Dragon's Code: Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern

Dragon's Code: Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern

by Gigi McCaffrey

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101964750
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/02/2018
Series: Dragonriders of Pern Series
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 7,645
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Gigi McCaffrey collaborated with her late mother, Anne McCaffrey, on three short stories collected in the anthologies Great Writers & Kids Write Spooky Stories and Mothers & Daughters. She also contributed an essay to Dragonwriter: A Tribute to Anne McCaffrey and Pern, edited by her brother Todd McCaffrey. She lives in the Devil’s Glen, in Ireland’s Wicklow County, with her husband, their son, and their infamous hound, Sidney.

Read an Excerpt


Clouds of warm, dust-laden air billowed down around Piemur and whipped off his floppy hat as hundreds of dragons and their riders lifted off from the ground, steadily filling the sky overhead. Hastily he pulled his tunic over his head to protect his face from flying grit, clamping his mouth shut tight in the process. All the trees and vegetation around the Weyr bucked and buffeted under the huge downdraft generated by the wings of the bronze, brown, blue, and green dragons. Through the protective fabric, Piemur heard the comments the dragonriders called to one another as they took flight; heard, too, the muffled sound of dragons coughing as they rose higher off the ground. Listening, he wondered—not for the first time—what pernicious ailment still afflicted so many of the dragons of Southern Weyr, and why the Weyr Healer couldn’t find a remedy to shift it from their lungs. Only when the sounds receded to almost nothing and he could feel the air settling did he risk uncovering his eyes to look skyward.

Piemur watched as the sun shimmered off their soft hides and made their jewel-like, faceted eyes sparkle. There was nothing like the sight of a sky full of dragons, he fancied—even dragons who were not in the full of their health. The fine membrane that made up the sails of the dragons’ wings looked nearly transparent, and he wondered how wings that appeared so delicate could bear the weight of such massive creatures.

Today the Oldtimer dragonriders were traveling to harvest a fresh crop of numbweed, which they would later pound and boil into the noxious unction that, once set, would be used as a hallowed salve. Only twoscore riders and their dragons remained behind in the Weyr with the queens, the most senior of whom had just returned from a lone sojourn. A brown dragon was curled up in a wallow, coughing desultorily as if to dislodge a tiny irritant nestled deep inside his vast lungs. His rider rested with him, in the curve of his forelegs.

A few other dragons basked in their wallows or relaxed under the ministrations of their riders, while the rest simply slept, their old bones soaking up the plentiful sunshine. Numerous weyrfolk—men and women who lived at the Weyr but were not dragonriders—went about the compound, washing or tending to clothing, preparing food, or assisting the older dragonriders with the task of bathing and oiling their dragon’s soft hides. Nothing was more important than caring for the dragons. With their abilities to fly, teleport, and breathe fire, the dragons were the best and most effective weapon the world had against its mindless enemy, Thread—an insatiable organism that, when the orbit of its host planet was close enough to Pern, would shower down in a fifty-Turn cycle, devouring anything organic in its path. And if the dragons couldn’t char every last Thread from the skies before they touched ground, the deadly strands would burrow underground to continue their terrible course of destruction. The dragons were truly the most precious things on the planet, and supporting them and their riders was the job—either directly or indirectly—of every person in or outside of the Weyrs.

But Southern Weyr no longer had that kind of support. The Oldtimer dragonriders had cut ties with Benden, the premier Weyr in the northern hemisphere, effectively alienating themselves from their peers and, ultimately, everyone else. Never in living memory had any group broken free, seeking to go it alone in the hostile environment of Pern without the support of the other elements of their social structure.

Piemur was here at the behest of his mentor, Masterharper Robinton. He hadn’t started out as a spy. Three Turns earlier, Piemur had been virtually wrenched from his comfortable position in the Harper Hall and sent to the Southern Hold to teach the resident harper the new drum measures, vital for maintaining communications with neighboring smallholdings. But it hadn’t taken long for Saneter to memorize the new measures . . . ​and for the Masterharper to task Piemur with a seemingly endless stream of structureless chores, almost all of which were completely outside his training as a singer. If not for his deep-rooted sense of loyalty to his craft and his mentor, Piemur would have gladly forgone the exhausting and never-ending job of mapping Southern, a vast continent far larger than anyone had ever imagined and, in many areas, actually impassable.

He didn’t mind standing in to teach the local children when Saneter was away or indisposed. In fact, he quite enjoyed passing on the information contained in the teaching ballads, imperative for every child to know in order to survive. And the mapping, while often monotonous, hot, and uncomfortable, sometimes had its moments of discovery and adventure. Piemur’s most unsatisfying task by far, and the one he found so disturbing to perform, was as a spy: observing and assessing the demeanor and welfare of the dragonriders of Southern Weyr. He gleaned no joy in snooping around the noble dragons and their riders, pretending to be someone he was not, visiting the Weyr on one pretense or another while trying to catch every snippet of conversation or grievance he could. It felt grossly wrong to Piemur to behave so duplicitously toward a group of dragons and riders who had spent a lifetime defending the planet. But the Masterharper, in his role as Pern’s custodian of culture and heritage, and the discreet harmonizer of her interconnected social relationships, was anxious to know how the outcasts were faring. He regularly stressed how important it was for Piemur to take note of any little details in the Weyr’s daily life that might be the slightest bit out of the ordinary, and report these. The most trivial snippet could be what helped to reunite Southern Weyr with the rest of dragonkind—and as a harper, Piemur was trained to observe details.

So he noticed when T’reb landed his green dragon and, instead of flying out again to harvest numbweed with the other members of the Weyr, headed for B’naj’s dwelling. To Piemur’s sharp eye, the subtle signs of agitation in the green rider’s posture were unmistakable. Straightening his tunic over the top of his loose leggings, then scooping up his hat and setting it firmly back on his head, Piemur moved from the shade of the trees to cross the compound in the direction T’reb had taken.

Trying to look nonchalant, Piemur circled around B’naj’s wooden cabin so he could eavesdrop from the quiet side of the building where leafy trees offered him a hiding place from which to remain unobserved. Once behind the building he dropped down onto his hands and knees, crawling quickly toward a pair of open windows. He sat on the ground, his back pressed hard to the wall of the cabin, head cocked to one side as he tried to make out what was going on inside. He could clearly hear the sound of feet pacing.

T’reb was talking hurriedly, his voice several octaves higher than was comfortable for Piemur’s trained ear. No doubt: T’reb was very upset.

“My mind is made up now, B’naj. No more dithering over what’s right or wrong. I’ve arranged to meet him and set everything in motion.”

“Calm down, T’reb.” That was B’naj’s voice, speaking in a placating tone.

“But don’t you see, B’naj? We have to do something.”

“Maybe you’re overreacting,” B’naj said.

“But you didn’t see her, B’naj. It was unbearable!”

“What exactly did you see, my friend?”

“Mardra! Trying to coax Loranth from the Hatching Grounds. She was moaning.”

“Mardra or Loranth?” B’naj asked.

“Loranth, you dolt!”

There was silence for a few moments, and Piemur could only surmise that B’naj was glaring at T’reb in response to the ill-mannered remark.

“It was like no other dragon sound I’ve heard before,” T’reb continued finally. “It put my nerves on edge.”

Not a hard thing to do, Piemur mused, knowing how volatile T’reb could be—even at the best of times.

“It wasn’t the usual keening, nor the sound dragons make while feeding; no, it was a slow, heart-wrenching rumbling that came from deep inside. And the sound kept increasing, B’naj, to a cry so pitiful I thought she was in mortal agony.”

Piemur heard B’naj murmur something indistinguishable, and then T’reb continued.

“Mardra was pleading with Loranth: ‘Come away, my love,’ she said, ‘we cannot keep revisiting this loss.’ ”

Loss? What loss? Piemur wondered. What was T’reb talking about? And why was Mardra at the Hatching Grounds when the Weyr didn’t even have a new clutch of eggs to harden? Perhaps the old queen and her rider were simply visiting the Grounds, a hallowed place for all dragonkind, to ensure that they were still, as was the custom, in perfect order?

“Such a note of despair was in her voice, B’naj. I saw her weeping, and I thought I might weep with her, too. I can’t get the image out of my head!”

No wonder T’reb appeared so edgy, Piemur mused. What could possibly be causing the Weyr’s senior queen dragon so much distress?

“But what were they doing there?” B’naj asked.

“Loranth dug up those old egg shards and was poking around at them,” T’reb replied.

Egg shards? Piemur felt a moment of confusion. Why had the queen dug up old eggshells? Hatching Grounds were revered among dragonmen and -women! Everyone knew that the Grounds were where the future riders first met the young dragons they would partner; the place where, for the very first time in their lives, the specially chosen men and women would form their unique mental bonds with the giant, fearless, and noble creatures. To make that bond, to Impress a dragon, was to make a telepathic connection so strong that it could never be broken. Piemur had often wondered what it must be like to be a dragonrider, to have the unconditional friendship, love, and support of one of those magnificent beasts, a bond so strong that it lasted for life. From what he understood, the wondrous relationship he shared with his own Farli, his little golden fire-lizard, was only a tiny fraction of the deep connection between dragon and rider.

Piemur gave himself a mental shake; he couldn’t let his thoughts distract him, or he might miss a crucial exchange between T’reb and B’naj.

“The Hatching Grounds should’ve been thoroughly cleared ages ago. It’s not proper for the queen to do that, nor to leave the place in such a state.”

“Yes, but Mardra wouldn’t have it, would she?” The pitch of T’reb’s voice was rising again.

“And no amount of weeping or moaning will change the fact that Loranth won’t produce any new clutches of eggs. She’s just too old.” Piemur thought he heard a note of sadness in B’naj’s voice.

“It’s more than that, B’naj.”

“You’re right. Loranth has been off color ever since that shaft collapsed when the Weyr was mining firestone. I’m glad I didn’t go with you and the others.”

“We should never have gone on that cursed venture—over half the Weyr was exposed to those noxious fumes.”

“Yes, yes, we’ve spoken about this already. And we still cannot change what is done, T’reb!” B’naj was growing impatient.

“But we can’t just sit by as the Weyr falls apart. That’s why we have to do something now!”

“That’s a matter for our Weyrleader, T’reb, not us.”

“Ha! You still think T’ron will do something? He’s no more use to us now than a spent glow in a basket!”

“Shh, keep your voice down!” B’naj hissed.

“I’m not going to stand by anymore, B’naj. We have a duty to our queen and our Weyr!”

“What are you up to?” B’naj asked.

“There’s this plan—half-cocked at that—but perhaps we can use it to our advantage.”

“What plan, T’reb? You can’t go behind our Weyrleader’s back, my friend.” B’naj sounded alarmed.

“During my sojourns north, I traded with a group of men from Nabol. One of them pointed out similarities between us.”

“Similarities? What are you talking about, T’reb? They aren’t dragonfolk!”

“No, they aren’t, but just like us they’ve fallen afoul of Benden!”

“I don’t understand,” B’naj said.

“When they sought help over a family feud, Benden said they couldn’t interfere in Hold matters. Benden—F’lar and Lessa so high and mighty, as if their Weyr rules all the rest! Some leaders, yeah? Left those Nabolese out in the cold just like those other meddlers, the harpers. Honestly, B’naj, I hardly listened to all the details of their silly feud. The nub of it is that they want us to help secure a holding promised to their father by Lord Meron.”

“Meron,” B’naj said, enunciating the two syllables slowly and with so much distaste in his voice that Piemur had little difficulty imagining the dragonrider’s facial expression. And no surprise there: The late Lord Meron had been cruel and uncaring; even Piemur had fallen afoul of the Lord Holder. “He always was a sneaky lick of a man. We never should’ve traded with him.”

“But we did, and strange as it now seems, his kin may actually have thought of an idea that will benefit our Weyr. We just have to assist them in securing lands to hold.”

“They can have plenty of land down here—as much as they like.”

“They won’t travel south.”

“Why not?”

“They say they can’t stomach the sea crossing. And anyway, they want lands in the north—just as was promised to them.”

“And what would we get in return?”

“Exactly what we need, B’naj. New blood.”

“How in the name of the First Egg—” B’naj’s response increased in volume until T’reb cut him short.

“Shh!” T’reb said.

A long silence followed.

“What?” B’naj asked at last, and Piemur guessed that T’reb must have whispered something. He tried to press his ear even closer to the cabin wall. There was the sound of movement inside and a low murmuring, but Piemur couldn’t make out what was said. He held his breath, straining harder to hear the two dragonriders. Suddenly a chair scraped against the floor and Piemur heard what sounded like a hand slapping bare flesh.

“You cannot stop me, B’naj!” T’reb said heatedly. “It’s obvious to me now, the less you know the better.”

What had T’reb said? Shards and fire blast! Piemur wished he’d been able to hear. It felt like all the hair on his body was standing on end, warning him of some ominous event in the offing, as sure as the dreaded Thread fell from the sky.

Footsteps marched purposefully inside the cabin, and then there was the sound of the door opening. Piemur crouch-crawled quickly to the end of the cabin and then ducked around the corner. From his new hiding place, he could see T’reb marching across the compound toward his dragon, Beth.

Without a backward glance, T’reb approached Beth and grabbed her flying harness. The green dragon turned toward her rider, and Piemur saw the color of her many-faceted eyes change from a soft green to a darker hue that was flecked with amber. Beth’s not a happy dragon, he observed in silence.

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Dragon's Code: Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous 6 months ago
I have all of the original series and was eager to read a continuation of Pern. This book was boring to read and did little but pull old material from the series. It added nothing new and creative. What would Anne have thought?
reececo331 6 months ago
Dragon's Code: Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern by Gigi McCaffrey By fortunes providence I spent my birthday reading through this book. What a gift. When we Lost our Dear Anne McCaffrey in November of 2011, I mourned the loss of these stories. Although I read and enjoyed Todd McCaffrey's time in the sandbox, I also mourned the loss of his books when he stopped publishing. Anne McCaffrey has always been my favorite since I was in seventh grade and was given Dragonsinger to try. I have and own all her books in all her series, and her books have gotten me through some pretty hard times. I told Anne McCaffrey her importance in my life and her children have heard in my reviews over the years how this continues with these stories. Gigi, has followed in her mother's footsteps bring a book not only from Pern but from that first series I read The Harper Hall series to life again. You find life lessons in this book like you do in all her mothers books. You find acceptance, love, compassion and remarkable understanding of the human spirit. Like her mother the reader will walk away with bits of advice, and profound compassion. I can see some differences between her style of writing and her mothers, but like Todd I don't mind the differences. The characters are still genuine to the original characters and the action sequence of events do not change the stories, just open up doors never seen before. This story like Masterharper of Pern Looks into more of the characters background that we knew before. It fleshes out part of the story we did not know and brings things to the forefront that we as fans and avid readers wish we had always know. Three cheers, Please keep writing, and tell Todd to get back in the sand box. Oh and if Rose is still willing, please help her get a chance to play. YOur mother was phenomenal, and her books made up the character of my life, not only by inspiriting me, but by teaching me. I have missed her voice most of all. Thank you
Anonymous 9 days ago
Wonderful finally a new harper hall book please write more
Anonymous 3 months ago
It was wonderful story and I hope there will be more stories of Pern to come.7 , 8
Anonymous 4 months ago
This was a very enjoyable addition to the Pern mythos. It was nice to hear more about Piemur. I'll look forward to more from Gigi.
CharityRowell-Stansbury 4 months ago
I was over the moon to read a new perspective of the Southern Continent and Piemur's activities after Dragondrums. McCaffrey did an excellent job of reminding those of us who haven't visited Pern in a while of the events leading up to Piemur's assignment on the Southern Continent. I received a free copy of this book and opted to post a review. In the past, we've read about the current Weyrleaders' perspective of the Oldtimers. It was slanted to favor the current Weyrleaders and their decisions; however, this book presents a different approach to the schism between the current Weyrleaders and the Oldtimers. It is a slightly more impartial view than before and it's easy to see the fundamental flaws in both parties' logic. We also see another side to some of other "beloved" characters, and how these characters we loved to laud in the past aren't as perfect as they were made out to be. As great as this unique and fresh point of view is, there are a couple of areas where the book could be improved upon. The author took great pains to make the setting rich and vibrant, but I felt that she "told" more about it than "showed." I also thought that the relationships between the secondary characters and Piemur were understated. Piemur has a pretty extensive history with many of the secondary characters that appear in the book and many of the deep, abiding friendships came across as "casual acquaintances." These friendships played a big part in Piemur's evolution from an impetuous, young boy to a fine young man, and I feel that the author's decision to overlook them will make it difficult for Pern fans to connect with Piemur's story. Even though I disagree with the author's decisions in a couple of areas, I think McCaffrey did a wonderful job of maintaining the timeline's integrity while providing readers with a different take on Pern society and inner political strife. I was absolutely enchanted by Piemur's story and I will happily read other books Gigi McCaffrey decides to contribute to the series!
Anonymous 5 months ago
I liked how she wove this known support character threw new explanation of a difficult time. I look forward to seeing more from her.
PollyBennett 5 months ago
I really enjoyed this addition to the Dragon Riders of Pern series. Reading about an important event in the storyline from a slightly different perspective. I hope this won't be Ms. McAffrey's last visit to her mothers wonderful world.
iiiireader 5 months ago
Many, many years ago, I read a couple of the first books in the Dragonriders of Pern series but then life got in the way and I never finished reading any further in the series. I recently chanced upon this book and was interested in reading it because I was curious to see how the author carried the series forward. The story is engrossing and well written, and from what I can tell, builds upon the earlier story lines but does not expect that the previous series to have been read. This book provides enough back story necessary to understand the world of Pern without spoiling what has happened in all of Anne’s original books. New characters and a fresh new story line are the focus of this book which is centered around Piemur, Piemur is a young man in Pern, who ends up as the protagonist in this book at least. “Dragon’s Code” is a great read and I am looking forward to continuing reading this new series as additional books are written. Reading this book has also had the effect of luring me back to Anne’s original Pern series. I now plan to go back and read her entire Pern series of books over time.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Although there are not many new experiences for Piemur in this book, it seems to me Gigi found a way to express both the loss and love of losing her mother. I hope Gigi will create a new character for Pern, with her own storyline. Good luck! Keep working on it.
Karen_Benson 6 months ago
Let me start out by saying that I have every book of Pern written by both Anne and Todd McCaffrey and have read the first 10 so many times that I had to replace my copy of Dragonriders of Pern because it fell to pieces from being read so many times. Yes, I am a huge fan! It felt so good to be back in Anne McCaffrey’s world of the dragons, riders, and harpers of Pern. In Dragon’s Code, Anne’s daughter Gigi takes over the reins and brings us Piemur’s story during the time of The White Dragon. We even get to see where Piemur came from and meet his family. I fell back into Pern immediately and at times forgot this book was not written by Anne. I found myself once again enthralled and teary eyed at an Impression, holding my breath during a journey Between, and on the edge of my seat when Thread fell. I was so happy to be back with Piemur, Menolly, Masterharper Robinton, and their firelizards. I hope Gigi continues to give us more stories of Pern and the beloved characters I have loved for decades! *Thank you to NetGalley and Del Rey Publishing for the advance copy!*
_Bookwyrm 6 months ago
Can Piemur prevent a war that pits dragonrider against dragonrider? What an awesome addition to the world of Pern! Gigi McCaffrey has done her mother proud! Menolly, Piemur, and Jaxom have been my favorite characters in all the Pern books. How wonderful to have a new Pern story starring Piemur with parts for our other favorite characters, although a few, such as Lessa and F’lar, are almost cameos. Dragon’s Code takes up where Piemur’s changing voice left off. He’s now a wandering journeyman mapping the southern continent and spying on the Oldtimers exiled there for Masterharper Robinton. As usual, although more serious and mature than in the previous books he shares with Menolly, Piemur is in the thick of things. He manages to insert himself where he can hear the plotting of disgruntled Southern dragonriders as they plot a way to get themselves out of a dead-end exile, where their female dragons are too old to fly to mate and they and their dragons are ill from an unknown lung disease. They are depressed, angry, and ready for rebellion, their days of heroically traveling through four hundred years to save Pern a distant regret. They’re ready to do whatever it takes to be in power again, even if it means betraying other dragonriders. It will take all Piemur’s wit to save them, Sebell, and himself from the dangers and enemy plans afoot. This books stands alone, even though incidents in the story originally occurred in other Pern books and this story explains what was happening behind the scenes that created those incidents, who the perpetrators were, and how everything turned out in the context of Pern as a whole, since the other books were limited by their POV. If you love dragons, fantasy, or Anne McCaffrey’s Pern, you will love Dragon’s Code. Highly recommended. I received this book as an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) through NetGalley. My opinions are my own.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Wonderful story of growing up to be the voice of positive change in society . Fire lizards, Dragons and hope what we all need right now.