Anne McCaffrey Joan Barbour - Essay

Joan Barbour

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[In Dragonsong young] Menolly, whose greatest love is music, rebels against the harsh life in a fishing Hold after her father forbids her even to sing. Leaving the safety of the Hold, Menolly is befriended by a group of fire lizards and eventually realizes her dream about becoming a musician. The author explores the ideas of alienation, rebellion, love of beauty, the role of women and the role of the individual in society with some sensitivity in a generally well-structured plot with sound characterizations.

Joan Barbour, "The Book Review: 'Dragonsong'," in School Library Journal (reprinted from the April, 1976 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co./ A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1976), Vol. 22, No. 8, April, 1976, p. 91.

[Dragonsong] takes place on Pern, one of those Other planets where the names are vaguely Welsh, and there's a portentous foreword about the deadly Thread spores, the flying dragons bred to char Thread to ash in the sky, and the perilous neglect of the dragon Weyrs as people become complacent. But McCaffrey seems to have scrapped the story you'd expect to follow from this for a smaller one about Menolly…. As the master Harper puts it, "(had I but known) you might have been spared a great deal of anguish"—always a thin thread on which to hang a whole adventure. For those who are content with the trappings of winged fantasy both Menolly and her society are smoothly realized, but McCaffrey's setting and framework suggest a weightier Pern that the center cannot hold.

"Younger Fiction: 'Dragonsong'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1976 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XLIV, No. 7, April 1, 1976, p. 391.