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Official Website:

Anne McCaffrey's website

Other McCaffrey series pages:
Page 1: Pern (Dragonriders)
Page 2: Crystal Singer
Page 3: Brain Ships
Page 4: Talents (psychic, Rowan, tower)
Page 5: Petaybee
Page 6: Freedom
Page 7: Acorna
Page 8: Collections and other works

Crime Series:

Susan Wittig Albert's China Bayles

Lawrence Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr (Burglar)

Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder

Lilian Jackson Braun's Qwilleran and Koko (Cat Who)

Lee Child's Jack Reacher

Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum

Janet Evanovich's Alex Barnaby

Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg's O'Hare/Fox series

Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone

Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher

Kerry Greenwood's Corinna Chapman

Wendy Hornsby's Maggie MacGowen

Tanya Huff's Vicki Nelson (Blood)

Val McDermid's Kate Brannigan

Shane Maloney's Murray Whelan

Sara Paretsky's V. I. Warshawski

J D Robb's Eve Dallas and Roarke

Dorothy Sayers'Lord Peter Wimsey

Michael W. Sherer's Blake Sanders

Zoe Sharp's Charlie Fox

John Sandford's Lucas Davenport

John Sandford's Virgil Flowers

John Sandford's Kidd & LuEllen

Fantasy/Science Fiction series:

Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series

Isaac Asimov's Foundation and Robots series

Mary Janice Davidson's Undead series

Anne McCaffrey's Dragonrider series

Anne McCaffrey's Crystal Singer series

Anne McCaffrey's Brain Ships series

Anne McCaffrey's Talents (psychic, rowan, tower) series

Anne McCaffrey's Petaybee series

Anne McCaffrey's Freedom series

Anne McCaffrey's Acorna series

George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones and more

Tanya Huff's Vicki Nelson (Blood Lines)

Tanya Huff's Confederation

Terry Pratchett's Discworld series

Spider Robinson's Callahan and Stardance series

Roger Zelazny's Amber Series


See also Isaac Asimov's Foundation and Robots series page reading order and synopsis; 160x480

Spider Robinson's Callahan's and Stardance series page reading order and synopsis; 160x480

Lilian Jackson Braun's The  Cat Who (Qwilleran) series reading order and synopsis

Terry Pratchett's Discworld series page reading order and synopsis; 160x480

Anne McCaffrey Series

The Dragonriders of Pern

Anne McCaffrey is the queen of series, having several well-known science fiction and fantasy series to her credit. In latter years she tended to write with other authors such as Jody Lynn Nye, Elizabeth Moon, Margaret Ball and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough.

Her series include the Pern books, the Crystal Singer stories, the Brain Ship stories, the Talents (psychic, Rowan, tower) series, the Petaybee series, the Acorna (unicorn girl) series, the Planet Pirates series, Dinosaur Planet and the Freedom's Landing series. Because McCaffrey has written the stories over quite a stretch of time, and moved back and forth along the time lines, there is some difficulty in recommending a reading order for her books.

There are more dragon-related titles on page 8.

The inhabitants of Pern live in a medieval society. Holds are managed by the Lord Holder, and major holds are also home to one of the Crafts. There is a traditional craft system of apprenticeship and journeyperson. Competent craftspeople are sent to other holds, large and small, to ply their crafts. The teacher of children is the role of the Harpers (singers).

The society practices a system of fosterage, exchanging children to spread skills.

Protecting the holds are the dragonriders, each psychically linked to the dragon who 'chose' them. They are supported by the holds to enable them to maintain their skills and fight 'thread', a biological scourge that rains from the skies following a specific cycle.

As the series progresses, the inhabitants discover their ancestry, as colonists from another planet who chose to eventually lose their technologies, or to reinvent them into simpler forms.

McCaffrey created this series, in part, because of all the bad press they were getting.

When we first encounter Lessa, the heroine of Dragonflight, she is plotting terrible revenge against Dax, the Lord Holder who murdered her family and held illegal reign over the hold of Ruatha. Lessa is the quintessential McCaffrey heroine, small, vengeful, quick-tempered, bright, and destined to be the second-in-command/helpmate to the man she helps gain power.

The series also slowly makes some progress in the roles of women in Pern society. For example, Menolly the singer and composer has a chance to learn her craft, and to be recognised as competent.

This is a very successful series, and suitable for all ages.

This reading order (provided in personal correspondence between Anne McCaffrey and Ali Kayn) is not chronological in Pern time, it is in the order McCaffrey recommended, moving through the timeline as the story of Pern unfolds.

Anne McCaffrey writes:

Note: Dragonflight, Dragonquest And The White Dragon constitute the Dragonriders of Pern trilogy and the short story called 'A Time When' is included in The White Dragon.

Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums comprise the Harper Hall trilogy.

Moreta: Dragonlady Of Pern takes place historically before the two series.

Despite the chronological spread in the three novels, Dragonsdawn, Renegades Of Pern, and All The Weyrs Of Pern should be considered a third Pern trilogy.

Anne McCaffrey continues:

There is a good deal of confusion on how to read the Dragonriders of Pern series. However, I have listed how I would recommend it be read.

Below is the order in which I think the stories should be read. So long as someone has started off with either 'Flight or 'Song, they have some background and won't be so confused as to how the other novels fit in. Or maybe they will. But starting off with White Dragon could be very confusing, or with Dragonsdawn because then you know what happened to the dragons and their riders. Ciao.

Dragonsong (Young Adults)
Dragonsinger(Young Adults)
(first two chapters of)The White Dragon
Dragondrums(Young Adults)
The Remainder of the White Dragon
The Smallest Dragonboy (short story in Get off the Unicorn)
Nerilka's Story
The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall
Dragonseye(published as Red Star Rising in the UK.)
The Girl Who Heard Dragons (in an anthology by the same name)
Renegades of Pern
Masterharper of Pern
The Runners of Pern (in "Legends" anthology Edited Silverberg)
All the Weyrs of Pern
The Dolphins of Pern

McCaffrey: Read the first two chapters of White Dragon, then Dragondrums, then the rest of the White Dragon. After White Dragon, in Get of the Unicorn (sic), read The Smallest Dragonboy the story of K'van's impression.

Ali Kayn asked: During these books there is also mention of a sea journey by Menolly and Masterharper Robinton. Although I seem to remember this story, I can't find the story of their storm-tossed adventure and the discovery of the cove with the fateful volcanos in the distance.

Anne McCaffrey replied: As to the voyage when Menolly rescues the Master Harper and they discover Cove Hold, I never have written it as a story, merely sumamrized (sic) the happening in other books.

McCaffrey: The short story The Girl Who Heard Dragons also takes place in this timeline, and in integrated into The Renegades of Pern.






The White Dragon


The Smallest Dragonboy

(short story)

Moreta, Dragonlady of Pern

Nerilka's Story


The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall

Dragon's Eye aka Red Star Rising

The Girl Who Heard Dragons

The Renegades of Pern

Masterharper of Pern

Runner of Pern

All the Weyrs of Pern

The Dolphins of Pern

The Skies of Pern

A Gift of Dragons

Dragon's Kin

Beyond Between (Short story)

book cover, Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey


McCaffrey's best known series was originally an award-winning short story Weyr Search (collected in The Hugo Winners 1968-1970 edited by Isaac Asimov). In Dragonflight, McCaffrey develops the story, starting with the action that took place in the short and continuing the adventures of Werywoman Lessa.

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book cover, Dragonquest, by Anne McCaffrey
Dragonquest, Anne McCaffrey


The sequel to Dragonflight, Dragonquest sees F'lar dealing with the social upheaval caused by the arrival of the Oldtimers, and by the changes that thread is forcing on his people.

Although the natural successor to this book is The White Dragon, if you are reading this series for the first time, read Dragonsong and Dragonsinger next.

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book cover, Dragonsong, by Anne McCaffrey
Dragonsong, Anne McCaffrey


Menolly is an embarrassment to her fisher family because she 'twiddles' -- she presumes to create tunes of her own. The story begins with the death of the Sea Hold's harper (Petiron). In the Pern series, harpers teach the young, pass information between the holds, keep the history and the language, and remind the people of laws and traditions through their songs.

Unable to face life in the Sea Hold, especially after they deliberately mistreat and injured hand (shades of Johnny Tremaine), Menolly runs away. She adopts, and is adopted by, a fair of fire lizards, the ancient ancestors of the mighty dragons.

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book cover, Dragonsinger, by Anne McCaffrey
Dragonsinger, Anne McCaffrey


As Menolly arrives at the harper hall, dragon rider T'gellan tells her she will be settled in a week. This short novel covers that period of time, as Menolly finds her place in the almost exclusively-male harper craft.

One of McCaffrey's shorter novels, Dragonsinger is one of the most satisfying and universal of her stories.

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book cover, The White Dragon, by Anne McCaffrey
The White Dragon, Anne McCaffrey

The White Dragon

Taking up the story of Lord Jaxom and the white dragon Ruth a few years after the end of Dragonquest, this story has the Pernese learning more about their ancestors, and the technology of those original colonists. Together Jaxom and Ruth foil the machinations of the Oldtimers, and discover the original landing place and township of their ancestors.

The White Dragon runs concurrently with Dragondrums, and whichever one you read first, you may think that the other would have been a better choice. The White Dragon definitely ends at a later time than Dragondrums.

The timelines in these two books don't quite seem to mesh, so we asked McCaffrey herself what she recommended. Also concurrent with this novel is The Renegades of Pern, although that definitely should to be read last if you have the choice.

The author recommends: Read the first two chapters of this book, then Dragondrums , then finish this book.

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book cover, Dragondrums, by Anne McCaffrey
Dragondrums, Anne McCaffrey


Menolly's friend, the rougish harper apprentice and soprano, Piemur must face the loss of his beautiful voice. While waiting to see if his voice will settle into that of a useful male singer, the master harper (Robinton) decides to use Piemur's natural curiosity and daring in the political work of the harper hall.

Piemur's exploits lead him to stolen fire lizard eggs, and an accidental flight to the great southern continent where he discovers his calling as an explorer.

This story takes place about three years after Dragonsong and Dragonsinger, and concurrent with parts of The White Dragon and The Renegades of Pern.

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book cover, The White Dragon, by Anne McCaffrey
, Anne McCaffrey

Now finish The White Dragon. (McCaffrey's recommendation, see above).

book cover, Get of the Unicorn, by Anne McCaffrey; 83x140
The Smallest Dragonboy, Anne McCaffrey

The Smallest Dragonboy

Short story. The tale of K'van's impression. Published in Get Off the Unicorn. Also reprinted in A Gift of Dragons listed below.

The author recommends reading this story at this point in the reading order.

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book cover, Moreta, Dragonlady of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey
Moreta, Dragonlady of Pern, Anne McCaffrey

Moreta, Dragonlady of Pern

This is a part of Lessa's prehistory. In the first books, McCaffrey refers to the ballad of Moreta's ride. Here is the story of Moreta. It can be read any time after Dragonflight and Dragonquest without interfering too much with the natural evolution of the series.

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book cover, Nerilka's Story, by Anne McCaffrey; 90x140
Nerilka's Story, Anne McCaffrey

Nerilka's Story

The novella Nerilka's Story is best read after this novel as it takes place at that time. My copy is a Bantam edition (1987) with Coelura.

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book cover, Dragonsdawn, by Anne McCaffrey
Dragonsdawn, Anne McCaffrey


From the first landing to the first dragonriders, this is the story of the original colonists and the changes they made, first to adapt to Pern, and then to the threat of thread.

This story follows logically from The Renegades of Pern, being in essence the story told by Aivas. Although the story of the landing, and predating the adventures of Lessa and F'lar, it is best read in this order (see McCaffrey's notes above). The subtitle on the cover of some copies seems to imply that it is the first story.

This begins what McCaffrey referred to as the 'third Pern trilogy'.

An interesting comparison would be to read Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars.

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book cover, The Chronicles of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey
The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall, Anne McCaffrey

The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall

This is a collection of stories that take place in the time of the original colonists and the earliest generations following them. One of the things McCaffrey does is to mention songs and stories and place names and then double back and write the adventures to which they refer.

The collection includes a dolphineer story.

Although it breaks up the 'third trilogy', this is where McCaffrey recommends that it be read.

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book cover, Dragonseye, by Anne McCaffrey
Dragon's Eye aka Red Star Rising, Anne McCaffrey

Dragon's Eye aka Red Star Rising

It's been two-hundred years since the deadly Thread fell like rain upon Pern, devouring everything in its path. No one alive remembers that first horrific onslaught and no one believes in its return--except for the dragonriders. For two centuries they have been practicing and training, passing down from generation to generation the formidable Threadfighting techniques.

Now the ominous signs are appearing: the violent winter storms and volcanic eruptions that are said to herald the approach of the Red Star and its lethal spawn. But one stubborn Lord Holder, Chalkin of Bitra, refuses to believe--and that disbelief could spell disaster. So as the dragonriders desperately train to face a terrifying enemy, they and the other Lord Holders must find a way to deal with Chalkin--before history repeats itself and unleashes its virulence on all of Pern. . . . (source:

Again, this breaks up the 'third trilogy', which according to McCaffrey's reading order, resumes below after the short story.

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book cover, The Girl Who Heard Dragons, by Anne McCaffrey; 93x140
The Girl Who Heard Dragons, Anne McCaffrey

The Girl Who Heard Dragons

Short story. In the anthology of the same name. This story is expanded in The Renegades of Pern.

Also published in A Gift of Dragons listed below.

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book cover, The Renegades of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey
The Renegades of Pern, Anne McCaffrey

The Renegades of Pern

This story takes place at the same time as Piemur's adventures in Dragondrums. The Pernese discover the original landing site and computer centre of the colonists, their ancestors. It ends with the artificial intelligence (Aivas) about to begin telling them the beginning of Pern's human history.

This is also the story of Lady Holdless and other renegades whose illegal activities cause havoc. In particular, this novelisation includes the content of the short story The Girl Who Heard Dragons.

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book cover, The MasterHarper of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey
Masterharper of Pern, Anne McCaffrey

Masterharper of Pern

Considering how often McCaffrey returns to her universe for concurrent stories, it is disappointing that revisiting events is her weakness. She tends to write like someone who is retelling a story for the thousandth time, and not enjoying it. An author who does this well, is Joan D. Vinge in her Tiamat series.

This is the early life of Masterharper Robinton. Not only has she revisited earlier material, she has also reinvented it, changing history, for example, a previous hero Petiron, Robinton's father, is now a jealous tyrant. The events were loudly telegraphed, and there is a strong feeling throughout the book that it's all rough ground to be got over as lightly as possible.

The story ends with the tale of Lessa being searched in Dragonflight, which might be nicely cyclic, except that it all seems a terrible and unnecessary reach. It is in part a response to online interaction with fans at the Del Rey web site.

It all goes to prove that you may be declared dead, but it aint over 'til the dragonlady sings...

This is where McCaffrey recommends reading the book, again breaking into the 'third trilogy'. As it is a prequel, it can be read later if desired.

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book cover, Legends, edited by Robert Silverberg; 94x140
Runner of Pern, Anne McCaffrey

Runner of Pern

Short story published in the collection Legends edited by Robert Silverberg.

Tenna, who follows family tradition by delivering messages and finds her destiny on the tracks that runners have used for centuries.y

Also publishes in A Gift of Dragons listed below.

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book cover, All the Weyrs of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey
All the Weyrs of Pern, Anne McCaffrey

All the Weyrs of Pern

This novel takes up the story of Pern after Aivas' telling of the adventures of the original colonists. You have to be willing to accept that a community with very basic technology can be quickly brought to understand and accept computers and space travel.

This is the story of the real fight against Thread, of the final pass of thread. Although thread will continue for some years, the dragonriders' actions off planet will prevent any future passes.

A peculiar, often repeated point that McCaffrey makes during this book is that the Pernese do not wish to learn a technology greater than the original colonists, and Aivas agrees to this. I'm confused, if the Aivas was their computer, and the receptacle of all their contemporary knowledge, arts and crafts, technology, history and so on, how could it be more technologically advanced than the humans of its time?

The ending is also somewhat strange, did McCaffrey write herself into a corner with the Aivas story line? Make sure you have a handkerchief with you for the final chapters.

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This is the end of the 'third trilogy'

book cover, The Dolphins of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey
The Dolphins of Pern, Anne McCaffrey

The Dolphins of Pern

The hero of this book (if you discount the dolphins) is Readis, the son of Aramina (The Girl Who Heard Dragons), who we meet in Dragondrums and The Renegades of Pern.

On Pern, the fact that metasynthed dolphins were also intelligent colonists of Pern, brought to work with the humans, had been forgotten. In the early tales they were still called 'Shipfish', and were known to rescue sailors from the sea. Now events are coming to a point where the old dolphineer craft will be revived.

This can also be considered a sequel to the short story The Smallest Dragon Boy, which introduced K'van. That story appears in McCaffrey's collection Get Off the Unicorn listed above.

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book cover, The Skies of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey; 90x127
The Skies of Pern, Anne McCaffrey

The Skies of Pern

Published in 2001, this title came after our conversation with Ms McCaffrey.

It is a time of hope and regret, of endings and beginnings. The Red Star, that celestial curse whose eccentric orbit was responsible for Thread, has been shifted to a harmless orbit, and the current Threadfall will be the last. Technological marvels are changing the face of life on Pern. And the dragonriders, led by F'lessan, son of F'lar and Lessa and rider of bronze Golanth, and Tia, rider of green Zaranth, must forge a new place for themselves in a world that may no longer need them.

But change is not easy for everyone. There are those who will stop at nothing-- not even violence--to keep Pern and its people pure. And now a brand-new danger looms from the skies . . . and threatens a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. (source:

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book cover, A Gift of Dragons, by Anne McCaffrey; 87x140
A Gift of Dragons, Anne McCaffrey

A Gift of Dragons

Short story collection. The Smallest Dragonboy, The Girl Who Heard Dragons, Runner of Pern, and a new story, Ever the Twain.

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book cover, Dragon's Kin, by Anne & Todd McCaffrey; 90x140
Dragon's Kin, Anne McCaffrey

Dragon's Kin

Although Anne McCaffrey has credit for this book, it is co-written (to an unknown extent) by her son Todd McCaffrey.

Young Kindan has no expectations other than joining his father in the mines of Camp Natalon, a coal mining settlement struggling to turn a profit far from the great Holds where the presence of dragons and their riders means safety and civilization. Mining is fraught with danger. Fortunately, the camp has a watch-wher, a creature distantly related to dragons and uniquely suited to specialized work in the dark, cold mineshafts. Kindan's father is the watch-wher's handler, and his son sometimes helps him out. But even that important job promises no opportunity outside the mine. (source:

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book cover, Legends II edited by Robert Silverberg;
Beyond Between, Anne McCaffrey

Beyond Between

Short Story published in Legends II New Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy edited by Robert Silverberg

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Books by Todd McCaffrey

After this point, the involvement by Ms McCaffrey is unknown. Anne McCaffrey died in 2011.

book cover, The Dragonlover's guide to Pern, Anne McCaffrey, Jody Lynn Nye, et al
Dragonlover's Guide to Pern, Anne McCaffrey

Dragolover's Guide to Pern

by Jody Lynn Nye, Anne McCaffrey, Todd Cameron Hamilton, James Clouse

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