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A Gift of Dragons
Anne McCaffrey
Del Rey, 291 pages


Tom Kidd
A Gift of Dragons
Anne McCaffrey
Anne McCaffrey was born in Cambridge, MA. She graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College, majoring in Slavonic Languages and Literatures. Her first novel, Restoree, was published by Ballantine Books in l967. However, she is best know for her Dragonriders of Pern novels. Del Rey has developed an extensive site dedicated to her Pern novels.

Although she used to make appearances throughout the world, arthritis has now restricted such travel. She lives in a house of her own design, Dragonhold-Underhill, in Wicklow County, Ireland.

Anne McCaffrey Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Freedom's Ransom
SF Site Review: Nimisha's Ship
SF Site Review: Black Horses for the King and If Wishes Were Horses
SF Site Review: The Masterharper of Pern
Excerpt: The Dolphins of Pern
Excerpt: Dragon's Eye - aka Red Star Rising

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

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A Gift of Dragons contains four short stories; three of them from other places, and one brand new. The book is called a gift, and in many ways it truly is, with its small hardcover size, the creamy paper, the sepia print. Every page is a work of art. Tom Kidd illustrated the book, and if one of his beautiful, evocative pictures aren't on it, the text is framed by a pretty, dragon-decorated frame.

The first story in this book is 1973's "The Smallest Dragonboy." Keevan has always been mocked for his small size, but he is still determined to impress a dragon from the newest clutch. Berteli, a nasty bully that no dragon will have, tells Keevan that none of the little boys will be allowed at the new hatching. They fight, and Keevan breaks his leg. Still, he won't let anything slow him down. The ending is incredibly sweet and uplifting.

The next story, "The Girl who Heard Dragons" was published as a book by Tor in 1994. Aramina can hear dragons. All of them, from the tiniest to the ones who bear riders. She and her family are holdless, traveling with Lady Thella. When they discover Thella's plans for their daughter's talent, they flee, unwilling to see Aramina as a pawn in a game of power. Their wagon wheel breaks, and her father get trapped underneath while trying to fix it. Aramina uses her power to call a dragon, Heth, and his rider K'van out of the sky to assist, thus introducing herself to the dragon riders. But will they help her, or try and abuse her power?

"Runner of Pern" was published in 1998 as part of Legends: Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy. It takes us back into the past, when there is only one Wyr. Teena is a runner, descended from a family of runners, delivering messages for the poor. She is making her first run to the sea, and she hears something so she steps aside, and a man on a runner beast pushes her into a stickle bush. She manages to get to a station, where they call a healer for her, because stickles can turn deadly. She's healed, and determined to tell the guy off when she sees him. She meets him, and punches him... only to find it's the wrong guy. The story becomes a sweet romance after that, and a story about how one's destiny can be found in the strangest places.

The final story is, as I mentioned, brand new. "Ever the Twain" is about twins Nian and Rue. Ru's dream has always been to become a dragon rider. His bond with his sister is strong, so much so that they can almost hear each other's thoughts. When the dragons come, and select Nian instead of him, she refuses to go. The dragons take them both, but that is no guarantee that either of them will reach their dreams.

A Gift of Dragons is a beautiful book. Because of its size, the feel of the dust jacket, the rich interior, the book itself is an experience. The majority of people who will covet this volume will have already bought all three of the previously publshed stories. I, myself, had the first two, so I was happy to pick up the rest. It's the season, so I think that the book could serve well as a present, and introduction to a friend, a special treat. I'm not sure that the one story, while wonderful, is worth the price of admission... but then, I tend to be a bit practical. (Cheap is not the word... really.)

The stories, of course, are wonderful. Collected from assorted times, we get to see Ann McCaffrey at many stages in her career, and we get to see how her world developed as she wrote on it. The stories are like dragon wings... uplifting, wondrous and magical, truly, in all ways, deserving of the title of gift.

Copyright © 2003 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at www.apenandfire.com.


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