Story Summary: The story opens shortly after the death of 14-year-old Menolly’s teacher and mentor, an aging harper (teacher and musician). The traditions of the day state that a female cannot become a harper, as Menolly desires and her mentor taught her to be. Her stern father and worried mother do all that they can to discourage her from dreaming for being a harper, forbid her to create new tunes, despite the fact that she is really quite talented and her mentor have even sent some of her earlier work to his craft hall to be looked over by the head of the harper profession. Her parents are forced to let her teach the children of the hall, until a new harper can reach their isolated home, and she does a wonderful job. However when the new harper arrives she is pushed to the shadows and while doing some basic kitchen work cuts her hand, and is led to believe that she will never have full use of her hand again, meaning that she can no longer play music. The pain of hearing, but not being able to join in the music Menolly runs away to cliff on the shore, where she is able to impress nine fire lizards (small dragons) which many boys and men only dreamed of having the chance to do. She survives the outdoors, and learns much about herself and her collection of fire lizards. One day she is rescued from thread fall and taken to the home of local dragons and their riders, who marveled at her survival and her fire lizards.
While at the dragon weyr Menolly meets the master harper, who figures out who she is, with a little help from her singing fire lizards and the songs that were sent to him from Menolly’s mentor. She will now have the chance to achieve her dreams and become the first female harper.
Remarks: This book is very well written, and compels the reader to keep turning the pages to find out what will happen next. Although the protagonist in the book is a female, I think that this book could appeal to many boys. Anne McCaffrey has written many books based on the same society, the same fantasy world. The boys who have read other books might take the chance and read this one as well. There are daring rescues, battles against deadly thread and dragons, which generally appeal to boys. There is also some time spent with Alemi, Menolly’s younger brother, and the harper that came to there home that could also keep boys interested. They sail, and explore dangerous shoreline. They develop a trusting adult to teen relationship that many could wish to have within their own family.