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The Skies of Pern (Dragonriders of Pern Series #16)

The Skies of Pern (Dragonriders of Pern Series #16)

4.5 68
by Anne McCaffrey

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Thanks to Anne McCaffrey, millions of readers have soared the skies on dragonback, shared the thoughts and dreams of the great dragons of Pern, and risked life and limb to safeguard the planet from the deadly threat of falling Thread. With the Dragonriders of Pern, McCaffrey has given us more than just an extraordinary masterwork of imagination. She has given us a


Thanks to Anne McCaffrey, millions of readers have soared the skies on dragonback, shared the thoughts and dreams of the great dragons of Pern, and risked life and limb to safeguard the planet from the deadly threat of falling Thread. With the Dragonriders of Pern, McCaffrey has given us more than just an extraordinary masterwork of imagination. She has given us a whole world--and has taught us to fly. Now, in this triumphant return to Pern, Anne McCaffrey takes us on an adventure as surprising and unforgettable as any that has come before . . .

It is a time of hope and regret, of endings and beginnings. The Red Star, that celestial curse whose eccentric orbit was responsible for Thread, has been shifted to a harmless orbit, and the current Threadfall will be the last. Technological marvels are changing the face of life on Pern. And the dragonriders, led by F'lessan, son of F'lar and Lessa and rider of bronze Golanth, and Tia, rider of green Zaranth, must forge a new place for themselves in a world that may no longer need them.

But change is not easy for everyone. There are those who will stop at nothing-- not even violence--to keep Pern and its people pure. And now a brand-new danger looms from the skies . . . and threatens a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions.

Once again, the world looks to the dragons and their riders to solve the crisis and save the world. But now, as the friendship of F'lessan and Tia begins to bloom into something more, unforeseen tragedy strikes: a tragedy destined to forever change the future--not just of the two young lovers, but of every human and dragon on Pern . . .

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Anne McCaffrey returns to Pern for more adventures of the Dragonriders in a novel sure to surprise and amaze her fans. As her readers need no reminder, Pern is a planet plagued by deadly silver strands called Thread falling from its skies, in cycles determined by the orbiting Red Star. Dragons were genetically developed by the ancients to battle Thread by burning it from the air before it can harm the life below.

In All the Weyrs of Pern, beloved Masterharper Robinton and riders F'lar and Lessa excavated the ruins of the planet's original settlement and uncovered the colonists' Artificial Intelligence Voice Address System (AIVAS). This archive contains technological advances that have been sealed away for centuries, but many people think they are an Abomination.

Now Shankolin, an Abominator who tried to destroy AIVAS, escapes imprisonment when a meteorite strikes the prison, and he sets out to organize an underground movement against AIVAS-based advances. Meanwhile, charming young F'lessan, son of F'lar and Lessa and rider of the bronze dragon Golanth, visits Landing Weyr to undertake research there. When F'lessan meets Tai, a bright and beautiful but shy Dragonrider, he is intrigued by her love of astronomy, and as they study the skies together, romance begins to bloom. F'lar and Lessa also reappear; more experienced than the younger generation, they are concerned with the coming final fall of Thread and with how society will change in its aftermath.

McCaffrey's latest installment is action-packed with disasters wreaked by the saboteurs, a comet from the Oort Cloud, and a thrilling development concerning the psychic powers of the dragons. Shankolin's tactics shake the courage of the Holders, Master Craftsmen, and commonfolk of Pern, but the Harpers prove themselves skillful counteragents. Even during the horrors of the Comet's assault, with its attendant massive flooding and tidal waves that leave hundreds without homes or possessions -- an assault that the Abominators blame on interference with AIVAS -- F'lessan, Tai, and their dragons conceive a bold plan to present to the Master Council that will deal both with those who fear change in their society and with danger from the skies.

McCaffrey sets up an ambitious array of questions in The Skies of Pern. How will the culture adapt to the advances offered by AIVAS? How will Pern adapt to life without Thread? And how will Dragonriders, who have always been honored by Holds and Halls for their protection against Thread, assimilate into this new culture once the threat of Thread has passed? Fans will love the characters of F'lessan and Tai and will find McCaffrey's new developments deeply satisfying. (Fiona Kelleghan)

Fiona Kelleghan is a librarian at the University of Miami. Book reviews editor for Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, she has written reviews and articles for Science-Fiction Studies; Extrapolation; The New York Review of Science Fiction; Science Fiction Research Association Review; Nova Express; St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers; Magill's Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature; Neil Barron's Fantasy and Horror: A Critical and Historical Guide; Contemporary Novelists, 7th Edition; and American Women Writers. Her book Mike Resnick: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to His Work was published by Alexander Books in 2000.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bestseller McCaffrey's first Pern novel in three years returns to the world of her most popular series, Dragonriders of Pern, reprising almost all the best-loved Pernese characters. In earlier episodes, hero and heroine F'lar and Lessa summoned the captivating dragons and their riders from the remote past to save Pern from a devastating rain of Thread, while the later discovery of Aivas, the artificial intelligence that guided Pern's original human settlers, brought technological marvels like printing to Pern and helped shift the Thread-producing Red Star from its lethal orbit before it self-destructed. Now neo-Luddite Abominators are bent on destroying all of Aivas's gifts and returning watery Pern to its primitive state, while the Dragonriders struggle to find new purpose in a Threadless world. F'lar and Lessa uneasily contemplate second careers or horrors! retirement, while their genteel and amorous son F'lessan and perceptive green rider Tai arrive at both a dragon-assisted romance and a whole new role for the telepathic and telekinetic dragons. McCaffrey's various themes traditionalism vs. technology, the necessity of societal change, feminist commentary on draconian psychology are at times awkwardly integrated. And her slightly watered-down villains seem peripheral to the action, merely a means to showcase familiar personalities performing during crises. Nonetheless, as all her Pern novels amply demonstrate, McCaffrey's sexy and cunning dragons carry the day and the novel with impeccable, irresistible panache. (Apr. 3) Forecast: A likely genre bestseller, but some younger Pern fans may be put off by the emphasis on retirement, unable to appreciate the angst of inexorably approaching age. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
With the discovery of Aivas, the artificial intelligence hidden for centuries in Pern's southern continent, the residents of the third planet of the sun called Rukbat have learned how to end the threat posed by the periodic fall of Thread from the erratic red star that orbits the planet. Despite the abundance of rediscovered knowledge, new dangers and old fears surface, forcing Dragonriders, Holders, and Craftmasters all to reconsider their purpose and functions in society. McCaffrey's most popular series takes on a new dimension with the latest installment, as familiar characters feel the weight of their years, giving way to a new generation of humans and their dragon companions. Superb storytelling and engaging characters make this a priority purchase for most libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/00.] Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
The Dragonriders who have long defended Pern against the dreaded Thread falls are preparing for the last battle - thereafter to retire, the threat abolished forever. Others resist change and the technology which has brought it, and decide to change the face of Pern with violence in this gripping continuation of the Pern saga.
From the Publisher
“SUPERB STORYTELLING AND ENGAGING CHARACTERS . . .McCaffrey’s most popular series takes on a new dimension with the latest installment, as familiar characters feel the weight of their years, giving way to a new generation of humans and their dragon companions.”
–Library Journal (starred review)

“The continuing evolution of this world is carefully handled and always fascinating. . . . Multifaceted as the eyes of their dragons, these novels offer romance, adventure, medieval pageantry, intrigue . . . [and] a satisfyingly complex society. In The Skies of Pern, McCaffrey serves up a buffet which can satisfy virtually anyone who steps up to its table.”
–SciFi Weekly

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Dragonriders of Pern Series , #16
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Random House
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Read an Excerpt


Turnover at Landing-1.1.31 Present Pass Aivas-Aivas Adjusted Turn 2553
Since it was not at all unusual for dragonriders to be found poring over
the volumes in the extensive Aivas archives, F'lessan, rider of bronze
Golanth, was not surprised to see a girl wearing the shoulder knots of a
green rider from Monaco Bay deeply engrossed in study. What did strike
him as odd was that anyone at all was here in the main archive reading
room during Turnover. Tonight the planet, north and south continents,
would officially celebrate the beginning of the thirty-second Turn of
the present and, hopefully, final Pass of Threadfall. Even through the
thick walls of the building, he could hear drums and occasionally the
sound of the brass instruments from Landing's Gather Square.

Why wasn't the girl, especially a green rider, out dancing? Why wasn't
he? He grimaced. He was still trying to overcome the carelessly lustful
reputation that he had earned early in this Pass. Not that he was any
different from many bronze and brown riders. "Just more noticeable,"
Mirrim had told him in her candid fashion. Mirrim had astonished
everyone, including herself, when she had Impressed green Path at a
Benden Weyr Hatching. Being T'gellan's weyrmate had mellowed her natural
assertiveness, but she never spared him her blunt opinions.

The girl was engrossed in her study of a foldout page depicting Rukbat's
planetary system, spread across the tilted reading desk. Not everyone's
reading choice certainly, F'lessan thought.

Many of the younger riders, who would see the end of this Pass in
sixteen Turns, were studying to become proficient in another craft. In
that way they would be able to support themselves once the traditional
tithe to the Weyrs ceased. While Thread still fell, Hold and Hall would
continue to support the dragonriders, in exchange for aerial protection
against the voracious organism that could destroy anything but metal and
stone. But when Thread ceased, so would that support. Those riders whose
families owned holds or halls might simply be reabsorbed, but weyrbred
dragonriders like F'lessan had to find another way. Fortunately for
F'lessan, he had discovered Honshu, in the foothills of the great
Southern moun-tain range, and since the Weyrs had wrung out of the
council that loosely governed the planet the concession that
dragonriders might claim holdings on the Southern continent, F'lessan
had claimed Honshu as his. He had based most of his argument on the fact
that he intended to restore and preserve the Ancient habitation and its
splendors for everyone to enjoy. He had used every ounce of his
considerable charm and every jot of guile with other Weyrleaders,
Craftmasters, and Lord Holders in order to secure that title to himself.
And once the formidable intelligence of the Artificial Intelligence
Voice Address System-Aivas-and the combined might of all the Weyrs of
Pern had diverted the orbit of the menacing Red Star, he had begun to
spend all the time he could spare from his duties as a Benden Wingleader
in refurbishing Honshu.

F'lessan had never been a studious youngster-his interests as well as
his concentration span had been limited to escaping lessons whenever he
could and having the greatest amount of fun. Impressing bronze Golanth
had imposed discipline at last, because there was no way he would
neglect his dragon. He had learned a determination and focus that had
resulted in his becoming one of the most adept riders, held up as a fine
example-at least of riding-by weyrlingmasters.

Honshu had become another passion. The Ancient holding, with the
splendid murals in its main hall, had exerted a strange compulsion on
him from the start: to preserve the ancient treasures found there and to
discover as much as possible about its founders and residents. With the
boyish impudence that was his most ingenuous characteristic, he had
appointed himself Honshu's guardian and caretaker. He had worked harder
than anyone else in clearing out the muck and mold and restoring the
fabric of the place. Tonight he had a puzzle he wanted to solve. He had
specifically chosen this time to come to the Aivas facility, hoping to
be its sole visitor. He preferred not to share his research-his
fascination with Honshu was at odds with his reputation.

You protect Honshu. I like being there very much, said his dragon,
Golanth, from where he had settled himself in the hot noontime sun among
the dragons who had brought their riders to Landing's Turnover
festivities. Good sunning places, clear water, and many fat herdbeasts.

Still paused quietly on the threshold of the reading room, F'lessan
grinned. You found it. We'll keep it.

Yes, Golanth agreed amiably.

F'lessan stuffed his riding gloves into the Turnover gift of a fine
carisak, giving the wide cuffs a good push; the new wher-hide leather
was stiff, despite the good oiling he had given it yesterday evening.
The carisak had been presented to him by Lessa and F'lar. He rarely
thought of them as "mother" or "father": they were his Weyrleaders, and
that was more relevant. His birthing day, his Impression Day-the day
marking the advent of Golanth into his life-and Turnover were, however,
always recognized by some gift from them. F'lessan didn't know if this
was occasioned by their need to remind him of his parents, or themselves
of their son. Fostering was the rule in a weyr, so no child was without
several people, not necessarily the birth parents, who took special
interest in him or her. As F'lessan grew up and saw how easygoing life
was in a weyr, and the conformity required of children in the holds, he
was as glad he'd been weyrbred.

He gave the gloves one more shove to store them completely, but still he
hesitated to enter the room. He didn't want to disturb the single reader
who was so engrossed in her study that she was unaware of him standing

No one has ever disliked your company, said his dragon.

I don't like to break into such concentration, F'lessan replied. How do
we know she isn't studying an alternative occupation for After?

Dragons will always be needed on Pern, Golanth said stoutly.

Golanth was fond of making that observation. Almost as if Golanth, too,
needed to reassure himself. Maybe it was just the mind-set of a bronze
dragon-or more likely Mnementh's in particular, since F'lar's great
bronze took a keen interest in the subtle tuition of any bronzes hatched
on Benden's sands. However, succeeding F'lar as Weyrleader of Benden was
most certainly not in F'lessan's future plans. F'lessan earnestly hoped
that F'lar would lead the Weyr out of this Pass: a triumph in itself,
over and above what F'lar had done at its beginning with the slender
force he'd had available then. Being Wingleader suited F'lessan's blithe
personality, especially now that he had claimed Honshu as his special
domain. Now, if the Weyrleaders-or rather F'lar-would just come out and
say that he and Lessa would retire there, no one would dare contest his

Unlike the position of Lord Holders, the Weyrleadership was not
hereditary. A good example was the recent stepping down of R'mart and
Bedella of Telgar. To establish the new leadership, the challenge had
been for the best bronze in the Weyr to fly the first junior queen ready
to mate. J'fery, rider of bronze Willerth, was now Telgar's Weyrleader,
and Palla, golden Talmanth's rider, was Weyrwoman. F'lessan knew them
both well, and knew they would lead Telgar Weyr well under Threadfree

If we don't make the arrogant mistakes that the Oldtimers did, F'lessan
added to himself, and expect to continue receiving the perquisites due
the Weyrs during a Pass, once there is no more Thread.

A movement brought him back to the present. The girl's boots scraped
over the stone floor as she recrossed her ankles. She was hunched
forward over the reading desk and now leaned her elbows on the table.
Her profile was well lit by the softly disseminated light, and she had
thinned her lips over whatever it was she was reading. She frowned, then
sighed over the wide page. F'lessan saw the well-defined arch of a black
eyebrow as her frown relaxed. She had a long and very delicately formed
nose, he observed with mild approval. Her hair, a midbrown sparking with
red as she moved, was clipped short on top to reduce sweating under her
helmet. Left long at the nape of her neck, the wavy mass reached halfway
down her back, where it was neatly cut off in a straight line.

She turned her head abruptly, suddenly aware of his scrutiny.

"Sorry. Thought I?d have the place to myself," F'lessan said genially,
striding forward, his dress shoes making very little sound on the stone

Her startlement suggested to him that she, too, had thought she could
study in solitary quiet. She was in the act of pushing back her chair
when he held out a hand to prevent her from rising. Most riders knew who
he was: he made a habit of flying Thread with the two southern Weyrs and
usually attended every Impression. The latter was sheer indulgence on
his part, for at each Impression, he and Golanth reaffirmed their
lifelong commitment to each other.

Now that he could see her full face, he recognized her.

"You're Tai, aren't you? Zaranth's rider?? he asked, hoping he
remembered rightly.

You always do, Golanth murmured.

She'd Impressed, unexpectedly, nearly five Turns ago at Monaco Bay.
She'd come south, though he couldn't remember from where. There had been
so many people flooding through Landing since Aivas was discovered in
2538. While she couldn't be much older than her mid twenties, he
wondered if she'd been part of the workforce during those astonishing
five Turns of Aivas. After all, Aivas had demonstrated a distinct bias
for green dragons and their riders.

F'lessan stepped forward, extending his hand to her. She looked
embarrassed, dropping her eyes as soon as their hands had clasped
politely. Her handshake was firm, if brisk almost to the point of
rudeness, and he could feel some odd ridges, scars, on the back of her
hand and on her forefinger. She wasn't pretty; she didn't act sensual,
the way some green riders did, and she was only half a head shorter than
he was. She wasn't too thin, but the lack of flesh on her bones gave her
a slightly boyish appearance.

"I'm F'lessan, Golanth's rider, of Benden."

"Yes," she said, shooting him a sharp look. Her eyes were set at an
unusual upward slant, but she looked away so quickly he couldn't see
what color they were. Oddly enough, she flushed. "I know." She seemed to
gather breath to continue. "Zaranth just told me that Golanth had
apologized for disturbing her nap on the ledge." She flicked him another
almost contrite glance, awkwardly clasping her left wrist with her right
hand so that the knuckles turned white.

F'lessan grinned in his most ingratiating fashion. "By nature, Golanth
is very considerate." He gave a little bow and gestured toward the
volume open on the reading desk. "Don't let me disturb your studies.
I'll be over there." He pointed to the far right.

He could just as easily work in the alcove as in the main room and not
intrude on her solitude. In no time at all he had collected three of the
records he thought most likely to contain the information he sought, and
brought them to the smaller reading desk in the alcove. A narrow window
gave him a view of the eastern hills and the barest sparkle of the sea.
He seated himself, placed the piece of paper that he had brought with
him on the table, and started riffling through the thinly coated plastic
pages of the COM Tower records. He was looking for one name: Stev
Kimmer, listed in the colony records as Stakeholder on Bitkim Island,
now called Ista Hold. He needed to find any connection between Kimmer
and Kenjo Fusaiyuki, who had been the original Honshu Stakeholder.

In his careful clearing of debris in the ancient dwelling place, he had
found the initials SK carved or etched on several surfaces: on the metal
worktop in the garage of the ancient sled and on several drawers. No
other inhabitant had defaced or initialed anything. The only SK not
listed as going north in the Second Crossing-when the Thread-beleaguered
colonists had resettled at Fort-was Stev Kimmer. Previous research
revealed that the man had disappeared with a sled after Ted Tubberman's
illegal launch of an appeal for help from old Earth. Kimmer had not been
seen again. The loss of a functional sled had been officially regretted;
Kimmer's absence had not.

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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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The Skies of Pern (Dragonriders of Pern Series #16) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
of all the dragonrider books i have read this is the best. This book finishes the tale of Avias and also tells some of the reprections from the improvments Avias. This book also tells about an ability that dragons have but never used. The end is kinda sad but this is still the best one yet. a MUST READ for all dragonrider fans.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The skies of pern is at least as good as the earlier pern books. Lessa and F'lar and most of the other characters were still there, but also some new young people with different ideas. More than in the other pern books, there were a lot of vivid descriptions of disasters. Reading about the dragons attempting to control their new abilities is nothing short of hilarious. Although i'm not sure this is the best of the Pern series, it is certainly not the weakest!
harstan More than 1 year ago
It has been two years since AIVAS (artificial intelligence voice address system) shut himself down, but Many remain grateful for the knowledge, tools, and technology AIVAS provided them such as paper, print, and medical treatment.

Not everyone is pleased with the changes AIVAS brought about for the Pernese society. The Abominators believe AIVAS was the devil and society needs to return to the pre-AIVAS days. They believe in the use of force to enforce their beliefs. As Weyr, holder, and craft unite to battle the Abominators, F¿Lessan, the son of Lessa and F¿lar, seeks a way to make the dragonriders remain important to Pern long after the thread threat leaves.

Three years have passed since a Pern book was published, but readers will know that THE SKIES OF PERN was worth the wait. Once again the mistress of science fiction, Anne McCaffrey has crafted a novel about a world that many genre fans love. The evolution of society serves as the underlying theme to a story line rich with tradition, strong characterizations, and a powerful plot that will excite fans into demanding the next novel come out much faster.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You feel like you are actually at Pern. Wonderful writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the part where they were helping the seaholders evacuate before the tsunami struck.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the best I've read. Will read the rest of the series and all her other books because I know they will keep me entertained.
MickCO More than 1 year ago
I believe I have the entire series about Dragonriders of Pern. They are all great to me. Style of writing and plot keeps you going and wanting more. I recommend reading the whole series. Always nice to get lost in another world of possibilities.
MrsCorr More than 1 year ago
Anne McCaffery's writing style is captivating, drawing you into the story. She will be so missed, Rest in Pern Anne.
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Very good as usual.
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Definitely worth a read.
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ginnyleeNJ More than 1 year ago
I love this series, I've been reading the storyline for years, have actually REREAD the series more than once. Since going to ebook format I'm trying to get all of them in this format so that I can REREAD them again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago