Forbidden by her father to indulge in music in any way, a girl on the planet Pern runs away, taking shelter with the planet's fire lizards who, along with her music, opens a new life for her.
I first read the Harper Hall trilogy when I was in my early teens and back then I loved it endlessly, so much in fact that when at a library sale and I came across 3 battered copies I bought them immediately.
I've since them read the books numerous times and even got my hands on the prequel disguised as a sequel, the Masterharper of Pern. I've never read the many books that came before these, but have always intended to.
Very recently Anne McCaffrey passed away and I picked up the first book once more. I was a bit surprised at how much things have changed. Reading with a more critical (and adult) point of view, I found the main character Menolly far too whiny. I'm so used to strong female heroines, that her poor confidence and her lack of ability of stand up for herself took me aback.
I also thought the general language of the book had a very childish tone. Menolly is 15, but is more immature than the 10 year olds from Tamora Pierce's books.
Wikipedia will have you believe that fixed gender roles make Menolly an outcast, as she is unskilled at tasks which are regarded as women's work on Pern and excels in the male-dominated field of music. She chooses to live alone in the dangerously unprotected world outside the Hold instead of allowing her natural talents to be suppressed. Personally I think that's giving the girl far too much credit for an impulse decision, but eh.
However those things aside, the story still held me as firmly as it once did, and I still want a fire lizard of my own.
208 pages / published in 1976
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2011