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On Sale: January 25, 2005
Pages: 0 | ISBN: 978-0-345-48193-1
Published by : Del Rey Ballantine Group
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In Dragon’s Kin, bestselling author Anne McCaffrey did the unthinkable: for the first time ever, she invited another writer to join her in the skies of her most famous fictional creation. That writer was her son, Todd McCaffrey. Together, they penned a triumphant new chapter in the annals of the extraordinarily popular Dragonriders of Pern. Now, for the first time, Todd McCaffrey flies alone. And Dragonsblood is proof that the future of Pern is in good hands. After all, dragons are in his blood. . . .

Never in the dramatic history of Pern has there been a more dire emergency than that which faces the young dragonrider Lorana. A mysterious fatal illness is striking dragons. The epidemic is spreading like wildfire . . . and the next deadly cycle of Threadfall is only days away. Somehow, Lorana must find a cure before the dragons–including her own beloved Arith–succumb to the sickness, leaving Pern undefended.

The lyrics of an all-but-forgotten song seem to point toward an answer from nearly five hundred years in the past, when Kitti Ping and her daughter Wind Blossom bred the first dragons from their smaller cousins, the fire-lizards. No doubt the first colonists possessed the advanced technology to find the cure for which Lorana seeks, but over the centuries, that knowledge has been lost.
Or has it?

For in the distant past, an aged Wind Blossom worries that the germs that affect the fire-lizards may one day turn on larger prey–and unleash a plague that will destroy the dragons, Pern’s only defenders against Thread. But as her people struggle to survive, Wind Blossom has neither the time nor the resources to expend on a future that may never arrive–until suddenly she uncovers evidence that her worst fears will come true.

Now two brave women, separated by hundreds of years but joined by bonds transcending time, will become unknowing allies in a desperate race against sickness and Threadfall, with nothing less than the survival of all life on Pern at stake.

From the Hardcover edition.



Red Star at night:

Firestone, dig,

Harness, rig,

Dragons take flight.

Fort Weyr, at the end of the Second Interval, After Landing (AL) 507

Four men stood in a knot around the Star Stones of Fort Weyr. The sun was just above the horizon, casting the harsh shadows of early dawn at winter’s end. Each man wore the prestigious shoulder knots of Weyrleader. Their warm wher-hide jackets proclaimed them the leaders of Benden, Fort, Telgar, and Ista Weyrs.

K’lior, Fort’s Weyrleader, was host and the youngest present. He was also the newest Weyrleader, having gained his position less than a Turn before.

He glanced back to the Star Stones—to the Eye Rock, which bracketed the Finger Rock, which itself was lit by the baleful Red Star. Thread was coming. Soon.

The air was made more chilly by the steady breeze blowing across the plateau where Fort’s Star Stones were placed. K’lior suppressed a shiver. “Fort is still wing light. We’ve only had the one clutch—”

“There’s time yet, K’lior,” C’rion, Ista’s Weyrleader, judged. He pointed at the Red Star and the Eye Rock. “Thread won’t fall until after the last frost.”

“There’s no doubt, then, that Thread is coming,” K’lior said, wishing the other Weyrleaders would disagree with him.

For over two hundred Turns, the planet of Pern had been free of the threat of Thread falling from the sky.

Now that peace would end.

The Red Star’s return would bring the Thread that would try, once more, to devour all life on Pern.

For the next fifty Turns, the dragons would rise to the skies, flame Thread into lifeless char, or, failing, watch in horror as it burrowed into the rich soil of Pern to destroy all organic material with mindless voracity.

“Telgar’s ready, K’lior,” D’gan declared. He turned back from the Star Stones and the dawning light to gaze at the others, who were obscured by the sharp shadows of the early morning light. His words were firmly emphasized by the distant rumbling of his bronze, Kaloth. “My wings are at full strength and I’ve two clutches on the Hatching Grounds—”

One of the other Weyrleaders cleared his throat loudly, but D’gan’s fierce glare could not pierce the shadows to identify the culprit.

“Yes, we were lucky,” he continued in answer to the unknown heckler, “but the fact remains that Telgar will be wing heavy when Thread falls. And our holders have tithed fully so we’ve no lack of equipment or firestone.”

K’lior shifted uneasily, for he had been frank in relaying his difficulties in getting Fort’s full tithe. “But you don’t agree to pooling resources?” he asked again.

He had called this meeting of the Weyrleaders to propose just that. As none of them had ever fought Thread, K’lior felt that his notion of “fly together, learn together” had merit, and would promote communication among the Weyrs. He was shocked when D’vin of High Reaches had refused the invitation and was even further shocked by D’gan’s attitude. Telgar’s Weyrleader was Igen-bred, after all. K’lior had hoped that D’gan’s experience would have made him more amenable to working together, not less.

D’gan favored the wiry Fort Weyrleader with a superior look. “If you’re still wing light when Thread falls, K’lior, I’m sure I could spare some of my own.”

“I’ll bet they’re all bronzes,” a voice muttered dryly. It came from the direction of the Benden and Istan Weyrleaders.

The implication that D’gan might want to reduce the competition for Telgar’s next mating flight was obvious. Not that D’gan’s Kaloth had to fly all Telgar’s queen dragons to remain Weyrleader—just the senior queen.

D’gan stiffened angrily at the remark, turned to K’lior, and said, “I’ve a Weyr to attend, Fort. I must return.”

“Let me call someone to guide your way, D’gan,” K’lior offered pleasantly, worried about slippery walkways under unfamiliar feet.

The offer annoyed D’gan, who snapped, “I can find my own dragon well enough, Fort.”

K’lior jogged after D’gan, still hoping to soothe the other’s foul mood.

“C’rion, you know he’s got a thin skin. Why do you insist on pricking it?” M’tal asked the Istan Weyrleader in exasperation.

C’rion chuckled at the Benden Weyrleader’s remark. “Oh, you know, M’tal, he’s not all that bad—when he stops taking himself so seriously. I feel it’s my duty as an older, more experienced Weyrleader, to spill the wind from his sails when he takes on airs like that.”

“D’gan is the sort to swear his Egg cracked the wrong way,” M’tal agreed.

C’rion snorted a laugh. “I suspect that D’gan will be a lot more acceptable after his first dose of numbweed. And K’lior will steady up after his first Threadfall.”

M’tal pursed his lips thoughtfully. “I’m not so sure about D’gan.”

C’rion shrugged. “I’ve been worried ever since it was decided to abandon Igen Weyr and incorporate those dragonriders into Telgar.”

“It made sense at the time,” M’tal said, “what with the drought in Igen, the death of their last queen, and the good harvests at Telgar.”

C’rion raised a hand to ward off further discussion. “All true. But D’gan himself worries me. He drills his riders hard. Telgar Weyr has never lost the Games since he became Weyrleader—but will all that be worth anything when Thread comes?”

M’tal nodded emphatically. “If there’s one thing I could never imagine, it would be D’gan shirking his duty. We dragonriders know what to expect when Thread comes.” He waved a hand at the Star Stones. “And we know it will come soon.”

“I hear your queen laid a large clutch last week,” C’rion said, changing the topic. “Congratulations.”

M’tal laughed. “Are you going to make me an offer like our esteemed Telgar?”

“No, actually, I was going to offer a trade,” C’rion said.

M’tal motioned for him to continue.

“Two queen eggs, by all accounts,” C’rion said. “That would make four queens all told.”

“No, one of the eggs is a bronze,” M’tal said. “We’d hopes at first, but Breth nudged it back with the others.” The queen dragons always pushed their queen eggs into a special spot on the Hatching Grounds, which they carefully guarded.

“All the same . . .”

“Are you looking for new blood, C’rion?”

“It’s the job of every Weyrleader to see to the strength of the Weyr,” C’rion agreed. “Actually, I was thinking that to honor a new queen requires a good selection of candidates. I’m sure you’ll want to Search for a proper Weyrwoman.”

M’tal burst out laughing. “It’s J’trel, isn’t it? You want to pawn that old scoundrel off on us!”

“Actually, yes,” C’rion agreed with a laugh of his own. “But he’s not a scoundrel. And it’s no lie that his blue has an eye for good riders, especially the women.”

“Which is odd, considering his own preferences,” M’tal remarked.

“Well, you know blues,” C’rion agreed diffidently. As blue dragons mated with green dragons, and both were ridden by male riders, the riders themselves tended to be the sort who could accommodate the dragons’ amorous arrangements.

“And you want to get him away from Ista so he can forget about K’nad,” M’tal surmised. K’nad and J’trel had been partners for over twenty Turns.

“K’nad went quickly,” C’rion agreed, “it was a blessing. He was very old, you know.”

Less than a dozen Turns older than you, M’tal thought to himself dryly. Somberly he also realized: And only fifteen Turns older than me.

Aloud, he said, “So you want J’trel distracted by new duties?”

C’rion nodded. “It would be easier for us at Ista, too. Thread is coming. It’s going to be hard on the old-timers.”

There was an uneasy silence. M’tal shook himself. “I’ll have to talk it over with Salina and the Wingleaders.”

“Of course,” C’rion replied. “There’s no hurry.”

Curious, M’tal asked, “Where is J’trel now?”

C’rion shrugged. “I don’t know. He and his blue took off after the ceremony for K’nad.” He frowned. “He had that look in his eyes, the one he usually gets just before Ista finds itself with a whole bunch of the biggest fresh fruit you’ve ever seen.”

“He hasn’t been going to the Southern Continent, has he?” M’tal asked with a frown of his own. Dragonriders were discouraged from venturing to the Southern Continent with all its unknown dangers.

“I’ve made it a point never to ask,” C’rion answered dryly. “You really have to try the fruit.”

Lorana sat on her knees, ignoring the hot sun beating down on her, all her attention concentrated on the tiny creature in front of her. Sketching swiftly, Lorana used her free hand alternately to keep the little thing from moving away and to keep her sketchbook from sliding off her lap. She ignored the beads of sweat rolling down her face until one threatened to drop in her eye, at which point she broke from her task long enough to wipe it away hastily.

The creature, which she dubbed a “scatid,” took that moment to burrow quickly into the dry sand. Lorana examined her sketch and frowned, trying to decide if she needed more details—the scatid was smaller than the tip of her thumb, and its six limbs had never stopped moving.

Grenn, the littler of Lorana’s two fire-lizards, cocked his head at the retreating insect and then looked back at Lorana with an inquiring chirp.

“Of course it ran away,” she said with a laugh in her voice. “You’re ten times its size.”

The fire-lizard pawed at the hole, looked up at Lorana, and chirped again.

“I’ll know it if I see it again,” Lorana replied, pushing herself up from her knees and stretching to relieve her cramped muscles. She stowed her sketchbook in her carisak and slid her sun hat back on her head—she’d slipped it onto her back when its shade had interfered with her view of the scatid. She added thoughtfully, “Unless you want it?”

With a squawk, Grenn jumped back awkwardly from the hole. Lorana laughed again. “I’d say that was a ‘no.’ ”

Behind her, golden Garth squeaked an agreement.

“You’ve both been fed, so I know you’re not hungry,” Lorana said, half to herself. She peered down at the burrow and then at the irrepressible brown fire-lizard. “Would you eat it?”

Grenn examined the burrow for a moment, then dropped down on it and pawed at the hole, widening it. When the scatid was again uncovered, Grenn peered at it until the scatid’s diggers snapped at him—whereupon the fire-lizard gave a startled squawk and sprang away.

“You would eat it, then,” Lorana decided. “You’re just not hungry enough.” She glanced thoughtfully at the sun overhead. “Or you’re too hot to eat anything.”

Grenn chirped in agreement. Lorana nodded, saying, “J’trel will be here soon enough.”

The little fire-lizards, distant cousins to the huge fire-breathing dragons of Pern, trilled happily at the thought of seeing their large friend again.

“In the meantime, we can walk toward the beach again—there should be a breeze,” Lorana told them.

The fire-lizards chorused happy assent and disappeared, leaving Lorana to traipse along after them on foot. She heard Garth formulating some plan as the little queen and her consort went between. Deciding that the two fire-lizards were not getting into too much trouble, Lorana stopped concentrating on them and focused her attention on the path she was following.

Her clothing was not meant to cope with the hot Igen sun, but Lorana had done the best she could with it, loosening her tunic and rolling up her sleeves and trouser legs. Her outfit would be perfect once onboard the ship, and was almost warm enough for the cold between.

Halfway to the beach, she sensed a sudden exultation from Garth and felt the two fire-lizards go between. In no time at all, they reappeared high above her, chirped a warning, and dropped what they had been holding between them. Lorana held out her hands and caught a good-sized roundfruit. She laughed and waved at them. “Thank you!”

The fruit was delicious and moist, easing her dry throat. Energized, she picked up her pace to the shore.

Grenn swooped low over her and let out a querying squawk, curving back around toward her, eyes whirling hopefully.

“No,” Lorana said, “you may not perch on my shoulder. You need to stretch that wing now that it’s healed. Besides, between the carisak and our gear, I’m carrying enough, thank you.”

Grenn gave her a half-sad, half-wheedling chirp and beat his wings strongly to regain his lost altitude. High above him, Garth gave him an I-told-you-so scolding.

As he climbed sunward, Lorana noted that in his antics there was no residual sign at all of the broken left wing that had nearly cost his life—and had completely changed hers. With a frown Lorana forced the memory away and continued on to the beach.

From the Hardcover edition.
Todd J. McCaffrey|Author Q&A

About Todd J. McCaffrey

Todd J. McCaffrey - Dragonsblood
Todd McCaffrey is the bestselling author of the Pern novel Dragonsblood and the co-author, with his mother, Anne McCaffrey, of Dragon’s Kin, Dragon’s Fire, and Dragon Harper. A computer engineer, he currently lives in Los Angeles. Having grown up in Ireland with the epic of the Dragonriders of Pern,® he is bursting with ideas for new stories of that world, its people, and its dragons.

Author Q&A

Interview Questions for Todd McCaffrey

DR: Your mother, Anne McCaffrey, has been writing about Pern for more than thirty-five years, creating some of the best-loved classics in science fiction. It’s probably inevitable, unfortunately, that some people will ascribe your authorship of this novel solely to your being her son. How would you respond to those people?

TM: I'd say to them, "Read the book, then let's see if you still feel the same way."

DR: Did you feel any trepidation about trying to fill Anne’s literary shoes? How did you deal with the pressure of coming up to her high standard?

TM: Yes, I did feel a lot of trepidation. However, I've been researching for Mum for over twenty years now, and reading her for longer.

As for dealing with the pressure, it's very difficult. It helped that I was the editor's contact for Dragon's Kin–I was relieved to see that not only were my words being edited, but so were Mum's.

DR: Is Dragonsblood a passing of the torch from mother to son, or will Anne continue to write novels and stories set on Pern?

TM: It wasn't intended to be a passing of the torch. I think writing more Pern novels is strictly up to Mum. But she'll be seventy-nine this April, well past the point when other people have retired, and I don't see why she shouldn't rest on her vast accomplishments if she wants.

DR: What was it like to grow up with a famous writer for a mom? Did you always have the ambition to be a writer yourself?

TM: Fame is strictly relative. More people didn't know Mum's works than did. In science fiction and fantasy circles, Mum didn't really break out as a "famous writer" until the publication of Dragonsong and "A Time When," in the mid-70's–and she'd been writing since 1953.

I earned my first typewriter at the age of thirteen by teaching myself touch typing so I could write my stories. That said, I didn't want to be a writer. I wanted to be an astronaut (doesn't everyone?), but I expected to be writing as a sideline.

DR: How much was Pern a part of your childhood?

TM: Pern wasn't part of my childhood because Mum didn't write the first story until well into my late childhood. By the time I read "Weyr Search," the first part of Dragonflight, in Analog, I was nearly twelve. But Pern was part of my adolescence, as was attending science fiction conventions. I'd been reading Heinlein and Norton since I was nine, having discovered them in the school library (heredity?), so science fiction conventions were quite a welcome addition for me.

When Mum's galleys–they call them "page proofs" nowadays–came in, we'd all sit around the kitchen table reading them, looking for typos and being "galley slaves." I was the first of her kids to get into science fiction, but as my little sister grew up, she became interested too. In fact, Gigi–rather, Georgeanne Kennedy–is the other person allowed to write in Mum's worlds.

DR: You collaborated with your mother on a previous novel, Dragon’s Kin. What was that experience like, and was it a good preparation for taking flight on your own with this novel?

TM: Actually, I had started Dragonsblood a long time before Mum and I thought of writing Dragon's Kin. And Mum and I had talked about collaborating long before Dragon's Kin. We had tossed ideas back and forth about a collaboration after she'd finished All the Weyrs of Pern–ideas which she picked up and turned into The Skies of Pern.

DR: What did you learn from your mother about being a writer?

TM: I learned so much that it's probably second nature to me. Simple things like how to prepare a manuscript, how to read copy-editor's marks, and so on.

DR: In what ways are you and your mother similar as writers? In what ways are you different? What unique qualities does Todd McCaffrey bring to Dragonsblood?

TM: We're both happiest when our characters come to life on the page, when they stand up and declare their own interests: "No, I won't do that! I'll do this."

I'm a trained mechanical engineer with a stint in the Army, a pilot's license, and over two decades of software engineering behind me. I tend to think a lot more about the actual mechanics, the how-things-work side of things, than Mum does.

DR: Tell us a little bit about Dragonsblood. How much freedom did you have in terms of coming up with the story and characters?

TM: Dragonsblood started as a dream that woke me up in the middle of the night. I was trying to think of a good idea, and I wanted to answer some of the questions that hadn't been answered in Mum's books. For example, who made the Ancient Rooms in Benden Weyr, and why? I don't think anyone but me–except possibly my sister–would ever have thought of those questions.

Of course, I had to research Dragonsdawn to be sure that I'd had my facts right–and in fact, I discovered a typo in the US edition of Dragonsdawn that says Wind Blossom is Kitti Ping's granddaughter, whereas she is actually her daughter. I also researched Dragonflight and Dragonquest, as they related to the story.

Mum and I entered into a legal agreement over Dragonsblood. It's her world, after all, and we both wanted to protect it and recognize her rights. So Mum had approval on both the original outline and on the final novel. On the outline, she had some concerns, and I answered them, and then she put a "smiley face" on the outline! On the novel, Mum and my sister were two of the first three readers and gave lots of important feedback.

I used Mum liberally for feedback and as a sounding board while I was writing Dragonsblood, but I had complete freedom in the story and the characters. I strove to be true to those characters that had been already introduced in Dragonsdawn, and I guess I did pretty well.

DR: Part of the novel is set during the early years of the colonization of Pern, a time your mother hasn’t written about in great detail. Did you choose it for that reason?

TM: I wrote the story that came to me. In order for the story to work, it had to be partly in the early years. On the other hand, I did want to open an unexplored time on Pern, a place where I could write new stories–and plenty of them.

DR: Tell us about your two main characters, Wind Blossom and Lorana.

TM: Well, you've seen Wind Blossom in Dragonsdawn. In it, she's portrayed as not as talented as her mother and responsible for the watch-whers, which were supposedly a "mistake." The more I read Dragonsdawn, the more convinced I became that not all was as it seemed. It seemed very odd to me that such famous people as Emily Boll, Governor of Tau Ceti, and Admiral Benden, victor of the Nathi Wars, would want to disappear into the obscurity of a colony world far out of the limelight. And what about the Eridani, I thought. They seemed to have a pretty harsh and demanding doctrine. So I wanted to explore and answer those questions.

Lorana is wholly mine. She is searching for her place in life, having just lost her father and previously having lost her family to "the Plague." (This is not the Plague of Moreta's time, but I figure that the plague most recent in memory will always be called "the Plague.") She is unique and, sadly, she suffers for it. In the end, Lorana discovers her own strength–and saves Pern.

DR: Wind Blossom is the talented daughter of a famous woman, who follows her mother’s footsteps. Do I detect an echo of your own situation there?

TM: Eerie, isn't it? When I first thought of the story, I used Wind Blossom because she fit. But this story has been five years in the making, so I had plenty of time to analyze the subtext of Dragonsblood. Still, Wind Blossom isn't an echo of my situation. It's the whole Wind Blossom/Lorana thing that is.

DR: I take it you’ll be writing more Pern books in the future?

TM: Yes. In fact, Mum and I are already working on sequels to Dragon's Kin!

DR: What about other novels?

TM: When I started writing at twelve, I had lots of ideas. Now I have more. I'm working on a number of them.

DR: Do you have that famous McCaffrey “second sight” that your mother has spoken of?

TM: Yes. But I won't say more–I'm very protective of my talent.

From the Hardcover edition.



Praise for Dragonsblood

“Todd McCaffrey does something I didn’t think anyone could do; he writes Anne McCaffrey’s Pern. Not just a novel set in Pern, but Pern. The people, the places, the characters and challenges. This is Pern, in the hands of a new master-grade Harper, carefully trained in the old traditions, but scoring his own ballads. May the saga continue!”
–DAVID WEBER, New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow of Saganami

“Dragonsblood is a strong, lively story, with vivid, interesting characters and plenty of exciting action. Todd has captured the tone as well as the familiar settings of the Pern books. Pern fans (and newcomers to the Pern universe) have reason to rejoice.”
–ELIZABETH MOON, Nebula Award—winning author of Marque and Reprisal

“For Pern lovers, the good news is that Todd McCaffrey has inherited his mother’s storytelling ability. His dragons and firelizards, his harpers in Harper’s Hall, carry on the great traditions–and add much to them. Huzzah, Todd! You have learned wisdom indeed.”
–JANE YOLEN, award-winning author of Briar Rose

“Dragonsblood is cause for celebration! A worthy addition to one of the grandest traditions in the literature of the fantastic, this is a lock-the-door, take-the-phone-off-the-hook, send-the-kids-out-to-play, curl-up-and-enjoy adventure!”
–DAVID GERROLD, author of Blood and Fire

“The torch has been passed and burns more brightly than ever in this latest chapter of the venerable Pern saga, the first of what one hopes will be many solo efforts by the son of series creator Anne McCaffrey. . . . This stand-alone tale fits beautifully into the existing history and style of earlier books while still breaking new ground.”
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“McCaffrey convincingly spins a dramatic, thoroughly captivating tale, steeped in the lore and well-drawn characterizations of the people and the dragons for which the Pern novels are prized. Fans old and new will be delighted by his continuance of a beloved saga.”

From the Hardcover edition.

  • Dragonsblood by Todd McCaffrey
  • June 27, 2006
  • Fiction - Science Fiction
  • Del Rey
  • $7.99
  • 9780345441256

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