Dragon's Fire

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Authors: Anne McCaffrey
Todd McCaffrey
Barcode/ISBN13: 9780552153485
ISBN: 0552153486
Imprint/Brand: Corgi
Release Date: 03 Dec 2007
Format: A Paperback
Series: Pern 19
Price in AUD: $22.95
Categories: Fantasy

When Masterharper Zist takes over as Harper for Natalon's coal-mining camp, he takes with him his apprentice, the orphaned, mute Pellar, and Pellar's fire-lizard Chitter. Pellar has become a gifted tracker and Zist gives him his own mission - to find out if the recent thefts of coal are the work of the Shunned, criminals condemned to a life of wandering and hardship. Halla is one of the children of the Shunned. Though innocent of their parents' crimes, these children have inherited their cruel punishment. With no shelter when the lethal Thread falls again they will have no protection against it. Life is even tougher for Halla, all her family are dead and she must fend for herself. Yet Halla is kind and gentle, devoted to helping those more helpless than she, unlike Tenim, a fellow child of the Shunned. Tenim is in league with Tarik, a crooked miner from Camp Natalon, who helps him steal coal in exchange for a cut of the profit. But Tenim soon realizes there is a lot more to be made from firestone, the volatile mineral that enables the dragons of Pern to burn Thread out of the sky. Tenim doesn't care what he has to do, or whom he has to kill, in order to corner the market. Cristov is Tarik's son. Dishonored by his father's greed and treachery, he decides he must make amends somehow. even if it means risking his life by mining the volatile firestone, which blows up at contact with the slightest drop of moisture.
When the last remaining firestone mine explodes in flames, a desperate race begins to find a new deposit of the deadly but essential mineral, for without it there can be no defence against Thread. But Tenim has a murderous plan to turn the tragedy to his own advantage, and only Pellar, Halla and Cristov can stop him - and ensure that there will be a future for all on the world of the Dragonriders.

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Review by Dan:

Dragon's Fire is the 19th Pern novel, and the third set in the late 2nd interval and 3rd Pass. The book focuses on Pellar, the mute son of Masterharper Zist; Halla, a Shunned, or holdless child and Cristov, son of a disgraced miner. The Harpers and some of the Lords Holder are aware that there are a growing number of Shunned who, when Thread starts falling again soon, may pose a threat to the Holds. Zist sends his son to attempt to infiltrate the Shunned, hoping that together, a solution may be found. Meanwhile, with Thread approaching, more firrestone is needed to keep the dragons and their riders suitably trained. Firestone is highly volatile and dangerous to mine. There is only one mine currently in operation, as each of the previous mines have had disastrous endings, and it is only a matter of time before a similar fates hits Firestone Mine 9.
This book, along with Dragon's Kin and Dragonsblood, make a linked set of of stories, with a style similar to the Harper Hall trilogy. They make ideal young adult novels, as all the main characters are young. The focus of all three novels is not the dragonriders, but the other people of Pern, the holders and crafters. This book should be read after Dragon's Kin, but may be read either before or after Dragonsblood. I look forward to more Pern novels by either Anne or Todd McCaffrey.