Anne and Todd McCaffrey return once too often to the planet Pern, where humans ride telepathic dragons to fight a mindless alien menace.
Illness and accident has robbed Pern of many of the planet’s people and dragons. Fiona, Weyrwoman of Telgar, her lovers, Weyrleader T’Mar and Harper Kindan, and Kindan’s other lover, the ex-dragonrider Lorana, seek desperately for a way to get the Weyrs up to fighting strength against the threat of Thread, the devouring alien spores that periodically invade the planet. The solution involves riding the dragons backward and forward in time, so frequently that it’s almost impossible to figure out just when anything is actually happening. Lorana, riding a borrowed dragon, even sacrifices her own unborn child on an apparently urgent mission to find help, a quest frequently interrupted by her meddling in the personal timelines of her friends. The best parts of the plot are pulled from previous, far superior books in the series. Small bits of action—devastating battles with Thread, a dragon-egg hatching gone drastically wrong—infrequently punctuate this histrionic soap opera, which, despite its incredibly relaxed attitude toward polyamory, is devoid of sex scenes. Readers may also question why they should bother trying to keep track of the interpersonal drama when the characters are so poorly sketched out that it’s tough to understand why we should care for them.
A sadly inadequate exemplar of a beloved, classic series that is clearly long past its sell-by date.