In a time when the deadly scourge Thread has not fallen on Pern for centuries--and many dare to hope that Thread will never fall again--a boy is born to Harper Hall. A musical prodigy who has the ability to speak with the dragons, he is called Robinton, and he is destined to be one of the most famous and beloved leaders Pern has ever known.
It is a perilous time for the harpers who sing of Thread--they are being turned away from holds, derided, attacked, even beaten. In this climate of unrest, Robinton will come into his own. But despite the tragedies that beset his own life, he continues to believe in music and in the dragons, and he is determined to save his beloved Pern from itself--so that the dragonriders can be ready to fly against the dreaded Thread when at last it returns . . .
From the Paperback edition.
The mostly melancholy early life of Robinton anchors this quiet installment of Pernese history, set just before the opening of Dragonflight, the first novel in the Dragonriders of Pern series. Mortally threatened every few centuries by Thread, which destroys each living thing it touches, Pern is defended by its fetching telepathic dragons and their dashing Weyrmen riders. Between Threadfalls, wandering teacher-bards trained at Harper Hall maintain the traditions that bind holders, craftsmen and dragonriders together. As the novels opens, hundreds of years after the last Threadfall, Robinton is born to Mastercomposer Petiron and his wife, Mastersinger Merelan. Petiron unreasonably resents and rejects his musically gifted son. Despite his father's ill will, however, Robinton rises to Mastership, his successes accompanied by a growing crescendo of animosity directed at dragonriders throughout Pern by the villainous Fax, who eventually arranges the murder of Robinton's Weyrleader friend F'lon. Fans of Pern will likely be enthralled by McCaffrey's detailing of life at Harper Hall, but, as always throughout this popular series, the story takes wing primarily when McCaffrey's beloved dragons roar and their riders soar upon the beasts' mighty backs. Even given his talents and his ability to speak with dragons, McCaffrey's Robinton is, ultimately, only a baritone, while the dragonriders F'lon and his avenging son, F'lar, hero of most of the Pern novels, are the flamboyant tenors who have given voice to McCaffrey's most magical moments. (Jan.) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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November 28, 1998
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Excerpt from The Masterharper of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
His parents were busy packing for their trip to Nerat, so Robinton had been told to go outside and play. He always missed his mother, but it would be nice to stay with Kubisa and Lina, where he could sing and play his pipe or his drum without worrying about annoying his father. Now it was his turn to hop-it without smudging the chalk lines on the flags, and his attention was utterly focused on the movement of his feet--until Libby made him miss the longest hop by suddenly pointing skyward in astonishment.
"Oh, look, Robie!" she cried.
"That's not fair..."
His complaint died as he realized that the dragons soaring above were coming closer to the Harper Hall, rather than the Hold, where they usually landed. Half a wing of dragons--six of them. As they swept closer, backwinging, their hind legs stretching downward to land in the Harper Hall quadrangle, Robie, Libby, and Lexey pressed themselves tightly against the wall to stay out of the way. As it was, two of the dragons had to land outside, since the first four made the big quadrangle suddenly appear very small.
The ridged tail of a bronze was so close to Robie he could reach out and touch it. Which he did, greatly daring, while Lexey regarded him with staring eyes, aghast at his impudence.
"You'll get left out for Thread for sure, Robie," Lexey whispered hoarsely, pressing his sturdy body as close to the stone wall as he could, well away from the dragon's tail.
"He's soft," Robie whispered back, surprised. Runner beasts were soft, as were the spit canines, but watchwhers had hard hides, sort of oily. At least the Harper Hall's ol' Nick did. Were watchwhers another kind of dragon, the way runner beasts were another kind of herd beast?
No, they are most certainly not, a voice said in his mind. The dragon turned his huge head to see who had touched him, causing Lexey to hiss in alarm and Libby to whimper a bit in terror. Very different from dragons entirely, the voice went on.