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Dragonheart: Dragonriders of Pern    by Todd McCaffrey order for
by Todd McCaffrey
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Todd McCaffrey - who co-authored several Pern novels with his mother Anne McCaffrey - made his solo flight in Dragonsblood (starring artist/healer Lorana in an epic adventure across time). Now, in Dragonheart, he brings us a tale that interweaves with that of Dragonsblood, still focusing on the enormous threat to Pern's survival caused by a disease that kills dragons desperately needed to fight Thread.

The book begins with a very useful summary For Readers New to Pern, something that all long-running SF/fantasy series should (and rarely) provide. It reminds us that just before this episode, a plague 'spread across Pern, decimating the Holder population.' Said plague killed all of Fort Lord Holder Bemin's family except for his youngest daughter Fiona. As Dragonheart opens, Fiona impresses baby queen dragon Talenth at Fort Weyr, and her life changes forever. However, as the story progresses, it becomes clear that her training as a Holder's daughter serves her well in her new role as one of three Fort Weyrwoman.

Todd McCaffrey continues to show readers events from young Fiona's perspective - from the difficult decision to ban fire-lizards to the illness that quickly spreads among dragonkind at a time when Thread is due and Pern can least afford their loss. She participates in training weyrlings to treat Thread injuries, befriends Xhinna and Terin, comforts the Riders of sick dragons, becomes increasingly close to handsome Wingleader T'mar, and regularly hears a woman's voice that advises and comforts her. When the decision is made to send T'mar back in time with injured riders and weyrlings to deserted Igen Hold, the rider who has been communicating with Fiona takes her, Talenth and more weyrlings to join them.

Now Fiona is sole Weyrwoman of an abandoned Weyr, with T'mar as Weyrleader. It takes all their resourcefulness - and alliances with traders, wherholders, miners and smithcrafters - to succeed. Fiona makes mistakes, but learns from them and comes of age along with her dragon, as they heal and train Riders to fight Threadfall in the future. Todd McCaffrey has hit his stride with Dragonheart, giving fans an entertaining continuation of the hugely popular saga.

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