudly, but D’gan’s fierce glare could not pierce the shadows to identify the culprit.

“Yes, we were lucky,” he continued in answer to the unknown heckler, “but the fact remains that Telgar will be wing heavy when Thread falls. And our holders have tithed fully so we’ve no lack of equipment or firestone.”

K’lior shifted uneasily, for he had been frank in relaying his difficulties in getting Fort’s full tithe. “But you don’t agree to pooling resources?” he asked again.

He had called this meeting of the Weyrleaders to propose just that. As none of them had ever fought Thread, K’lior felt that his notion of “fly together, learn together” had merit, and would promote communication among the Weyrs. He was shocked when D’vin of High Reaches had refused the invitation and was even further shocked by D’gan’s attitude. Telgar’s Weyrleader was Igen-bred, after all. K’lior had hoped that D’gan’s experience would have made him more amenable to working together, not less.

D’gan favored the wiry Fort Weyrleader with a superior look. “If you’re still wing light when Thread falls, K’lior, I’m sure I could spare some of my own.”

“I’ll bet they’re all bronzes,” a voice muttered dryly. It came from the direction of the Benden and Istan Weyrleaders.

The implication that D’gan might want to reduce the competition for Telgar’s next mating flight was obvious. Not that D’gan’s Kaloth had to fly all Telgar’s queen dragons to remain Weyrleader—just the senior queen.

D’gan stiffened angrily at the remark, turned to K’lior, and said, “I’ve a Weyr to attend, Fort. I must return.”

“Let me call someone to guide your way, D’gan,” K’lior offered pleasantly, worried about slippery walkways under unfamiliar feet.

The offer annoyed D’gan, who snapped, “I can find my own dragon well enough, Fort.”

K’lior jogged after D’gan, still hoping to soothe the other’s foul mood.

“C’rion, you know he’s got a thin skin. Why do you insist on pricking it?” M’tal asked the Istan Weyrleader in exasperation.

C’rion chuckled at the Benden Weyrleader’s remark. “Oh, you know, M’tal, he’s not all that bad—when he stops taking himself so seriously. I feel it’s my duty as an older, more experienced Weyrleader, to spill the wind from his sails when he takes on airs like that.”

“D’gan is the sort to swear his Egg cracked the wrong way,” M’tal agreed.

C’rion snorted a laugh. “I suspect that D’gan will be a lot more acceptable after his first dose of numbweed. And K’lior will steady up after his first Threadfall.”

M’tal pursed his lips thoughtfully. “I’m not so sure about D’gan.”

C’rion shrugged. “I’ve been worried ever since it was decided to abandon Igen Weyr and incorporate those dragonriders into Telgar.”

“It made sense at the time,” M’tal said, “what with the drought in Igen, the death of their last queen, and the good harvests at Telgar.”

C’rion raised a hand to ward off further discussion. “All true. But D’gan himself worries me. He drills his riders hard. Telgar Weyr has never lost the Games since he became Weyrleader—but will all that be worth anything when Thread comes?”

M’tal nodded emphatically. “If there’s one thing I could never imagine, it would be D’gan shirking his duty. We dragonriders know what to expect when Thread comes.” He waved a hand at the Star Stones. “And we know it will come soon.”

“I hear your queen laid a large clutch last week,” C’rion said, changing the topic. “Congratulations.”

M’tal laughed. “Are you going to make me an offer like our esteemed Telgar?”

“No, actually, I was going to offer a trade,” C’rion said.

M’tal motioned for him to continue.

“Two queen eggs, by all accounts,” C’rion said. “That would make four queens all told.”

“No, one of the eggs is a bronze,” M’tal said. “We’d hopes at first, but Breth nudged it back with the others.” The queen dragons always pushed their queen eggs into a special spot on the Hatching Grounds, which they carefully guarded.

“All the same . . .”

“Are you looking for new blood, C’rion?”

“It’s the job of every Weyrleader to see to the strength of the Weyr,” C’rion agreed. “Actually, I was thinking that to honor a new queen requires a good selection of candidates. I’m sure you’ll want to Search for a proper Weyrwoman.”

M’tal burst out laughing. “It’s J’trel, isn’t it? You want to pawn that old scoundrel off on us!”

“Actually, yes,” C’rion agreed with a laugh of his own. “But he’s not a scoundrel. And it’s no lie that his blue has an eye for good riders, especially the women.”

“Which is odd, considering his own preferences,” M’tal remarked.

“Well, you know blues,” C’rion agreed diffidently. As blue dragons mated with green dragons, and both were ridden by male riders, the riders themselves tended to be the sort who could accommodate the dragons’ amorous arrangements.

“And you want to get him away from Ista so he can forget about K’nad,” M’tal surmised. K’nad and J’trel had been partners for over twenty Turns.

“K’nad went quickly,” C’rion agreed, “it was a blessing. He was very old, you know.”

Less than a dozen Turns older than you, M’tal thought to himself dryly. Somberly he also realized: And only fifteen Turns older than me.

Aloud, he said, “So you want J’trel distracted by new duties?”

C’rion nodded. “It would be easier for us at Ista, too. Thread is coming. It’s going to be hard on the old-timers.”

There was an uneasy silence. M’tal shook himself. “I’ll have to talk it over with Salina and the Wingleaders.”

“Of course,” C’rion replied. “There’s no hurry.”

Curious, M’tal asked, “Where is J’trel now?”

C’rion shrugged. “I don’t know. He and his blue took off after the ceremony for K’nad.” He frowned. “He had that look in his eyes, the one he usually gets just before Ista finds itself with a whole bunch of the biggest fresh fruit you’ve ever seen.”

“He hasn’t been going to the Southern Continent, has he?” M’tal asked with a frown of his own. Dragonriders were discouraged from venturing to the Southern Continent with all its unknown dangers.

“I’ve made it a point never to ask,” C’rion answered dryly. “You really have to try the fruit.”

Lorana sat on her knees, ignoring the hot sun beating down on her, all her attention concentrated on the tiny creature in front of her. Sketching swiftly, Lorana used her free hand alternately to keep the little thing from moving away and to keep her sketchbook from sliding off her lap. She ignored the beads of sweat rolling down her face until one threatened to drop in her eye, at which point she broke from her task long enough to wipe it away hastily.

The creature, which she dubbed a “scatid,” took that moment to burrow quickly into the dry sand. Lorana examined her sketch and frowned, trying to decide if she needed more details—the scatid was smaller than the tip of her thumb, and its six limbs had never stopped moving.

Grenn, the littler of Lorana’s two fire-lizards, cocked his head at the retreating insect and then looked back at Lorana with an inquiring chirp.

“Of course it ran away,” she said with a laugh in her voice. “You’re ten times its size.”

The fire-lizard pawed at the hole, looked up at Lorana, and chirped again.

“I’ll know it if I see it again,” Lorana replied, pushing herself up from her knees and stretching to relieve her cramped muscles. She stowed her sketchbook in her carisak and slid her sun hat back on her head—she’d slipped it onto her back when its shade had interfered with her view of the scatid. She added thoughtfully, “Unless you want it?”

With a squawk, Grenn jumped back awkwardly from the hole. Lorana laughed again. “I’d say that was a ‘no.’ ”

Behind her, golden Garth squeaked an agreement.

“You’ve both been fed, so I know you’re not hungry,” Lorana said, half to herself. She peered down at the burrow and then at the irrepressible brown fire-lizard. “Would you eat it?”

Grenn examined the burrow for a moment, then dropped down on it and pawed at the hole, widening it. When the scatid was again uncovered, Grenn peered at it until the scatid’s diggers snapped at him—whereupon the fire-lizard gave a startled squawk and sprang away.

“You would eat it, then,” Lorana decided. “You’re just not hungry enough.” She glanced thoughtfully at the sun overhead. “Or you’re too hot to eat anything.”

Grenn chirped in agreement. Lorana nodded, saying, “J’trel will be here soon enough.”

The little fire-lizards, distant cousins to the huge fire-breathing dragons of Pern, trilled happily at the thought of seeing their large friend again.

“In the meantime, we can walk toward the beach again—there should be a breeze,” Lorana told them.

The fire-lizards chorused happy assent and disappeared, leaving Lorana to traipse along after them on foot. She heard Garth formulating some plan as the little queen and her consort went between. Deciding that the two fire-lizards were not getting into too much trouble, Lorana stopped concentrating on them and focused her attention on the path she was following.

Her clothing was not meant to cope with the hot Igen sun, but Lorana had done the best she could with it, loosening her tunic and rolling up her sleeves and trouser legs. Her outfit would be perfect once onboard the ship, and was almost warm enough for the cold between.

Halfway to the beach, she sensed a sudden exultation from Garth and felt the two fire-lizards go between. In no time at all, they reappeared high above her, chirped a warning, and dropped what they had been holding between them. Lorana held out her hands and caught a good-sized roundfruit. She laughed and waved at them. “Thank you!”

The fruit was delicious and moist, easing her dry throat. Energized, she picked up her pace to the shore.

Grenn swooped low over her and let out a querying squawk, curving back around toward her, eyes whirling hopefully.

“No,” Lorana said, “you may not perch on my shoulder. You need to stretch that wing now that it’s healed. Besides, between the carisak and our gear, I’m carrying enough, thank you.”

Grenn gave her a half-sad, half-wheedling chirp and beat his wings strongly to regain his lost altitude. High above him, Garth gave him an I-told-you-so scolding.

As he climbed sunward, Lorana noted that in his antics there was no residual sign at all of the broken left wing that had nearly cost his life—and had completely changed hers. With a frown Lorana forced the memory away and continued on to the beach.

From the Hardcover edition.

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First Chapter

ONE


Red Star at night:

Firestone, dig,

Harness, rig,

Dragons take flight.

Fort Weyr, at the end of the Second Interval, After Landing (AL) 507

Four men stood in a knot around the Star Stones of Fort Weyr. The sun was just above the horizon, casting the harsh shadows of early dawn at winter's end. Each man wore the prestigious shoulder knots of Weyrleader. Their warm wher-hide jackets proclaimed them the leaders of Benden, Fort, Telgar, and Ista Weyrs.

K'lior, Fort's Weyrleader, was host and the youngest present. He was also the newest Weyrleader, having gained his position less than a Turn before.

He glanced back to the Star Stones—to the Eye Rock, which bracketed the Finger Rock, which itself was lit by the baleful Red Star. Thread was coming. Soon.

The air was made more chilly by the steady breeze blowing across the plateau where Fort's Star Stones were placed. K'lior suppressed a shiver. "Fort is still wing light. We've only had the one clutch—"

"There's time yet, K'lior," C'rion, Ista's Weyrleader, judged. He pointed at the Red Star and the Eye Rock. "Thread won't fall until after the last frost."

"There's no doubt, then, that Thread is coming," K'lior said, wishing the other Weyrleaders would disagree with him.

For over two hundred Turns, the planet of Pern had been free of the threat of Thread falling from the sky.

Now that peace would end.

The Red Star's return would bring the Thread that would try, once more, to devour all life on Pern.

For the next fifty Turns, the dragons would rise to the skies, flame Thread into lifeless char, or, failing, watch in horroras it burrowed into the rich soil of Pern to destroy all organic material with mindless voracity.

"Telgar's ready, K'lior," D'gan declared. He turned back from the Star Stones and the dawning light to gaze at the others, who were obscured by the sharp shadows of the early morning light. His words were firmly emphasized by the distant rumbling of his bronze, Kaloth. "My wings are at full strength and I've two clutches on the Hatching Grounds—"

One of the other Weyrleaders cleared his throat loudly, but D'gan's fierce glare could not pierce the shadows to identify the culprit.

"Yes, we were lucky," he continued in answer to the unknown heckler, "but the fact remains that Telgar will be wing heavy when Thread falls. And our holders have tithed fully so we've no lack of equipment or firestone."

K'lior shifted uneasily, for he had been frank in relaying his difficulties in getting Fort's full tithe. "But you don't agree to pooling resources?" he asked again.

He had called this meeting of the Weyrleaders to propose just that. As none of them had ever fought Thread, K'lior felt that his notion of "fly together, learn together" had merit, and would promote communication among the Weyrs. He was shocked when D'vin of High Reaches had refused the invitation and was even further shocked by D'gan's attitude. Telgar's Weyrleader was Igen-bred, after all. K'lior had hoped that D'gan's experience would have made him more amenable to working together, not less.

D'gan favored the wiry Fort Weyrleader with a superior look. "If you're still wing light when Thread falls, K'lior, I'm sure I could spare some of my own."

"I'll bet they're all bronzes," a voice muttered dryly. It came from the direction of the Benden and Istan Weyrleaders.

The implication that D'gan might want to reduce the competition for Telgar's next mating flight was obvious. Not that D'gan's Kaloth had to fly all Telgar's queen dragons to remain Weyrleader—just the senior queen.

D'gan stiffened angrily at the remark, turned to K'lior, and said, "I've a Weyr to attend, Fort. I must return."

"Let me call someone to guide your way, D'gan," K'lior offered pleasantly, worried about slippery walkways under unfamiliar feet.

The offer annoyed D'gan, who snapped, "I can find my own dragon well enough, Fort."

K'lior jogged after D'gan, still hoping to soothe the other's foul mood.

"C'rion, you know he's got a thin skin. Why do you insist on pricking it?" M'tal asked the Istan Weyrleader in exasperation.

C'rion chuckled at the Benden Weyrleader's remark. "Oh, you know, M'tal, he's not all that bad—when he stops taking himself so seriously. I feel it's my duty as an older, more experienced Weyrleader, to spill the wind from his sails when he takes on airs like that."

"D'gan is the sort to swear his Egg cracked the wrong way," M'tal agreed.

C'rion snorted a laugh. "I suspect that D'gan will be a lot more acceptable after his first dose of numbweed. And K'lior will steady up after his first Threadfall."

M'tal pursed his lips thoughtfully. "I'm not so sure about D'gan."

C'rion shrugged. "I've been worried ever since it was decided to abandon Igen Weyr and incorporate those dragonriders into Telgar."

"It made sense at the time," M'tal said, "what with the drought in Igen, the death of their last queen, and the good harvests at Telgar."

C'rion raised a hand to ward off further discussion. "All true. But D'gan himself worries me. He drills his riders hard. Telgar Weyr has never lost the Games since he became Weyrleader—but will all that be worth anything when Thread comes?"

M'tal nodded emphatically. "If there's one thing I could never imagine, it would be D'gan shirking his duty. We dragonriders know what to expect when Thread comes." He waved a hand at the Star Stones. "And we know it will come soon."

"I hear your queen laid a large clutch last week," C'rion said, changing the topic. "Congratulations."

M'tal laughed. "Are you going to make me an offer like our esteemed Telgar?"

"No, actually, I was going to offer a trade," C'rion said.

M'tal motioned for him to continue.

"Two queen eggs, by all accounts," C'rion said. "That would make four queens all told."

"No, one of the eggs is a bronze," M'tal said. "We'd hopes at first, but Breth nudged it back with the others." The queen dragons always pushed their queen eggs into a special spot on the Hatching Grounds, which they carefully guarded.

"All the same . . ."

"Are you looking for new blood, C'rion?"

"It's the job of every Weyrleader to see to the strength of the Weyr," C'rion agreed. "Actually, I was thinking that to honor a new queen requires a good selection of candidates. I'm sure you'll want to Search for a proper Weyrwoman."

M'tal burst out laughing. "It's J'trel, isn't it? You want to pawn that old scoundrel off on us!"

"Actually, yes," C'rion agreed with a laugh of his own. "But he's not a scoundrel. And it's no lie that his blue has an eye for good riders, especially the women."

"Which is odd, considering his own preferences," M'tal remarked.

"Well, you know blues," C'rion agreed diffidently. As blue dragons mated with green dragons, and both were ridden by male riders, the riders themselves tended to be the sort who could accommodate the dragons' amorous arrangements.

"And you want to get him away from Ista so he can forget about K'nad," M'tal surmised. K'nad and J'trel had been partners for over twenty Turns.

"K'nad went quickly," C'rion agreed, "it was a blessing. He was very old, you know."

Less than a dozen Turns older than you, M'tal thought to himself dryly. Somberly he also realized: And only fifteen Turns older than me.

Aloud, he said, "So you want J'trel distracted by new duties?"

C'rion nodded. "It would be easier for us at Ista, too. Thread is coming. It's going to be hard on the old-timers."

There was an uneasy silence. M'tal shook himself. "I'll have to talk it over with Salina and the Wingleaders."

"Of course," C'rion replied. "There's no hurry."

Curious, M'tal asked, "Where is J'trel now?"

C'rion shrugged. "I don't know. He and his blue took off after the ceremony for K'nad." He frowned. "He had that look in his eyes, the one he usually gets just before Ista finds itself with a whole bunch of the biggest fresh fruit you've ever seen."

"He hasn't been going to the Southern Continent, has he?" M'tal asked with a frown of his own. Dragonriders were discouraged from venturing to the Southern Continent with all its unknown dangers.

"I've made it a point never to ask," C'rion answered dryly. "You really have to try the fruit."







Lorana sat on her knees, ignoring the hot sun beating down on her, all her attention concentrated on the tiny creature in front of her. Sketching swiftly, Lorana used her free hand alternately to keep the little thing from moving away and to keep her sketchbook from sliding off her lap. She ignored the beads of sweat rolling down her face until one threatened to drop in her eye, at which point she broke from her task long enough to wipe it away hastily.

The creature, which she dubbed a "scatid," took that moment to burrow quickly into the dry sand. Lorana examined her sketch and frowned, trying to decide if she needed more details—the scatid was smaller than the tip of her thumb, and its six limbs had never stopped moving.

Grenn, the littler of Lorana's two fire-lizards, cocked his head at the retreating insect and then looked back at Lorana with an inquiring chirp.

"Of course it ran away," she said with a laugh in her voice. "You're ten times its size."

The fire-lizard pawed at the hole, looked up at Lorana, and chirped again.

"I'll know it if I see it again," Lorana replied, pushing herself up from her knees and stretching to relieve her cramped muscles. She stowed her sketchbook in her carisak and slid her sun hat back on her head—she'd slipped it onto her back when its shade had interfered with her view of the scatid. She added thoughtfully, "Unless you want it?"

With a squawk, Grenn jumped back awkwardly from the hole. Lorana laughed again. "I'd say that was a ‘no.' "

Behind her, golden Garth squeaked an agreement.

"You've both been fed, so I know you're not hungry," Lorana said, half to herself. She peered down at the burrow and then at the irrepressible brown fire-lizard. "Would you eat it?"

Grenn examined the burrow for a moment, then dropped down on it and pawed at the hole, widening it. When the scatid was again uncovered, Grenn peered at it until the scatid's diggers snapped at him—whereupon the fire-lizard gave a startled squawk and sprang away.

"You would eat it, then," Lorana decided. "You're just not hungry enough." She glanced thoughtfully at the sun overhead. "Or you're too hot to eat anything."

Grenn chirped in agreement. Lorana nodded, saying, "J'trel will be here soon enough."

The little fire-lizards, distant cousins to the huge fire-breathing dragons of Pern, trilled happily at the thought of seeing their large friend again.

"In the meantime, we can walk toward the beach again—there should be a breeze," Lorana told them.

The fire-lizards chorused happy assent and disappeared, leaving Lorana to traipse along after them on foot. She heard Garth formulating some plan as the little queen and her consort went between. Deciding that the two fire-lizards were not getting into too much trouble, Lorana stopped concentrating on them and focused her attention on the path she was following.

Her clothing was not meant to cope with the hot Igen sun, but Lorana had done the best she could with it, loosening her tunic and rolling up her sleeves and trouser legs. Her outfit would be perfect once onboard the ship, and was almost warm enough for the cold between.

Halfway to the beach, she sensed a sudden exultation from Garth and felt the two fire-lizards go between. In no time at all, they reappeared high above her, chirped a warning, and dropped what they had been holding between them. Lorana held out her hands and caught a good-sized roundfruit. She laughed and waved at them. "Thank you!"

The fruit was delicious and moist, easing her dry throat. Energized, she picked up her pace to the shore.

Grenn swooped low over her and let out a querying squawk, curving back around toward her, eyes whirling hopefully.

"No," Lorana said, "you may not perch on my shoulder. You need to stretch that wing now that it's healed. Besides, between the carisak and our gear, I'm carrying enough, thank you."

Grenn gave her a half-sad, half-wheedling chirp and beat his wings strongly to regain his lost altitude. High above him, Garth gave him an I-told-you-so scolding.

As he climbed sunward, Lorana noted that in his antics there was no residual sign at all of the broken left wing that had nearly cost his life—and had completely changed hers. With a frown Lorana forced the memory away and continued on to the beach.
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 71 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 19, 2009

    McCafrey's do it again

    Like all the books by his mother Todd steps in like and picks up his mothers saga with out a hitch. It is clear that she has passed to her son the gift of Pern. I look for ward to more stories from Pern from mother or son it is hard to tell wher one ends and the other starts writhing the style andstore is so seamless

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    An nail biting, edge of the seat, can't put it down book

    This book gets you almost from page one. It ties two stories together seamlessly. The death of the dragons left me heart broken, yet the courage of the dragon riders in the face of such devastation is uplifting and strangely romantic. The courage of the riders who chose to live after the death of their dragon was an inspiration, especially in today's world - with the war in Iraq, the purges in Africa, and so on. Perhaps the characters are 'make believe' but the courage to continue on in the face of devastating loss, doesn't change. In fact, because it is expressed in strong terms it becomes 'believable' and applicable to today.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2006

    Good, But Choppy Storyline

    Not bad, but not as good as early books in the series. Main problem was no narrative flow, that the story was too back and forth. Was bored with Wind Blossom half of story, too much technical stuff about genetics, etc. Would have been stronger story if told entirely from Lorana's point of view. Ending was very abrupt, and lacked a full explanation of prior events. However, had some good stuff, Lorana, Arith, Kindan, and the sailing ship.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    great Pern tale

    When the colonists landed on Pern, they didn¿t know that the red star would align with the planet every two hundred and fifty years. When that event happens, spores from the red star fall onto Pern destroying anything organic in its path. To combat this problem, geneticists changed fire lizards into telepathic dragons that bond with a human; together they unite to fight spores or thread as it is now called in 507 years after the initial landing of the spaceship.--- In AL 507, Lorana sends her fire lizards away when she thinks she is dying, but she is saved and brought to Bendon Weyr where she bonds with a hatchling dragonet Arith. A plague infects the dragons killing many including Arith just when thread is coming. Arith and Lorana¿s two fire lizards go back to 42 AL where geneticist Wind Blossom concludes that the three visitors come from Bendan Weyr in the future. She devises a plan to help her descendents battle the deadly dragon killer plague if the future people can interpret the clues she left behind to save them.--- This is the first solo Pern story not written by the immortal Anne McCaffrey, but her son who obviously inherited the writing gene as readers will not be able to tell who wrote the novel without reading the cover. Two women living centuries apart work to find a cure to save the dragons and ultimately their world. There is plenty of action scenes especially when dragons and their human rider battle thread, but it is the strong characterizations especially the grieving Lorana who can communicate with any dragon while reminded of the loss of her Arith to the plague that make this a worthy entry in the long running series.--- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2014

    Yeah

    Whats the next book in the series ?

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  • Posted April 11, 2013

    I have read all of the Pern novels and have loved each one. This

    I have read all of the Pern novels and have loved each one. This one lived up to and exceeded my high ecpectations

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2012

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out!!

    Great book, loved the new insight , Todd is great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2012

    Anne's style is missing

    Todd does his best and does try to keep the essence of Pern and its characters true to their creators vision. Good story telling.

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  • Posted April 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    good

    good read, one of the sadder Pern stories but still good

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2012

    Another good one.

    I liked the part where Wind Blossom was helping the boy who got attacked by the watch-were.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2008

    Quite a twist

    This was very different from some of the original Pern novels but very interesting. I enjoyed the characters but was very sad for the lost dragons large and small. I'm looking forward to finishing this twist in his new book "Dragonheart".

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2006

    Weak characterization

    Todd's writing is flat and uninteresting. The characters are boring, and he does not bring them to life. The difference between Anne and Todd is the difference between an artist and a technician. His writing doesn't have 'heart'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2006

    It really isn't that bad (or that good)

    So we all know the dragons survive. So what? We knew the people survived in Moreta, and did that make that book boring? I thought the plot was good, and the characters were decent. Todd does make slips with who's related to whom and in what way, but then, so does his mother. One of the problems I had was that I thought losing your dragon was supposed to hurt more. In the 9th pass books, we have 2 dragonless riders who are special because they survived losing their dragons. Here, we suddenly have what feels like half of each Weyr running around without dragons. And watch-whers eating Thread at night? That's just an odd, pointless plot device with virtually no effect other than to make us wonder why he's fiddling with the way Pern works.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2006

    Worthy Successor

    Pern's beloved dragons are coughing to death, literally. Weyrleaders and Healers have no answers as more dragons die each day. Worse, the ecological menace Thread is due to drop from the skies for the first time in two centuries. If the dragons don't rise to char Thread from the skies, Pern's fertile lands will be destroyed, condemning its people to starvation. If humans and dragons are to survive, a cure must be found. It will take the effort of hundreds of people to battle the killer cough, with help coming from the most unexpected source. The question remains: Can the Dragons be saved before Thread destroys Pern? This novel will be hard for a lover of Anne McCaffrey's Pern to put down. The transition to her son's writing is nearly seamless. Pern society, from Holds to Weyrs is depicted true to the established tradition, and the dragons are as magnificent as ever. Readers new to the 'Dragonriders of Pern' series may have difficulty keeping track of the many characters in the book however, seasoned fans will find it to be consistent with the casts in previous titles. Although the story encompasses many characters, the action does center on a handful of character who are the driving force behind the search for a cure. The plot is well developed, and the writing is up to McCaffrey standards. However, some of the sections pertaining to the genetics and science of the disease can be lengthy and involved. If the reader can get past that, they will find two engaging stories, which are nicely intertwined. Todd McCaffrey promises to be a worthy successor to his mother's writing legacy. -C.W.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2005

    We Already Know

    In 'Dragonsblood' an epidemic threatens all of dragonkind. Pardon me? We already know that the dragons survive and thrive in future 'turns', so where's the suspense of that? MacCaffery, mother and son, should explore new aspects of Pern. If they wish to do back history--what about how the settlers slid into a feudalistic society and who fought the idea and who encouraged it? What happened to the caravans during Threadfall? What do drudges think about their status? Can they improve their life or run away? What did the dolphins do during the many Turns without human help? A novel that has great danger that we already know will be overcome is not that exciting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2005

    Fascinating!!

    I have just finished Dragonsblood and found it absolutely fascinating!!! I couldn't put it down.Todd has carried on the Dragonrider series superbly and I for one am enthralled by the new story! I am honored to put this book with all the rest of the Dragon books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2005

    Long Live Todd McCaffrey

    Having just finished Dragonsblood, I congratulate the author and his 'mum' , Anne McCaffrey on an excellent tour de force! The novel is engaging and he is obviously well versed in the Pern universe. I would recommend this book to any and all fans of the Dragonriders of Pern series. I enjoyed the book immensly and hope to see many more installments in the lives of the Pernese from this talented heir to the DragonHolder.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2005

    If only he had actually read Dragon's Dawn

    Todd McCaffrey, in Dragon¿s Blood, makes his solo debut into his mother, Anne¿s, world of Pern. This novel is loosely a sequel to Dragon¿s Kin, a collaborative effort between mother and son. Todd does an excellent job of keeping to Anne¿s basic cannon. He keeps the basic tenets that Anne has set down in her numerous Pern novels. Todd¿s style, while darker than Anne¿s, is still readable and captivating. It would have been nice to see a stronger connection to Dragon¿s Kin as were fans received from Anne in her trilogies, but the story line is not adversely affected by this. The story line moves from the third pass to the end of the first pass connecting characters from Anne¿s Dragon¿s Dawn to new characters in Dragon¿s Blood. I rather enjoyed the time shifts and the interweaving of past and present. Todd is adept at delving into the psychological profiles of his many main characters. He reveals to the reader the full range of humanity through even minor characters. This would have been a nearly perfect Pern novel, if not for one glaring error on Todd¿s part. The casual Pern fan will probably not notice, but for those of us who have read and reread every book Anne every gave us on Pern, this error just may drive you crazy. In Dragon¿s Dawn, Anne¿s clear states that Windblossom is Kitty Ping Yung¿s granddaughter, not her daughter. It was reiterated enough times by Anne to stick in the readers¿ minds. A large part of Todd¿s story line centers around Windblossom¿s relationship with her ¿mother¿ Kitty Ping. It makes a reader wonder if Todd has actually read all of his mother¿s Pern novels. In the forward to the book, Anne comments that Todd is the only person she would trust with her child¿Pern. I think she might want to reevaluate his worthiness. On the other hand, if he can be bothered to take the time to read the books enough times to avoid such gross errors, than he will do really well with Pern and Pern fans all over the world will be thrilled.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2005

    Amazing!

    A truly amazing book by the heir to Pern! It did start kind of slow, but it was excellent in the end. I believe all of his other books will be good as well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2005

    By the numbers disappointment

    The first Pern books had interesting characters that Anne McCaffrey took the time to explore. As the series progressed, she skipped character development in favor of plot. Her son makes the same mistake. Dragonsblood has a good plot, but the characters are cardboard cutouts.

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