Sky Dragons (Dragonriders of Pern Series #24)

Sky Dragons (Dragonriders of Pern Series #24)

by Anne McCaffrey, Todd J. McCaffrey

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345500922
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/28/2013
Series: Dragonriders of Pern Series , #24
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 118,608
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.30(d)

About 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 top two prizes for science fiction writing, the Hugo and the Nebula awards. She was also given the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement in Young Adult Fiction, was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and was named a Science Fiction Writers of America Nebula Grand Master. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1926, McCaffrey relocated to Ireland in the 1970s, where she lived in a house of her own design, named Dragonhold-Underhill. She died in 2011.
Todd McCaffrey is the bestselling author of the Pern novels Dragonsblood, Dragonheart, and Dragongirl, and the co-author, with his mother, Anne McCaffrey, of Dragon’s Time, 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


A Dark Dream in Blue

This was not how it happened.

For one, the two moons were not in the sky: Belior and Timor had set long ago and it was early morning. But here, now, in her dream, the moons bathed the plain with their eerie light and awkward double shadows.

In her dream she could see under the ground. She could see tunnels and hives, teeming with life as the six-legged, slithering tunnel snakes dug their way to their prize--the dragon eggs nestled on the surface in sand-filled beds that were not nearly as safe as their guardians had believed. The dragon eggs that were the hope of Pern.

She wanted to shout, to scream a warning, but she was ghostlike, standing horrified sentinel over her sleeping form.

Above in the night sky, the Red Star pulsed malignantly far beyond the two pale moons. When the Red Star drew closer, Thread would fall.

Thread. Voracious, all-consuming. A touch of it burnt through flesh and clothing, even tough dragon-hide. It could drain a lush valley of all life in a day. Unchecked, it would consume all life on Pern. It drowned in water, froze on ice--and perished by flaming dragon’s breath.

Without the dragons these eggs held, there would be too few dragons left to protect the world from Thread.

Even in her dream, Xhinna felt her blue dragon, Tazith, stir and try to follow her feelings. She turned to where he lay sprawled nearby and smiled. She was the first woman to ride blue in all memory, and as she looked at him, her heart swelled with love and pride.

Brown dragons and bronzes always chose male riders, just as the gold queen dragons chose female riders. According to Tradition, the blues and greens were also ridden only by males. But times had changed.

A sickness had risen, a sickness that killed dragons. They had fallen by the hundreds even as the first Fall of Thread in the new Third Pass required dragons to fly and flame to save Pern. It was only through the genius of Lorana that a cure had been found, created in an unprecedented cross-time collaboration with the original colonists. The price of Lorana’s success had been her own queen dragon.

When a dragon died . . .  “It is like having your soul ripped apart.” The thought was so terrible that Xhinna whimpered. She turned in surprise to see her sleeping self whimper and then--

She was awake, shivering.

“Are you okay?” Taria asked sleepily. “You were having a nightmare.”

“I’m okay,” Xhinna said.

Taria wrapped her arms around her and pulled her close. “You’re freezing.”

“Just a bad dream.”

In the morning the eggs were gone. Their shattered remains had been dumped in the sea, empty. Only twenty-three of the two hundred and fifty-three eggs had hatched; the rest had been ruptured, their contents devoured by tunnel snakes burrowing up from the ground.

This never would have happened in the high rocky Weyrs where the dragons usually lived, but here, on the uncharted plains of the Eastern Isle, the ground was too soft, the way too easy, and the tunnel snakes were too greedy.

The sun warmed her as she scanned the now-empty plain, but Xhinna shivered as she saw once again, in her memory, cluster after cluster of lifeless, dead eggs, their vitals destroyed by the voracious tunnel snakes. She remembered the desperate fight, the cries, the screams of agony, and the few--very, very few--triumphs in this one-sided disaster.

She turned as a baby dragonet gave a plaintive cry that was instantly answered by a consoling voice. Qinth, the only green to hatch, had been severely mauled by the tunnel snakes before it was freed by Jeriz--J’riz, now that he’d Impressed the grievously wounded dragon.

“It’s okay, shh, little one, you’ll do fine!” blond-haired Bekka said soothingly to both dragon and rider. She was small and young for a healer, but she made up for lack of stature and age with a fierce determination and a stubborn resolve never to lose a ward. Her mother was a midwife; her father had been a dragonrider, until the dragon sickness had taken his blue Serth.

If they were here, now, because of Lorana, then it was J’riz’s father, Tenniz, who had set her on the way. Tenniz was one of the rare traders born with the gift of the Sight--the strange gift that gave glimpses of the future. With his Sight, Tenniz had recognized Lorana, had helped set her on the path that had led her and all the other Turns into the past and to the eastern of the two Great Isles--low-lying masses that had remained untouched by humans for hundreds of Turns.

J’riz did not have the gift of the Sight--that had gone to his younger sister, Jirana. Ten Turns was unusually young for Sight to manifest, but this adult responsibility did not prevent Jirana from being an extremely outgoing and passionate child. Xhinna loved both of them like a big sister, and the terrible plight of J’riz’s green dragonet, Qinth, tore at her heart.

Despite Bekka’s cheerful manner, Xhinna could think of no other dragon so horribly injured that had survived. She feared that J’riz might be a dragonrider for less than a sevenday.

If only the tunnel snakes had not attacked! Why had Tenniz, with his Sight, sent Lorana and the others here if not to find a way to repopulate the Weyrs of Pern?

Instead--now--Xhinna found herself wandering around a too-large camp wondering when and how she and the others would return to the present Third Pass and back to the losing battle against Thread.

“We haven’t got enough food,” Taria said to Xhinna later that morning, raising her voice to be heard over the creeling weyrlings.

“We’ll send a party to round up some of the herdbeasts,” Xhinna said. The assault of the tunnel snakes and the rampage by the Mrreows had broken the fencing around the camp’s herdbeasts and those that hadn’t been killed had run off.

“Who?” Taria asked, looking around. It took Xhinna a moment for the significance of the question to sink through--of all the dragons in the camp, only her Tazith and Taria’s Coranth were old enough to fly.

“We should have kept more people behind for guard,” Xhinna muttered to herself. She knew that Weyrleader T’mar had planned to send a group back to them as soon as the dragonriders had settled once more in Telgar Weyr. No one had expected the strange knot that had sprung up between, trapping both the returning Eastern Weyr dragonriders and the lost, presumed dead, dragonriders led by the old Weyrleader, D’gan.

The knot had been broken, but only after Weyrwoman Fiona had jumped off her queen, Talenth, into the nothingness of between in order to send Talenth back to Lorana. It had been Lorana who had figured out how to break the jam and free the trapped dragonriders--old and new--but in the ensuing events, no one had thought to reinforce those who remained behind with Xhinna.

She shrugged. “I guess it’s up to you and me.”

“If we had J’per or J’keran--” Taria began hopefully.

“We don’t,” Xhinna cut her off in irritation. J’per and J’keran were experienced brown riders who’d gone back with Fiona and Lorana to Telgar Weyr in the present Turn. Xhinna frowned as she realized that after living for three Turns on the Eastern Island, they had nearly caught up to the present time. “So we do what’s needed.” She managed a smile for her friend. “As always.”

Taria heaved an aggrieved sigh, but said nothing else, instead turning toward her green.

“At least Tazith and Coranth are small enough that we can get low to the ground,” Xhinna said, making a herding gesture with one arm.

“K’dan,” Xhinna called before mounting her blue, “we’re going to see about finding some food.”

The harper nodded, seeming at a loss for words as he looked around the camp. Xhinna guessed at the worries in his mind, saw the way he pulled little Tiona and Kimar toward him while at the same time consoling his bronze Lurenth.

It took them the better part of an hour to round up a measly half-dozen herdbeasts. They had scarcely got them back into the half-repaired corral before K’dan and R’ney started the butchering necessary to feed the ravenous weyrlings. A line formed of anxious riders, eagerly looking for anything to carry back to their dragonets.

As soon as there was a free moment, Xhinna approached K’dan. “We’re going to need you to take charge of the weyrlings.”

“Weyrlingmaster, dragonrider, father, harper,” K’dan said with a grin. “I think I’m being underworked.”

Xhinna smiled at the first expression of humor the older man had shown all day.

“I could take a skiff out fishing,” Colfet offered. The white-haired seaman had wandered the camp in the aftermath of the tunnel snake and Mrreow attack, offering what help he could where he could. He knew nothing of dragons and less of weyrlings, but he was an inveterate scrounger and he had the knack for organizing that Xhinna adored in anyone. His age alone was a source of comfort to the many younger, disconcerted new dragonriders--so many of them had just recently been orphaned, and all of them, save for J’riz and K’dan, had until the previous day never even imagined being at a Hatching, let alone Impressing a dragon.

Xhinna felt bad for all the others who had been here the day before--hundreds, for they needed at least as many Candidates as there were dragon eggs waiting to hatch. So many had come, eager for the chance to Impress a dragon, expecting to see the largest hatching on Pern--only to be so tragically disappointed.

Fiona had been right to insist that they be returned to their homes immediately. If it hadn’t been for the Weyrwoman’s foresight, the camp would have had more hungry, confused faces in it at the moment.

Not that Xhinna wouldn’t have welcomed at least a few extra faces, Fiona’s first amongst all of them.

As the problems of setting up a camp and recovering from the disaster of the day before settled upon Xhinna’s shoulders, she had only greater respect for the heavy burdens that Fiona had borne uncomplainingly, despite being thrust so young into the role of Weyrwoman.

Somehow, lunch was arranged, and the camp’s pavilion was restored to its position of prominence. It would have to be moved, though--the very next day, Xhinna swore. The beached ships that for three Turns had served as onshore homes had seemed such a good idea, but now they seemed ominous and foreboding--traps for people, and targets for both ravenous tunnel snakes and Mrreows.

“We need to get out of here,” Xhinna said in a quiet conversation with Taria and K’dan over lunch. She made a face as she glanced around the too-large camp. “This place is too exposed. The tunnel snakes will come back, as will the Mrreows.”

“The weyrlings can’t fly for a month,” K’dan reminded her.

Xhinna sighed. “Couldn’t we have Tazith and Coranth carry them?”

Taria gave her a skeptical look, but K’dan nodded, a grin spreading across his face. His smile faded almost as quickly as it had appeared. “And when the others come back? How will they find us?”

“And we’re not going to be so few when they return,” Taria added. “So we’ll want to find a place large enough for us all and close to food.“

Xhinna mulled their words over, then said, “We could go back to the rocky promontory. I can’t imagine Fiona sending more than a wing.”

A wing, roughly thirty dragons, would be more than enough support for the young weyrlings. The rocky promontory was the place where the draognriders had first come when they’d arrived at Eastern Isle. But it had proved too confined for all the dragons and so they’d moved to their present location on the plains. Now, the promontory’s isolated location would provide a safeguard against tunnel snakes and Mrreows both.

It was hard for Xhinna, after living three Turns back in time on this Eastern Isle, to imagine the huge, lofty, rocky Weyrs where dragons usually lived. She could easily picture a wing of dragons, even a Flight--three wings organized into a group large enough to handle a single Fall of Thread--but the full Weyr with its bustling weyrfolk, dragonets, halls, kitchen, and incessant activity seemed a distant, near-dreaming memory.

Life at what they’d come to call Eastern Weyr had been more demanding on the dragons and riders than was normal. Not only had the dragons of Eastern Weyr needed to train and learn to fight Thread, but they’d also been needed to hunt for food, build lodgings, find firewood, and do all the myriad other things that the weyrfolk did at a regular Weyr. There wasn’t a dragon or rider at Eastern Weyr who didn’t have a deep and abiding respect for ordinary weyrfolk.

“I imagine you’re right,” K’dan said. “Although it’ll be T’mar who does the choosing.”

Weyrleader T’mar had the responsibility for the disposition of dragons and their riders while Weyrwoman Fiona dealt with the day-to-day operations of the Weyr and its weyrfolk.

“We’ll have to leave Qinth behind,” Bekka said as Xhinna came back for her last journey to bring the weyrlings to the rocky promontory. She’d chosen that location as their new camp--the same one that had been rejected as being too small and too exposed when they’d first settled on the Eastern Isle. With just the two grown dragons and twenty-three weyrlings, it seemed spacious. “She’s too fragile yet to move.”

Xhinna swore; she should have thought of that. Bekka smiled at her, shaking her head. “You’re doing fine. K’dan, Colfet, and I will stay with her and J’riz. We’ll see how she’s doing in the morning. Then we can see about rigging a wagon or something to move her.”

“She’ll still be here in the morning?” Xhinna asked, pitching her voice for Bekka’s ears alone.

“We’ll do our best,” the young healer told her earnestly.

The night on the promontory was colder than Xhinna had feared. She, Taria, and R’ney kept watch in rotation. Xhinna jumped at every untoward sound. When the sun finally broke through the cloud layer at dawn, her eyes had dark circles under them from fatigue.

“I’m going to check on the others,” she said as soon as she was certain that Taria was awake. She jumped up on Tazith, and in a moment she was fighting off the bracing cold of between--and then, just as quickly, she emerged in the air over their old camp.

The fire had gone out. There was no sign of K’dan, J’riz, Bekka, and Colfet. They were gone.

Desperation mounting, she had Tazith fly in a widening circle. She checked every one of their old ship-dwellings; Tazith called for Pinorth, for Lurenth, for Qinth, but got no response. Xhinna directed Tazith to fly out to the sea, where she searched for a sail but found none. Finally, in response to Coranth’s increasingly nervous queries, she returned to the cold stone promontory.

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Sky Dragons: Dragonriders of Pern 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dissapointing when compared to previous works by both authors. Unless you have just finished the last title, expect to be confused with the opening. The overuse of time travel is also very distracting. In my opinions the characters are less than believable and hard to identify with. I have read every Dragonriders novel and consider it to be my all time favorite series. I sincerly hope that Todd improves in the next installment.
The_Lab_Rat More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed in this latest installment of the exhaustively written story based loosely in the Third Pass (I think). Childish language, poor timeline organization ("Now WHEN are they again?!") choppy scene changes and confusing character building made me entirely too grateful that I borrowed the book from the library instead of wasting money on it. I was happy to be able to take the thing back. Todd needs to give up that entire impossibly grim story line and go someplace else. Like...other than Pern. I can't believe that Anne had much to do with this book, when I compare Sky Dragons with the original trilogy and the books she wrote before Todd started playing in her world. SHE had Impressed, knew her dragons inside and out, knew the people and let her readers know them too. Todd may have stood on the Sands, but was left behind time and time again. Now he writes from the outside, and does not know or appreciate the dragons, their riders, or the holders that share their world. This book and this series are torture to both readers and the poor dragons he seems to love to injure or kill off.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Annie will be sorely missed but I wouldn't be sad to see Todd retire now. The past few books in this series have felt like a death march. Human plague, dragon plague and thread killing off more dragons and riders in each fall than it seemed in all the old books combined. With a cast of characters that became less and less appealing to trudge through all of that with. This book was more upbeat than the rest of the cycle and it wraps up this section of Pern's history. If you slogged through the rest of this cycle and are stickler for completion it won't kill you to read this. But don't expect any of the enjoyment that Annie's solo books are so know for.
pinksstoneJG More than 1 year ago
If you are love the books about dragons and their riders why would you leave this one out. Buy
KimB65 More than 1 year ago
So glad than Anne's son is continuing the legacy of Pern. I have loved these books since I was young, and Todd is doing a great job with this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ann McCaffrey's latest novel in her 4 decades of thrilling us with the sagas of Pern and it's dragons and people will probably be hard to follow without reading the prior book or two. Having read them, this is a page turner! Sky Dragons was in preparation for publication when our beloved Ann McCaffrey died in December 2011, authorizing only her son Todd and her daughter to continue the series. Sure hope they choose to do se!
LeahMcM More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed catching up with the happenings on Pern. Was a little confusing at parts with all the time jumps but overall, enjoyed it. Hopefully Todd will continue to write the stories of Pern even though his mother has passed away.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is better sweet to turn the last page of An Anne Mccaffrey book, knowing that this is the last book she put her hands on and approved. I have read all her books, and #24 is no different then the first, with tears streaming down your face as you feel the ebb and pull of the events that occur with in the pages, wishing the characters could live forever. Greiving for a friend lost as those characters do mourn their losses. My only hope is with out the inspiration and detailed attention of Anne Mccaffrey, that Todd and his niece are able to continue the stories, I don't know what a world it would be like for me to know I have the final Anne Mccaffrey, and #24 is the last of Pern i will read. I have grown up reading this author, anticipated every new book since i was 13 years old, waiting for each to be published, waiting for what new adventure, what new love will come into my life from the pages of her books. Xhiana is another of those loves, and when i read the final line i wanted to know more, like always when i close the book for the last time, it feels like the story is just beginning, and not ending.
sandymc3 More than 1 year ago
This book shows the influence of Todd's style as much as Anne's. His touching acknowledgment at the beginning calls out to others who have lost a loved one - he truly shows that he misses his Mum. The story line moves quickly with plenty of action.
suntenor More than 1 year ago
Good combination of established frameworks and new elements.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
4hteacher More than 1 year ago
As always, the writing is engaging and interesting. I cannot wait to read the rest!
LibraryGrandma More than 1 year ago
Anne McCaffrey and her son team up to create another great adventure on Pern. It is a perilous time as a plague has killed many of the dragons that the residents depend on to fight the deadly Thread and it is almost time for Threadfall. Xhinna, who flies a Blue and who is the first woman weyrleader, decides to try a dangerous flight back in time to try to find a way to keep Pern from being destroyed. With all the terrible things that are happening in this period of Pern's history, and aided by the young girl, Jirana, who feels cursed with the ability to foresee possible futures, will she have time to do what needs to be done? A great read,full of adventure, the beautiful dragons,unforgtettable characters, and a wonderful exploration of time travel by the marvelous dragons. Those who have been following the Pern series will feel that this is a worthy addition. Anyone who is new to the series will enjoy this title on its own and then want to start at the beginning to see how it all unfolds. Book clubs will also find the many intearactions and events worthy of great discussions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book isn't really up to the level of most of her other books, you can tell the ideas are starting to slow down and her son doesn't help and is stuck in the pass.
aethercowboy on LibraryThing 8 months ago
It¿s funny. I¿ve only read three books that have to do with Pern: A collection of the original trilogy, the novella that appeared in Legends II, and Sky Dragons, the last Pern story to be touched by McCaffrey prior to her death in 2011.Having only read the series at a dragons-eye view, I must say that while there is nothing that particularly grabs me about the Pern stories, they are nevertheless enjoyable to read.In Sky Dragons, we are presented with a makeshift weyr, which, as time passes (both ways, since this is Pern), they must build up enough dragons to help stop the next wave of Thread.As far as Pern books, this seems pretty standard fare. It seems the biggest driving factor within this book are the characters, as otherwise, it struck me as ¿yet another Pern book,¿ based on my impression of what ¿yet another Pern book¿ would be like. I think that it¿s this reason why I never really got into Pern. My impression is that all Pern stories are about dragons, Thread, and going between. Ultimately, that leaves very little to drive the story other than the characters. And I wouldnt¿ want to invest in a series of books just for character development.Don¿t get me wrong, I liked the book. I¿ll admit that I may be way off when it comes to what¿s between the books I¿ve read. I¿m sure that if it¿s such a popular series, the characters can¿t be the only reason. Nevertheless, I never got into them.If you are an established Pern fan, I probably don¿t need to tell you to read this book. If you are a newcomer to the series, while I don¿t recommend you start here, I do think that one could approach this book with a more basic understanding of Pern and get a decent read at the same time.
susiesharp on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I received this book from Netgalley (an uncorrected proof)At the end of Dragon¿s Time the plague and sickness are over but there are few dragons and riders left, Sky Dragon¿s starts where that one left off, sort of, at first it is a little off putting because they don¿t tell the story of how they came to be where they are till later.For the main part of the book we have some familiar folks, and some new faces but I do believe Todd & Anne have set us up for a new story arc that I am sure Todd will finish on his own after the sad death of his mother Anne McCaffrey, I for one am very glad that Pern will not end!I must admit this one did move a little slow for me, it¿s not the strongest Pern novel out there but still a good story more about characters than action although there is action. Since the big story arc about the sickness ended in the last book this one is about rebuilding Pern before threadfall. This small group of dragonriders becomes a dysfunctional family as they fight and love to save Pern.I did enjoy this book and am curious to see where it goes from here. I will purchase the completed book when it comes out to see what correction/updates have been made to it.If you are a fan of Pern of course you should read this and if you¿ve never read any of the Pern books why not??What are you waiting for??This is a wonderful series!3 ½ Stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great Reading !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A bit hard to follow
ValerieL More than 1 year ago
Sky Dragons by Anne & Todd McCaffrey is the 24th book in the Dragonriders of Pern series and was the last book in the series to be published after Anne McCaffrey died in November 2011. This unfortunately was not one of the better books in the series. I think all the "timing" it that has happened in the last few books that were published has made even the authors' brains a bit addled. All of the back and forth, back and forth is becoming utterly confusing. I still love the characters that Todd McCaffrey has created. Some of them really stretch themselves and grow during this book. We see them overcome some formidable obstacles, including dissension amongst themselves. In the end, they come up with a solution to help the planet which is still in peril from the dreaded dragon sickness. It remains to be seen whether or not this solution will actually be the solution needed, but it's a start. We may never know if what they tried worked or not since there hasn't been another Pern book published since Ms. McCaffrey died. In the end, I would still recommend this book to Pern-lovers because I think it does advance the storyline, but it is certainly not one of the best books in this series.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ty dont u dare idc wgo u are just dont plz for evies sake dont!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago