Dragonquest: Clash of the Titanic Egos

(by Silver Adept)

At our last stopping point, F’nor had been stabbed by another dragonrider while running an errand for Lessa, which may be a microcosm of bigger issues brewing…

Dragonquest, Chapter II: Content Notes: Misogyny, Patriarchy

Chapter II starts with an incandescent rage, courtesy F’lar, who is ready to do great violence in reprisal for his brother. Mnementh, sensing this, adjusts F’lar’s arrival point to give him a long runway to coast in on, hoping some of that anger will burn off on the way down and he won’t be goaded into a rash action, like he was when he killed Fax. F’lar concludes that he’s just as aggravated by the flagrant disregard for Weyr tradition (Traditiooon!) as he is by the act of violence, and enumerates the list of sins as he arrives.

  1. First, it’s obvious the timing of the meeting is meant to insult him, since it’s taking place in the middle of his night,
  2. It was an absolute that a dragonrider did not take a green dragon or a queen from her Weyr when she was due to rise for mating….A mating female dragon broadcast her emotions on a wide band….Humans were susceptible, too, and innocent Hold youngsters often responded with embarrassing consequences. That particular aspect of dragon matings didn’t bother weyrfolk who had long since discarded sexual inhibitions.

  3. Any disagreements between riders were settled in unarmed bouts, carefully refereed inside the Weyr….A berserk dragon was almost impossible to manage and a dragon’s death severely upset his entire Weyr. So armed dueling, which might injure or kill a dragon, was the most absolute proscription.

Well, that answered a question from before – apparently, because of the dragons, there’s very little taboo on how or who one partners with, and very likely, little expectation of monogamy, right? And since Lessa is Hold-born, that’s why she had these weird ideas about who would be able to fly her queen. Everyone else just takes it in stride.

F’lar’s thought process as he descends is to feel aggravated that his pragmatic suggestions have been systematically rejected by the time-skipped Weyrs, even with his clear evidence that things have gone well with his changes. He does take a smug satisfaction in being able to call out T’ton the Traditional (Traditioooooon!) on these giant breaches of conduct. With no trace of self-knowledge or self-reflection about what position he was in with regard to the Lords Holder one book ago, or making the connection between the time-skipped Weyrs now and how he was beset by R’gul from the last book. If his game plan is the same as how to deal with R’gul, F’lar is going to lose badly, because he lacks the leverage of actual Thread to convince everyone to go along with him. He’s going to have to play diplomacy (his weak suit) or find a way to gather strength and force the issue. F’lar wishes Lessa was with him, because of her Sith Mind Trick abilities, her general higher abilities in diplomacy overall, and being able to get answers from dragons. But Lessa can’t be here because there is apparently a three-way feud developing with the Weyrwomen.

Mardra’s friendship had gradually turned into an active hatred. Mardra was a handsome woman with a full, strong, figure, and while she was nowhere near as promiscuous with her favors as Kylara of Southern Weyr…By nature she was immensely possessive and not, F’lar realized, very intelligent….She seemed to feel that Lessa, the only survivor of that Bloodline, had no right to renounce her claim on Ruatha Hold to young Lord Jaxom. Not that any Weyrwoman could take Hold, or would want to….Lessa had no control over her beauty and had had no choice about taking Hold at Ruatha.

Cocowhat by depizan

Oh, fuck you, F’lar, you shit-eating asshole. I know the narrative is going to prove you right about Mardra being intensely jealous of Lessa being pretty and taking the focus off of her and not being very bright at all, but WHO was responsible for not giving Lessa a choice about whether she would be in charge at Ruatha or the Weyrwoman at Benden? Who decided that the laughable unserious claim of a tyrant would take precedence over someone of the correct lineage to run the place, all because the kid was boy? Who then kept her there with the queen, trying so very hard to get her to submit through abuse until she finally did? That’s right, you. So fuck you, your ego, and your unwillingness to admit that this situation was entirely your doing.

F’lar runs down an insult for any Weyrwoman not named Lessa, declares this a matter for men, and has a moment of empathy when he remembers that the time-skipped Weyrs have basically been fighting Thread nonstop for their lives. It’s a short-lived moment, soon squashed completely in favor of his outrage. And the meeting begins with a lot of posturing, sniping, veiled insults, and attempts by T’ton (now called T’ron) to chair the meeting according to his privilege of being the Weyrleader where it is being held, the age of the Weyr, and just about any other attempt he can muster. A flimsy pretext is offered about why the green is out (sudden heat! Totally inexplicable!), and F’lar users his best witness, the smith who was present, but T’ron dismisses him, saying that F’lar disgraces himself by taking the word of a “commoner” over that of a dragonrider. When F’lar presses his case that the knife being extorted was already promised, T’ron only becomes more condescending about who F’lar believes, and eventually, the other time-skipped Weyrleaders agree that the smith was at fault for not immediately giving up the knife to the rider that wanted it, which would have solved the issue by not having F’nor present to get stabbed for interference by someone whose dragon had inexplicably suddenly gone into heat. Meeting over, complaint heard, everyone says they’ll talk to their riders about making sure possible dragons in heat don’t leave. Outside the meeting, F’lar’s ally, T’bor, wonders why he didn’t put up more of a fight. F’lar exercises wisdom, for once.

“That such an incident could happen worries me far more than who was in the wrong and for what reason.”…Dragonriders don’t fight. Weyrleaders can’t. T’ron was hoping I’d be mad enough to lose control.

F’lar has apparently learned from when he was goaded into fighting Fax. Being on the receiving end of Lessa has apparently taken some of the edge off of F’lar’s hair-trigger temper… around other people, anyway. The chapter ends with F’lar going back to Benden.

So, again, we’ve had seven planetary revolutions for everyone to figure out how to get along with each other, to reach a new equilibrium of how Holds and Weyrs do their symbiotic dance, and we appear to have gone exactly nowhere, to the point where flimsy excuses are being used in naked power plays to avoid having to admit that things may have changed some in the interim. Seven Turns of this hasn’t apparently budged opinions about a dragonrider’s place in the world.

So, since the action is light for this chapter, let’s take stock right now of how the dragonriders see the world. Pern is organized somewhat loosely in a society reminiscent of the medieval period of Latin Christendom. The dragonriders see themselves primarily as an aristocratic military organization, and they occupy the mounted class niche in the society. (Yes, there are beast-mounted fighters, but they have basically nil military value in relation to a dragon.) T’ron consists himself the four (or five)-star officer, with all other Weyrleaders as three-star officers. (F’lar may dispute who, if anyone, has the fourth star, but he generally agrees with the structure.) Bronze riders make up the rest of the flag officers, with Wingleaders rounding out the star officers and the two colonel grades, and regular bronze riders as captains and majors. Brown riders compose the rest of the commissioned officer corps and some of the non-commissioned officers, with Wingseconds at captain rank and other brown riders as the two grades of lieutenant and likely many of the master sergeants. Blue and green riders compose the enlisted men and the bulk of the non-commissioned officers and airmen. The is nearly zero mobility of rank, it appears, outside of the normally set boundaries, because the choice of rider by a dragon is basically permanent. Therefore, social stratification is almost inevitable, leading to the current situation where change is nearly impossible to effect. Women hold almost no power in this structure, and can hope to be promoted to Weyrwoman by being selected by a gold dragon, but otherwise will be unable to rise in station in any martial capacity.

Outside the riders, civilians (derisively “commoners”, according to T’ron) have a parallel aristocratic structure that resembles Latin Christendom more closely, with Lords Holder at the top. Women are not permitted to hold actual temporal power, it appears. Presumably there have lesser lords and security forces and such, and the craft guilds generally locate in and work with the Holds, with some that also work with Weyrs. It’s not completely clear at this point who has more power, the aristocrats with the monopoly on non-dragon violence, or the craft halls that are largely responsible for the economic output of a Hold. Women may be allowed to join certain guilds, but it is unlikely that will be able to ascend to leadership roles.

These parallel tracks exist mostly because dragonriders are generally of the opinion that Holds and their outputs are useful, and that there are not enough dragonriders to be able to sustain living and keeping armed their weapons. So long as the Holds pay proper tribute, they will continue to exist. It’s not quite the Hunger Games, but there are probably quite a few parallels that could be drawn.

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24 thoughts on “Dragonquest: Clash of the Titanic Egos

  1. genesistrine July 24, 2014 at 3:07 am

    Mentioning the social structure, one thing I wonder about is that you never see a female Lord Holder in her own right (well, up until I stopped reading, anyway…). There are Lady Holders, but they’re all wives.

    So *could* Lessa in fact have ruled Ruatha, or would she have been obliged to marry someone to be the “actual” Lord Holder?

  2. depizan July 24, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Additional content note: rape (because Pern has a literal rape culture)

    Mnementh, sensing this, adjusts F’lar’s arrival point to give him a long runway to coast in on, hoping some of that anger will burn off on the way down and he won’t be goaded into a rash action

    So much for…oh, pretty much everything F’nor (and presumably the Pernese at large) thinks is true of dragons. Whee. If this is a none-too-subtle hint that our “heroes” and everyone else on Pern are operating largely on mistaken knowledge (that is, they think they know lots of things that they’re utterly wrong about), that’s not bad. Though it raises all kinds of questions about everything that immediately follows it. If it’s McCaffrey having all the world building consistency of a caffeinated squirrel, I’m just gonna bang my head on my desk for a bit. Because that level of inconsistency makes a story almost impossible to discuss.

    “.A mating female dragon broadcast her emotions on a wide band….Humans were susceptible, too, and innocent Hold youngsters often responded with embarrassing consequences. That particular aspect of dragon matings didn’t bother weyrfolk who had long since discarded sexual inhibitions.”

    Wow, that’s some extra special fractal wrongness there. Where to even begin. *stares at the paragraph in horror for some time*

    Hoookay, let’s just take it in order. First off: we’re gonna blame violence on horniness? Or are mating female dragons broadcasting rage? I’m not sure there’s an answer that doesn’t boil down to Holy Rape Apology, Batman!

    And given that we follow it up with world building that puts Pern very nearly on a level with Gor in the Rapiest World Building Ever Olympics, I’m not even sure if the rape apology aspects are an accident. Rape = embarrassing consequences. Wow. I know this was written at a different time, but still WOW. Also, discarding sexual inhibitions = never saying no, ever, to anyone. Or wanting to. WOW.

    Did Anne McCaffrey even realize what she wrote here? I get that the past was a different world and maybe the concept of rape via drugs simply hadn’t ever been considered yet when this book was written, but I don’t see how McCaffrey could have considered in an empathetic sort of way what life on the world she created was like and not realized she created a world frickin’ filled with normalized rape. Did she just imagine orgies of hot people and not consider that a few chapters ago (or at a minimum last book), kids became dragonriders? I mean, even if the concept of an adult not wanting sex is too difficult to grasp, that should be… oh wait… she even used youngsters in the paragraph. God, I hope she meant teens. That’s…marginally less horrific if you assume that people somehow magically pair off with people the same age. Marginally.

    I am at a complete and utter loss as to how these books have female fans.

    I can see why the women of Pern struggle to have any power, though, especially if there’s no birth control. In a world where you can’t control if you have sex, where rape is just part of the day, you’re not going to have any control over getting pregnant and that puts women at a huge disadvantage. (Not to mention means that they probably tend to die young. In child birth. Which is consistent with stuff that’s happened in the books so far.)

    This worldbuilding is just vile. And when you consider that it was designed, I think I’m just gonna skip straight to cheering for the Thread. I see no way at all to excuse designing dragons to be flying rape drugs. None. I also may barf.

    (I’ll get to the rest of the post after work. And try not to spend my afternoon screaming “HOLY FUCK WHAT WAS WRONG WITH ANNE MCCAFFREY!!!!!!??????”)

  3. depizan July 24, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    I should clarify that the consent issues (or rather the utter impossibility of meaningful consent in the Weyrs) is a problem for everyone there. But male readers might be less likely to notice the consent issues, since men are (on average) a bit less inundated with “you might get raped” messages. Also, the book seems to be doing a better job of hiding the issue with the male characters. (No one’s expressed surprised that, say, F’lar hasn’t been raped lots, etc.)

  4. depizan July 24, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    content note: rape, still

    Now to continue the pile of WTFery.

    “That particular aspect of dragon matings didn’t bother weyrfolk who had long since discarded sexual inhibitions.”

    This is also a problem for other reasons. First, the weyrfolk aren’t entirely a separate social group from the Holds. We know from the last book that they go to the Holds for potential dragonriders, or at least for potential Queen-dragonriders. If they’re aware that Holder culture is different (and they clearly are), then why don’t they explain things to newcomers like Lessa? Not that explaining that, hey, consent doesn’t exist here really helps. Though why the Holders don’t like the dragonriders is becoming more and more obvious.

    Aaaand that whole business of kidnapping the Holder’s womenfolk last book just got 300 times creeper and more evil. Yay.

    (Since they held them in the Weyr, if I recall correctly. Making the threat to them something that even many villains don’t stoop to.)

    “…while she was nowhere near as promiscuous with her favors… “

    How in fuck can this concept even exist in the Weyrs? No sexual inhibitions, remember? Also, at least some of the time people’s “favors” are shared without their consent. Excuse me while I try to light this book on fire with my mind.

    NO part of the cocowhat inducing paragraph makes any sense. If women can’t have claim to Holds, then how can someone be mad that Lessa renounced her nonexistent claim? (Never mind that last book she seemed to think she could have a claim. Whoops, worldbuilding consistency, what’s that?) And that’s on top of F’lar not giving her a choice. In a more sensible world, Lessa and Mardra would be friends and allies. And allied against Flotsam here.

    the smith was at fault for not immediately giving up the knife to the rider that wanted it

    The smith who…if I understood the geography correctly from last chapter…is not actually part of the protection of the dragonrider who wanted his stuff. So it was flat out theft? Which is okay according to the time skipped Weyrs? WHAT????

    Regarding the dragonrider power structure – this suggests that the asshole scientists who created winged, flame breath Rohypnol to protect the planet also intentionally created a static power structure that leaves women thoroughly second class citizens (at best). What in flying fuck?

  5. Sybylla18 July 24, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Tween!me is quietly rocking back and forth, humming to herself. Adult!me is realizing just why she had so much toxic baggage to unpack once she started thinking more critically about issues of consent.

    This reminds me of when I realized how rape apologia was made simply part of the wallpaper in Piers Anthony’s books: neither identified nor discussed, but always there, inherent and unchallenged in the worldbuilding and the narrative.

    It’s been so long since I read these, and I’m rather dreading reaching the events that I found troubling even as a twelve year old. I keep wondering how much worse they’ll appear with an adult perspective.

  6. Silver Adept July 24, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    @ genesistrine – If we take the primogeniture system of most of Latin Christendom as our example, Lessa might be able to rule if she meets some very specific conditions:

    1. There are no men in Fax’s line (sons, brothers, nephews, husbands of daughters, etc.) that could stake a claim. Since the dragonriders have already proven they will privilege even a joke claim by Fax over Lessa, I feel confident saying they would similarly privilege any of the men in Fax’s line over Lessa. At the very least, Jaxom has to die.

    2. Lessa never marries, because the patriarchal culture on Pern would automatically make her husband the true ruler. I wouldn’t be surprised if they then retroactively nullified any action Lessa took, claiming she was not legitimate at the time.

    3. Lessa can defend Ruatha against any other man that wants to take it from her by force, of which there will likely be many, because the culture insists women can’t be in charge. (Actually, the theme of “women can’t do X” reoccurs quite a bit.) As a small Hold, Lessa would have to find allies or raise an exceptional army of saboteurs and assassins to keep the others at bay.

    All of which the Lessa of Dragonflight would have no trouble at all with, I’m sure. And which F’lar would say is someone women are physically incapable of doing, even though he’s wrong.

    @ Sybylla18 – *points at user name* Definitely something I had to come to grips with, as well, once I started noticing it was there. (The Mode series is particularly blatant on that front.)

    If you ever need to not participate or step out because of content issues, go ahead. Because the Suck Fairy hit Pern hard.

    @ depizan – It certainly seems like the decision was made at this point to try and establish an actual continuity, but only but retconning out the first book.

    The “broadcasting” females is supposed to read very much as “bitches be crazy, amirite?” mixed with “dudes can’t help themselves, y’know?” So rape apologia all around, and even worse because there’s actual “can’t help it” stuff going on. Sort of. And with kids as young as ten, I think, based on what we saw from the Hatchings, if their dragons get up to mating maturity quickly.

    From how we saw Fax treat Gemma, I think it’s safe to say there’s a lot of death in childbirth. Which gets even worse with the importation of Hold girls for Impression (where do failed candidates go, again?) and as for drudges our other kinds of workers in the Weyrs. (T’ron and Mardra get a disapproving comment from F’lar, I believe, about this practice soon, if they haven’t already. And possibly Kylara, as well.) Not telling them about the sexual practices of the Weyrs is an extra shit cherry on top of the shit cake.

    As for F’lar, he’s not getting raped because of his social status. Once he Impressed a bronze, he joined the caste of riders who would be doing, rather than receiving. If F’lar was a green or blue rider, he might have a few more of those experiences in his past.

    Class and caste reasons are also why Kylara gets consistently disapproved at by everyone else. Since she’s a queen rider, there’s an implicit expectation that she will be choosy about her lovers, since the bronze riders could be Weyrleader if they knew how to catch her, and any other color of rider is beneath her and wouldn’t produce a good clutch of dragon eggs. And that’s only if you ignore the part where dragons in heat apparently compel their riders to rape.

    Anyway, it gets clearer why everyone hates Kylara when we follow her around in one of the chapters in this book. They’re all bad reasons, just in case anyone was unsure.

    As for the structural design, I’m betting on extra WTF when we discover how many of the named places on Pern are named for women who did awesome things.

    And for the smith, the time-skipped Fort riders considered the knife part of their tribute at that point, so they felt entirely within their rights to steal it. Regardless of who it was intended for at the time. Besides, what dragonrider would privilege the account of a commoner over one of their own?

  7. depizan July 24, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    There is so much wrong with everything to do with, oh, pretty much everything dragonrider that I mostly just want to point at it all and scream. There’s no way – unless Dragonflight took place over a hell of a lot longer than it seemed, because I sure didn’t get the impression of years going by – that the kids are old enough for mating flights not to be all kinds of wrong. Impressing dragons means there’s a high likelihood – if not a certainty – that (at least if we’re counting it by who’s doing and who’s being done to) you will either be a rapist or a rape victim. Kylara is disapproved of for not letting the right people rape her. (Or, my god, maybe she’s figured out how to avoid rape. What a bitch, am I right?)

    And this is a world that is – in universe – the creation of scientists.

    There is no saving any of this.

    *puts on Team Thread T-shirt*

    Let it all burn.

  8. Sybylla18 July 24, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Silver Adept, yeah, I definitely noticed your username. 🙂 I read a lot of Anthony growing up, stand-alones as well as all his main series. I was in college when I read Firefly, which, well, if you don’t know it, don’t google it. It’s virulently, nauseatingly awful. It’s embarrassing to realize now, but it still took a couple of years before the light dawned about exactly what he’d done in that book. (As I said, I had a *lot* of toxic baggage to unpack.) I don’t anticipate needing to step away, but I genuinely appreciate the reminder that I can.

    Depizan, regarding the youngest riders: from one of the later books, Dragonsdawn, the bronze and brown dragons reach sexual maturity after one year, queens, three. There’s inconsistencies there, because I don’t think Lessa had been Weyrwoman for three years when Ramoth mated for the first time (I’m pretty sure it was one), but those are the numbers I remember. Is Team Thread accepting applications for membership?

    Regarding F’lar, I was always distracted by his ruminations about Jora in the first book. He thinks something to the effect that “she had disgusted him, but that didn’t matter during a mating” (heavily paraphrased). I could never understand why he wasn’t upset at the idea of having to have sex with someone he didn’t like/wasn’t attracted to. Now, yeah, I can see it as another expression of rape culture – the fallacy that erection=enjoyment=consent – but I always used to have a moment of “wait, what’s this now?” when I read that passage. (I remember *way* too much about these books for not having read them in 15-20 years.)

  9. depizan July 24, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    Sybylla18,

    *hands you a Team Thread T-shirt*

  10. genesistrine July 25, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    @Silver Adept

    Re Lessa, I dunno. She’s mean and tough and clever and she can cloud the minds of men (and presumably women too, if the women had anything she wanted ha ha who am I kidding; this is Pern, women get a big fat nothing), and that everyone else in Fax’s other holds would be power-struggling to control whichever one they were in would give her time to consolidate. But if she managed to get that far I can’t help but think that in a few turns the guys on the big fire-breathing lizards would be unsubtly pointing out that it was time to get married little ladies can’t run great big holds with Thread on its way ho ho OR ELSE. Still, if someone other than McCaffrey wrote that I’d like to read it…

    Re [content: rape, of course…]

    “As for F’lar, he’s not getting raped because of his social status. Once he Impressed a bronze, he joined the caste of riders who would be doing, rather than receiving. If F’lar was a green or blue rider, he might have a few more of those experiences in his past.”

    Bronzes, browns and blues are the male dragons, so about the worst their riders have to deal with is the possibility of mating-flight sex with someone as ew, icky as poor Jora*, but it’s the green riders who get it as bad as the queens – greens are female, so whenever your green dragon rises, you’re going to get raped by whichever blue or brown or slumming bronze rider wins. It’s not social status protecting F’lar from rape, it’s the colour of the dragon that picked him, pure and simple.

    *I really feel for Jora; you don’t have to read much between the lines to see that she sank into severe depression when her long-term lover died, and she gets badmouthed by Authorial Favourite Ego Monster for not being enthusiastic about the thought of mating-flight sex with his toad of a teenage son (or, indeed, anyone, and who can blame her?). But no, no in-story sympathy for her, she’s just a fat dirty disgusting slut who let herself go and let her queen overeat, how dare she grieve or not be enthusiastic about her duty to breed more dragons.

    McCaffrey has a nasty habit of badmouthing any women who aren’t her heroines – see also Menolly. I will very probably have Things to Say about Menolly and the Harper Hall when Dragonsinger comes around…

  11. Sybylla18 July 25, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    I remembered reading something years ago that McCaffrey wrote about dragon impressions wrt the riders’ sexuality. I got curious, went looking, and was able to find it – or something like it, anyway – online still. There’re bargeloads of fail in it, but I figured I’d leave the link in case anyone was interested in reading it. I don’t know if it’d count as spoilers (or just off-topic), so I decided against quoting it directly.

    http://www.dragonridersclub.com/drmain/ammsg.html

  12. Sybylla18 July 25, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Content notes for the link would probably include rape culture, gender essentialism, and homophobic stereotypes.

  13. alexseanchai July 25, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    @genesistrine: McCaffrey has a nasty habit of badmouthing any women who aren’t her heroines – see also Menolly. I will very probably have Things to Say about Menolly and the Harper Hall when Dragonsinger comes around…

    Now you mention it, yeah. (Ditto with the observation on Jora.) Woe for my childhood, for Menolly is one of the characters I loved best.

  14. Silver Adept July 25, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    @ genesistrine –

    The dragonriders fall under condition number three, and are by far the biggest obstacle to Lessa’s long and happy reign. If she can put them against each other, though, she can probably manage to keep Ruatha all to herself.

    I think, and I believe the text supports, that the dragon colors separate their riders into castes as well – since we don’t get the mechanics of how two men having dragon sex would work, there’s no way for me to point and say, “but the green riders are the aggressive ones in flights, even though their dragons are female”, but it’s a possibility. The more prestigious colors, though, are likely to be the aggressive ones, though, because they’re being raised with the expectation of becoming leaders, rather than followers.

    @ Sybylla18 –

    That item is difficult to incorporates, mostly because I don’t know if we’ll see any actual textual confirmation. So it’s potentially useful in “what was she thinking?”, but kind of useless in that there’s no text support. It’s like Dumbledore being gay after the books were published.

    I, too will have many angry things to say about the Harper Hall when we get there.

  15. genesistrine July 26, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    @alexseanchai: Menolly still is one of my favourite characters – it’s not her fault her author has weird ideas!

    @Silver Adept: [content: rape] I have to respectfully disagree – what with the stuff Sybylla linked and the earlier tentpeg stuff that’s a revision of (http://fanlore.org/wiki/The_Tent_Peg_Statement – content warnings as Sybylla above, with added “so wrong it’s amazing it doesn’t sprout tentacles and eat your soul”) I think there’s zero chance that McCaffrey would have considered green riders as sexually aggressive. It doesn’t fit with her fixed ideas about dominant males and receptive females and how gayness works.

    But it’s your deconstruction, so I’ll leave it at that.

    Though it is… interesting to consider whether dragonriders do have more choice about their actions when a green rises, It puts the lie to the “no self-control; winner must rape queen rider” thing, doesn’t it? Which also suggests an alternative solution to F’nor and Brekke’s upcoming problem*; pre-arrangement with the resident bronze riders’ SOs and/or any local kinkster who’s into sudden rough sex.

    (*Should I be mentioning that? Are there any spoiler rules here?)

  16. emmy July 26, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    IIRC the direct question of ‘can a woman be a Holder’ doesn’t really come up until Thella, and the answer then was ‘no, not even if the Holder in question would really rather have left her as the heir’. However, that might have been because she had brothers.

    It’s going to be a long, long time before (if ever) you get to Thella, so I can just sigh about my frustration with that story. It’s hard not to root a little bit for her even when she’s nasty (at first) because of how badly things go for her through no fault of her own, at first. She gets more and more evil and finally goes completely cackling villain for no real reason.

  17. Silver Adept July 26, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    @ genesistrine –

    You’re right, based on the things that were said outside of the texts, when people asked for clarification, there’s no way that something like “green riders are sexually aggressive” would have passed muster inside the texts. I still feel there’s a difference between “the text explicitly says this is not possible” and “based on the author’s other writing and commentary, there’s no way this would be possible” (which is the domain of fanfic, I suppose), and, as much as possible, I want to use what’s in the text, which may leave certain options open that will never happen. Possibly so I don’t do great violence to whatever medium I am reading the texts in.

    Flar’s inner monologue in Dragonflight put the lie to “no control” when he ruminated that he could have been gentler with Lessa, had he known she was a virgin, than he was. But it would be interesting if there were something like “the amount of control a rider had is in relation to how badly the dragon (or rider) wants to mate with their partner.” It would mean even more Unfortunate Implications and WTFery, but it would be interesting.

    As for spoilers, anything definitely explicit (as in, what F’nor and Brekke’s upcoming issue is) about future things, I’d prefer it be rot13’d, even though these are old books and many of the commentators are familiar with the works. General things, like “There’s a story about Thella that talks about the question of women Holders”, or “It’s a running theme in Pern novels for women who aren’t protagonists to become Always Chaotic Evil”, or that F’nor and Brekke are going to have issues to work out (even though we haven’t officially been introduced to Brekke yet) are fine to be in plaintext.

    @ emmy –

    It sounds like it will be frustrating, especially if it really is that “you have male relatives, therefore you can’t be Holder” is the reason.

  18. genesistrine July 28, 2014 at 4:52 am

    @ Silver Adept – thanks for clarifying.

    @ emmy – ah, so it does get tackled at some point! I never got as far as Thella; I gave up at Dragonsdawn.

  19. Pebblerocker July 28, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Mardra seemed so nice near the end of Dragonflight. I was sad that she was being retconned into being a baddie.

    Then it hit me: Mardra is friendly and kind to Lessa when Lessa is in the past. Once Mardra reaches the Ninth Pass present, we see her through F’lar’s eyes and he loathes her so much he has her exiled. F’lar is turning Lessa against the first friend and peer she’s had the chance to meet; he can’t stand to see Mardra telling Lessa all these subversive ideas like women riding against Thread with flamethrowers. He can’t risk Lessa gaining a support system and allies; he has to make Mardra into an enemy and send her far away before her influence makes Lessa strong enough to fight back.

  20. Silver Adept July 28, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    @ Pebblerocker –

    I’ll be interested to see if this theory continues to work as we meet Kylara later on, as it seems like Kylara’s time-skip to establish Southern is along the same lines, with some extra Green-Eyed Monster from Lessa included. Mardra and Kylara could very easily be the beginnings of a feminism movement in dragonriders, Weyrs, Holds, and Halls, and they conveniently end up away from F’lar and the Northern Continent before they can get a foothold.

    Also, for those who were looking for Xanth back in Giant Space Fleas From Nowhere, Ana Mardoll took a look at A Spell For Chameleon, and you could probably just append to the end of it “The rest are like this, but worse and with new permutations of Wrong with each successive volume.”

  21. alexseanchai July 28, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    Pebblerocker: THAT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE.

  22. Silver Adept July 31, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    Oh, Great Maker help us all…

  23. Only Some Stardust August 1, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    I’ve been hearing rumors of a Pern Dragon Riders movie for years. I would not worry -too- much about it.

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