The first book Dragonsong introduces us to Menolly of Half-Circle seahold. She is the youngest daughter, quiet and unassuming. We start with the funeral of the old Harper (who is a musician/messanger/history keeper/teacher/bard type professional). Menolly is the only person in the hold capable of playing the traditional funeral song, and the only one who knows enough and can be spared from teaching duties to teach the younger children. This irks Menolly's father because he feels that it is not a girls place to be a Harper. All Menolly wants to do is play music and be free to invent her "tunings and twiddlings" as her father calls them. This all causes conflict between Menolly and her traditional albeit hard working family. Once the new Harper arrives Menolly is told to keep to herself, to not let the new Harper know she was the one who taught the children, and to not put herself forward during the nightly singing's. Menolly injure's her hand while gutting a fish called packtail and it gets horribly infected, her mother does her best, but the scar heals puckered and she loses the fine motor control in her hand. Told she will never be able to play with that hand again, Menolly falls into despair. One morning she decides to head out on her own, with no plan in mind. She comes to some sea caves where earlier she had helped a creature called a fire-lizard (think miniature dragon) rescue her clutch of eggs from the rising tide. Up until now these creatures had been a near mythical presence as sightings were rare and one had never been caught. As she is in the cave Thread (a voracius organism that devours anything organic, the main "nemesis" of most of this series) arrives and to save the hatching fire-lizards she starts feeding them. This leads to her Impressing nine of them who from then on look to her to take care of them. Menolly decides if she can survive Thread without a hold (pretty much unheard of) then she is never going back. She makes a home for herself in the cave with her fire-lizards and is pretty content. A couple weeks later she is out gathering supplies when Thread arrives again, she starts running for her life and is saved when a dragonrider (the dragons flame the Thread and destroy it so it never reaches the ground) spots her and rescues her. She is taken to Benden Weyr (where some of the dragons/riders live) and is taken care of.
Menolly also finds out that a few other people have discovered and Impressed fire-lizards as well (though no where near as many as she has) She helps them find another nest which results in her being hailed a hero. Meanwhile the Masterharper Robiton has been searching for the person who wrote several songs that an old Harper sent to him with no name. He eventually puzzles out that Menolly is responsible for the songs and offers her a place at Harper Hall, despite the fact that she is a girl. She is taken to start her new life of music and fire-lizards.
This is a very quick read, in fact the first time I read it was out of my English text book in high school. I was having a really rough time, I wasn't fitting in (I was a really weird kid and hadn't found any other weirdos to hang out with yet). I remember sitting outside on my rock at lunch and half-heartedly flipping through my English book when the title caught my attention. I devoured that story, and promptly raced of to the library to find the rest of the series. Imagine my delight when I found a whole plethora of books by the same author. To this day every time I am feeling lonely or overwhelmed I just read this book and it helps. Sweet, simple and to the point, a great start and a great book to get a younger person reading. I will babble on about the other two books in the series later 'cause they both have very significant meaning to me as well.
What book "fixes" everything for you? What author did you discover in high school that was all your own? Anybody want to take bets on how dorky a hairstyle I had in high school?