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A Guide to Reading Anne McCaffrey's "Dragonriders of Pern" by Threadfall

by Sandi Parsons about a year ago in literature
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You can read the events in each Pass without spoilers

Depending on their starting point in the world of Dragonriders of Pern, readers will passionately argue in favor of the series being classified as either fantasy or science fiction. However, when considering the series's overall arc, Dragonriders of Pern is a blend of science fiction and fantasy.

Anne McCaffrey created the Dragonriders of Pern, with Dragonflight first published in 1968. In 2003, Anne and her son Todd released Dragon's Kin – a collaboration between the two writers. Together they co-wrote six books, and Todd penned a further two books. In 2018, Dragon's Code, written by Anne's daughter Gigi was released, celebrating fifty years of Pern's Dragonriders.

Since the early eighties, when McCaffrey first started to write outside the Ninth Pass, differing approaches to reading the Dragonriders of Pern series sprung forth. When approaching a series that spans around two thousand years, the best place to start is usually the beginning. Those in favor of reading the series chronologically argue that makes the best sense. Reading chronologically launches the series as Science Fiction—which can surprise readers who start in the pre-industrial Ninth Pass.

But reading the Dragonriders of Pern chronologically does involve spoilers for the later books. Sometimes too much knowledge is not a good thing.

Others recommend you should approach the series by publication order. Dragonflight is the first novel set on Pern Anne McCaffrey wrote. It's within the pages of Dragonflight that the world-building begins. Where you first read tales of the legendary Dragonriders and how they saved Pern from the perils of the all-consuming Thread.

Discovering the world of Pern this way has many merits — but it does involve jumping back and forth through multiple time periods. If that's your thing, and you can keep all the timelines straight, then publication order may be the way to go.

My recommendation is that you read the series chronologically by Pass. Each Pass of Threadfall has self-contained stories along with information that affects the broader arc of the series. This method combines the best aspects of reading by chronological or publication order.

Reading the Dragonriders of Pern by Pass allows you to experience the magic of Pern the best way possible.

The Ninth Pass, where the series officially began, is the best place to start. Starting in the Ninth Pass allows the reader to immerse themselves in the pre-industrial world of Pern. As a reader, you then discover the Old Ones' secrets as the Dragonriders and Weyrfolk do.

Ninth Pass

1. Dragonflight

2. Dragonquest

3. Dragonsong – Set at the same time as Dragonquest

4. Dragonsinger

5. Dragondrums

6. The White Dragon

7. Dragon's Code – concurrent to The White Dragon (written by Gigi McCaffrey)

8. The Renegades of Pern

9. All the Weyrs of Pern

10. The Dolphins of Pern – set during and immediately after All the Weyrs of Pern

11. The Skies of Pern

After reading those books set in the Ninth Pass, you should read those stories related to the Ninth Pass.

12. The Masterharper of Pern – set 55 years before the Ninth Pass until the first part of Dragonflight

13. A Gift of Dragons – A collection of short stories set in the Ninth Pass.

Sixth Pass

14. Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern

15. Nerilka's Story

Before Landing & First Pass

16. The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall

17. Dragonsdawn

Second Pass

18. Red Star Rising (also titled called Dragonseye)

Third Pass

19. Dragon's Kin (written by Anne & Todd McCaffrey)

20. Dragon's Fire (written by Anne & Todd McCaffrey) – the first section occurs concurrent to Dragon's Kin

21. Dragon Harper (written by Anne & Todd McCaffrey)

22. Dragonsblood (written by Todd McCaffrey)

23. Dragonheart (written by Todd McCaffrey)

24. Dragongirl (written by Todd McCaffrey)

25. Dragon's Time (written by Anne & Todd McCaffrey)

26. Sky Dragons (written by Anne & Todd McCaffrey)


Whichever way you choose to read the Dragonriders of Pern, you're bound to fall in love with the majestic dragons and world of Pern.

Happy reading!


About the author

Sandi Parsons

Sandi Parsons lives and breathes stories as a reader, writer, and storyteller. Subscribe to my newsletter & receive my free ebook The Last Walk →

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