The Perniciousness of Prequels: Pern Edition


So I have a secret. For the last several months, I have fallen down the guilty-pleasure-reading rabbit hole. It all started while browsing the 25¢ bin at my local Friends of the Library Book Sale. Picked up a copy of Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, and I guess, I never looked back.

The bright green cover with a triumphant woman flying high on the golden wings of her dragon might inspire anyone to test the waters of 70's fantasy fiction...but for me it was an instantaneous flashback to my teenage years. Staying up late reading, existential conversations on dragonlore with--I swear to god--other Pernophiles on a text based MUD (Multi User Dungeon) game. Wanting to feel things the way a dragonrider does, and wishing fervently that a certain boy would call me. It was a very specific time in my life, and Lessa, peeking out from underneath twelve copies of The Da Vinci Code, was just begging to be taken home.

So I did.

And I thought to myself, "this will be an enjoyable reread before moving on to my ever growing pile of things-I-should-be-reading." That was back in January. As soon as I finished one book, you guessed it, I had to get the next one. "Just one more, then I'll stop," said every addict ever, even a book one. For better or for worse, I am surrounded by outstanding used bookstores (Verbatim books & Adams Avenue Books being my main source of literary fixes), and it was no struggle to find beautifully battered copies of the Dragonriders of Pern.

After closing the cover on the 11th book in the series (plus the 3 spin-off Harper Hall books), I came to a crossroads. That is as far as I'd ever read in my youth...any further reading would be uncharted territory and could no longer fall under the 'nostalgia' rationale. Dare I?

Duh. Of course I kept on.

And here in lies the rub. I have just finished the 15th book, a prequel called The Masterharper of Pern, which was one of those closely-overlapping-in-time-reissues. Plot points and backstory are heavily woven with those from previous books. So much so, that I really felt like I had to re-re-read previous volumes. Was there evidence that Robinton was present at Fax's death? Surely Not! You can't fool me Anne! But how can I be sure?

...

...

...

So here I am, starting the series all over; the trap of prequels got me. I just had to read it again with this new 15th book knowledge under my belt. You don't just not go back and re-watch the Sixth Sense, you know? I mean, not that it's anything like that. Really it isn't. But still.

I don't know what is going to happen with I finish my second time around with Dragonflight. I don't want to move on to Dragonquest. But I can see a vicious cycle forming here, and it's not looking good.

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