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Dragonsblood: Dragonsriders of Pern    by Todd McCaffrey order for
by Todd McCaffrey
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Todd McCaffrey - who co-authored a previous Pern episode, Dragon's Kin, with his mother, Anne McCaffrey - now brings us Dragonsblood. The story involves two main plot streams, separated by four centuries of Pern history - the later begins in 'After Landing (AL) 507', and the earlier in 'AL 50'.

In the later sequence, Lorana (orphaned by the Plague) is a talented artist and healer, who wants to draw every species on Pern. Befriended by an aging Dragonrider, she ends up sailing into a storm of adventure, that leads her eventually to Benden Weyr, where she impresses a golden dragon. Earlier in Pern's history, we meet Wind Blossom, the daughter of Eridani Adept Kitti Ping, who used genetic manipulation to create the dragons of Pern. Wind Blossom made the watchwhers (we learn more about their purpose here), and feels responsible for the facial disfigurement of Tieran, injured by one of her creations. Though strongly influenced by her own upbringing, Wind Blossom tries to raise her daughter Emorra with more freedom than she knew herself.

Todd McCaffrey ties these subplots together with a future outbreak of a disease that kills dragons, made known to Wind Blossom through an infected fire-lizard's panicked leap through time into her own era. As Lorana and the Dragonriders of Pern fight a losing battle against disease that's decimating their dragons, as well as Threadfall, Wind Blossom, Emorra and Tieran search desperately for a way to protect their people's future.

The adventure incorporates a major threat to the colony's survival, intriguing time travel puzzles, developing romances in different eras, and the usual brilliant backdrop of the exotic (yet familiar in many human terms) world of Pern. The story is not quite as tight and focused, nor the characters as vivid as in the early Pern novels (and I miss the elder McCaffrey's engagingly sentimental touch). However, given that a new writer's thumbprints are usually more visible on an existing series, Todd McCaffrey's solo flight is a surprisingly seamless evolution of the Pern storyline, and an accomplished work in its own right.

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