Masterharper of Pern, The by Anne McCaffrey

  (17 ratings)

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Book Information  
AuthorAnne McCaffrey
TitleMasterharper of Pern, The
SeriesRenegades of Pern
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
Submitted by Steve Painter 
(Jan 20, 2004)

I'm a big fan of the Pern series, and consequently also a big fan of Robinton himself. So reading this book was thoroughly enjoyable for me due to the insight it gave me into Robinton and Pernese life during the Long Interval.

Unfortunately, the book is far from perfect. The parts concerned with Harper Hall seem to be directly lifted from Dragonsinger; Robinton is a direct analogue of Menolly through most of his experiences at the hall.

Other aspects of the plot are repeats of earlier books, and that grew a little tedious. But most unforgiveable are the vast number of inconsistencies that have been compounded by this novel. McCaffrey regularly makes consistency errors (where are her proof-readers?) but there are two notable cases that really stand out in this novel.

The first has to do with the order of founding of the major Holds of Pern. In all books prior to First Fall, Ruatha was cited again and again as the second oldest hold. Then First Fall makes reference to Boll being founded a couple of years prior. At that point, the inconsistency is forgivable. Maybe the true order was forgotten over time, maybe Pierre de Courcis didn't found SOUTH Boll Hold till a little later. But Masterharper has Robinton create a little ditty for slower students to remember the order of founding that goes "First Fort Hold and then South Boll..." (or something like that).

The second inconsistency has to do with Harpers going around preaching the Charter to all and sundry. And that Robinton had "seen the original, remarkably preserved" in Fort or the Hall (I forget which). However, I could swear that the original Charter is unearthed from a box in Fort Hold during All the Weyrs of Pern, and indeed, it is in that book where such a great fuss is made over how remarkably close Pernese law has held to that document over the years.

Anyway, Masterharper was a decent read but definitely annoying for any pedants out there like me. Anne, you should get more people to check your work!!!

Submitted by Sarah Jayne 
(Apr 07, 2002)

Master Harper of Pern is one of Anne McCaffrey's best. As a book, it is well written and has little to no inconsistencies. For those of us who have the world's biggest case of hero worship for Robinton, it's a masterpiece on its own. It allows us a look in to the mind of one of the most unique characters that Anne McCaffrey has yet written in the Pern trilogy. The book gives an insightful look at the history of Pern up to the point where Lessa and F'Lar become the Weir leaders. It helps us understand the motivations and reasoning behind a lot of the attitudes that we have come to associate with each character.
Overall Master Harper of Pern is an excellent read, but should not be read as a starting point. Most of my enjoyment came from learning about characters that were already well established in my mind.

Submitted by Marian Powell
(May 15, 2001)

This is a rather strange book in that it takes Robinton literally from birth to old age. For that reason, it is absolutely only for someone who loves the Pern stories and has read a great many. It attempts to fill in the gaps in the life story of a character you have come to love. It would be a terrible introduction to the world of Pern by itself. As a novel, it's good and has some interesting parts but it's not anywhere near the best of the series. It does a nice job of giving the background of all the major characters of Dragonflight. We see Fax as youthful wouldbe world conqueror. We meet the father of F'lar and F'non. We meet the father of Lessa and Lessa as a very small child, a happy little princess. That to me was the most moving aspect of this novel. Then, near the end, in the best chapter, Anne McCaffrey pulls an amazing stunt. The whole Pern series began originally with a novelette in Analog Magazine titled Weyr Search. Read it before reading this novel. The story introduces Lessa as a vengeful slave plotting the downfall of the villainous Fax and introduces the dragonriders and the dragons. That story is seen through Lessa's and F'lars viewpoint. Now, in this novel, we see the whole story replay--through the eyes of Robinton who has sneaked into Ruatha in disguise. It's a wonderful idea and it works beautifully and makes slogging through the duller parts of the book worth the journey.

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