They're actually young adult science fiction, (which I only just discovered when I looked them up just before writing this – but makes complete sense when I think back) and the book was first released in 1976, but I didn't read them for the first time until the late 80s or early 90s, and still loved them. And of course I've re-read them many times since then….
The book focuses on Menolly, a 15-year-old girl who lives in a fishing settlement on the fictional world of Pern. She dreams of becoming a harper, but her skills are not valued by her father, a practical fisherman, and eventually she runs away, just as the deadly Threadfall returns to Pern. She manages to survive by hiding in a cave, and makes a discovery there that will change her life.
The story is so well written, and takes you through the disapproval, disappointment and devastation that Menolly experiences along her journey. It's that typical outsider story for young adults (and I totally connected with it as a teenager when I first read it), where a teenaged girl is surrounded by friends and especially family who don't understand her, and don't value her skills and contribution. She has to escape that environment and puts herself in extreme danger before she is truly happy.
The second book (spoiler alert) begins in the Harper Hall, which is where young harpers go to train for their careers as the communicators of the different settlements. Menolly has achieved her goal of becoming a harper apprentice, but she learns it's not as easy as she thought, and her dreams of being a harper are still a long way away… maybe even unachievable. Through her trials and tribulations, she meets Piemur – another of my favourite characters of Pern – and together they get into trouble and cause mayhem. It's another great book, and one I totally recommend.
In fact, I think I'm going to go back and read them again right now – writing about them has made me nostalgic!
If you're not into Young Adult books – but like the idea of dragons and heroic characters – not all the Pern books by Anne McCaffrey are Young Adult, so I'd suggest you go and check out the series. And if you have teenagers in your life who like Sci-Fi/Fantasy and are looking for their next read – I totally recommend this series off my old bookshelf…!!
Trudi Jaye 🙂