Dragonsinger (Harper Hall Trilogy Series #2)

Dragonsinger (Harper Hall Trilogy Series #2)

by Anne McCaffrey

Hardcover(Large Print)

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In the world of Pern, Harpers are regarded to be more powerful than kings, for the music they play can literally control the minds of others. For young Menolly, her dreams of becoming a Harper have nothing to do with power, but rather her love of music. Now she is finally living out her musical dreams as an apprentice Harper, but it's turning out to be more challenging than she thought.

Formerly forbidden to study music because of her gender, Menolly quickly encounters hostility from a number of her male peers and masters. But she is not alone in her struggles. With the help of new friends, teachers, and her nine fire lizards, Menolly finds that her musical talents may prove more powerful than anyone could imagine.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780783884998
Publisher: Gale Group
Publication date: 03/28/1999
Series: Dragonriders of Pern Series , #5
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 347
Product dimensions: 6.49(w) x 9.49(h) x 1.31(d)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Anne Inez McCaffrey (April 1, 1926–November 21, 2011) was an American-born Irish writer, best known for the Dragonriders of Pern science fiction series. Early in McCaffrey’s forty-six-year career as a writer, she became the first woman to win a Hugo Award for fiction and the first to win a Nebula Award. Her 1978 novel The White Dragon became one of the first science fiction books to appear on the New York Times bestseller list. In 1999 she was the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award, honoring her lifetime contribution to writing for teens. In 2005 the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America named McCaffrey its twenty-second Grand Master, an annual award to living writers of fantasy and science fiction. She was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2006.

Read an Excerpt

By Anne McCaffrey
Simon Pulse Copyright © 2008 Anne McCaffrey
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781416964902

1. Trips

The truth about fishing trips is that they're often more about where you go and how you get there than about what you catch: not really about the fishing at all, in other words, although without it you wouldn't have gone in the first place. You naturally plan your trip for when you think the fishing will be at its best and try to make the most painless travel arrangements -- aiming at what you hope will be a satisfying narrative arc that begins and ends in your own driveway -- but the earmark of every fishing trip is still uncertainty. If it weren't, why even go?

However you travel, there are questions that go unasked because they're unanswerable but that hover there in the middle distance nonetheless. If you're driving, will your pickup break down? If not, will it make it up the last pitch on that four-wheel-drive road? If you're flying, will your flight leave on time -- or at all? Will your checked gear arrive at the same place you do, and if not, will someone have a spare rod you can borrow?

The airlines say they'll deliver your luggage to you if it comes in late, but they're picturing a hotel near the airport. I still remember my relief when a guy from Air Canada finally delivered my fly rods to me in the lobby of a hotel in Halifax at two in the morning. By the end of the next day I'd have been two more flights and a boat ride away and the drama might have ended differently.

And then there's thefishing itself. Even if it's a familiar fish in a recognizable setting, there are bound to be regional quirks. On the Namekagon River in Wisconsin, the smallmouth bass were exactly where I expected them to be and they'd eat the same commercially tied deer-hair bugs I always try first, but there they were noticeably partial to the yellow-belly version instead of the otherwise identical white-bellied ones I brought from home. Fishing is full of those minute details that actually matter.

If you're after a new species of fish, you're pretty much in the dark and you only have a short time to turn on the light. A lot of being able to catch a particular kind of fish in a particular way boils down to instinct bred of familiarity, but even if you have the instinct, you're still in unfamiliar territory. (That's why it can take a second or even a third trip to really crack a fishery.) You're an adult with your head on straight and you know the drill, but some of this stuff isn't easy and you've seen people emotionally broken by a bad skunk.

And there are bound to be potential hazards that are especially dangerous because they're outside your normal day-to-day experience. They could be as big and obvious as grizzly bears, as small and neatly camouflaged as rattlesnakes, or as obscure as a regional strain of cow parsnip with sap that burns your hands when they get wet.

Or maybe it's bush flying. Small planes are more homey and comfortable than big ones (they're sort of like pickup trucks with wings), but they have worse safety records, and it's not comforting to learn that the majority of all aviation accidents are caused by simply running out of gas. A bush pilot in Alaska once said, "The only time you can have too much fuel on an airplane is when it's on fire."

Some trips are punctuated by little shocks of realization that are profoundly exotic. A friend was once fishing somewhere in Mexico, wading ankle-deep where he was safe from sharks and stingrays, when he saw a track in the mud and asked his guide what it was. The guide said, "Jaguar, señor." Things like that heighten your consciousness to the point that you're more acutely aware of your surroundings than usual. That's why your memories of a fishing trip are invariably more vivid than your memories of the same number of days at work.

Of course most of us are perfectly safe on even the most adventurous fishing trips, and statistically most accidents happen at home or while driving within twenty-five miles of your front door. It's not that your house and neighborhood are so dangerous, but they're so familiar you become complacent to the extent that you won't notice the dog's tennis ball left on the stairs or a new stop sign on the corner. Whatever else happens on a fishing trip, you pay attention.

I prefer driving to flying for reasons that will be obvious if you've been on a commercial airliner in the last few years. (Jim Harrison once said that commercial flying wouldn't be much worse if they towed you behind the plane in a gunnysack full of fish guts.) Driving gives you a feeling of self-reliance and allows time and distance to pass at a more human pace. If you're going a long way, it takes a long time -- as it should -- and you get to see the landscape, vegetation, wildlife and maybe even the climate gradually change. That's a romantic idea and I don't apologize for it, but there's also the practical effect that you're not jet-lagged and time-warped for your first few days of fishing.

Long drives can also make you appreciate the little things. In parts of eastern Wyoming the sight of a single tree can lift your heart, and on a rainy trip it's possible to find the almost infinite settings on your intermittent windshield wipers deeply fascinating. You're probably still on some kind of schedule when you drive, but unlike with an airline, if your partner is an hour late getting started, no one's gonna give your seats away to strangers.

If you have a moderately roomy four-wheel-drive vehicle (I drive a medium-sized, six-cylinder pickup), you can go where you have to and bring what you need -- within reason on both counts. Everyone knows that having four-wheel drive doesn't mean you can't get stuck, it just means you can get stuck in more desperate situations or even wreck your car. Once, on the worst four-wheel-drive road I'll knowingly go on, I found a brand-new Jeep Wagoneer -- complete with a temporary tag in the back window -- abandoned with a broken axle. Years later, just past an especially gnarly spot on that same road, I followed the narrow, greasy trail from a cracked oil pan but never found the vehicle. This old logging track is my absolute benchmark for difficulty. There's a worse one nearby known as Oh-My-God Road, but I've never been on it.

As for cargo room, you can get a lot of stuff in the six-foot bed of a pickup, but remember that you'll have to paw through everything you brought once you get there and that whatever you're looking for will be on the bottom of the pile. Packing lightly is symbolic of paring away the clutter of your life at least for the duration of the trip, if not permanently, and when it's done right, it can make you feel young and nimble. For years after I left home, I didn't (that is couldn't) own more than would fit in whatever vehicle I was driving at the time. That lean core still exists, like a fossil obscured by more recent deposits, but I can only unearth it now when I'm packing for a fishing trip.

For that matter, if there are too many comforts you can't do without, even for a week, maybe you should just stay home, although of course definitions of necessity and luxury are entirely personal. I know people who'd never think of going anywhere without a cell phone, even though they often don't work in the rural West or far North. I don't own one myself, and when someone asks "How can I reach you?" I thoroughly enjoy saying "You can't; I'll be fishing." I'm still waiting for Americans to realize that being in constant communication is not an advantage, but a short leash. Cell phones have changed us from a nation of self-reliant pioneer types into a bunch of men standing alone in supermarkets saying "Okay, I'm in the tampon aisle, but I don't see it."

The new satellite phones are obscenely expensive, but they supposedly work anywhere. That can be handy in a dire emergency, but owning one also means there's now no place left on earth aboveground where you can hide.

I do swallow my pride and fly now and then for the same reason everyone else does: to save time. I'd actually love to drive someplace like the Northwest Territories for big grayling, but I balk at the prospect of weeks on the road for a week of fishing. So I just book a flight. My one rule for trips is: Always try to spend more time fishing than you do traveling. Still, I'm always uncomfortable flying on big airlines out of big-city airports. There are dozens of little tricks that make air travel go more smoothly, but I don't know any of them, so I invariably end up in the longest, slowest line, and when I hear one of those announcements asking you to report suspicious activity, I immediately begin to wonder if I'm acting suspiciously.

On the other hand, I have done enough flying over the years to get my packing down to a science. It's really pretty simple: you bring everything you'll need and nothing you won't need, while at the same time staying under the baggage weight limit. I usually check a single twenty-eight-inch canvas duffle (always with trepidation) and walk on the plane carrying a small backpack and a short rod tube that passes as my "personal item," which is normally defined as a briefcase or laptop. In a pinch, I can get all three pieces down to a total of forty pounds, which is the lowest allowable weight limit I've ever encountered on a float plane.

A friend of mine keeps detailed, permanent lists of what he packs for various kinds of trips, constantly going back to cross out things he brought but didn't use and add items that might have come in handy if he'd had them. Some of these lists have been fine-tuned for decades and, needless to say, the guy is the most efficient traveler I know. I admire that kind of thinking, but apparently I'm incapable of it. Instead, I depend on a series of mental snapshots from previous trips. I don't quite have the knack my friend has, but I do okay.

The only real glitch in my packing program came a few seasons ago when I'd seen so many people breezing through airports with wheeled bags while I lugged mine on a shoulder strap that I finally began to experience duffle envy. So I bought a wheeled duffle: a great big one that would take a three-piece, nine-foot rod tube and that was described in the catalog as "heavy duty" in every conceivable way. It was a little unwieldy, but the main problem was that it weighed fourteen pounds empty, and with my usual kit it could go slightly over the baggage weight limit of fifty pounds for a single bag. The first time I used it, a snippy guy at Denver International charged me extra for being a pound and a half over. But then on the return flight from Anchorage a nice lady said it was a little heavy but close enough and then asked me how the fishing had been.

On the next trip the bag passed muster in Denver, but at the Minneapolis airport -- with still-wet waders packed inside -- a friendly guy at curbside check-in hefted the bag and said, with a slight Swedish accent, "I think it's a pound or two over, but if it is, we don't want to know about it, do we?" It was good to know that you can still count on the kindness of strangers at least half the time, but in the end it was more suspense than I could stand, so at least for now I've gone back to my old bag. If you'd like to buy a large, slightly used piece of luggage, my for sale sign is on the bulletin board down at the Laundromat.

I guess I've never completely understood the fisherman's compulsive urge to travel, even though I've been giving in to it for better than half a lifetime. I started young, when I was footloose and curious and when my natural agility allowed me to avoid some perils and my resilience let me recover from the rest. Also, when things went wrong, as they inevitably did, I was more likely to think it was funny or that it had some obscure significance. I don't mean in the character-building sense my father would have appreciated, but more along the lines of the bohemian goofiness I aspired to. I remember hitchhiking across the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State with a friend at age seventeen for no other reason than that neither of us had ever seen the Pacific Ocean. We camped on a lovely secluded beach and were completely freaked out when the tide came in and swamped us. It wasn't funny until we got a driftwood fire going and started to dry out, but then it was hilarious.

I still travel as much as I ever did, if not a little more, but I've noticed that where I once adored the act of traveling itself, I'm now more likely to just endure it in order to get where I'm going. I'm always delighted to finally arrive somewhere, but beforehand, in the planning stage, I can find myself as avid as ever but slightly less eager. Apparently that's not unusual because in recent years, when the question of whether or not to go on a particular trip comes up, friends my own age have begun to say things like "Well, if you don't do it now...," leaving the rest to your all-too-vivid imagination.

Interestingly, I grew up with men who weren't particularly adventurous when it came to travel. They seemed perfectly happy to fish casually close to home: say, within one or two counties. They knew the water, the fish and the seasons inside out, and although they weren't what you could call fashion-plate sportsmen, they'd fish circles around the people you could call that. This was in the Midwest, in the heartland of the Protestant ethic, where it was considered vaguely sinful to be anything but satisfied and grateful for what was right in front of you. Down at the barbershop, you might point at the cover story in a dog-eared copy of Field & Stream and say "Boy, I'd like to fish there sometime," but it's doubtful you ever would.

Partly because of that example and partly from dumb good luck, I now live in the northern Colorado foothills, and what's right in front of me are four species of trout in several hundred miles of pretty little mountain streams and lakes. I'm satisfied and grateful for them and actually depend on their somewhat predictable circadian cycles for part of my sanity, but I travel anyway.

I like to think it's biological: some holdout from the days when we had to follow the game or starve, so that by now we have a million years' worth of genetics telling us to pack up and go, even though we no longer understand why. It's the same thing that makes caribou migrate across vast distances and mountain lions stake out territories covering a hundred square miles. Even the three horses across the county road from my place have it. They live in a lush, eighty-acre foothills pasture that's all a horse could possibly want, but they spend much of their time staring over the barbed-wire fence at the next pasture, which, as far as I can see, is exactly the same.

It was a long time ago and I don't actually remember, but I'm sure I started traveling in hopes of bigger fish because that's the usual pathology and there's nothing unique about me. Sometimes it panned out, but even when it didn't, there were new things to see and new people to meet.

I came to like bush pilots because, even though most are at least as competent as their uniformed counterparts, their lids aren't screwed on so tight. Of course lately some of them have begun to mimic that clipped airline officiousness, but the euphemisms sound hollow in the cabin of a four-seater. On a recent flight out of a salmon camp, the pilot announced that an emergency beacon would automatically deploy in the event of an "off-airport landing." A plane crash, in other words. I much preferred a pilot-comedian named Bernie I flew with years ago who said, "If we go in, tighten yer seat belt, put yer head between yer legs, and kiss yer ass goodbye." An old but effective joke.

The big bad world does try to reach its tentacles into the backcountry, and sometimes it succeeds. I remember the first time I went to a lodge where the clients were asked to sign a waver of liability (it's fairly common now). You know, "the inherent dangers of weather, boats, bush flying and grizzly bears that are beyond the control of blah blah blah..." I thought, So it's finally arrived, and had a brief vision of herds of lawyers coursing over the tundra in search of litigation: a much more pervasive threat than an angry bear or a blown piston at two hundred feet.

Bad timing and bad weather are the two most common problems, but in any given place there are dozens of factors beyond anyone's control that can screw the pooch, so beyond packing the right clothing, appropriate tackle and some flies that might work, it's best not to have too many expectations about a fishing trip. I know that's a big order, since you go fishing primarily to catch fish and open-mindedness is the most fragile mood known to the human race. But if you can manage it, you can appreciate almost anything that happens instead of just the one thing you were planning on. An old friend of mine always declares success on the premise that we said we were going fishing and we did. The point being, you can be happy or not, it's sort of up to you.

The same advice goes for fish size, although, again, I've chased big fish off and on for years and have caught up with them just often enough to keep me going. When I went to Labrador for the first time, it was because I wanted to see that enormous, lovely, roadless chunk of northeastern Canadian wilderness, but also because here at home a real good brook trout is twelve inches long, while up there a good one is twenty-five inches and weighs six or seven pounds.

All fishermen (and some civilians) are impressed by big fish, and when I get back from a trip that went in that direction, I always carry the snapshots around in my pickup for a month or so in case anyone asks if I've been fishing. I may know in my heart that success was due mostly to beginner's luck and good guiding, but I think it's permissible to let the photos speak for themselves.

But then the whole big-fish business can just as easily wreck a trip as make it. What if you travel a thousand miles at great expense only to catch foot-long trout, either because that's all there is or because you just can't catch any of the big ones? The usual refuge of militant consumerism doesn't work in fishing for the simple reason that it's usually no one's fault, although that doesn't keep some from complaining anyway. The point is, however much you spend on a fishing trip, you're not purchasing fish. It's more like buying into the poker game I used to attend before I realized that someone at my skill level shouldn't play cards with a guy named Poker Bob.

And even if more than one big-fish trip pans out, there's always the danger of becoming spoiled. I've seen it happen, sometimes to people you wouldn't expect to have that particular character flaw. For instance, a well-known steelhead fisherman once said he'd finally lost interest in trout altogether because "twenty inches just isn't twenty pounds." I do some steelheading myself and I know what he means, but I've left instructions that if I ever turn up my nose at a twenty-inch trout, I'm to be put down like a sick dog.

Naturally, I don't think I'm spoiled (no one ever thinks they're spoiled), and I can say that, even when I catch plenty of good-sized fish, my central visual memory from one trip will be of a brilliant male scarlet tanager perched on a birch twig, and from the next the poignant sight of a crippled caribou well on its way to becoming wolf bait. It's probably just a little extra age and my Midwestern upbringing, but I now seem happy enough to take what I get -- and you do always get something -- but I suspect it wasn't always that way. How else would I know that it takes years to reach anything resembling a state of grace, and that once there, you can still be evicted at any time for bad behavior?

Copyright © 2008 by John Gierach


Excerpted from Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey Copyright © 2008 by Anne McCaffrey. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


1. Trips

2. Bull Trout

3. Steelhead

4. Pike

5. Creeks

6. Volcano

7. Road Books

8. The Best Trout Stream in the World

9. Flowers

10. Musky

11. Cheap Dates

12. Hunt

13. Winter

14. Rods

15. Labrador

16. Nebraska

17. Umpqua

18. The Meeting

19. The New Guy

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Dragonsinger (Harper Hall Trilogy Series #2) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is there any chance this trilogy will be coming out electronically for Nook? My copy has finally fallen apart and I would really like to get it as an ebook!
Zommbie1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Again as a teenager I could relate to Menolly¿s insecurities of fitting into a new environment. Not being sure of her place and being the victim of some rather nasty girls. I loved the fact that although these books are set on another world the problems were the same as the ones I was facing (also I wanted a firelizard).
Psychodrama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just as good as the last book, though in a different way. Instead of following Menolly's life at Half-Circle Sea Hold and later her days of trying to survive in the wilderness, we're following her day-to-day life in the Harper Hall.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a sequel to Dragonsong set within the Pern universe that includes McCaffrey's Dragonrider books. I first read this as a teen and this is marketed towards young adults (or even younger). However, I found it a fun read even later as an adult. Menolly is among McCaffrey's most appealing characters; I enjoyed seeing her growth through these two books. I was fascinated with the world of dragons (and music in Harper Hall) that she's a part of, and other characters surrounding her like the Masterharper Robinton and her fellow student Piemur are memorable and appealing. Even lacking the dragons (although the events in Dragonquest are echoed here) this book in McCaffrey's Pern is among the most entrancing. (and given Menolly's nine firelizards, I don't miss the dragons too much.)
themulhern on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book suffers from all the same flaws as its predecessor and enjoys all the same virtues. The heroine survives the malice of others and her own disillusionment and the book arrives at a happy and pleasantly brief conclusion.
Nikkles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The harper Hall Trilogy is my favorite set by McCaffrey and interestingly the first books I read by her. I love dragons and there for dragon stories, particularly ones were dragons are not mindless monsters of destruction, so it would be odd for me not to like these books. The story is very original and the characters well written. If your not sure of getting into the Pern books, this is the series to read! Dragonsinger is a really strong book, despite being in the middle of a set. The story keeps going strong and the characters stay true to themselves.
meersan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bashful girl with nine mini dragons wins over guild of gruff musicians with mad skillz and love of music.
Katissima on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A desert island book! I've read it at least a dozen times.
Kellswitch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
this was the first Anne McCaffrey book I ever read and it remains one of my favorite books of all time.I loved the world of Harper Hall that McCaffrey created and I really felt a kinship with Menolly even though I am nowhere near as gifted as she was or even that musical. The character of Menolly is just perfectly written to appeal and reach out to anyone who feels out of place or unaccepted for just being who you are.And even though the Harper Hall Trilogy books are some of the shortest she has written, for me the actually held the most strength and emotional punch of all the rest. I felt invested in Menolly's adventures and well being and just felt that her world just came alive and felt real.
DSDragon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My dad took my family to see a play based on this book back in 1991, and I loved it. This was the very first Pern book I ever read, and it's still my favorite book by Anne McCaffrey.
Jim53 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This second volume of the Harper Hall trilogy continues the story of Menolly, an exceptionally gifted musician who has been told she can't be a harper because she is a girl. It is largely a tale of her being vindicated in her passion for music, through the recognition of the professionals in the field and her becoming welcome among them. Along the way she must deal with her self-doubt and learn how to make friends. We get a view of Pern from a different perspective from that of the first three books, seeing some of the same events from a different viewpoint, and also seeing more of how normal people who don't ride dragons spend their time. Overall I rate this the best of McCaffrey's Pern books.
wholenoted on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Books on tape of this title and 'the Rowan' are the books that got me hooked on Anne McCaffrey. I listened to this title enroute on a camping trip, and found myself sitting in the car to continue it after I arrived at my destination. I have since bought the rest of the trilogy, and read just about every fantasy book McCaffrey has written...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please, Please put these books in Nook format!
Chartreuse_Design More than 1 year ago
This was the first book I read by Anne McCaffrey. I am a Pern fan forever. I reread this book at least once (or twice) a year. I wish it would be available on the nook because my paperback is slowly coming apart.  I highly recommend this book for young (and old) fantasy lovers.  As you read more of the Pern series, her world keeps building on itself until the reader feels like one of the people of Pern.
Kat_Fia More than 1 year ago
Menolly's story just gets better with this book! I first read her story in Middle School and it is just as rewarding to read as an adult.
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