Beginning with the classic Dragonriders of Pern, Anne McCaffrey has created a complex, endlessly fascinating world uniting humans and great telepathic dragons. Millions of devoted readers have soared on the glittering wings of Anne’s imagination, following book by book the evolution of one of science fiction’s most beloved and honored series. Now, for the first time, Anne has invited another writer to join her in the skies of Pern, a writer with an intimate knowledge of Pern and its history: her son, Todd.
Young Kindan has no expectations other than joining his father in the mines of Camp Natalon, a coal mining settlement struggling to turn a profit far from the great Holds where the presence of dragons and their riders means safety and civilization. Mining is fraught with danger. Fortunately, the camp has a watch-wher, a creature distantly related to dragons and uniquely suited to specialized work in the dark, cold mineshafts. Kindan’s father is the watch-wher’s handler, and his son sometimes helps him out. But even that important job promises no opportunity outside the mine.
Then disaster strikes. In one terrible instant, Kindan loses his family and the camp loses its watch-wher. Fathers are replaced by sons in the mine–except for Kindan, who is taken in by the camp’s new Harper. Grieving, Kindan finds a measure of solace in a burgeoning musical talent . . . and in a new friendship with Nuella, a mysterious girl no one seems to know exists. It is Nuella who assists Kindan when he is selected to hatch and train a new watch-wher, a job that forces him to give up his dream of becoming a Harper; and it is Nuella who helps him give new meaning to his life.
Meanwhile, sparked by the tragedy, long-simmering tensions are dividing the camp. Far below the surface, a group of resentful miners hides a deadly secret. As warring factions threaten to explode, Nuella and Kindan begin to discover unknown talents in the misunderstood watch-wher–talents that could very well save an entire Hold. During their time teaching the watch-wher, the two learn some things themselves: that even a seemingly impossible dream is never completely out of reach . . . and that light can be found even in darkness.
Beloved bestseller McCaffrey has joined forces with her son, Todd, to produce another delightful entry in the Pern series, which began with Dragonflight in 1968. The action here centers on Camp Natalon, the site of a coal mine. Now that the surface seams of coal have begun to run dry on Pern, it's imperative to start extracting coal from deep underground, despite the increased danger. Some of the miners rely on the expertise of the watch-whers, smaller versions of dragons, to help keep them safe in the mines. As Kindan, blind Nuella and master harper Zist puzzle out the lore, habits and abilities of these nocturnal creatures, they find out more about the watch-whers (and themselves) than they thought possible. Fans who have become comfortable with McCaffrey's smooth trademark style over the years will notice no seams-which bodes well for any solo novels her coauthor, the heir apparent, may contribute to the Dragonriders saga. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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November 24, 2003
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Excerpt from Dragon's Kin by Anne McCaffrey
In early morning light I see, A distant dragon come to me.
Kindan was so excited that he practically bounced as he ran up to the heights where Camp Natalon kept its drum, fire beacon, and watch.
"They're here! They're here!" Zenor shouted down at him. Needing no further urging, Kindan put on an extra burst of speed.
Breathless, he joined his friend on the peak where they kept the watch. Looking down at the valley, he could plainly see the large drays rolling ponderously up toward the main camp. Leading them were the smaller, but bright and cheerfully painted domicile wagons owned by the caravanners.
From the watch heights, not only could he see all the way across the lake to the bend where the trail turned out of sight, but he could also see the fields on the far side of the lake, which had just been cleared, ready for their first planting of crops. Closer in, he could see where the trail forked, the more heavily traveled way heading up to the depot where the mined and bagged coal was stored, the lighter way leading toward the miners' houses on the near side of the lake.
Most of the houses were in three rows arranged in a U shape around a central square. The open, northern end of the U faced the road. It was there that smaller spice gardens had been planted. And it was in front of those, closer to the main square, that wedding preparations were in progress-for Kindan's own sister's wedding.
None of those houses were "proper" houses, built to withstand Threadfall. But Threadfall was a long way off--another sixteen Turns--and the miners were glad to have the temporary comfort of their own housing, convenient to the new mine.
Midway from the square to the hill was a separate house and a large shed. The house was Kindan's home and the shed housed Dask, the camp's sole remaining watch-wher. Dask was bonded to Kindan's father, Danil.
Hidden from the watch point by the bend of the hill was a much larger and sturdier dwelling--the full stone hold of Natalon, the head Miner in the camp. North of it, separated by a walled-in herb garden, was a smaller but almost as well-built dwelling, the home of the camp's Harper.