Book Review: Harper Hall Trilogy

Book Title/Publication

Dragonsong (March 1976)

Dragonsinger (February 1977)

Dragondrum (March 1979)


 Anne McCaffrey


Science fiction and young adult fiction omnibus


The Harper Hall Trilogy by Anne McCaffrey consists of three novels: “Dragonsong,” “Dragonsinger,” and “Dragondrums.” The trilogy follows the journey of Menolly, a talented young musician who defies tradition to pursue her dreams of becoming a Harper, a musician and storyteller in the society of Pern.


The story follows Menolly, a young girl with a passion for music who lives in a remote fishing hold. Despite her talent, Menolly’s family forbids her from pursuing music, believing it’s not suitable for a girl. She discovers fire lizards, small cousins of dragons, and befriends them while continuing to compose music in secret. Running away from an abusive home she lives with her new fire lizard friends for a time. Eventually she is found taken to a dragon hold where her musical talents are praised.

This novel contains themes of identity, independence, and the power of pursuing one’s passions despite societal expectations.


Continuing Menolly’s story she settles into life at the Harper Hall. Struggling to find her place among the other apprentices she faces opposition from traditionalists who believe a girl has no business becoming a Harper. Despite these obstacles, Menolly proves herself as a talented musician and gains recognition for her abilities. Making friends with a boy named Piemur, he helps her navigate settling into the harper hall. With so many new adventures she savors the opportunities to forge new friendships and relishes her apprenticeship experience.

The novel explores themes of identity, perseverance, and the power of music and friendship.


The focus shifts to Piemur, a young apprentice at the Harper Hall. When his voice changes unexpectedly, Piemur is forced to leave his training as a singer and take on new responsibilities. He becomes a journeyman drummer and takes on various tasks within the Harper Hall. As Piemur adjusts to his new role, he becomes involved in a series of adventures. He assists in uncovering a plot against Pern involving a group of renegades and undertakes a dangerous journey to the Southern Continent, where he plays a crucial role in thwarting the renegades’ plans.

This novel explores themes of identity, independence, and the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity.

Characters and Setting

Menolly: The protagonist of the trilogy, Menolly is a talented young musician who defies tradition to pursue her dreams of becoming a Harper. She faces rejection and abuse at home but finds acceptance and encouragement at the Harper Hall, where she begins her journey to becoming a skilled musician and songwriter.

Piemur: A supporting character in the trilogy, Piemur is a young apprentice at the Harper Hall. Initially trained as a singer, his voice unexpectedly changes, leading him to take on new responsibilities as a journeyman drummer. Piemur becomes involved in various adventures, including uncovering a plot against Pern and undertaking a dangerous journey to the Southern Continent.

Masterharper RobintonThe Masterharper of Pern, Robinton plays a pivotal role in Menolly’s story. He recognizes her talent and helps her find a place at the Harper Hall, where she can pursue her dreams of becoming a musician. He is a strong character who is trying to push Pern into a more accepting world.

Sebell: A journeyman Harper at the Harper Hall, Sebell becomes Menolly’s mentor and friend. He recognizes her talent and helps her overcome obstacles in her path. He is a very positive character in the series.

Silvina: The Headwoman of the Harper Hall, Silvina oversees the domestic affairs of the Hall and befriends Menolly, providing support and encouragement. A very strong female character.

Sharra: A fellow apprentice at the Harper Hall, Sharra becomes one of Piemur’s closest friends and allies. She supports him throughout his adventures and helps him navigate the challenges he faces.

Yanus: Menolly’s father, Yanus, is a strict and traditional man who disapproves of Menolly’s musical talents, believing them to be unsuitable for a girl. His rejection of Menolly’s abilities contributes to her feelings of isolation and drives her to leave home.

Thoughts and Recommendation

This trilogy has always held a special place in my heart. The theme of a young girl striving to pursue her dreams deeply resonated with me. Rich with captivating characters, some you’ll adore and others you’ll loathe, it’s a narrative that keeps drawing you back time and again. Witnessing Menolly’s personal growth and her eventual integration into society was truly inspiring. The world-building within this trilogy is fantastic too! In fact, the entire Pern book series is amazing and I wholeheartedly recommend immersing yourself in any of its volumes. What’s great about this trilogy is its universal appeal across all ages, with it delving into themes of self-discovery and overcoming adversity.

If you pick up this series or have read it in the past let me know! I would love to talk to someone about this amazing series.