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“My nightly craft is winged in white, a dragon of night dark sea.
Swift born, dream bound and rudderless, her captain and crew are me.
We’ve sailed a hundred sleeping tides where no seaman’s ever been
And only my white-winged craft and I know the wonders we have seen.”

dragonsongI was very worried about growing up when I was a kid.

This was for all sorts of reasons – acid rain and animal testing, the Falklands War and the Berlin Wall, uncomfortable clothes, and cars – but most of all it was because Adults didn’t believe in magic. They didn’t appear to enjoy themselves in any of the ways I understood, they didn’t look for fairy-rings or chase rainbows or make wishes, and they didn’t read any good books.

Fortunately, it turned out that I was wrong about that last thing.

One evening after school, having exhausted the library’s children’s shelves, I made my way nervously into the adult section. Here, the shelves were taller and darker, being further away from the large window at the front of the building and it was quiet, almost empty of people, as I scanned the shelves. I didn’t know what I was looking for. I was pretty sure there wouldn’t be anything wonderful here, but I was out for whatever I could get when my eye snagged on the word ‘dragon’. I pulled out Dragonsong and Dragonsinger, not quite daring to hope that I’d found something good. Something magical. Taking the beautiful dragons that illustrated the two covers as a good sign, I borrowed both books, and began reading Dragonsong on the way home.

I had not found something magical. I had found something even better than that, something I had not imagined, a whole new world (literally) that followed different rules and was populated with different creatures. I found fire-lizards and dragons, and the Harper Hall, I found new friends in Menolly and Piemur, and I found Thread and the Dragonriders who fought it. Dragonsong was not then, and will never be, the greatest book I’ve ever read. But it is the book that opened up the adult section of the library for me. That encouraged me to start digging through my parents’ bookshelves again, in search of treasure that I now knew I might find.

I devoured the Pern books after this beginning, loving every instalment more than the last as I learned more about the planet and its settlement, about the Oldtimers and the Ancients, about how the dragons were created, and how the technology and history of the original colonists was lost, and then found. I made more friends: Masterharper Robinton, Jaxom and his white dragon Ruth, Nerilka, and Sorka and Sean. When the dolphins showed up I jumped ship, moving onto McCaffrey’s Crystal Singer trilogy and then onto The Ship Who Sang before discovering that there were other authors who did even more incredible things with space and time. Pratchett’s Discworld became my new obsession, but I still reread the Pern books in between all my new discoveries.

I still own copies of the two books that tell Menolly’s story. I haven’t read them in years, but I keep them as a reminder. There are lots of beginnings in a life and it’s good to mark some of them, the important ones. Dragonsong helped sooth one of my biggest childhood worries and I took it as a promise. It was a promise that Adults hadn’t really given up on magic, they were just keeping it secret and safe. There would still be good books to read, and therefore, adulthood might not be so bad after all.

So far, so good.

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Mayri From Bookforager

Mayri From Bookforager

I’m Mayri and I’m a dedicated borrower of books. I spent my childhood being babysat by libraries. I spent my teenage years hiding from my peers in libraries. I spent my university years studying (and sometimes sleeping) in libraries. And I’ve spent the last 16 years working in libraries. I’m also a bit of a magpie, as I think most of we bookish people are, and will pick books up from anywhere. As a child I used to love rooting through our parents’ bookshelves on the landing and through our Nana’s wardrobe of books and through our small local library’s shelves. Found books often feel like they’ve been waiting just for you, and I love that feeling. I don’t only read SFF, but it is my primary flavour. I’ll read anything except a straight-up romance, and some of my all-time favourite books have nothing to do with dragons, phasers or aliens. Welcome.

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