In Dragonsong, by Anne McCaffrey, girls are for working in the kitchen, mending nets, keeping the house clean and tending the sick and the children. That’s all, and that’s enough as far as Yanus, Sea Holder of Half-Circle Sea Hold is concerned. His young daughter Menolly may –think- she has some musical talent, but that’s not a girl’s proper place. Never mind that Petiron, the old Harper, believed she had a real gift and taught her what he could. The daughter of a lord has an established place, and all her twiddlings on the harp won’t change that.
Of course when Petiron dies, it takes quite a while for a new music master to be sent from Harper Hall, the school for bards. The children must continue their little studies, and Yanus grudgingly allows his daughter to act as their teacher. Naturally all of that’s finished when the new Harper comes. Then there’s no point to healing Menolly’s injured hand well enough so it can pluck a harp’s strings. Music is done for her, and it’s best that way, or so her father believes. Time to get on with the business of life.
When her family finally forbade her singing, and her mother beat her when she wouldn’t quit, Menolly knew she couldn’t stand being in the sea hold any longer. She drifted off, spending more and more time alone tending nets, paying little attention to the things of this world. And so she was caught out during the deadly time of Threadfall when burning strands fall from the skies. A nearby cave provided refuge and something else, something extraordinary.
On the planet Pern, dragons are totally real, magnificent, and telepathic. What Menolly had stumbled upon in the cave was a clutch of hatching fire lizard eggs. Fire lizards, like their larger dragon cousins, would become willing companions to whoever fed them first. Stumbling frantically, looking for food, they wanted out of the cave. But this was the time of Threadfall, so to save them from a fiery doom, Menolly took her day’s catch of spiderclaws and fed the hungry brood of nine fire lizards. As she worked hard in the days ahead to keep them alive, her songs flowed from her, and soon she had a chorus of melodic fire lizards, filling the winds beyond the cave with harmonies and flight that danced and dipped upon the waves.
Meanwhile back at Half-Circle Sea Hold, the new bard was searching desperately for the talented new musician whose melodies had been sent back to Harper Hall by old Petrion. The Master Bard has declared that this promising young person should immediately be sent to Harper Hall where such skill can be properly encouraged. Of course, this would be the realization of all of Menolly’s dreams. Pity then that the Lord Seaholder claims a foundling, now sent back to HIS own hold, alas, was the musical prodigy.Menolly’s adventures continue in Dragonsinger.