McCaffrey first introduced her Thread-threatened planet of Pern in adult paperbacks, and this third juvenile with the same setting refers to events that occurred in last year's episode, the first adult hardcover installment in the Dragonrider complex. (Complicated? You bet. And hardly worth it.) Here wondergirl Menolly's young friend Piemur suffers a voice change at 14, and so, in the manner of this paternalistic community, he is transferred from his singing Hall to work ostensibly as a drummer's apprentice, actually as a political spy for the beloved Masterharper. Jealous fellow apprentices hassle Piemur as Menolly's Cot-mates did her in a previous (1977) adventure; but soon Piemur is far away, stealing and Impressing his own Fire Lizard from a disagreeable and dying local Lord, then hiding in a sack which is smuggled off to the mysterious Southern Continent--where he survives three dread Threadfalls before Menolly and her new lover come to the rescue. Readers might still wonder why young people and adults alike attribute such importance to the little Fire Lizards. McCaffrey too makes very much of very little.