For more than thirty years, Pern has conjured visions of brave men and women mounted upon the backs of dragons. As anyone knows who has been touched by the storytelling magic of Anne McCaffrey, to read of the exotic world of Pern is to inhabit it—and to experience its extraordinary dragons is to soar aloft with them and share their dazzling adventures.
Now, A Gift of Dragons brings together three beloved stories and a thrilling new tale of Pern in a single volume illustrated with beautiful artwork by Tom Kidd. In “The Smallest Dragonboy,” Keevan is the youngest dragonrider candidate, determined to impress a dragon when the next clutch of eggs hatches. But what transpires will surprise everyone—Keevan most of all. In “The Girl Who Heard Dragons,” a young girl’s rare ability to communicate with dragons puts her family in danger and will bring her face to face with her greatest fears—and with her most secret desire. The “Runner of Pern” is a girl named Tenna, who follows family tradition by delivering messages—and who will find her destiny on the mossy traces that runners have used for centuries under the dragon-filled sky. And finally, a very special gift: an exciting new Pern adventure, published here for the first time, fresh from the imagination of Anne McCaffrey.
From the Hardcover edition.
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December 31, 2001
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Excerpt from A Gift of Dragons by Anne McCaffrey
Although Keevan lengthened his walking stride as far as his legs would stretch, he couldn't quite keep up with the other candidates. He knew he would be teased again.
Just as he knew many other things that his foster mother told him he ought not to know, Keevan knew that Beterli, the most senior of the boys, set that spanking pace just to embarrass him, the smallest dragonboy. Keevan would arrive, tail fork-end of the group, breathless, chest heaving, and maybe get a stern look from the instructing wingsecond.
Dragonriders, even if they were still only hopeful candidates for the glowing eggs which were hardening on the hot sands of the Hatching Ground cavern, were expected to be punctual and prepared. Sloth was not tolerated by the Weyrleader of Benden Weyr. A good record was especially important now. It was very near hatching time, when the baby dragons would crack their mottled shells, and stagger forth to choose their lifetime companions. The very thought of that glorious moment made Keevan's breath catch in his throat. To be chosen--to be a dragonrider! To sit astride the neck of a winged beast with jeweled eyes: to be his friend, in telepathic communion with him for life; to be his companion in good times and fighting extremes; to fly effortlessly over the lands of Pern! Or, thrillingly, between to any point anywhere on the world! Flying between was done on dragonback or not at all, and it was dangerous.
Keevan glanced upward, past the black mouths of the weyr caves in which grown dragons and their chosen riders lived, toward the Star Stones that crowned the ridge of the old volcano that was Benden Weyr. On the height, the blue watch dragon, his rider mounted on his neck, stretched the great transparent pinions that carried him on the winds of Pern to fight the evil Thread that fell at certain times from the skies. The many-faceted rainbow jewels of his eyes glistened fleetingly in the greeny sun. He folded his great wings to his back, and the watch pair resumed their statuelike pose of alertness.