Menolly from "The People of Pern" © 1988 Robin Wood. Used with Permission.
Vital statistics
Gender Female
Rank Master Harper
Era Ninth Pass
Affiliation Half-Circle Sea Hold
Harper Hall
Paradise River Hold
Spouse Sebell
Parent(s) Yanus and Mavi
Siblings Alemi, Sella, 5 other siblings
Children Robse, Olos, Lemsia
Fire-lizard(s) Gold: Beauty
Bronze: Rocky, Diver, Poll
Brown: Lazybones, Mimic, Brownie
Blue: Uncle
Green: Auntie One, Auntie Two
First appearance Dragonsong

Half Circle Harper Paradise River Shield

Menolly is the central character in Anne McCaffrey's Harper Hall Trilogy.


Menolly grew up in Half-Circle Sea Hold, where she helped the Hold harper, Petiron (Robinton's father), write songs and dreamed of becoming a harper. Her parents, Yanus and Mavi, grudgingly allowed her to continue teaching the local children music after Petiron died as their community had no other harper. They forbade her to sing once the replacement harper came, much less become a harper in her own right, as they believed it was not right for girls to do such things.

Menolly ran away from home and found refuge in a cave, where she unintentionally Impressed nine fire lizards: gold Beauty, bronzes Rocky and Diver, browns Mimic, Lazybones, and Brownie, blue Uncle, and greens Auntie One and Auntie Two.

Menolly was rescued from Threadfall by brown dragonrider T'gran and brought to Benden Weyr. After the Hatching feast, she was finally discovered by Masterharper Robinton as the apprentice Petiron mentioned in messages to the Harper Hall and was allowed to fulfill her dream of becoming a harper (Dragonsong).

At the Harper Hall, Menolly made friends with Camo, Piemur, Audiva, Silvina, and Sebell. Not everyone approved of a girl becoming a harper and she was victim of envy among the female students especially because of her fire lizards, but she proved her talent and abilities and became a Journeyman. She wrote many popular songs, such as the "Fire Lizard Song" (see Fire Lizard) and "Brekke's Song" — songs that helped transmit news and current events throughout Pern. Later, she married Sebell and became a Master Harper, helping with the movement to banish Thread from Pern forever. Menolly inadvertantly impressed another fire lizard, bronze Poll, when she was handing the unhatched egg to Lord Groghe.

Personality and traits


Menolly has been described as being very tall with long and lanky legs. Artwork in the The People of Pern and the Dragonlover's Guide to Pern depicts her with dark hair which was long and thick.  Menolly's fire lizard Beauty frequently hides in her hair with her tail wrapped around Menolly's neck like a necklace.

Menolly is not very proud of herself as a girl and is often shy, probably a result of being neglected and abused by her parents. She has a great ear for music and is exceptionally talented at writing and playing songs. She is also very talented at handling and training fire-lizards.

As Menolly spends more time as a Harper she becomes more confident. In Dragondrums she holds her own against other Journeymen, especially when she suspects that Piemur is being abused in the drum heights. She is not happy to lose the chance to question the situation when Piemur ends the discussion, and she has no trouble disciplining an apprentice when she sees bullying. Her reaction to Piemur being injured and then disappearing is close to that of a sibling, and while her brother Alemi believed the situation in their hold was so bad for Menolly that it was best not to try to look she was willing to do anything to find Piemur.

She deals confidently with people of high rank throughout Pern. She was asked to study with other young people from the Crafts and young Holders and developed relationships with them, and was able to approach Weyrleaders and others in authority without nervousness.

She also becomes more playful over the years, from being amazed at the relaxed attitudes of the Harpers on her first day in the Harper Hall to teasing Lord Jaxom throughout The White Dragon


Menolly was born the youngest daughter of Seaholder Yanus and Mavi, of Half Circle Sea Hold. Yanus was very focused on his fishing fleet and tasks and considered most other activities less important, although he understood the duty to the Weyrs and the responsibility to have the children taught the Teaching Songs. Menolly was allowed to remain with their Harper, Petiron because the man was elderly and she both offered the help Yanus and Mavi expected their two youngest in the household (feeding him for instance) and because the harper could no longer play due to arthritis, and playing was required for the teaching.

Petiron, who had served in the Harper Hall as a Composition Master, had chosen the isolated Half Circle Sea Hold because it had been awaiting a Harper for 15 years. In contrast to his neglectful and overbearing relationship with his son, Robinton, he had a close, parental relationship with Menolly. The possessive nature that he had had with his wife, however, may have resurfaced in his old age as he sent information about Menolly to Robinton when he was close to death, knowing it took a long time for messages to travel.

Yanus becomes very upset that Menolly is the only person able to sing Petiron's death song and teach the children while waiting for the new Harper. He observes the class and beats her when he hears a measure of her music. Mavi agrees with him that she should be relegated to the lesser roles of the Holder's daughters and arranges tasks to keep her out of the sight of the new Harper, both because they think she's above herself and because they believe the fact that she taught the children in the brief window between Harpers was a shame to their Hold. When Menolly cuts her hand badly Mavi shows concern for her life by staying by her while she has a fever, but Manora, Silvina and Mirrim all believe that she knew from the start that the tendons weren't cut (when she told her immediately she would never play again) and that the wound had been allowed to scar so that it soon would have, if Oldive hadn't started her treatment, been permanent. Mavi tells Menolly, apparently under Yanus's orders, that she isn't to sing so that Elgion can hear her. When Menolly runs away, Mavi shows some worry but Yanus quickly dismisses it from his mind and orders no search, other than by children already out gathering food.

The new Harper, Elgion, ironically is the only person willing to put in an extensive effort, only to be rebuffed by her brother Alemi. He has no idea that the two people he is looking for, the girl who ran away and the brilliant Harper he and every other Harper outside the Hall is looking for, are the same person because Petiron didn't mention she was a girl and he is told the children were taught by a fosterling who had left. They are both rescued from the same Threadfall and brought to Benden Weyr but she appears to him to be a boy.

After living Holdless for some time (and Impressing her fire lizards) Menolly spends some time at Benden Weyr. Manora assures her she does not have to go back, and her friendship with Mirrim begins as Mirrim treats the feet she injured outrunning Thread and Menolly consoles Mirrim for her worries about Brekke, and celebrates with her at Brekke's recovery. While retrieving fire lizard eggs Menolly had found while Holdless T'gellan notes his dragon Monarth looking at her and asks why she was never Searched, and Lessa states that she does not belong in a Hold. At this statement the women of the Weyr happily assume she will be staying, one asks her age because she would like to foster her. They give her her first set of new clothing (although her only belt in DragonSong is old) but do not have time to provide more before Menolly is taken to the Harper Hall.

Robinton is with T'gellan when Elgion realizes Menolly is safe at Benden. Manora is concerned about his zeal and his intentions toward the girl, and assists the Weyr Harper and Robinton in approaching her carefully. T'gellan transports Robinton and Menolly to the Harper Hall and encourages her as Robinton introduces her. He remains a friend, as do the others she met at Benden (to the extent that while visiting before a Hatching she volunteered to help in the kitchens)

Menolly meets the young boy Piemur very early in the Harper Hall, and he quickly becomes one of her best friends, helping her and Camo with feeding her nine fire lizards. He teaches her about the daily runnings of the Hall and guides her at the Market Days where he shows her how to haggle.

Menolly does not get along with the other girls in her dormitory, who are mostly displeased as she is considered an actual Harper student unlike them (who are paying students with few skills). She is targeted in particular by Dunca, the cotholder, who points out the poor conditions of her clothes and deliberately keeps from giving her important messages from the Masters. The only girl who harbors no ill feelings towards her is Audiva, who tries to help Menolly against the other girls.

The Headwoman of the Harper hall, like her equivalent Manora at Benden, takes special interest in her. She moves her to a room near the Harper when the trouble develops in the cot, only grudgingly stripping down some of the comforts and still making it unusually nice for an apprentice. She insists that she will dress Menolly nicely, preferably better than the paying students.

Menolly spends a lot of time in the Hall with Sebell, Robinton's journeyman, who asks her to teach him to sail and otherwise supports her talents as a harper. In Dragondrums, Sebell realizes his feelings for Menolly, and the two become romantically involved after Menolly's Diver flies Sebell's Kimi.

Even though she is with Sebell, it is hinted in «The White Dragon» that she retains some romantic feelings for Master Robinton, claiming that she «loved him first». Though the Master Harper reciprocates the feelings he tells her she is «a dear child» to him. Before that, she was seen to have developed enough security in his regard that he was able to, in Dragondrums, tell her not to return without Piemur. For a girl who suffered the neglect of her family and did not wonder during the time she was Holdless about anyone looking for her, her taking this as a figure of speech and requesting that he not return shows their trust.

Menolly is also close to Lord Jaxom, whom she helps in his struggles between being a Lord Holder and a Dragon Rider. She guesses about his involvement in bringing back Ramoth's egg after the Southern dragon riders steal it, but keeps the secret to Jaxom's relief. Her relationship with him is very friendly and he has some slight disappointment when he sees her meet Sebell and realizes they are involved (and in fact Robinton, before that involvement began, despite wanting her to be with Sebell, thought she would make a good Lady Holder if they wished)


Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.