1/07/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
Dragon's Time by Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey. pub: Del Rey/Ballantine. 320 page hardback. Price: $26.00 (US), $30.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-345-50089-2.
check out websites: www.delreybooks.com, www.annemccaffrey.net and www.toddmccaffrey.org
It’s rather weird reading ‘Dragon’s Time’. Mostly because those of us who read the Pern books know what is going on far more than the characters in the story do. One of the clearest indicators is when dragonriders are tired all the time because they are obviously timing it, ie going back and forth to different times and not bumping into each other. The only thing that isn’t revealed is where. I’ll have to leave it as spoiler as that is revealed later in the book. The main concern is there isn’t enough dragons to burn thread and with Lorana and her gold dragon lost sometime in some undated future or past trying to bring back help. Where to look for help is somewhat limited because the immediate past is where the virus that was killing the dragons exists means it’s not exactly safe to send young dragons and their riders to mature there.
A lot of this story focuses too much on a few characters in the weyrs than overall events. It’s a bit difficult to work out which McCaffrey – mother and son - is responsible for that. It’s interesting that the weyr folk still know that the Dawn Sisters are orbiting spacecraft, even if access to them is near impossible.
There is still the nasty habit of relying far too much on dialogue to propel the story along than actual text. In collaboration, it’s not quite so aimless as in the previous couple books but it’s a poor substitute for structural text as to just what is going on around the characters although it might well work better as an audio book because of it.
I thought this was going to pervade throughout the novel when suddenly with chapter nine on, it came back and everything smoothed out. This reviewer would hazard to think this is where mum Anne took the reins and the difference is staggering and I really hope son Todd can recognise the difference and how much he has to do to catch up to his mother’s standard. Good writers make their stories look effortless and it’s all too easy for new or even developing writers think that it’s easy to master and forget the grounding that makes it work.
There are a lot of things I wish there were more of. More dragon/human interaction would have been nice, if only to enforce the relationship to new readers discovering these books. Some of the revelations like blue dragons breeding or even weyrwomen able to share queen dragons needs more exploration or at least to show why this faded away by the time of Anne McCaffrey’s ‘Dragonflight’ novel run.
I do think Todd ought to take a break and write a novel based solely on his own ideas if only to help develop his storycraft and shake some cobwebs so he can function better as a writer. This would also help him get back into the swing of writing the next novel. There is a hint from his mum that she has some ideas for the future of Pern and based off the last few chapters here, is something a lot of readers would love to see even if it was a linking run of short stories.
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