Nerilka is the plain and gawky seventh child of Lord Tolocamp, a middle daughter with little hope for marriage. The plague changes all of that. When the sickness takes her mother and sisters, her father quickly remarries, taking as wife his mistress Anella and leaving Nerilka responsible for the day-to-day management of Fort Hold. This brings her into conflict with her father, who wants to hoard the Hold’s resources against the plague.
Nerilka, knowing the folly of isolation, first attempts to smuggle food and medicine to the Healers, then disguises herself as a servant and goes out among the victims. This quest leads her to the great Ruatha Hold, where she battles the epidemic and, in doing so, finds her destiny.
This is McCaffrey’s eighth book set on Pern, a planet of telepathic dragons and periodic threats from the parasitic organisms knows as “thread.” The world of NERILKA’S STORY is well thought-out and well described; the prologue provides the necessary background concerning Pern’s history and ecology.
NERILKA’S STORY is a fast-paced adventure, with strong and believable characters in conflict on the vivid canvas of another planet, yet with motivations and situations familiar to all of us. The story’s lesson is familiar also, but it bears repeating: A person’s true worth will be determined not by his words, but by his actions.