Author: Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey
Series: Dragon Riders of Pern (Book 4)
Publication: Del Rey (November 25, 2003)
Description: Beginning with the classic Dragonriders of Pern, Anne McCaffrey has created a complex, endlessly fascinating world uniting humans and great telepathic dragons. Millions of devoted readers have soared on the glittering wings of Anne’s imagination, following book by book the evolution of one of science fiction’s most beloved and honored series. Now, for the first time, Anne has invited another writer to join her in the skies of Pern, a writer with an intimate knowledge of Pern and its history: her son, Todd.
Young Kindan has no expectations other than joining his father in the mines of Camp Natalon, a coal mining settlement struggling to turn a profit far from the great Holds where the presence of dragons and their riders means safety and civilization. Mining is fraught with danger. Fortunately, the camp has a watch-wher, a creature distantly related to dragons and uniquely suited to specialized work in the dark, cold mineshafts. Kindan’s father is the watch-wher’s handler, and his son sometimes helps him out. But even that important job promises no opportunity outside the mine.
Then disaster strikes. In one terrible instant, Kindan loses his family and the camp loses its watch-wher. Fathers are replaced by sons in the mine–except for Kindan, who is taken in by the camp’s new Harper. Grieving, Kindan finds a measure of solace in a burgeoning musical talent . . . and in a new friendship with Nuella, a mysterious girl no one seems to know exists. It is Nuella who assists Kindan when he is selected to hatch and train a new watch-wher, a job that forces him to give up his dream of becoming a Harper; and it is Nuella who helps him give new meaning to his life.
Meanwhile, sparked by the tragedy, long-simmering tensions are dividing the camp. Far below the surface, a group of resentful miners hides a deadly secret. As warring factions threaten to explode, Nuella and Kindan begin to discover unknown talents in the misunderstood watch-wher–talents that could very well save an entire Hold. During their time teaching the watch-wher, the two learn some things themselves: that even a seemingly impossible dream is never completely out of reach . . . and that light can be found even in darkness.
My Thoughts: This is a story that takes place in the early years on Pern. The next threadfall is sixteen years away and a miner named Natalan is beginning a mine and hoping to make it a hold. Kindan is the youngest son of the the man who is bonded to the watchwher. Watchwhers are useful in mining because they can sense bad air and gases. But one of the men who came with Natalan, his uncle Tarik, is working against Natalan and subtly sabotaging his efforts to have a successful mine.
When a cave in kills Kindan's father and brothers and the watchwher, Kindan is taken in by the harper who begins to teach him to be a harper himself. However, Natalan wants Kindan to train a new watchwher. Natalan has a blind daughter named Nuella. He has kept her a secret from the rest of the people in the camp. Kindan learns about her and together they begin to raise the new watchwher Kisk. Not much is remembered about the watchwhers and so the two kids are on their own to raise and train her.
They are aided by the harper and some dragonriders he knows who are also interested in what watchwhers can do. As they begin to explore Kisk's talents Kindan and Nuella are also learning more about their own talents and strengths.
This was an interesting story about the early years on Pern and tells of a part of the world we don't get to see in the books that are dealing with dragons, dragonriders and threadfall.
"Kindan, do you know what harpers are supposed to do?"I bought this book before I started my LibraryThing account in February of 2008. You can buy your copy here.
"They're supposed to teach, and to sing songs at gathers, and play instruments," Kindan said, not quite sure he had the right answer.
Master Zisk nodded. "That's part of their job. Harpers also gather information and pass it along. We preserve knowledge. We help with the healers."