Ranked among the greatest fantasy novels ever written, it’s interesting to find out that it started life as two separate novellas published in Analog (a science fiction magazine) way back in 1967.

This is the first of the Riders of Pern (or Chronicle of Pern as it says on the cover) series. Set on a planet long ago settled, and long ago forgotten, by humans. To help fight off the dreaded Threads, that fall when a sister planet gets close enough, dragons are deployed to burn them from the skies.

Although originally it was space-faring humans who landed on Pern, it has since regressed to a state closer to medieval Europe.

I have to say that it has been a long time since I have enjoyed a book this much, and a long time since I have taken to reading in preference to other activies. That, plus the relatively short length (347 pages in the edition I read) explain how I shot through this so quickly.

Is the book perfect? No. It’s filled with tropes and stereotypes, but as this was probably one of the books that helped create them, I’m choosing to overlook those transgressions.

Unlike many modern books, and perhaps due to originating as novellas, there’s not a lot of dawdling in the story. Everything is told a breakneck speed, bouncing from one significant event to the next. You don’t get a huge amount of time to immerse yourself in the world building, but you get enough for it to work while pressing on. Essentially, it skips all the pointless navel gazing and subplots. The latter may add depth, but I can’t say I missed them.

As a no-fuss, straight-shooting fantasy story it does everything you would want it to and nothing more. A great antidote to the 1,000+ page doorstops fantasy novels seem to have become today.

My only fear is the rest of the series won’t live up to the opening.

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This was a copy of the book

Reviewed: 3rd March 2020