The picture above is the same as the copy I read. The one below is from a different version, also taken from Goodreads.
First Impression: I'm really excited about this book. I've always heard good things about the series but didn't read much fantasy when I was younger. This is an interesting combination of fantasy and science fiction. Based on the idea that long ago, humans discovered other solar systems and colonized a planet called Pern (then basically forgot about Earth and vice-versa), the story has dragons as creatures of an alien world, not a mythological one. That being said, the dragons do bond with their riders in a mythical way when first hatched, the telepathic link forged almost immediately and without scientific explanation. I'm a little wary of the fierceness of the riders and this dangerous society of dragons and men. That being said, Lessa is rather fierce herself. She's willing to do things that seem harsh in order to accomplish what she believes is right, but that is what makes her a perfect Weyrwoman choice, I think. This is a very patriarchal society. The dragon queen and weyrwoman are very powerful, but they serve Pern and mate with their male counterparts (the head male dragon and Weyrleader, respectively). McCaffrey has created an intriguing world here, and I'm excited to jump into it. A friend of mine describes it like this: "Pern is how the world would be if humans moved to another planet during the Renaissance and dragons were real." I think that is an apt and succinct description. Pern is somewhat progressive, but the ceremonies and traditions are paramount to survival on the planet.
Conclusion: What a great book! I love that McCaffrey takes something that has been done so many times (dragon stories) and makes it completely unique, although I guess it hadn't been done as many times when she first wrote this. Alien planets, Threads that only dragons can fight, and an entire civilization built around protecting against Threads and supporting the dragons. There was a point where the story lagged a bit while the Southern Weyr was being established. It was building a little drama, but not as much as I had expected. And the extreme patriarchal society was a bit much for me sometimes. It's easier to look at from a historical standpoint, both in the old-time fantasy atmosphere of the story and the fantasy genre of thirty-or-so years-ago when the book was released. That being said, McCaffrey ended with a bang! I'm curious to continue with the series and these fascinating characters. How will Lessa deal with the new people and changes from the end of this book? What differences will occur in Pern? Will Pern's defensive strategy against the Threads continue? What's going to happen for F'nor (because, honestly, he's my favorite, but he's kind of living in F'lar's shadow)? Can't wait to read the next one!
Recommendation: If you like old school dragon-related fantasy in the Mercedes Lackey style, this is a good choice for you! Or if you just like to try a variety of fantasy types, also a good choice!
This is my fifteenth choice for the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge. I'm happy to be making so much progress with my to-be-read books this year!