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Dragon Harper, or just let it die, please

I checked Dragon Harper, by Todd McCaffrey (and supposedly Anne McCaffrey, too) out of the library, in some sort of nostalgic search for a visit to the world of Dragonsong and Dragonsinger, which I loved many years ago and still pull off the shelf occasionally for a re-read. I don't think I'll be able to finish it, though. It suffers from the problems I had with Dragon's Kin, only more so. Or maybe they're just bothering me more.

There are lots of infodumps, clumsy ones. And repetitive. For example, p. 18 has "Detallor, the Master who taught both dance and defense". Page 33 has "Master Detallor was the dance and defense master, a short wiry man who moved with a limp...." Maybe it's just bad editing--the fuller description of the character should have been at the initial appearance, and then dropped from subsequent ones.

Unnecessary head-hopping--why is one early scene from Cristov's perspective, when Kindan the protagonist of the rest of the book is there? We get other partial scenes in M'tal's perspective (but for no reason I can discern) then jump back to Kindan's.

And so many plot points seem untrue to my idea of Pern, even in this period far earlier than the majority of the books: a formal challenge/sword duel with a debasing surrender ritual for the loser, followed by virtual slavery of the loser to the winner. (And the loser miraculously accepts this, because his loss of the fight has so thoroughly impressed him with the winner's superiority.) Most of the actions of a weyrleader and the master harper as they interact with apprentice harper Kindan seem wrong, treating him as a peer instead of someone of junior rank--maybe if I'd read the book in between these 2 it would've helped, but I dunno.

And more plot points just seem incredible, period, by what's given in the text. Everything related to fighting is that way--Kindan takes down bully Merol with a sort of judo throw, after one lesson in defense. Kindan learns to fence left-handed to an expert level in 7 days--no, 6 days, as Day 1 was spent doing strength exercises. (Magic ones, I guess, that build muscle in a day.) Kindan accuses Vaxoram of being "a man who would use his strength to have a woman" because V. asked K. if K. is going to wash a girl's back and says "she's still a bit young, but so are--", which I read as him implying K. would be having sex with the girl.

I could go on, but given that I'm only on p. 65 of about 300, I think I'm better off abandoning this one. And the series as well...which I did once before back when Dolphins of Pern appeared. It's dead. I shall read no more.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 20th, 2008 02:34 am (UTC)
Ouch. I truly enjoyed the first 6 Pern books (or first two trilogies), but yeah, they started slipping sadly. I don't think I've read one since Dolphins either. I've glanced at the books with both their names, but never reached to pick one up.

Sad the series is a zombie now.
Jan. 20th, 2008 02:38 am (UTC)
Thank you. I also still revisit the Masterharper trilogy, but have been disappointed with the later ones. I think you've saved me looking for this one.
Jan. 20th, 2008 03:28 am (UTC)
My husband and I used to fight for the right of first-reading of one of AM's books. Unfortunately, that stopped long ago. I still love the first 3 Dragon Rider books and the Harper Hall trilogy. But rarely read any of the others.
Jan. 20th, 2008 02:25 pm (UTC)
I was appalled at the virtual slavery thing, so much so that I called it out in the review I wrote (which I'd link, but it's not available to non-subscribers yet). The whole sequence of events around that was just revolting and made me feel really, really dirty.
Jan. 21st, 2008 12:02 am (UTC)
Wasn't that just incredible? (And gross!) And then, of course, V. seemed to be alternating between an "I do what you request, master" drudge and a senior apprentice. I somehow fail to see how anyone at the Hall could have accepted that.

Of course, in the real world, V. would have ignored K.'s supposedly dominating glare/presence/whatever, and attacked him again. Probably from behind, and successfully.
Jan. 21st, 2008 12:24 am (UTC)
I think the one thing that squicked me the most about it was when there was was something or other about V. finally finding his "true" place--i.e., as a submissive. It was a bit too essentialist and Gor-ean for my taste. Because, you know, bullies generally aren't looking for someone to dominate them. Ick ick ick.

Then again, the Pern books are generally problematic anyhow. I.e., there must be situational homosexuality between green dragon riders (based on the way the rest of the world seems to work in that respect) and yet, it's never mentioned. Bear and Monette's A Companion to Wolves was written, in part, as a response to the "green dragon problem". (Also, I have a quote on the back of the hardcover, squee!)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


Nancy Barber

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