The Finger points
To an Eye blood-red.
Alert the Weyrs
To sear the Thread.

Red Star Rising is the book in the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. Red Star Rising was first published by Bantam Press in August 1996.

Red Star Rising was published under the name «Dragonseye» when released in the United States in 1997, as the publisher felt the book would sell better with Dragon in it.

According to unconfirmed information, this novel is the first work by Todd McCaffrey, published on behalf of the mother.


It's been two-hundred years since the deadly Thread fell like rain upon Pern, devouring everything in its path. No one alive remembers that first horrific onslaught and no one believes in its return--except for the dragonriders. For two centuries they have been practicing and training, passing down from generation to generation the formidable Threadfighting techniques.

Now the ominous signs are appearing: the violent winter storms and volcanic eruptions that are said to herald the approach of the Red Star and its lethal spawn. But one stubborn Lord Holder, Chalkin of Bitra, refuses to believe--and that disbelief could spell disaster. So as the dragonriders desperately train to face a terrifying enemy, they and the other Lord Holders must find a way to deal with Chalkin--before history repeats itself and unleashes its virulence on all of Pern…

Plot Summary

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In 257AL, the year before the Second Pass is set to begin, the Lord Holders, Selected Heads (Headmaster, Senior Medic, and Chief Engineer) and Weyrleaders of Pern meet at a Fort Hold Gather to ensure they are all prepared for the return of Thread. During this meeting, it becomes clear that Lord Chalkin of Bitra Hold has not readied his Hold against Thread, as he believes it to be a myth — not believing that their ancestors could have missed such a dangerous threat to life when settling Pern. He leaves, prompting the others to discuss the possibility of impeaching Chalkin — who has a bad record as Lord Holder — and the creation of an «indestructible record» that will prove Thread is set to return — to prevent the chance that Chalkin's beliefs will spread across Pern. In addition to this, it is decided to establish a new mining hold away from the existing mines at Telgar (the future Crom Hold).

Following this meeting, Clisser, the head teacher of the «College» (the predecessor of the Harper Hall) talks with the other teachers about the «indestructible record», and decide to get the students to help them find a real example of such a thing by setting it as a history class project — using the decrepit computer system at the College. In addition to this, they decide to revamp their educational system — most of their material is of no inherent use to the average holder on Pern — and they consider the possibility of setting teaching material to music.

A while later, at Telgar Weyr, the Hatching of the clutch of the senior queen Meranath begins. One girl, Debera, arrives late, and manages to Impress a green dragon before her father and two other men attempt to drag her away from the hatchling. This alarms the hatchling, who attacks Debera's father before the dragonriders can calm things down. Afterwards, it is discovered that Debera was Searched for the Hatching, but her father — «a known troublemaker» — attempted to keep her from attending so he could marry her off in return for a mining grant. Upon discovering this, she had ridden to the Weyr, arriving just as the Hatching began.

After the Hatching, several teachers from the College perform their new «Teaching Ballads» to the inhabitants of Telgar Weyr, before returning to the College to report the success of their songs. There, Clisser informs them of bad news: a lightning storm completely destroyed the computer system, erasing all archived material not written down elsewhere. Despite this, the teachers come to the conclusion that they only lost the information they were already seeking to remove from the curriculum, and that it's good that they'll no longer be dependent on the computer information — adding that the lost AIVAS shut itself down in the First Pass to prevent a similar thing happening.

The next day, Debera is woken by a hungry Morath, and she goes to feed her, before meeting several other weyrlings, and being greeted by T'dam, the Weyrlingmaster, who gives them their first tasks as dragonriders: preparing the food for their dragons.

Meanwhile, Iantine, a recently graduated artist from Benden, accepts a commission from Chalkin at Bitra Hold that his fellow artists were unwilling to take. He soon discovers the reason for this: Chalkin's contracts are full of loopholes that force artists to pay for their own board, supplies and food when not actively working. In time, Iantine completes the portraits to a «satisfactory» standard, takes his pay and hastily leaves Bitra Hold before Chalkin can change his mind. However, the cold weather forces him to shelter in a woodsman's hold, until a passing dragonrider, P'tero, notices his signal in the snow and takes him to Telgar Weyr, where the Weyrleaders, K'vin and Zulaya, request he does a commission for them, but for proper pay, unlike Chalkin. Iantine agrees, but falls ill from Mountain Fever contracted in Bitra Hold.

When he recovers, Iantine starts drawing images of people in the Lower Caverns, before being taken to the lake where he sketches T'dam and P'tero as they teach the weyrlings how to apply numbweed to an injured dragon. M'leng, P'tero's weyrmate, sees Iantine drawing, and requests he draw a picture of P'tero for him in case he dies in the upcoming Pass, and pays him four marks. Iantine plans to repay Telgar Weyr's kindness by making a gallery of all the inhabitants.

At Fort Hold, a number of classes are held in preparation for the Second Pass: a first aid session is held at the College, and a ground crew drill is conducted outside Fort Hold. In addition, the College teachers further discuss changes to the curriculum, deciding that «Teaching Ballads» will be both educational and psychologically uplifting in hard times. Following the last of these sessions, Weyrleader M'shall of Benden Weyr — who has been watching Chalkin's actions and interviewing his minor holders since the Lord Holders discussed impeaching him — reveals Chalkin hasn't informed his holders about Thread, and has recently set up border guards who are letting people leave with nothing more than their clothes. Since this is a violation of the Charter, the document from which Pernese law is derived, Paulin, Lord Holder of Fort Hold, plans to take action against Chalkin, and sends word to the other Lord Holders.

At Telgar Weyr, the Lilcamp trader train arrives, and Iantine sketches them, catching the eye of Debera. Iantine reveals a picture he drew of her and Morath, and he gifts it to her, before asking her to help him haggle with the traders so he can get supplies to draw the Weyr's inhabitants. Jol, the «Master of the train», is a relative of Debera's, and he buys several of Iantine's pictures, before selling Iantine all the supplies he needs.

Meanwhile, Paulin's message to the Lord Holders regarding Chalkin has received mixed reception; two Lord Holders, Jamson of High Reaches and Azury of Southern Boll, think dealing with Chalkin can wait until the Turn's End Council. M'shall unexpectedly arrives at Fort Hold, stating rough weather at Bitra Hold is causing those stopped at the border — who have been herded into pens, with corpses being hung and used for target practise by the guards — to freeze to death. Since the Weyrs are within their rights to act against this when a Hold can't, they plan to send dragonriders to Bitra Hold with supplies, and Paulin plans to visit Jamson and Azury to show them what's happening in Bitra.

The Weyrs begin aiding those at the border, feeding many and taking refugees back to their holds, where they interview them, and inform them of their rights as holders — Chalkin attempted to prevent his holders from knowing about the Charter. At Benden Weyr, Bridgely, the Lord Holder of Benden Hold, reports Chalkin has complained to him that Benden Weyr is not responding to his signals and are thus failing in their duty, plus they are interfering with his management. Since Paulin hasn't managed to yet, Bridgely and M'shall decide to visit Jamson and Azury.

Jamson doesn't believe the stories about Chalkin's border guards, but Azury does, and asks to see the refugees. Followng this, they go to find Richud of Ista, the only Lord Holder not yet involved. Since Richud is out — with dolphins, which he claims can understand him — M'shall flies the Lord Holders to his boat, and his dragon Craigath lands in the water, before paddling the boat to shore — and having his belly tickled by dolphins. Richud agrees to join them, and they discuss how they will convince Jamson — whose vote is needed since impeachment requires the unanimous vote of the Lord Holders — and Craigath suggests they show him the pictures Iantine drew.

With Iantine's pictures, Azury, Bridgely and M'shall return to High Reaches, but fail to convince Jamson, who thinks the stories have been exaggerated, and is unwilling to encroach on Chalkin's authority as Lord Holder. He sends them out, and they are escorted by Gallian, Jamson's eldest son who is also steward. Gallian is aware of the situation in Bitra, and offers to do what he can to convince his father once he sees Iantine's pictures. They then travel to Fort Hold, where they talk with Paulin, who notes Gallian is essentially running High Reaches for the elderly Jamson these days.

Trials are planned at Benden Weyr for several of the Bitran guards — convicted of rape or murder — and are conducted as a blizzard hits Bitra. Representatives from each Hold attend — save for Jamson, who is sick and has sent his wife Thea in his stead. The rapists are sentenced to castration (which the leader Morinst protests), and the murderers are banished to the Eastern Ring Islands. Once the weather settles at Bitra, Chalkin protests against the outcome of the trials. The refugees are also returned to Bitra, although the dragonriders keep an eye on them to ensure Chalkin doesn't retaliate.

At Telgar Weyr, the greenriders discuss their future prospect of relations, and how to deal with their dragon choosing a rider they don't like. The other girls — and Morath — talk with Debera about Iantine, who she hasn't noticed is very fond of her.

At the College, Clisser and Jemmy, a teacher, discuss the recent events and the changes to their curriculum, before returning to the task of creating an «indestructible record» to show Thread is returning.

Jemmy has vague memories of an ancient solstice calendar, which Clisser identifies as Stonehenge on Earth. The two realise a variant of this could be used as their «indestructible record», and Jemmy begins designing the layout of the stones, while Clisser talks with another teacher about the changes to their curriculum.

At High Reaches, a plan is made to ensure Jamson's vote: Thea will feign illness and force the two to go to Ista to recuperate, forcing Jamson to leave Gallian — who will vote against Chalkin, although Gallian fears this will mean he loses his chance to succeed — in charge in his stead. Four days later, the Holders and Weyrleaders assemble at Telgar Hold, where they formally impeach Chalkin, before discussing how they can prevent him from fleeing — eventually summoning Iantine and Issony, Bitra's last teacher, to draw plans of the Hold from their memories.

Bitra Hold is quickly infiltrated, and Chalkin is escorted from his bedchambers. Chalkin tries unsuccessfully to bribe his way out, only to lose any chance of that when his «Cold Storage» is discovered: a cramped and cold prison, which is found to be full of his border guards. As the Lord Holders discuss who could take over from Chalkin, it is revealed his uncle Vergerin has been hiding in the nearby Beasthold, aware Chalkin was looking for him to prevent him replacing him as Lord Holder. Chalkin is sent to the Eastern Ring Islands, while his family decides to remain at Bitra Hold. As he starts taking control of Bitra — calling in the younger sons and daughters of the other Lord Holders to take up areas of responsibility at Bitra Hold — Vergerin suggests Iantine «repaint» the picture he did of Chalkin so it actually resembles him. Upon hearing this, Iantine uses the excuse of repainting Chalkin's portrait to spend more time at Telgar Weyr, hoping he will be able to form a relationship with Debera.

Back dust jacket showing the setting of the Star Stones at Telgar Weyr

As Turn's End draws near, Clisser takes Jemmy's plans to Kalvi, the Head Engineer (the equivalent of Mastersmith), who confirms they will be able to build it. At the Turn's End Conclave, Vergerin is confirmed as Bitran Lord Holder, and the Lord Holders discuss whether the new «Crom Hold» should be given Major Hold status or not. Jemmy's creation — the Star Stones — is unveiled and installed at each of the Weyrs, beginning at Benden Weyr, the easternmost Weyr, and ending at High Reaches Weyr.

During the Turn's End festivities, Iantine dances with Debera, before revealing his feelings for her, and leading her into a corridor and kissing her. The two discuss a potential future relationship — Iantine must return to Benden to repay the Lord Holders who paid for his education, and Debera must wait for Morath to mature — but Iantine says he will return if «he is welcome», which Debera confirms.

After Turn's End, K'vin and Zulaya decide to combat the boredom in the Weyr by organising a trip to the Southern Continent under the guise of checking the progress of the «Tubberman Grubs». The wings of Telgar Weyr split up and go to different areas, where they relax instead of checking on the Grubs. At Malay River, P'tero and M'leng take their dragons hunting, before sending them off so they can be alone together. However, the pair are attacked by felines — unknown to them, they have picked a site near a feline shelter — and injured before the dragons can arrive to annihilate the felines.

As a result of P'tero and M'leng's injuries — plus those obtained by those who came to their rescue — a temporary camp is set up. Despite this, the trip is a success; the grubs are found to have moved further across the Southern Continent, and the attack is seen as a good lesson to the dragonriders, showing them and their dragons that they aren't invulnerable.

P'tero feels responsible for those who became injured, and also fears M'leng will no longer love him due to his scars, but M'leng confirms he loves him and tells him that he is not to blame for the accident. When they return to the Weyr, they find their friends have cleaned up their weyrs and brought them gifts, including two paintings from Iantine — now back from his Benden Hold contract — depicting the event. While M'leng loves it, P'tero is saddened by the fact he has to be reminded of the worst day of his life.

Soon afterwards, B'nurrin, Weyrleader of Igen Weyr, travels to Telgar Weyr and talks with the Weyrleaders about his secret desire to see Thread — which will begin over the Southern Continent before it falls on the Northern Continent. They plan to sneak to the ruined Landing and observe the fall. Elsewhere on Pern, Jamson is shown around a much improved Bitra Hold — although he still doesn't improve of Chalkin's impeachment.

At Telgar Weyr, K'vin disciplines P'tero, who is planning to fly against Thread despite his injuries not having completely healed — ultimately, he takes M'leng off the flight roster so as not to create discord between the two. He angrily discusses this with Zulaya, who was aware of his injuries. To Zulaya's delight, K'vin's anger forces him to «take control» of the Weyr — something he hadn't managed to do since becoming her weyrmate.

The next day, K'vin and Zulaya travel to Landing to find that a large number of dragonriders have also secretly planned to observe Thread. As Thread begins falling, the dragons begin panicking — wishing to fight Thread, but not having any firestone — until the queens manage to force them to travel to the Red Butte, where the assembled Weyrleaders agree not to speak of the event. In addition to this, they plan to rotate their Wings, so that each Weyr will get a chance to fight Thread at the same time when it falls over the Northern Continent.

The proposed Wing rotation is accepted, and the first fall of the Second Pass is over the Benden Mountains — due to cold weather destroying the Thread over Fort. The various wings rise to fight Thread; the Weyrleaders eventually landing at Bitra Hold where they discuss the Fall.

Open / close plot summary

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