Todd McCaffrey, Dragonsblood

Posted July 25, 2011 by Kathy Davie in

DragonsbloodDragonsblood by Todd McCaffrey
Series: Dragonriders of Pern, 507 AL
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It’s 507 AL, 507 years after landing, and Thread is expected soon. It parallels Dragon’s Fire and Dragon’s Kin.

The Story
Half the story is of Wind Blossom’s last years on Pern, 50 years after landing to 59 AL, struggling to find a cure for the dragons and fire lizards in which we learn the true reason for her attitude toward her students and child while the other half of the story takes place in the weyrs as dragons sicken and die.

All the characters from Dragon’s Fire and Dragon’s Kin appear playing their parts in various degrees with references to their adventures in these two stories.

In the Wind Blossom half we learn of Sean O’Connell’s death, the reasoning behind the creation of the watch-whers, and a hint as to a purpose behind Ted Tubberman’s activities.

In the current-day half of the story, Lorana is taken on as a pet project by J’trel and his dragon, Talith, after losing his partner, K’nad. Lorana has lost her father in an beast handling accident and since they had lost all the rest of her family during the plague 12 years ago, Lorana has no one. But J’trel is taken by her incredible drawing ability and helps her begin her dream of sketching all the animal life of Pern. Along the way, J’trel learns that Lorana can speak to any dragon.

This side of the story we learn the details of Kindan and Lorana falling in love.

As part of the frantic search to discover what is killing the dragons (I use the word “frantic” to attempt to instill some sense of drama…at least in the review), Kindan, Lorana, and friends discover the hidden rooms, which will help save Pern. We see a brief glimpse of Cisca, Weyrwoman for Fort, and K’lior deciding to send their wounded and weyrlings back in time to Igen to recover and be ready to meet Thread in three days even though another of the books covers this more thoroughly. I guess this “glimpse” helps tie Dragonsblood in with the other…yawn…oops, sorry, snort…

The Characters
Wind Blossom uses her remaining energy to resolve an issue that had been skipped when she and her mother, Kitty Ping, first bioengineered the dragons.

It’s been ten Turns since Kindan met M’tal at Camp Natalon and he’s harpering at Benden Weyr. Nuella’s brother, Dalor and Renna, his secret childhood sweetheart, are together now.

Lorana can speak to all the dragons and ends up impressing a queen while the Weyrleaders are K’lior of Fort, C’rion of Ista, M’tal of Benden, D’vin of High Reaches, and D’gan of Telgar after having moved there from Igen when plague and drought made it uninhabitable and their last queen died.

My Take
Interesting for its insight into responsible creation but, again, no subtlety, no passion. Simply a recitation of facts with allusions which never enlighten us. There is an interesting implication about Ted Tubberman and we meet his grandson, Tieran.

There are hints made about dementia but McCaffrey doesn’t do anything with it. No depth. Still no passion.

On page 220, McCaffrey has Emorra, Wind Blossom’s daughter, intuit that the beads on Gren’s harness had not yet been made. On practically no evidence, Emorra determines that Gren is here from 400 years in the future. No development, no tension. On page 258, the dragons are so sick and they’re dying right and left, yet McCaffrey doesn’t build on this. I barely cried. In fact, my mind kept wandering thinking about reading another book, any other book. It was almost like reading a dry history book.

As an example of not paying attention, McCaffrey has established that Lorana must be back at the Weyr to feed her queen in a hour. By page 273, Lorana and company have been reading through the Records for hours with no hint or suggestion that Lorana is supposed to be back at the Weyr taking care of her beloved dragon. I thought the new wyerlings were so amazingly attached to their dragons?? Their every thought was of them? Even when McCaffrey kills off dragons of riders we have somehow managed to find some empathy for, he doesn’t press how horrible this is. It could almost be the day after Christmas and we have to wait til next year to get more prezzies.

McCaffrey makes Tullea, one of the queen riders at Benden, such a bitch but he doesn’t delve into it. It’s all on the surface.

I am so irritated with McCaffrey writing these three stories as separate books. He’s stretched out the pages to make the reader feel they’re getting a deal but once you read through you realize how you’ve been cheated.

We do finally learn how it happened that that young dragonrider and his dragon ended up encased in solid rock at Benden Weyr. One of the very, very few dramatic bits of writing that worked. And it so wasn’t worth it!

Again, no build up, no drama in the conclusions Emorra, Tieran, M’hall, and Seamus come to in deciding how to build the instant learning room. Such a bore.

The Cover
Wind Rider heeling through the waves as a blue dragon confronts the ship. Lovely cover with a fleeting connection to the story. The title is perfect as it is the Dragonsblood that proves critical.

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