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Dragon Harper: A New Novel of Pern    by Anne McCaffrey & Todd McCaffrey order for
Dragon Harper
by Anne McCaffrey
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is the 3rd collaboration - following Dragon's Fire and Dragon's Kin - in the world of Pern by Anne McCaffrey and her son Todd. It continues the story of Kindan, introduced in Dragon's Kin and now apprenticed at Harper Hall. Other recurring characters include the curmudgeonly - and rather Yoda-like - Master Zist (associated with New Age elements of massage and crystal healing).

Kindan, who previously impressed and befriended Benden's Weyrleader M'Tal, dreams of becoming harper at Benden Weyr once he's achieved journeyman status. At Harper Hall, Kindan is close to other apprentice outsiders - youngest apprentice Verilan and the only females, Nonala and Kelsa - and does his best to protect them from the continual harrassment of bullying Vaxoram, the senior apprentice. This leads to a confrontation in which Kindan challenges Vaxoram to a duel. Wisely, Kindan seeks help and training from Master Zist first.

In parallel with this, a clutch of fire-lizard eggs is delivered to Harper Hall. Kindan impresses a bronze, Valla, while Koriana, the beautiful daughter of Fort Holder Lord Bemin, impresses the queen. Kindan falls hard for the lovely Koriana, though he has little hope of winning her hand. Then a 'flu pandemic strikes Pern, and, as countless die, Kindan and his friends desperately search through the archives for past knowledge on how to manage the disease. The situation is made even more desperate by the decision to keep the Weyrs isolated from risk of infection, dragonriders being needed to deal with the next Fall.

It's another engaging Pern adventure, complete with a nasty bully (whose character changes a little too easily), a forbidden romance, and a huge challenge for the young hero to cope with 'Step by step / Moment by moment'. And, though it ends well, the pandemic is treated credibly with a huge loss of life, including those close to Kindan - who, naturally, does achieve his dream.

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