Long ago humans settled on the distant planet Pern and established a symbiotic psychic link with the native dragons. The Red Planet passes Pern on an elliptical orbit every few hundred years, raining down deadly space microorganisms. Today, life on Pern is a pre-industrial society, and the threat of Thread raining down from the sky is dismissed as a myth by most.

Lessa, a young girl forced to live beneath her station, manipulates a visiting Dragonrider to kill the man who usurped her family’s hold on her home, Ruatha. Ready to become ruler of her home again, Lessa is invited by the Dragonrider to attempt to impress (form a psychic link) with a Queen dragon hatchling, as he recognizes her strength of will in his own deception.

I found the premise of this novel to be such a fun fantasy, and my hopes were very high for the first female author to win a Hugo and Nebula for a novella which was expanded into this book. Maybe the fact that this book was actually two novellas before it was fixed-up into the novel that left me feeling a little disjointed.

There were several great ideas here – dragons fighting space dust, psychic dragon conversations, a powerful woman protagonist who undermines outdated regulations, going between (teleportation), uncontrolled human sex after dragon mating, as well as excellent fantasy jargon and made-up names. However, I never actually felt connected to Lessa, or any other character, so the conflict didn’t ever quite feel like a big deal. Most of the novel felt like a series of Lessa breaking the rules and finding another way to prove she was right, but generally getting injured in the process.

I would recommend this book to any lovers of high fantasy that don’t necessarily need character stories, and who will appreciate the strong setting and plot elements.