Dragonheart: Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern #21

Dragonheart: Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern #21

by Todd McCaffrey, Anne McCaffrey

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The specter of sickness looms over the Weyrs of Pern, felling fire-lizards and threatening their dragon cousins, Pern’s sole defense against the deadly phenomenon that is Thread. Fiona, the young rider of queen dragon Talenth, is about to assume the duties of a Weyrwoman when word spreads that dragons have begun succumbing to the new contagion. As more dragons sicken and die, Weyrleader B’Nik and queen rider Lorana comb Fort Weyr’s archives in a desperate search for clues from the past that may hold the solution to the plague. But could the past itself prove the pathway to salvation for Pern’s imperiled dragons? Guided by a mysterious ally from a wholly unexpected place, and trusting in the dragon gift for transcending time, Fiona will join a risky expedition with far-reaching consequences for both Pern’s future and her personal destiny.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345491152
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/27/2009
Series: Dragonriders of Pern Series , #21
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 106,175
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Todd McCaffrey is the bestselling author of the Pern novel Dragonsblood, 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 bursting with ideas for new stories of that world, its people, and its dragons.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Heart, give voice to sing
Of life on dragonwings!

Fort Weyr, AL 507.11.17, Second Interval

“...and you wouldn’t believe how many holders they’ve saved over the last ten Turns,” Benden Weyrleader M’tal said, continuing to press his case for the watch- whers.

The three remaining Weyrleaders had adjourned to Fort Weyr’s Council Room to await the Hatching and confer.

C’rion of Ista Weyr snorted and shook his head. “I’m sorry, M’tal, but the time’s all wrong,” he said. “Threads will be falling all too soon and here you are with this radical notion of training dragons and watch- whers to fly Threads together at night.”

M’tal took a slow, calming breath to stifle the hot retort he wanted to make. He looked expectantly to K’lior.

The youngest Weyrleader of Pern shifted uneasily under the gray- haired man’s gaze. Well aware that M’tal had been a Weyrleader since before K’lior was born, he found it hard to refute such a length of experience. Of course, C’rion was even older still and had made his feelings well- known.

“Look,” M’tal began again, his hands outstretched in a placating gesture, “just think–”

He broke off as his ears detected the unmistakable hum of dragons at Hatching. He smiled and gestured at K’lior. “Weyrleader?”

K’lior was already on his feet and heading for the doorway that led to the Hatching Grounds.

Kindan and Kentai, Fort Weyr’s harper, were waiting on the stairs to the viewing stands in the Hatching Grounds, ready to escort the more feeble or overly- excited holders up to a good perch. Kindan nodded to M’tal as the Weyrleader passed by, still engrossed in fer­vent conversation with the Istan and Fort Weyrleaders.

“I see D’gan has departed,” Kentai murmured to Kindan as the Weyrleaders climbed out of earshot.

Kindan shrugged. He knew that M’tal had not been counting on D’gan’s support anyway. He was less pleased at the looks he’d seen on C’rion’s and K’lior’s faces–neither looked very thrilled with what M’tal was saying to them. Kindan, who was familiar with M’tal’s plan, shook his head. Couldn’t the other Weyrleaders see that watch- whers, with their night- seeing eyes, were supposed to fly the night Threadfalls?

“Lord Itaral, Lady Nelyssa,” Kentai called as he spotted the Lord and Lady Holders of Ruatha Hold. He smiled as he spotted the third person in their party. “I see that you’ve convinced Lady Ilyssa to join you this time.” He nodded to their young daughter and raised an elbow invitingly. “May I escort you to your seats?”

Ilyssa blushed, but, overcoming her embarrassed smile, curt­sied most elegantly and took his arm.

“This is Kindan,” Kentai said with a nod toward the other harper. “He’s come with Lord M’tal from Benden Weyr.”

Lady Nelyssa started at his name and peered at him more closely. “Aren’t you the one–” She caught herself and rapidly switched her comment. “–I mean, aren’t you the young man who gave up his watch- wher to Nuella, the WherMaster?”

“Among other things, I am known for that,” Kindan agreed, in­clining his head politely and giving her a slight smile. He knew what she’d started to say, and wondered if he would ever live down the stigma of the fire in the Harper Hall’s Archive rooms. He hadn’t been solely responsible, after all, and he’d fought the hard­est to put the blaze out, preserving countless other Records . . .


Before he could even react to the sound of his name, the speaker pummeled into him, clutching him tightly about the waist and trying her best to squeeze the breath out of him. Brilliant sea- blue eyes looked out from behind a lock of rebellious honey- blond hair as the youngster turned her head and called back accusingly to the well- dressed Lord Holder behind her, “You didn’t tell me he’d be here!”

Bemin of Fort Hold smiled indulgently at his daughter. “There are such things as surprises, Fiona,” he said with a wink.

“Oh, Kindan, it’s so good to see you!” Fiona exclaimed, burying her face once more in Kindan’s chest.

“It’s good to see you, too,” Kindan replied. He held out a hand to Fort Hold’s Lord Holder. The older man, face lined with age and sad memories, took it in his own and gripped it tightly.

“Good to see you again, lad,” Bemin said. He looked up the stairs. “I think we’d better get up there or the dragons will all have hatched.”

Fiona turned toward the steps, firmly locking her arms around Kindan’s elbow. “Harper Kindan,” she said, sounding every inch a Lord Holder’s daughter, “would you do me the honor of escorting me?”

“It would be my pleasure, Lady Fiona,” Kindan replied with equal aplomb. A bronze fire- lizard darted down from the heights, alighted for a moment on Kindan’s shoulder, chirped happily to him, then rose again in the air.

Lord Bemin chuckled. “I see that Valla followed you.”

“I can’t keep him away from a Hatching,” Kindan confessed. He craned his neck up and scanned the swarm of fire- lizards over­head. “Where are Jokester and Fire?”

“We left them behind,” Bemin said. “I doubt either of them is as well- trained as yours.”

“Well, they’ve barely two Turns out of the shell,” Kindan allowed. “Give them time.”

“Like all youngsters, they are impetuous and brash,” Bemin agreed with a twinkle in his eyes. “Why, you would not believe where I found my daughter–”

“Father!” Fiona protested, a warm blush highlighting her freckles. Bemin laughed.

“Chasing tunnel snakes again?” Kindan asked her in a voice pitched for her ears alone.

He was not successful, as Bemin snorted, saying, “I cannot teach her any decorum at all!” He continued, “She was hours in the bath and I’m sure there’s still dirt on her.”

Kindan felt Fiona grab him tighter and heard her groan, but when he glanced down he saw the smile in her eyes.

“He’s sounding much happier,” he said quietly.

“He deserves it,” Fiona replied.

Kindan nodded in agreement. Lord Holder Bemin had kept his Hold together twelve Turns before when the Plague had struck and killed nearly one in four of his Holders, including his wife and all his children, save for the youngest, Fiona.

Kindan, sent from the Harper Hall to Fort Hold in disgrace after the fire, had helped Fort’s old Healer, Kilti, to do everything pos­sible for the sick and dying. In the end, Kilti had succumbed to the Plague himself, leaving Kindan, at fourteen, in charge.

Fiona cocked her head at a change in the sound and then leapt up the steps, dragging Kindan along. “Come on, they’re hatching!”

Indeed they were. Kindan, Fiona, and Bemin found seats saved for them next to Lord Itaral and his family.

“Just some greens,” Ilyssa assured Fiona as she patted the empty seat she’d saved for her friend. Fiona relinquished her grip on Kindan with an apologetic look and happily took her place be­side Ilyssa. The two leaned toward each other and began to speak in low voices.

The hot sands rapidly filled with white- robed candidates, flown in by Fort Weyr’s bronze dragons. The rest of Fort’s dragons, perched high above, hummed in welcome, the sound growing louder as the eggs began to rock and crack.

Suddenly there was a hush as the first egg cracked open. A brown dragonet flopped out, awkward and creeling. A group of candidates darted anxiously around it–some moving toward it, some away. And then–one candidate reached out to the baby dragon and Impressed. The dragons hummed approvingly.

Another dragonet burst forth from its egg, and another, and another. From the stands, it seemed as though of tide of white- robed candidates flowed and ebbed around the blue, green, brown, and bronze dragonets until, finally, one white- robed figure stood pro­tectively beside each dragonet as the miracle of Impression was repeated.

“Look there!” Fiona called, pointing toward one of the larger eggs. “Is that a queen?”

“It could be,” Kindan said. A great rent appeared in the shell, followed moments later by a golden head. “It is!”

The little queen made quick work of extricating herself from her egg while all around the bronzes crooned excitedly. Freed at last, the little gold queen walked around, looking from one candidate to another.

“What would happen if there wasn’t a suitable candidate?” Fiona muttered to Kindan, who shrugged in response. The girls were trying; one bold girl just barely dodged the dragonet’s awkward movements, pulled aside at the last moment by a shorter, younger, dark- haired girl.

Kentai had overheard the exchange. “There are Records,” he said, looking uncomfortable.

“Well, she’s coming this way,” Ilyssa noted with excitement.

“We’re near the exit to the Bowl,” Kentai remarked. “Maybe she’s looking for someone out there.”

She wasn’t. Still ignoring the girls clustered around her, even the bold dark- haired one that Fiona would have thought she’d like, the dragonet lurched over to the visitor stands. She looked up into the stands and creeled desperately. Kindan and Bemin exchanged alarmed looks as the little gold gazed toward Fiona. Fiona’s eyes grew wide with shock and she glanced worriedly at Lord Bemin. Bemin seemed to wilt in despair–Fiona was his last surviving child–but he recovered and nodded weakly.

“What’s her name?” he asked his daughter, gesturing to the gold below and forcing his lips into a smile.

The dragonet creeled again piteously and Fiona turned back to her, her face glowing in pure joy as she declared, “She says her name is Talenth!”

Kindan picked out K’lior and Cisca climbing down the stairs toward them. It was obvious from the look on her face that Cisca had taken in the full import of the event. She would handle things from here. Kindan, who, after all, was beholden to Benden not Fort Weyr, turned away for a last look at the now empty Hatching Grounds.

For a moment, a very brief moment, before the egg had proved to be a gold, Kindan had imagined what might have happened if he had Impressed. A chirp from above distracted him as his fire-lizard, Valla, swooped down from his perch above, pleased with himself for locating Kindan and thrilled to have seen the Hatching.

Kindan shook himself from his reverie. He had been a miner, had bonded with a watch- wher, the dragons’ kin, and now he was a harper who had Impressed a fire- lizard. The Red Star was approaching, bringing the deadly Threads, and everything would change when the dragons began the fifty- Turn battle to save Pern from extinction. Vaguely Kindan wondered if he would live to see the end of the Pass and the return of the less trying times he had been born into.

The beating of a drum, the call to dinner, and a personal plea from Kentai for help in entertaining the revelers spurred Kindan up and out of the Hatching Grounds. At the entrance, he turned back once more, unable to contain his longing.

Kindan couldn’t remember who waved him toward the sleeping quarters or quite how he got himself into bed. The evening had been a raucous celebration at which he had sung much, danced much, and drank much–far more than his usual. He had no idea why he’d drunk so much, nor why he’d worked so hard that evening . . . until he woke in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.

The Weyr was silent, but the silence seemed more oppressive than comforting. The sound of his labored breathing came harshly to his ears and he sat up in his cot, glancing around nervously to check if his nightmare had disturbed anyone else to whom he’d have to make a quick apology.

He heard no one.

In the distance a dragonet creeled uneasily. Then silence.

Kindan sighed and swung his legs over the side of the cot.

It wasn’t as if he was the only one who had nightmares of the Plague, but he hadn’t had many in the past several Turns, so he was surprised that he’d had one now. Something about the day before must have reminded him subconsciously, so that he sang so hard and drank so much to keep away the pain. Not that it had worked, obviously.

The Plague that had swept across Pern and then–just as quickly–disappeared, had struck when he had only fourteen Turns, leaving him solely in charge of Fort Hold’s sick when the aged healer had himself succumbed to the disease. So many had died.

So many, including Koriana, Lord Bemin’s daughter and Fiona’s older sister.

“Koriana,” Kindan whispered. The sound of her name brought both joy and pain, like a rose: pretty smell, prickly thorns. He shook his head. “I’m sorry.”

I tried, he thought. But he wondered, as he always wondered: Did I try hard enough?

Resolutely, Kindan lay back in the cot and closed his eyes. Presently, his breathing eased and he relaxed, but he did not sleep. And in that space between sleeping and waking, he heard the sound of a dragon departing between.

Talenth’s creel woke Fiona instantly.

What is it? she asked, jumping out of her bed and rushing to the young queen’s lair.

He hurts, Talenth whimpered. Fiona knelt and pulled the young queen’s head into her lap.

I’m sorry, she thought to her dragon, gently caressing the leathery hide.

He hurts and you feel it, Talenth said. How is it that you feel it?

Fiona furrowed her brow in surprise. At first she thought that Talenth was referring to her father, but then she forced herself to be honest. She had wheedled and whined her very best to con­vince her father to bring her to this Hatching, all because she knew that Kindan would be here.

I don’t know, she confessed. I just do. I’m sorry that it hurts you, too.

Can you help him?

Fiona bent to cradle Talenth’s head with her whole body. I’m not sure, she said. But deep inside her, Fiona knew that was a lie. As she considered it, she heard a noise–a dragon going between.

We’ve been here long enough, let’s go, the rider thought to the dragon under her.

As you wish, the dragon responded. With a great heave of its hind legs, the dragon leapt into the air and went between.

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Dragonheart: Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern #21 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 81 reviews.
EffieTX More than 1 year ago
I love the Dragons of Pern stories and I loved this story also. Was sorry to reach the end... Todd McCaffrey does as wonderful a job creating the story and taking you away to Pern as his mother does.. I can tell the difference in their storytelling/writing, but both are excellent. I look forward to more stories about Pern.
bluedog More than 1 year ago
I've read all of Anne McCaffrey's books. And the first one she did with her son, Todd. Unfortunately, this book, I felt, got wrapped up in a lot of very small details. But even that would have been fine.....if there had been an ending!!
boxmel More than 1 year ago
I stayed up all night to finish the newest book in the Pern saga. Extremely well written, the story flows from present to past in a very satisfying manner. The characters are all very believable and the trials and tribulations are very real. The ending leaves me with the hope that there will be a "sequel" to the story of Fiona and T'mar.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved all of the Pern books by Anne McCaffrey. Todd has certainly filled her shoes, and I'm so glad the Pern books keep coming! Very enjoyable, hard to put down book! But I do agree with the reviewer that said we should have had a "completion" of some kind. It's obvious this was a book to get us to the next book, and Anne McCaffrey had her series, but never left us hanging in this way.
AliciaS20 More than 1 year ago
As a HUGE Pern fan this book was a let down. I LOVED the characters and even the writing wasn't bad. I think Todd is doing a pretty good job, especially with such large shoes to fill. However, the being said, I think that no matter how good a story STARTS it should really have some sort of a conclusion/ending/something - and this did not. I was very upset to find that there was no conclusion to ANY of the main storylines and am assuming that readers are expected to cough up an additional $20+ for the next book that will complete this storyline. I find it sad that Todd has already sold out and is letting fans of The McCaffrey's down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the part where Kindan was almost remembered for burning the old records.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the story and love the way it is written.
Katrina Forbes More than 1 year ago
I love all the dragonrider books and find I like Todd's writing almost as much as Anne's.
greytkidsmom More than 1 year ago
just read the sample, put the whole book on wish list. lovely to retern to pern.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
cried and laughed cold not put this wonderful book down.just ordered 2 more in this series and will order all.i have been reading dragon riders of pern since 1978 and thier is no better book for the imagination than the dragon riders of pern so gladthat annes son took over he follows the story perfectly.
ShelbysMama More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I have read all the Pern stories and this one certainly measured up. Todd McCaffrey is simply taking off, given a whole other generation of Pernese to enjoy. I can't wait to see if the mystery is solved in his next novel. Way to Go, Todd!
Guest More than 1 year ago
On the planet Pern, Fort Hold Lord Holder Bemin and his daughter Fiona sit in the audience observing the young candidates trying to impress the newborn dragons. However everyone is stunned when Talenth leaves the staging area to enter the audience as that has never occurred before. The dragon chooses Fiona as his future rider in the fight against thread which periodically falls, destroying organic matter. --- However, due to a Plague, the dragon-rider teams are way below the battle strength numbers needed to win. Thread is coming soon while the pandemic infection is killing the dragons. At Fort Weyr a mysterious weyrwoman convinces Fiona to take the injured into the past so they can heal and spend years training before returning to the present to fight thread. Heeding the advice, Fiona takes them back one decade to Iser Weyr so they can heal and train under the tutelage of experience dragon riders with the goal to come home to fight thread. ---- Continuing the tradition of his mother, the great Anne McCaffrey, Todd McCaffrey provides an exciting Pern thriller (his second ¿ see DRAGONSBLOOD) starring a feisty female who will remind the audience of Lessa (see DRAGONFLIGHT). However the enjoyment is in watching how a weyr functions especially insightful is the class distinctions between Traders and Riders, etc. Talenth like all fledgling dragons owns the book as he innocently charms his rider and readers. DRAGONHEART is an entertaining Pern fantasy.
gypsysmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm so pleased that Todd McCaffrey is continuing on with his mother's series that I'm willing to forgive some problems in this book. Fiona is the daughter of the Lord Holder of Fort Hold and she and her father are invited guests for the Hatching. When she impresses the Queen dragon everyone is surprised but her experience at the Hold stands her in good stead when she and a bunch of wounded dragons as well as the rest of the weyrlings go back in time to the abandoned Igen Weyr. The process of training the weyrlings was interesting and not something I remember from other books in the series. However, I really wanted to know what was happening with the sick dragons and we were just left hanging. I know it will probably be covered in the next book but would it have hurt to have some hope. And how does this book fit in with Dragon's Blood? We really need an overall timeline for all the books.
dragonasbreath on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As always with the Dragonriders - fun and hard to put down.It also answers a modern mystery - why did the human colonists of Pern never discover Fire Lizards? Especially if dragons are descended from them?
koalamom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked the book. I love the series but I found it dragging at the end. Pern people will like the book as well, but newcomers should go back to the beginning.
datwood on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Once again plague threatens Pern, this time its draconic denizens. But Weyerwoman Fiona (whom we first met as the very young daughter of Lord Bemin during the human plague in Dragon Harper) has a young queen dragon and is ready to try anything to save the wings. For the people who grew to love the Dragonriders of Pern, the passing of the author's torch from Anne McCaffrey to her son Todd was an anxious moment. It hasn't been a seamless match, but the torch is now a lot steadier. Todd has chosen to write his series in a time period unused by his mother. The characters are all his now, and if many of the plot elements are familiar, it is after all the same world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the story.  Are we going to see any more books with the dragons of Pern.  A lot has left you hanging.  Have read everything on the market to date. D
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This series is soooo good. Great characters and you get involved in the lives and times of this world. I recommend this to anyone. NOt really sci fi. Just great story telling with Dragons!
LittleMoose More than 1 year ago
Not up to Pern standards, a real letdown. Characters were so-so, action minimal and ending missing.
CDGaug More than 1 year ago
This was a very enjoyable book. Extremely well thought out. I can tell by the way the time plot jumps forward and back and all the different viewpoints of the individual characters. One day I will sit down with all the books in this plotline and completely understand it and enjoy myself. Thanks Todd for carrying on with the Dragons.
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