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First edition
AuthorAnne McCaffrey
Cover artist
CountryUnited States
PublisherAtheneum Books
Publication date
February 1977
Media typePrint (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages264 (first edition)
LC ClassPZ7.M122834 Dp
Preceded byDragonsong 
Followed by 

Dragonsinger is a young adult science fiction novel by the American-Irish author Anne McCaffrey. Published by Atheneum Books in 1977, it was the fourth to appear in the Dragonriders of Pern series written by Anne McCaffrey and her son Todd McCaffrey.[1]

As the sequel to Dragonsong, it was the second book in the Harper Hall of Pern trilogy, with a new publisher, editor, and target audience (young adults). The original Dragonriders of Pern trilogy was completed after publication of the first two Harper Hall books.

Plot summary[edit]

The novel follows Menolly, now apprenticed into the Harper Hall, a type of music conservatory for harpers (minstrels/educators) and other music professionals, as she begins her musical training to become a harper herself one day. The story begins within hours of the final events of Dragonsong, rounding out the tale of Menolly's coming of age.

Menolly finds life in the Harper Hall challenging, and through the events of the novel struggles to make a place for herself. Although she is glad to be accepted as a musician and encouraged to play and write music by most of the authority figures at Harper Hall, she must still deal with those who dislike her for her talents or don't believe she has any real talent at all. At first she is placed in living quarters and classes with a group of paying female students who are, in the majority, extremely unpleasant. She also finds herself torn between master musicians who have conflicting emphases and who want her to specialize in their techniques, instead of developing her own. The situation is complicated by her nine fire lizards, small dragon-like creatures whose properties are still being explored at the time of the story; while some members of the Pern communities want her help in learning what fire lizards can do, many of her teachers in the Harper Hall see them as a nuisance and a distraction that will keep her from developing her musical gifts. Even through her struggles she gains a handful of faithful friends beyond her fire lizards, including fellow apprentice Piemur and journeyman Sebell. Over time she finds her place as a musician within the harper system and is accepted as having her apprenticeship being completed under the Harper she grew up with at home. In the end, her fears of losing her possessions and position are secured when she is awarded the position of Journeyman Harper.


The American Library Association in 1999 cited the two early Pern trilogies (Dragonriders and Harper Hall), along with The Ship Who Sang, when McCaffrey received the annual Margaret A. Edwards Award for her "lifetime contribution in writing for teens".[2]

Dragonsinger placed ninth for the annual Locus Award for Best Novel.[3]


  1. ^ Dragonsinger title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database identifies five cover artists for US editions and hosts at least thumbnail images of their front covers: Marcellino, first edition; Elizabeth Malczynski, first paperback; Rowena Morrill, 1986 ppb; Greg Call, 2003 ppb; and Sammy Yuen, 2008 ppb. The first paperback did not credit Malczynski; the database cites her Elizabeth Malczynski Littman gallery — where (2011-10-18) the first six works present her three paintings for wraparound covers of Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums (the Harper Hall trilogy).
    Official Pern Art, at the Pern Museum maintained by Hans van der Boom (c) 2008, identifies two cover artists responsible for all three books in French paperback editions, Didier Thimonier (Albin Michel, 1988/1989) and Wojciech Siudmak (Presses Pocket). The former earlier edition is entirely missing from ISFDB. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
    • Those two paragraphs pertain to all three books in the so-called Harper Hall trilogy, for the US and French editions used artists who "covered" all three books.
    • ISFDB identifies only David Roe (The Dragondaze Portfolio at his personal website) among cover artists for UK editions. Official Pern Art identifies Colin Saxton (first UK), Roe (first UK paperback), Steve Weston and Les Edwards (later UK editions) and shows some image of all four front covers or cover paintings. Retrieved 2011-10-19.


  1. ^ Dragonriders of Pern series listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Confirmed 2011-10-09.
  2. ^ "1999 Margaret A. Edwards Award Winners". Young Adult Library Services Association. American Library Association. Retrieved 2011-11-13.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "McCaffrey, Anne". Locus Index to SF Awards. Archived from the original on 2011-10-15. Retrieved 2011-10-09.
    • The Locus Awards are voted by Locus magazine readers. From any Locus Index entry, select the award name for details of the annual result; then select "About" for general information about the award.

External links[edit]

Dragonsinger title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database