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Dragon's Kin    by Anne McCaffrey & Todd McCaffrey order for
Dragon's Kin
by Anne McCaffrey
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Most readers of the engaging Dragonriders of Pern series have had a soft spot for watch-whers ever since they met Lessa's loyal beast in Dragonflight. Watch-whers finally get their own story in Dragon's Kin, written jointly by Anne McCaffrey and her son Todd. We learn that they are more muscled than dragons, with much smaller wings and, of course, excellent night vision.

Close to the end of the Second Interval (with no Thread expected for another 16 Turns), Kindan and his family are part of a new mining settlement, Camp Natalon, which is trying to establish itself. Kindan's elder brothers and his father Danil work in the mines, Danil with the aid of his bonded watch-wehr, whose sense of smell and excellent night vision help greatly to avoid accidents, and to save miners when needed. There's a wedding (Kindan's big sister is the bride), in which Kindan discovers a talent for singing, and a change of Harpers happens at the same time. At first, Kindan finds Master Zist curmudgeonly, but gradually understands how to deal with him, and how much he can learn from him - which is just as well after a dreadful mine disaster drastically alters his circumstances.

There's also a big secret in this community - a daughter is kept hidden, her father fearing that her disability will reflect badly on the family. But Nuella's blindness becomes an advantage in the darkness of the mine. Kindan discovers her existence, befriends her, and enlists her help after he is tasked by Master Natalon with hatching, feeding and rearing a new watch-wher for the mine. They raise Kisk together, and are ready to help when another disaster strikes. Nuella proves herself to the community and both she and Kindan win the chance to follow their dream. It's another Cinderella variation, set in the rich context of the world of Pern, and marred only by the awkwardness of the head miner's motivations for keeping his daughter hidden.

Though Dragon's Kin is nowhere near the best in the series, it's still wonderful to be able to visit Pern again, and this new adventure will be welcomed by the McCaffreys' many fans.

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