The masterharper of Pern

Anne McCaffrey

Book - 1999

A tale of dragons in the land of Pern and the boy who communicates with them by telepathy. He is Rob, a musical genius, and when he grows up he leads the dragons and their riders in battle against an evil man who denies people education.

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New York : Ballantine Pub. Group 1999.
Main Author
Anne McCaffrey (-)
1st Mass Market ed
Item Description
"A Dell Rey book."
Physical Description
422 p. ; 18 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

McCaffrey is amazing. She is so steeped in the lore, history, and environment of her brilliantly created planet Pern and its people that she doesn't have to write her tales about it in sequence. She introduced Pern in Dragonflight (1968), but it wasn't until five books later, in 1988, that she unfolded her vision of the early colonizing of Pern by 6,000 people from Earth in Dragonsdawn. Since then, she has filled in other blanks in the planet's history. Now she fills in the background of Masterharper Robinton, who has been seen as the beloved Masterharper in other Pern novels, and her legion of fans will welcome and relish the story of Robinton's youth. Growing up in uneasy times, when many believe that the dangerous Thread will never return and resent both the harpers and the dragonriders, Robinton not only encounters danger and tragedy but also gains respect and love. Tautly plotted and featuring good characterizations, The Masterharper of Pern eventually segues neatly into and overlaps events in the beginning chapter of Dragonflight. That Robinton is on the scene here but not in the first Pern book will not deter the series' fans from devouring this further fine addition to the Pern canon. --Sally Estes

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

The mostly melancholy early life of Robinton anchors this quiet installment of Pernese history, set just before the opening of Dragonflight, the first novel in the Dragonriders of Pern series. Mortally threatened every few centuries by Thread, which destroys each living thing it touches, Pern is defended by its fetching telepathic dragons and their dashing Weyrmen riders. Between Threadfalls, wandering teacher-bards trained at Harper Hall maintain the traditions that bind holders, craftsmen and dragonriders together. As the novels opens, hundreds of years after the last Threadfall, Robinton is born to Mastercomposer Petiron and his wife, Mastersinger Merelan. Petiron unreasonably resents and rejects his musically gifted son. Despite his father's ill will, however, Robinton rises to Mastership, his successes accompanied by a growing crescendo of animosity directed at dragonriders throughout Pern by the villainous Fax, who eventually arranges the murder of Robinton's Weyrleader friend F'lon. Fans of Pern will likely be enthralled by McCaffrey's detailing of life at Harper Hall, but, as always throughout this popular series, the story takes wing primarily when McCaffrey's beloved dragons roar and their riders soar upon the beasts' mighty backs. Even given his talents and his ability to speak with dragons, McCaffrey's Robinton is, ultimately, only a baritone, while the dragonriders F'lon and his avenging son, F'lar, hero of most of the Pern novels, are the flamboyant tenors who have given voice to McCaffrey's most magical moments. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

YA-Set just prior to Dragonflight, Masterharper details the life, loves, and heartbreaks of Robinton, Pern's most beloved harper. Readers follow him through a childhood filled with rejection and neglect by his Mastercomposer father, the loss of his wife, the death of his best friend, to his becoming Masterharper of Pern. This is McCaffrey at her best, combining excellent writing with vivid settings and detailed, fully fleshed-out characters. The book would be best read after Dragonflight (1986) and Dragonquest (1979, both Ballantine), but can stand alone.-John Lawson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

McCaffrey's latest rummage through the archives of planet Peru (Dragonseye, 1997, etc.) has unearthed Robinton, the Masterharper of Pern, and the circumstances surrounding the advent of weyrleader F'lar and Lessa, the first woman Dragonrider. It's a time when no Thread has fallen for centuries (it's due in 50 years or so), and five of the six weyrs stand inexplicably empty of Dragons and Riders. Young Rob, rejected by his father, is a musical prodigy and has the ability to speak telepathically with dragons. As Rob's musical and diplomatic skills grow, he becomes friendly with Dragonrider F'lon and also earns the enmity of Fax, a holder who refuses to allow his people to be educated (the traditional role of the Harpers). Rob marries, but his wife dies of a fever; F'lon's wife dies in childbirth; Fax, meanwhile, by force and trickery dominates the north and threatens the very basis of Pem society. Then, after F'lon is killed in a contrived duel, Fax invades Ruatha Hold, and now Rob must enlist the aid of F'lon's son F'lar to defeat Fax. Covers well-trodden ground in more detail than hitherto; presumably, most dragonfans will find it satisfying enough. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

His parents were busy packing for their trip to Nerat, so Robinton had been told to go outside and play. He always missed his mother, but it would be nice to stay with Kubisa and Lina, where he could sing and play his pipe or his drum without worrying about annoying his father. Now it was his turn to hop-it without smudging the chalk lines on the flags, and his attention was utterly focused on the movement of his feet--until Libby made him miss the longest hop by suddenly pointing skyward in astonishment. "Oh, look, Robie!" she cried. "That's not fair..." His complaint died as he realized that the dragons soaring above were coming closer to the Harper Hall, rather than the Hold, where they usually landed. Half a wing of dragons--six of them. As they swept closer, backwinging, their hind legs stretching downward to land in the Harper Hall quadrangle, Robie, Libby, and Lexey pressed themselves tightly against the wall to stay out of the way. As it was, two of the dragons had to land outside, since the first four made the big quadrangle suddenly appear very small. The ridged tail of a bronze was so close to Robie he could reach out and touch it. Which he did, greatly daring, while Lexey regarded him with staring eyes, aghast at his impudence. "You'll get left out for Thread for sure, Robie," Lexey whispered hoarsely, pressing his sturdy body as close to the stone wall as he could, well away from the dragon's tail. "He's soft," Robie whispered back, surprised. Runner beasts were soft, as were the spit canines, but watchwhers had hard hides, sort of oily. At least the Harper Hall's ol' Nick did. Were watchwhers another kind of dragon, the way runner beasts were another kind of herd beast? No, they are most certainly not, a voice said in his mind. The dragon turned his huge head to see who had touched him, causing Lexey to hiss in alarm and Libby to whimper a bit in terror. Very different from dragons entirely, the voice went on. "I do apologize. I didn't mean to insult you, bronze dragon," Robie said, giving a jerky little bow. "I've never seen one of you up close before." We do not come as often to the Harper Hall as we used to.   It had to be the dragon speaking, Robie decided, because the deep voice couldn't have come from anybody else nearby. The rider had dismounted and was standing on the steps talking to his mother and father. "Are my mother and father going to ride on you to Nerat?" Robie knew that was why the dragons had come, to take all the harpers to Nerat for the espousal. His mother had told him that. Nerat Hold tithed to Benden Weyr, and so in turn could ask the Weyrleader to provide dragon transport. Going a-dragonback meant they wouldn't have a long land journey to make, so they wouldn't be away long. And besides, it was a great honor to go a-dragonback. They are Harpers? the dragon asked. "Yes, my mother's MasterSinger Merelan and my father is now Master Petiron. He writes the music they're going to sing." We look forward to hearing it. "I didn't know dragons liked music," Robie said, greatly surprised. That had never been mentioned with all the other things he'd learned about dragonkind. Well, we do. So does my rider, M'ridin. Robie's sensitive ears caught the affection with which the dragon named his rider. He asked especially to convey your mother and father. It will be an honor for us to take a MasterSinger to Nerat. " Who are you talking to?" Libby asked, her eyes still wide with fright for Robie's presumptuous behavior toward the huge and powerful creature. "The dragon, a' course," Robie said, having no real sense of doing something unusual. "You'll be careful with them, won't you, dragon?" Of course! Robie was certain the dragon was laughing inside. "What's so funny?" I have a name, you know. "Oh, I know that all the dragons have names, but I've only just met you so I don't know your name." Robie turned his head ever so slightly to be sure his friends were observing how brave he was. And courteous. Cortath is my name. What is yours, little one? "Robie...that is, Robinton, and you will fly my parents very carefully, won't you?" Of course I will, young Robinton. Greatly reassured by that, Robie took advantage of this unparalleled opportunity and asked, "Will you be fighting Thread when it comes back?" The tail gave such a convulsive twitch that it nearly swept both Lexey and Robinton, who were nearest, off their feet. The dragon swerved his body around so that his great head, with its many faceted eyes swirling with a variety of colors rapidly turning into orange and red, came closer to Robie. Dragons always fly when Thread is in the sky, was the unequivocal answer. "You know the song, then?" Robie asked, delighted. But, before Cortath could answer, his rider was at his head, turning it back so that he could introduce the bronze to Merelan and Petiron "Robinton, what are you doing back there?" his father demanded, noticing him at last and gesturing for him to get out of the way. "We were just playing hop-it, only Cortath landed in the middle..." At the boy's words, the great dragon courteously moved his feet. "It's all right, Cortath, you smudged the lines a bit with your tail but we can fix it when you leave." "Robinton!" his father roared, scowling his amazement. Robinton risked a nervous glance at his mother and saw her slight smile. Why was his father angry with him? He really hadn't been doing anything wrong , had he? "Cortath says he's enjoyed conversing with your son, Master Petiron," M'ridin said with a reassuring chuckle. "There aren't that many children these days who will, you know." Robinton's sensitive ears caught the plaintive note in the tall, bronze rider's voice. He opened his mouth to say that he'd be happy to talk to Cortath any time, when he saw his mother raise her finger in her signal for him to be silent and noticed the deepening scowl on his father's face. So he looked anywhere but at the adults. "Out of the way now, boy," his father said, gesturing urgently. Robinton scooted off toward the hall, Libby and Lexey well in front of him, all too relieved to be allowed to leave. "Goodbye, Cortath," Robinton said. Seeing the dragon turn his head to follow him, he waved his fingers in farewell. We will meet again, young Robinton, Cortath said clearly. "Shards, Rob, you were lucky," Lexey said enviously. "And brave," Libby put in, her blue eyes still as wide as saucers in her freckled face. Robie shrugged. He was probably lucky he hadn't been close enough to his father for a smack at bothering a dragon, but he didn't think he'd been particularly brave. Though he should not, perhaps, have compared a dragon to a watchwher! He'd caught the insulted note in the dragon's voice, and he guessed he was lucky Cortath had deigned to speak with him, instead of just lashing out with his tail at the presumptuous boy. "Did you hear what Cortath told me?" he asked his friends. "They're leaving," Lexey said, pointing as the dragons suddenly leaped skyward. As the great wings swirled up dust and grit from the courtyard, the children hastily turned away to protect their faces. When they turned back, rubbing dirt from their eyes, the dragons had already risen above the high, pitched roof of the quadrangle. Robinton waved frantically, recognizing Cortath's bright bronze coat and his passengers, but he didn't think even his mother was looking down just then. The next moment, all had disappeared and the courtyard looked emptier than ever. He felt oddly sad that the dragon had gone--as if he had missed something very important but didn't know what it was. He realized that he didn't really want to know if his friends had heard the dragon, too. After all, he had been the one who had done the talking, so it was his special encounter. He was not covetous by nature, but some things you kept to yourself, because they were yours, your doing, and should be savor ed quietly. Excerpted from The Masterharper of Pern by Anne McCaffrey All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.