Dragon's were once protectors of the sky, saving Pern from the Threads, a worm like bacteria that destroys all life if left unchecked. The Threads would enter Pern's atmosphere every 250 years when the Red Star got too close to Pern. However 450 years have passed without the Threads and in that time Dragon's have diminished and when once there were many Queen Dragons there are now none left, except one huge Golden Egg.
One of the things about being a relatively new reader to fantasy is having to catch up on classics and old school authors. I have heard many a great things about McCaffrey and seen many of her books in either second hand shops and in bookstores. So when I picked up Dragonflight for $1 I had to immediately read it.
I was in for a shock. The first moment you are plunged into pages of politics without really knowing who or what the characters are. You can work out the "good" and "bad" guys but you don't care for them and therefore care not for their goals. The dragons in this series come in many a variety, green, blue, brown bronze and of course the Queen dragons. However, unlike Naomi Novik, McCaffery doesn't give us much detail about the different 'breeds' except that they come in different sizes. I would have liked it if she gave us a bit more detail on the abilities of different dragons and what those dragons would do normally during combat and non-combat times.
As I read on, I slowly realised that this book was probably the best disguised fantasy book I have ever read. Dragonflight is a sci-fi book in the guise of a fantasy book. Why is it a sci-fi book in disguise? Well as I have said, the planet Pern is under attack from Threads, an alien worm-like bacteria. Dragon's are not merely dragons. I rolled my eyes when I learnt that dragons had telepathy; gasped when they could teleport and had a stroke when they could time travel.....yes...that's right, telepathic, teleporting, time travelling dragons.
If this was actually a science fiction book I think I would have liked it because it wouldn't have destroyed my embedded concept of what dragons are and do. I would also have the mind set of reading a sci-fi book.
The overall storyline of the book is actually very well done but it is the characterizations of the characters and the dragons that I found wanting. So I asked myself why a distinguished author and a well known series could, in my eyes be so bad? Now I know McCaffery doesn't need someone like me to come to her defence; Dragonflight has a Hugo award to do that for her but I think that the evolution of fantasy writing has evolved so much since 1969. Authors and books these days focus more on world building and characterization and yet still find space to make sure these things flow with the storyline.
Perhaps I will give McCaffery another go at a later date with a newish book of hers but if you like the idea of telepathic, teleporting, time travelling dragons then you will probably enjoy this book.