From "Dragonriders of Pern" Boardgame © 1983 Robin Wood. Used with Permission.
Vital statistics
Gender Male
Rank Masterharper of Pern
Era Eighth Interval
Ninth Pass
Affiliation Harper Hall
Cove Hold
Spouse Kasia
Parent(s) Merelan
Children Camo
Fire-lizard(s) bronze Zair
First appearance Dragonflight
Notable appearance The Masterharper of Pern

Harper Cove Hold BlankHold

Robinton was probably the most venerated figure to hold the title Masterharper of Pern, and indeed the most beloved figure in Pern's recent history.


Early Life

Robinton was born at the Harper Hall. His parents, Petiron and Merelan, were both esteemed Masterharpers; Petiron was the most venerated composer to be born within the last two centuries, and Merelan was a Mastersinger renowned throughout Pern. Although most of the Hall doted on him, his possessive father increasingly saw him as a competition for Merelan's love and attention.

As a child, Robinton disliked anyone who would bully others, often coming to the aid of his defenseless peers or to the Harper Hall watch-wher that was constantly tormented by the other Hall children. Robinton was also discovered to be a musical genius, composing easy-to-remember songs at only age three, and possessing a keen gift for music. There were many over the years who compared his simpler works to Petiron's grand scores, and some believed that the son was an even better composer than the father.

When he was eight, he had his first encounter with dragons, and learned that he could speak to them (and they to him). The following year, Merelan took Robinton with her to Benden Hold, as well as to Benden Weyr. Officially, this was in response to the Hold's request for a harper (the Benden Weyrsinger had also requested training); Merelan also took this assignment to be away from her somewhat overbearing husband, who appeared both clueless and indifferent to the events of his own son's life. At Benden Hold, Robinton met Falloner, the son of Benden's Weyrleader, and they became lifelong friends.

At age twelve, as was customary, Robinton became an apprentice at the Harper Hall, where he would help teach the slower apprentices; he also aided the Hall Archivist.

Learning his Craft

At fifteen, a considerably early age, Robinton walked the tables to become a journeyman harper. His first assignment was under Master Lobirn in High Reaches Hold, where he first met Fax, the future «Lord of Seven Holds». Robinton was appalled at the fact that Fax did not allow harpers into his holding, and that his uncle Faroguy — High Reaches' Lord Holder — had seemingly turned a blind eye to the heavy-handed nature of Fax's rule.

After five years, Robinton returned to Benden, where he witnessed both its Weyrleader S'loner and Lord Holder Maidir taken between due to the Weyrleader suffering a fatal heart attack. Maidir's son and successor, Raid, proved to be somewhat blunt and offended his holders, and Robinton did his best to mitigate the damage. Ultimately, this brought him into conflict with Raid, who abruptly dismissed him from his contract.

Robinton was sent next to Tillek Hold along with Groghe, the heir-apparent to Fort Hold. While en route, he displayed his incredible talent for diplomacy and impartiality to settle a dispute between a Fort and Tillek holder concerning the wall that separated their Holds. It was there that he met the love of his life — Kasia, the sister-in-law of Lord Holder Melongel. He was completely besotted with her, and she with him; he made a harp especially for her, and also composed his "Sonata for Sea-Green Eyes" in her honor, while she went on to her sister Juvana about «Rob this» and «Rob that», as she put it. They married at Tillek's Autumn Gather, but their happiness was cut short when Kasia died from a fever she had contracted during their honeymoon cruise. Realizing the emotional difficulties, Melongel released Robinton from his contract.

Fax's Expansion

While at Tillek, Robinton spoke with a Tillek holder named Chochol, who had recently taken in holdless fleeing from the High Reaches. The holder described how the women had been brutally treated and that some had said Lord Faroguy must be dead in order for such things to happen in his Hold. After investigation by both Lord Melongel and the Harper Hall, it was revealed that Faroguy and his heir, Farevene, were both dead, and that his other son Bargen was unaccounted for. Fax had taken High Reaches — it was to be his first conquest, and it would not be his last.

After Robinton achieved his Mastery, he was sent by Gennell, the Masterharper of Pern, to the major Holds as an arbiter, and also to convince their Lord Holders of the danger of Fax's encroachment. Gennell revealed that he had sent Robinton on these tasks because he realized his end would be soon, and he needed someone young — and, more importantly, aware of the dangers Fax posed — to succeed him. He had made his intention to name Robinton his successor clear to the other masters, and they all agreed — even Petiron, much to Robinton's surprise.

The Threat of Thread

Shortly before the beginning of the Ninth Pass, Robinton was unanimously elected Masterharper of Pern following the death of Master Gennell. In the Turns that followed, Fax would conquer six more Holds. During a Gather at Telgar, to which Lord Tarathel had invited Fax in order to show off his guard companies (in an effort to keep Fax from encroaching on his lands — which, thanks to the efforts of his guard captain, Vendross, he did), F'lon was killed in a battle with one of Fax's captains, and Robinton himself wounded.

With its Weyrleader dead and the return of Thread imminent, the Weyr was woefully unprepared, and it seemed the Harper Hall — and by extension, Robinton — was Benden Weyr's only true ally. But the Weyr was alone, and they barely had enough to fly at all, much less fly Thread. Its prospects rose soon after, however; F'lar, F'lon's eldest son and future Benden Weyrleader, brought Fax to Ruatha during a Search. Ruatha was mysteriously unable to provide for itself and to prepare for its «rightful overlord». Disguised first as a drudge and then as one of Fax's guards, Robinton watched, and the Benden dragonriders heard and witnessed, as Fax declared that he would renounce Ruatha in favor of the child of his Ruathan bride, Gemma, if the child lived and was male. That child, Jaxom, would indeed live; when Fax tried to renege, he was challenged by F'lar and eventually slain, ending his tyrannical rule over his «Seven Holds».

Later Years


Robinton with bronze Zair from «People of Pern» © 1988 Robin Wood. Used with Permission.

After the beginning of the Ninth Pass and the bringing forward of the Oldtimers to the present to fight the returning Thread, Robinton remained as MasterHarper. He would lament that F'lar had relinquished his authority to the Oldtimers, who did not respect the increased rights of craft and hold. He would eventually educate F'lar on this and was a witness when F'lar fought T'ron for the future of Pern. He would publicly declare his support for Benden on behalf of his craft.

After the banishment of the Oldtimers, Robinton would continue to monitor the activities of the Oldtimers. In addition, he began a secret campaign to ensure that the planet would consider Benden to be in charge of settling the Southern Continent, as he had learned of F'lar's desire to have some land set aside for dragonriders to support themselves. His relationship with Benden would be strained when Ramoth's egg was stolen by Oldtimers, as he pushed for a more reasonable solution than Lessa, who wanted the insult avenged.

Robinton would later attend a mating flight at Ista Weyr, secretly betting on the potential winner. He would witness several Oldtimers attempt to take part in the flight. When one dragon died, Robinton realized that the dragon's rider, T'kul, would attempt to kill F'lar. As a result of the strain, Robinton suffered a heart attack that nearly killed him; only the combined efforts of the dragons saved his life. Despite surviving this, he realized he was now well along in years, and decided to retire in favor of his adopted son and a distant relation to him, and student, Sebell. By this time F'lar and Lessa had learned of Robinton's efforts on behalf of their Weyr, and repaired their relationship with him.

Cove Hold and Landing

Robinton would make a new home for himself at Cove Hold on the Southern Continent, along with former Weyrleader D'ram and Lytol, the former dragonrider who had been Lord Warder of Ruatha during Jaxom's minority. It was in the seventeenth Turn of the Ninth Pass that Robinton bore witness, and took part in, a great event in Pern's history: The rediscovery of AIVAS, the ancient artificial intelligence from the time of Pern's first colonization. AIVAS related the histories of early Pern and its purpose to end the threat of Threadfall once and for all.

After misunderstandings of authority and several attempts to damage AIVAS, Robinton, D'ram and Lytol were named AIVAS' guardians. Robinton in particular would be AIVAS' aide, a testament to his impartial nature. Robinton would consider himself to be reinvigorated by the challenge, and was often forced to rest by those around him.

Abduction and Death

Because of his involvement with AIVAS and the respect held for him all across Pern, Robinton became the target of a conspiracy fomented by Lord Sigomal of Bitra, Lord Begamon of Nerat, and Craftmaster Norist of the Glass-smiths, all of whom labelled AIVAS as the «Abomination» that was destroying Pernese tradition. The plan was to abduct the Masterharper and hold him for ransom in exchange for the destruction of AIVAS. During a gather at Ruatha Hold, Robinton was drugged with fellis in his food and wine and taken by a specially-crafted wagon, which would travel to a ship that would bring him to an island off the coast of Nerat. Before they could carry out the plan, he was located by the dragons of Pern, and the two Lord Holders and Craftmaster, along with their accomplices, were tried and exiled for their efforts in his kidnapping. The plan AIVAS had set out to achieve — prevent Thread from threatening Pern again — was accomplished in spite of these efforts to derail it. However, Robinton would suffer from the effects of fellis overdose, a condition which was kept secret from most of Pern.

After the success of the plan, Robinton returned to Landing, where AIVAS shut itself down, believing its mission complete. Robinton passed away in the AIVAS chamber soon after; the words «And a time to every purpose under heaven» were printed on the screen in front of him, a fitting epitaph. His bronze fire-lizard, Zair, died with him, much like a dragon going between after the death of its rider — this alerted all of the dragons of Pern to the death of the Masterharper. He was laid to rest in the waters off Cove Hold in a ceremony attended by all the weyrs of Pern, mourning the loss of a great friend of dragonkind and celebrating the life of both service and knowledge he had led.

Robinton's death was mourned by all of the people of Pern, even those who distrusted AIVAS.

Personality and traits

Robinton was a musical genius from an early age, and also had a gift for impartiality and fairness. He was an able leader, diplomat, and politician — he ably led the Harper Hall and acted as a member of the Great Council of Pern to promote his political agenda, which was always to support and grow peaceful contact and greater understanding between the different castes and regions of Pern. He particularly supported the hegemony of F'lar and Lessa, the Weyrleaders of Benden, as he believed they shared his vision for Pern.  He was known for a fondness for Benden wines, being able to identify the year and varietal of win by taste. His association with dragons would also last for most of his life, and he was especially indebted to them for saving his life when his heart suddenly failed him.

Robinton was also known as being both understanding and forgiving, as shown when dealing with the antipathy of his father, Petiron, as well as the attempt by the misguided Holders and Craftsmen to kidnap him for ransom. His patience was lauded, able to tutor even those who were thought to be unteachable due to their slower abilities. Unlike many craftmasters, he did not believe in the idea of craft secrets, realizing that such beliefs resulted in the loss of knowledge. Instead, he ensured that several masters were fully educated in all aspects of the craft, and was working on including more for safety.


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