Premise: In the four centuries since the mysterious, deadly “Threads” last threatened the planet, the dragonriders who fight the Threads have been scorned and forgotten by their people. But F’lar, the leader of the dragonriders, has studied ancient prophecies, and he knows the Threads are returning. Meanwhile, Lessa, a young, ambitious dragonrider, unites with the queen dragon, and together, they dare to rediscover the old methods of fighting the Threads.
What I Liked: The dragons! And the people flying them through space AND time! That was pretty cool. It also opened up a huuuuuuge universe for future books, which McCaffrey obviously took advantage of. (2) I liked the mix of F&SF elements. The dragons and dragonriders obviously felt like fantasy; but the plot felt more like sci-fi—it posed a problem to solve, rather than an adventure-quest. (3) I really enjoyed the plot payoff, even though the plot took a while to get going (and although once it got going, it was over. But I didn’t mind that—it was a fast read. It’s not like the plot dragged).
Other Stuff: (1) Characterization took a back seat to worldbuilding and plot, in this book; but I hear from other reviewers that the characters get more attention in later books. (2) The writing was decent, but occasionally McCaffrey would withhold strange bits of information in a disorienting way. (Several other reviewers irritably referred to “copy editing errors,” which might account for these confusions.) (3) Some reviewers charged the book with sexism, but I don’t really understand why; I mean, the main male protag, F’lar, can be kind of a jerk, but he’s a macho male and it’s not like Lessa ever backs down from her opinions. It works out for them—and I think [highlight to view spoiler: after Lessa’s success in the ending,] he’ll probably chill out. Also, the culture of the dragonriders does initially set itself against any female heroics, but [highlight to view spoiler: Lessa fixes that, in the ending ]. So I didn’t think the book was particularly sexist.
Overall Review: A fast-paced read with a cool setting and great concepts, though not much characterization. I think I’ll read on, at some point (perhaps after I finish Cinda Williams Chima’s Seven Realms series. Review coming soon!). I would like to get to know these characters (especially the dragons) better.
Recommendation: I think most people—men, women, teens, etc—would enjoy this book. I wouldn’t call it YA, but it fits right in with classic YA Fantasy like Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series or Tamora Pierce’s Lioness quartet.