Friday, August 3, 2012

A Day At Harper Hall

Finished book two in the Harper Hall trilogy Dragonsinger.  This book follows Menolly in her first week at Harper Hall.  What I love about this book is that it is set amidst all kinds of craziness, but the story is just a simple one of everyday adaptability.
We start right were we left of in the last book Dragonsong with Menolly landing a dragonback at Harper Hall with the Masterharper himself.  Menolly quickly establishes herself as the girl with NINE firelizards.  From here we watch Menolly try and find a way to fit in to this magical place that has always been nothing more than a dream to her.  We see her struggle with everything from the mundane things we all are terrified of in a new situation.  She isn't always sure where she is supposed to be, or what she should be doing.  She is shunned by most of the other girls who are petty and proper and she is still having a hard time feeling anything but guilty when she plays her beloved music, a leftover reaction from growing up in a Sea-hold that found music frivolous and not fit for a girl.  Menolly must fight the stereo type of being a girl harper, luckily for her the Masterharper Robiton does not care if she is a girl, he really just wants her to use her talants to the fullest extent.
Throughout this first week Menolly makes some unexpected friends.  Piemur is a young apprentice boy who always reminds me of Puck from Midsummers Night Dream, he is kind to Menolly right of the bat, he is michevious, but a sincere friend.  He helps Menolly with the arduous task of feeding her firelizards and plays a huge part in the last book.  Camo is the sweet, strong, half-wit who is in love with the firelizards calling them "the pretties", he is allowed to help with the firelizard feedings and is very happy to do so.  Silvina the Headwoman of the Hall makes it abundantly clear to Menolly that she is to come to her for anything and everything, acting as a kind of surrogate mother.  Sebell who is Masterharper Robitons senior journeyman has charge of most of Menolly's training and schedule, he is a quieter soft spoken man with an amazing amount of talant, this book hints at his role in the last book.  Audiva is the only girl who is friendly in any way to Menolly, all of the girls are paid students who are at the Hall only to learn the basics before they are married off into strategic alliances, this causes a rift between them and Menolly who is a true apprentice destined to become a Harper. The plot is very, very simple touching on a few of the big events that shape the rest of the series, but seen from the perspective of a person not wholly involved.
This book made me want to go to Harper Hall so bad!  I love a book that makes a world so real and interesting that even the mundane daily actions are absorbing to read.  I love Menolly and how awkward she is, she is no great beauty, she is tall and gangley and she possesses great talant. She is so used to being shut-up and hidden away by a family who found her talent unseemly and shameful in a female that it takes a great deal for her to finally own her gift.  Menolly is one of the most realistic female characters I have ever read, she embodies every teenage insecurity and doesn't overcome them with a fairy god-mother, or by becoming the love interest of the popular boy, or even achieving any great feat, she just gets through it and learns to accept herself and her love of music.  In the larger picture of the whole Pern series it is nice to see big events and upheaval put into an everyday perspective.  This is the new normal for these people and this book shows how people have to get on with living, even if there are adjustments to be made.
What teenage character do you find the most realistic.  Does a story need some sort of epic struggle or are the daily ones enough?  What events in our collective lives have led to a new normal?

No comments:

Post a Comment