Dragonseye is a novel by Anne McCaffrey. It was written after 2 trilogies: the Dragonriders of Pern trilogy and the Harper Hall trilogy. It is part of the four books detailing the history of Pern, the planet on which the story takes place.



The history of Pern

The series take place long after Earth has been abandoned to pollution and mankind has taken to searching out other planets for colonisation. The planet Pern orbits Rukbat, a star in the Sagittarian sector. Pern is much like Earth is many aspects, which is how the original colonists gave it its name, an acronym of "Parallel.Earth.Resources.NegligibleColonisable".

After they settled on Pern and cannabalised their spaceships, however, they realised that life on Pern wasn't as peaceful as it seemed. A planet with an erratic orbit around Rukbat, called the Red Star, swung close to Pern every 200+ to 400 years. Every time this took place, mycorrhizoid organisms called Thread (same type as fungi/mushrooms) would fall on Pern, devouring all carbon-based life forms. The colonists dealt with this by:

1) moving all humans and life-stock into rock-hewn habitations, since Thread could not destroy rock.

2) developing "dragons". Similar to the legendary dragons, these animals had the ability to breathe fire after chewing firestone. They also had the ability to bond with and communicate with humans.

All human culture and behaviour on Pern developed to meet this threat. The first trilogy, the Dragonriders of Pern, takes place some 400 years after the last Fall (a Fall is the period of time Pern is under attack by Thread).



What happened in this book

Since this is a book about what already happened in the past, there aren't many spoilers to speak of. This book describes the events that lead up to the formation of the Star Stones which will play a role in the prediction of future Falls. Teaching Ballads also come into existence in this book.

Most of the action takes place in Telgar Weyr, Fort Hold and Bitra Hold. 257 Turns (Pernish Year) after the Landing (colonisation), many machines and the technlogy that the colonists brought to Pern are beginning to fail, and there is no way to replace them (since Pern has little metal and no know-how). Clisser, the head of the Arts faculty at the College (later to be Harper Hall), cracks his head over a few problems:

1) the need to predict future Falls.

2) the irrelevance of the current school curriculum to life on Pern. (Students were learning computing and the history of Greece).

Meanwhile, at Telgar Weyr (a Weyr is where the dragons and dragon-riders live), K'vin has just taken over the reins of leadership. He and the other Weyrleaders face the tricky problem of convincing the Lord Holder of Bitra, Lord Chalkin, of the impending danger of Threadfall. Since Thread has not fallen for about 200 years, Chalkin decides to defy all dragonrider warnings and does not inform his people to get ready. He continues to mistreat his people and extorts even more from them.

Besides Lord Chalkin, K'vin and the dragonriders also face other problems:

1) lack of knowledge about Threadfall. All they have are Records of Falls that took place 200 years ago, but they have no experience fighting it.

2) the possibility of losing men to Thread, since dragons and dragonriders could be killed.

In spite of these dangers, romance still has place to bloom. The couples mentioned in this book are:

1) K'vin and Zulaya. Despite the fact that the Weyrleader and the Weyrwoman share the same bad, K'vin finds it tough to make Zulaya love him the way she loved the previous Weyrleader.

2) Iantine and Debera. Iantine is an Artist (painter) rescued by a dragonrider after he left Bitra Hold and Lord Chalkin's pay. He ends up in Telgar Weyr where he meets Debera, a green dragonrider who left her father's house in order to bond a dragon. However, Iantine worries that he and Debera may not make a good match because of her dragon.

All these problems are resolved at the end of the book.

Clisser remembers Stonehenge on ancient Earth and erects stones with a hole in them to align with the Red Planet, in order to predict future Falls. He also orders the old syllabus scrapped and energetically promotes the Teaching Ballads, including the Duty Song, which are eagerly received by the masses. These songs teach the masses about their rights and duties on Pern instead of ancient history about another planet.

K'vin manages to muster all the other Lord Holders to have Chalkin deposed and exiled. A new Lord Holder, Chalkin's uncle, is installed. He is enthusiastic about his duties and makes sure Bitra Hold is ship-shape in record time.

The dragonriders also get to watch Fall on the Southern Continent (an uninhabited place) and practice fighting it along mountain ranges, thus gaining experience for later encounters.

Iantine draws the likenesses of men and dragons to preserve them for memory, in case they should die in the line of duty. He also gets Debera's heart.

K'vin becomes a bona fide Weyrleader and earns Zulaya's love.



Thoughts

As with most of Anne McCaffrey's books in the Dragonrider series, the good guys get everything that their heart desires (they never desire evil things as well), despite the few token obstacles that are strewn in their path.

The bad guys get their just rewards. Always. The moral of the story is: Never be Mean and Stupid. Mean and Stupid always go together. End of story.

My favourite scene in the book has to be the one at the end when the dragonriders and their dragons look at Thread in the Southern Continent. As they only intended to look, none of the dragonriders fed their dragons firestone. None of them expected their dragons' reactions to seeing Thread.

Thread!

The word seemed to rumble from dragon to dragon, and K'vin
had to grab hold of the neck ridge as Charanth started to 
lurch toward what he had known all his life as his adversary.

I have no firestone! How can I flame it! What is wrong? 
Why have you brought me here where there is Thread and I have 
no fire to char it!

Later in this scene, K'vin urges Charanth (his dragon, btw) to leave, in order to preserve their skins.

I've seen enough, Charanth. Take us back to Telgar.

But THREAD? And the bronze dragon's tone was piteous, 
confused and horrified.

In the end, they had to be rescued by a command from the queen dragons, whose riders had to exert a great deal of willpower in order to get their dragons to do so. I so *loved* the way the dragon whined about wanting to meet Thread.


For more information on the Dragonriders of Pern series, see Dragonflight, Pern and Anne McCaffrey.

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