Anne McCaffrey is the creator of the wondrous world of Pern. In this far off world the colonists were surprised to be attacked by what seemed to be little worms. The “thread” crosses the void from a planet that is circling the land of Pern and these voracious creatures are able to eat any living matter being stopped only by stone or water.
When the first colonists land on Pern, their initial colony is quickly destroyed by these creatures, but they come up with an innovative strategy to protect themselves. By carrying out selective breeding on the small Fire Lizards that are native to the planet, they create full fledged dragons. These dragons with the use of a special rock enable their riders to char the thread while still far above the surface of Pern. A society is built up around the protectors and the protected and over time, the way in which the society functions becomes fixed in stone.
While Anne McCaffrey has written many books in this universe, this set – called the Harper Hall Trilogy – is focused on a younger teenage audience and can be read in itself without having to know or understand the rest of the story.
In DragonSong, Menolly is the main character and is a fifteen year old living in a very rigid and old fashioned fishing hold. As the youngest daughter of the Masterfisher, Menolly is restricted even more in her choices than any of her other peers. Menolly however has a talent for music – a skill that is restricted in her father’s eyes to males and when her teacher dies, he refuses to let her practice or use her talent.
Menolly escapes from the hold and finds herself sheltering in a cave on the cliffs of sea, here she impresses a clutch of Fire Dragons – the small precursors to the giant Dragons now defending the land and makes a life for herself away from her family.
The old harper – Menolly’s instructor – however had informed the master of his craft about Menolly’s prodigious talent and he had sent a replacement harper to search out and find Menolly. Unfortunately, the old harper had not told his master that his favoured apprentice was Menolly or even the fact that she was a girl, which meant that when his replacement arrived, he did not know who he was looking for and was only able to put together the disparate pieces into an answer after he discovers Menolly’s absence.
One day when Menolly is out searching for food for her lizards, she is caught out by the thread. Running as fast as she can to avoid the imminent deluge she is saved by a brown lizard and taken to Benden Wier – the home of the dragons – here, Menolly’s identity is divulged and she realizes that she is not in fact unwanted but is in reality very much a valuable member of the community and world.