Dragon’s Kin is one of the more recent (relatively speaking) Dragonriders of Pern novels. This book was coauthored by Anne McCaffrey’s son, Todd McCaffrey.
The focus on this book is the watch wher, the somewhat failed “cousin” to the magnificent dragons of Pern. Set much earlier than the 6th Pass of the core “Dragonriders of Pern” novels, during an interval between passes of thread.
Kindan is the young son of a miner / watch wher handler. Watch whers, who are able to see clearly in near dark, are being used in mines to detect “bad air” and to help locate miners who become trapped in cave-ins, almost a reptilian St. Bernard. If the mining camp can prove itself, a new Holding may be in the offing, but accidents and set-backs continue to plague it.
When Kindan’s father is killed in a mining accident along with his bonded wher, Kindan is assigned to the Masterharper. Ultimately, he must choose between his heart’s desire (to become a harper himself) and the needs of the community.
In my opinion, watch whers receive a bit of reconning treatment. They are portrayed less like the ugly, twisted creatures of the earlier books — granted, however, their extreme loyalty to their Holders is admirable (recall the loyalty of the Ruatha Hold wher to Lessa) — and more like sturdy, likeable companions to their bondmates. In this reconning, the authors demonstrate that whers can fly with their stunted wings, go between, and communicate telepathically. The latter talent is greater than that of the fire lizards, but much less structured, intelligent, and self aware than the dragons themselves.
The companionship and the raising of a new wher is touching, however. While I’m not sure that there is a whole story here, I found the book compelling and an interesting companion to the more dragon-centric novels.
4 1/2 out of 5 stars (finished August 31, 2011)
Currently reading: The Myriad by R.M. Meluch