An advanced computer called AIVAS (Artificial Intelligence Voice Address System). AIVAS was found by Jaxom and Piemur while they were excavating the city called Landing, the original settlement of the ancestors (the original colonists from Dragonsdawn), that had been buried in ash during a volcanic eruption. AIVAS has remained undisturbed since the events of Dragonsdawn some 2500 years earlier and, in addition to holding a huge volume of stored information long since lost to the Pernese society, claims to be able to eliminate the threat of Thread forever. AIVAS reintroduced many technological advancements to the society. Some people feeling AIVAS was a threat to their way of life called it an abomination and tried to destroy it, but they were unsuccessful.
F'lar was the weyrleader of Benden Weyr and the rider of bronze Mnementh.
F'lar was born Fallarnon, 32 turns before the beginning of the Ninth Pass of the Red Star. His father, F'lon, and his grandfather, S'loner, were both Weyrleaders in their own time. His mother was Larna, who died just after giving birth to him, and he was raised by Manora, the Headwoman at Benden Weyr and mother of his half-brother F'nor.
At the time of his ascension to Weyrleader, Benden Weyr was the only populated weyr on Pern. Like F'lon, F'lar believed that Thread would return to devastate the land. He took responsibility for ensuring that Pern was protected from Thread, and he even promised the Lord Holders that he would destroy Thread completely at its source, the Red Star.
F'lar was a champion of justice, and was involved in a number of knife fights that were fought to protect both his beliefs and those less able to defend themselves. He fought and killed Fax, the self-styled "Lord of Seven Holds", when the visit of dragonriders to his holdings precipitated a challenge to Fax's authority. This victory resulted in the discovery of Lessa of Ruatha Hold as a candidate for the last remaining queen egg, and ultimately the successful Impression of Ramoth. Later, he also fought the oldtimers T'ron (who challenged him when he offered to help another Weyr)  and T'kul (whose dragon, Salth, had just died trying to fly the queen Caylith, in contravention of an agreement that only younger Bronzes would have the opportunity).
Mnementh flew Ramoth to establish F'lar's leadership in the weyr, and F'lar and Lessa became lifemates. Together they had a son, F'lessan, whose childhood name was Felessan.
After the discovery of AIVAS, F'lar was one of the champions of the scheme that rid Pern of thread forever.
F'lar has dark hair (later described as greying), and amber eyes that he inherited from his sire, Falloner (F'lon).
Famanoran or F'nor (Fnōr) is the rider of the brown dragon Canth and was the son of Benden Weyr's former Weyrleader, F'lon and its current Headwoman Manora. He was also the half-brother of the current weyrleader, F'lar. He is a wingsecond at Benden.
F'nor is a major character in the books; his most notable deed was attempting to fly to the Red Star in an attempt to destroy Thread at its source. This attempt was unsuccessful, as the Red Star could not support human or dragon life, and almost resulted in his death.
F'nor and Brekke formed a long-term relationship.
F'lessan is the rider of bronze Golanth.
A Benden Weyr native, F'lessan was born as "Felessan", and is the son of the Benden Weyrleaders, F'lar and Lessa. Since Lessa nearly died giving birth to him, he has no full siblings (nor any known half-siblings). Through Lessa, F'lessan is related to Lord Kale of Ruatha Hold, Lessa's late father, who was killed, as well as almost all of Ruathan blood, by Fax.
When he was young, F'lessan befriended young Lord Jaxom, prior to Jaxom taking on his full duties at the Ruathan Holdship. In his early teens, F'lessan Impressed a bronze, young Golanth, from a clutch of Ramoth and Mnementh, his parents' dragons. Over the Turns, F'lessan and Golanth (called "Golly") became one of the key young dragonpairs that helped to stop Thread from returning. F'lessan also fell in love with Tai, a young Monaco Bay rider of green Zaranth, in "The Skies of Pern". He has three sons, including S'lan, a brown rider.
F'lessan later discovered and restored the abandoned Honshu Hold which he claimed and called "Honshu Weyrhold".
F'lessan and his dragon were injured in a skirmish involving felines in "The Skies of Pern", but recovered, though his dragon was permanently handicapped.
Jaxom is both a dragonrider and a Lord Holder. He was declared the Lord of Ruatha Hold after his mother's death, and was raised by the ex-dragonrider Lytol. Jaxom caused controversy among the leaders of Pern by Impressing the white dragon, Ruth, when he was eleven years old. Later, he became a hero—although he did not tell anyone at the time—by saving a queen egg of Ramoth's (the Benden queen dragon) from the rebellious Oldtimers, who had stolen it in their attempt to repopulate their Weyr. He was also one of the central forces of the movement to banish Thread from Pern forever.
Jaxom is born approximately five Turns (years) before the start of the Ninth Pass of the Red Star, whilst F'lar and F'nor were leading a search for candidates for the last Queen egg of dragon queen Nemorth's final clutch. His mother, Lady Gemma, the wife of Fax dies giving birth to him.
Fax initially agrees to acknowledge Jaxom as the new Lord of Ruatha Hold on the basis on the Hold being unable to adequately provide for its Lord, but threatens to renege on that promise and attacks F'lar. F'lar kills Fax in the duel, leaving Jaxom an orphan.
Deelan, the mother of Dorse, is his wet nurse and foster mother. Until Jaxom is old enough to take his position as Lord Holder, Ruatha is left in the hands of Lytol, a former dragonrider and weaver, who acts as mentor and guardian to Jaxom throughout his younger years.
On a visit to Benden Weyr, Jaxom and his friend Felessan (later, F'lessan, and also the son of F'lar and Lessa) take the chance to spy upon a clutch of Ramoth's eggs, and Jaxom expresses concern about the smallest egg. On their way back, exploring the back tunnels of the Weyr, the two boys discover a previously unknown room, with diagrams from ancient times and a microscope.
When Jaxom returns to the Weyr for the Hatching, the white egg fails to hatch, and Jaxom impresses Ruth when he breaks the egg's unusually tough shell and inner membrane. The Impression is considered a nuisance by many, as Jaxom has responsibilities as Lord Holder to uphold, and some feel it might create a conflict of interests. Also, a dragon and its rider must live in a Weyr, but Jaxom as a future Lord Holder must live in his hold, and clearly he can not live in two places at the same time. This problem is sorted by the pragmatic Lytol who points out that any place a dragon lives is by definition a weyr, so if Ruth were to live in Ruatha's stables, the stables become a weyr..... Ruth is not expected to mature to a size which would allow him to join a Thread-fighting wing of a weyr, which would take Jaxom away from his responsibilities in Ruatha, so the two are allowed to return to Ruatha.
Growing up, Ruth becomes his main friend, but once allowed to fly, and then to go between, he finds friends among other students at the Harper Hall, Smithcraft and in the Weyr. He also learns how to go between time as well as place, and, despite thinking that it would bring down recriminations upon him, to flame Thread. Because Ruth is especially adept at 'Timing it', he and Jaxom play a major part in the end of Threadfall forever.
Jaxom defied the Southern Holder by marrying Sharra, who is a great healer. Sharra is the only other person who can hear Ruth's thoughts. Together they had two boys whose names were Jarrol and Shawan.
Lessa is the Benden Weyrwoman during the Ninth Pass, and rider of the gold dragon Ramoth. Lessa's ability to psychically influence the thoughts and actions of others plays a role in various parts of the series.
Lessa was the daughter of Kale and Adessa, the Lord and Lady of Ruatha Hold. Kale was an amiable man and in ordinary times was considered the ideal Lord Holder. However, Kale underestimated the greed of his neighbor, Fax, the Lord Holder of High Reaches, who had conquered five other holds since claiming his own. This optimistically trusting nature resulted in the deaths of Lord Kale and the entire Ruathan bloodline...except for Lessa herself, who hid in the watch-wher's den. According to the books, Lessa was 11 turns (years) old at the time of the attack.
At a young age, she was already very headstrong and independent. Her father apparently mentions her as "stubborn at only four [years old]", and the Harper Robinton is many years later amused when she falls asleep during a marching song.
Lessa spends years as a drudge in Ruatha's kitchens, surviving abuse and subtly undermining a hold which should otherwise thrive; as a way of gaining petty revenge against Fax and biding her time. So when the Benden riders come in search of a woman with the telepathic talents to Impress the new queen dragonet, the dragons can feel her aura and she also uses her abilities to embroil the dragonrider F'lar in a fight to the death with Fax, which F'lar wins.
Instead of inheriting her family hold of Ruatha, Lessa reluctantly gives up her right as heir to Jaxom, son of her distant cousin Gemma, whom Fax had married to give his claim to Ruatha some form of legitimacy. She then travels to Benden Weyr to become the only Weyrwoman on Pern. She joins forces with Weyrleader F'lar to fight the resurgence of the voracious alien life-forms known as "Thread". Lessa's most notable accomplishment is the re-discovery that dragons can travel between times as well as places. She foolhardily dares to use this skill to travel 400 years into the past in a single jump to seek help leaving F'lar in despair back in the present. However she succeeds in persuading the dragonriders at the end of the Eighth Pass to travel to the future and resume fighting the menace of Thread that once again threatens life on Pern. These saviours become the "Oldtimers" in the present and several eventually become a thorn in Lessa's and F'lar's side.
At first, Lessa is portrayed as an extremely unsociable, cynical and uptight personality, having known nothing but abuse and petty revenge in her time at Ruatha. In the course of the books, however, she grows into her broader role, becoming much more personable; developing a genuinely loving relationship with F'lar. Nevertheless, she is always notably short-tempered and occasionally uses her considerable psychic ability to influence the mood of others and affect their perceptions of things through the use of her ability to talk to all dragons.
Lessa is a petite woman described as being childlike in figure with extremely long, thick black hair. Her queen Ramoth is the largest dragon on the planet.
F'lessan becomes her only child, it being assessed as too dangerous for her to have more after nearly dying in childbirth. In the earlier books, she expresses bitterness that she was not like Kylara, another Weyrwoman known for her promiscuity, who bore many children despite not wanting any.
In The Skies of Pern, she admits that she left the care of F'lessan to his fostermother and that she'd never really paid much attention to him. Manora replied that it was expected, since she was Weyrwoman and had other duties.
Menolly grew up in Half-Circle Sea Hold, where she assisted the Hold harper, Petiron (Robinton's father), in teaching children their learning songs, wrote her own songs, and dreamed of becoming a harper. Her parents grudgingly allowed her to continue teaching the Hold children children music after Petiron died, as their community had no other harper. When she deeply wounded her hand while gutting packtail (a type of fish), the wound was allowed to heal wrongly so that she could not play again. They did, along with not being able to play, forbid her to sing once the replacement harper came, as they believed it was not proper for girls to do such things. Menolly was, in fact, beaten severely for simply playing music that was not part of the regular classes.
Menolly ran away from home and took refuge in a cave, where she Impressed nine fire-lizards: gold Beauty, bronzes Rocky and Diver, browns Mimic, Lazybones, and Brownie, blue Uncle, and greens Auntie One and Auntie Two. Being far from her cave, and without a Hold, Menolly found herself caught in Threadfall, but was rescued by a brown dragonrider 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.
At the Harper Hall, Menolly befriended Camo, Piemur, Audiva, Silvina, and Sebell. Not everyone approved of a girl becoming a harper, and she was the victim of envy (especially among the female students) because of her fire lizards. Being the talented student she was, she rose to the rank of Journeyman a week from the day of her arrival. She wrote many popular songs, such as "The Fire Lizard Song/Queen's Song" and "Brekke's Song"—songs helped transmit news and current events throughout Pern. Eventually she married Sebell, with whom she had three children, and became a Master Harper, helping with the movement to banish Thread from Pern forever. Her songs were very important to Pernese's evolving society.
Piemur, originally the son of a farmer and cattle trader, is taken to the Harper Hall as an apprentice due to the excellent voice he possesses, though he has very little aptitude concerning other Harper skills. Piemur is apprenticed to Master Shonagar, the Master of Voice at that time. Due to Piemur's small stature, he is forced to develop other talents in order to be able to enjoy his residence at the Harper Hall, and therefore becomes known as a person of constant mischief and disregard for Hall regulations.
When, during Dragonsinger, Menolly arrives at the Harper Hall (though both this and Dragonsong are viewed primarily through the eyes of Menolly), Piemur is one of the first to get to know her. At first this interest is merely a curiosity regarding Menolly's possession of nine fire lizards, though it grows to a closer mutual friendship throughout Dragonsinger, the second book in the Harper Hall trilogy. Piemur has doubts about his future in the Harper Hall, unsure of what will become of him when his voice breaks, and shares these doubts with Menolly, who convinces him to concentrate more on the present.
At the start of Dragondrums, Piemur's voice begins to break. While his voice is in transition, he is unable to sing, so becomes the apprentice of Masterharper Robinton himself. However, this is kept secret, and Piemur is publicly assigned to Drum tower (a system of communication using complicated drum measures to communicate over long distances). Robinton's plan is for Piemur to use his natural talents to gather information that could be useful for the planning the future of Pern. These missions include a visit to a nearby mine, where Piemur discovers that the exiled Oldtimers are taking gemstones without payment.
The other apprentice and journeyman harpers at the Drumheights know Piemur's reputation, so bully him according to the mischief they expect in return. Piemur believes that this is a test, and he is supposed to remain silent about the bullying, in order to prove his discretion. The culmination of this is when the other apprentices grease the steps leading the Drumheights: Piemur slips on the steps, causing a dangerous fall, and is lucky to escape with a severe concussion. Following this incident, he is removed from the Drumheights.
When Piemur recovers from his fall, Master Robinton assigns him a mission with Journeyman Sebell. They are to join the Gather at Lord Meron's Hold (disguised as cattle traders, ironically enough), to report the commoners' mood concerning Lord Meron's association with the banned Old-timers as well as the Lord Holder himself, who is slowly dying of a wasting disease. One of the first things they notice is the extreme number of firelizards in the Hold, and deduct that this is the payment Lord Meron has been receiving from the Old-timers. After a series of events, Piemur finds himself being chased around Nabol Hold, unable to escape, and with a firelizard egg, stolen from Lord Meron, that he believes is that of a queen. He hides in a sack in a small storage room, and promptly falls fast asleep, presumably due to his recent head injury.
While Piemur sleeps, with the egg tucked warmly in his shirt, the sacks are transported between to Southern Weyr, where the Old-timers reside, and Piemur escapes without notice. He flees the area until the firelizard, which he was correct to assume was a queen, has hatched. He names the firelizard Farli (possibly due to a coincidence, this has the same pronunciation as the Scandinavian "danger" – "farlig", "farleg", etc.).
On his way to Southern Hold (not inhabited by the Old-timers), Piemur meets Sharra, a girl from the very place he is going to, and helps her in the research she is conducting on the native plants of the Southern Continent. They eventually make their way back the Hold, on the same day that Menolly and Sebell, who, until now have been searching the Northern Continent for him, arrive at Southern Hold. As there is no reason for Piemur to return to the Northern Continent – his good voice is gone, and Masterharper Robinton was interested in exploring the Southern Continent regardless of where Piemur was – he is instructed, or rather permitted, to stay and map the coast of Southern.
Along with Jaxom, Lord of Ruatha Hold and rider of the White Dragon, Ruth, Piemur takes part in the rediscovery of Landing, the first human settlement on Pern, and thus the uncovering of the AIVAS, and all the subsequent events.
Piemur is involved in a large amount of the controversial "progress" that occurs after the awakening of the AIVAS, and together with Jancis, granddaughter of Mastersmith Farandel, rebuilds one of the first computers.
Piemur later marries Jancis, and has a son, Pierjan.
Robinton is a central character in many different Dragonriders of Pern books set in the Ninth Pass. When Anne McCaffrey first wrote about him in Dragonflight, his character was a sketchy representation of the Harper Craft Hall. In Dragonquest his personality became more fully developed and this process was continued throughout Dragonsong, Dragonsinger and Dragondrums. In The Masterharper of Pern, the story of young Robinton is the canvas for developing the backstory alluded to throughout the original Pern Chronicles.
The early stories of Robinton's life allowed McCaffrey to develop characters such as F'lon, father of F'lar and F'nor, and Silvina, Camo and Shonagar of the Harper Hall. McCaffrey also used him to expand the story of Fax, allowing Robinton to provide an extra perspective on scenes that were some of her earliest writings.
Robinton, as the Masterharper, embodies McCaffrey's ideals for the Harper Hall. A musical prodigy, he surpassed both his parents by composing popular songs throughout his childhood, and becoming a Journeyman harper at fifteen. He was faced with professional jealousy (which caused estrangement from his father when young), similar to that which challenged Harpers Menolly and Piemur in Dragonsinger and Dragondrums.
A wise diplomat, teacher and leader, he helped the Benden Weyrleaders, Lessa and F'lar, deal with the return of Thread and the Oldtimers, gaining the love and respect of everyone on Pern. Of course, McCaffrey ensured that he had redeemable character flaws, such as his great fondness for wine (particularly Benden wine), which could be said to have saved his life in one point in The White Dragon, when he suffered a heart attack.
When Robinton eventually stepped down as Masterharper and retired to Cove Hold on the Southern Continent, he became close friends with Lytol, former Lord Warder of Ruatha Hold and a former Benden brown rider (mentioned as a green rider in Dragonflight), as well as D'ram, rider of bronze Tiroth and a former Oldtimer Weyrleader of Ista. This friendship reflects the lessening of the isolation and rigidly controlled autonomy of Weyr, Hold and Hall, which was a constant theme of the original Pern Chronicles.
Upon the discovery of Landing and the Artificial Intelligence Voice-Address System (AIVAS/Aivas) at the end of The Renegades of Pern, Robinton, D'ram and Lytol took over joint administration of the Landing facility, leading the efforts to both end the onslaught of Thread and to modernize Pernese society. In All the Weyrs of Pern, "traditionalist" Pernese attempted to end what they perceived as AIVAS' "destructive" influence on their society by drugging Robinton's food and drink, kidnapping him and holding him for ransom in exchange for AIVAS' destruction. Robinton was quickly found and rescued, but the effects of the overdose took its toll on Robinton's health. After the Red Star's orbit was altered and ensuring that the current Pass would be the last, he died peacefully in the AIVAS chamber, shortly after AIVAS shut itself down. His fire-lizard Zair, like a dragon following his rider, died with him.
Robinton was laid to rest in the waters of his beloved Cove Hold, and every dragonrider, Lord Holder and Craftmaster on the planet turned out for the service. His death was a metaphor for the end of the great struggle with Thread, which had consumed the lives of all Pernese since shortly after Landing on Pern.
Mnementh (pronounced "nementh") is the bronze dragon of F'lar, the Weyrleader of Benden Weyr during the Ninth Pass. Mnementh is the sole mate of gold dragon Ramoth and thus the sire or ancestor of many dragons born during the Ninth Pass. He is also the second-largest dragon on Pern, after Ramoth (though Ramoth is not much larger), although Jaxom's Ruth mistakenly describes him as "the biggest dragon on all Pern".
Ramoth is the gold queen dragon of Lessa, the Weyrwoman of Benden Weyr during the Ninth Pass. She is the mate of Mnementh, and is the largest dragon on Pern. For a period of time at the beginning of the Ninth Pass, Ramoth was the only remaining queen dragon on all of Pern, until the queen Prideth was hatched from her first clutch. Because the two queens would not be able to repopulate the empty remaining Weyrs for the approaching Pass, Lessa and Ramoth jumped back in time 400 Turns to bring forward the members of the empty Weyrs.
Ruth is the only white dragon described in the series, and is much smaller than the other dragons in the series' ninth pass timeline. In Dragonquest, Ruth hatches near the end of the novel. The dragon's story is expanded upon in the novel The White Dragon.
In Dragonquest, the gold dragon Ramoth lays a clutch of eggs, one of which McCaffrey describes as small with an unusually tough shell. The weyrfolk of Benden Weyr assume that the egg will not hatch, and begin to depart from the Hatching Ground when all the other hatchling dragonets have impressed with human dragonriders. The character Lord Jaxom jumps from the bleachers to the Hatching Ground to assist the unborn dragonet by breaking open the shell. Jaxom inadvertently Impresses the dragon.
After Impression, the Council decides that it has no problem with the young Lord's bond with Ruth, as it is believed that Ruth will not live long. He does survive to maturity, although he is much smaller than the other dragons. In order to avoid the animosity of the Lord Holders, Lessa and F'lar carefully guide the Lord and dragon. Lord Jaxom is able to fly on Ruth, and is trained to go "between".
Lord Jaxom becomes frustrated with various restrictions, such as the inability to take Hold of Ruatha, and the refusal of Dragonrider status. He rebels, and attempts to teach Ruth to chew firestone. He discovered Ruth's innate ability to orient himself in time while practicing going between. After Lord Jaxom and Ruth emerge amidst Threadfall, the Weyrfolk consent to give him firestone training.
In addition to his small size, Ruth is notable for his hide, which though commonly regarded as white, appears to be composed of pale hues from all dragons. It is possible that Ruth is a neuter, and indeed, "he" never shows an interest in mating. In addition to his physical attributes, Ruth is unusually willing to speak with humans besides his own rider, and has close and friendly relationships with fire lizards, as well as a long memory and heightened intelligence. He also has a heightened ability to travel "between" to different times with the knowledge of exactly when and where he is in time and space.
Founded the Dolphineer Hall. Son of Aramina and Jayge.
Robinton's successor as MasterHarper of Pern; companion of fire-lizard Kimi; husband of Menolly.
Grew up in Southern Hold in the Southern Continent. She is a Journeywoman healer, and spouse to Jaxom Lord Holder of Ruatha. Together they have two children. She was essential to the annihilation of thread.
This is the derogatory term used for those from 400 Turns past called by Lessa and Ramoth into the present Turn. Some of them were exiled to the Southern Continent because they were unable to accept the leadership of the current-day Riders. The term is only usually used for the older Oldtimers that were exiled south
Pern is divided into many Holds. The politics between the lords of these holds provides the backdrop to many of the books.
(Rider first, dragon second)
At the time of Impression, male dragonriders' names are shortened with an apostrophe. This follows an old tradition of shortening names because the first dragons of Pern slurred the rider's names during Threadfall. For example, Famanoran became F'nor at his impression.
Most girls will only Impress gold queens, with the exception of a few female green riders, such as Mirrim, (and one blue rider, Xhinna) and queens fly in a wing of their own, with agenothree tanks to sear Thread from the skies. (Agenothree got its name from the chemical name, HNO3, but caught on as 'agenothree' when M'hall mispronounced it when in a rush.) However, in times when the Weyrs are low on dragonriders, some Weyrwomen do not use a queens' wing, preferring to use females as purely-mating dragons, and don't want to run the risk of them being unable to rise for mating flights. Thus, female dragonriders do not shorten their names as a rule.
When asked why all dragons' names end in th, Anne McCaffrey facetiously replied, "Dragons have forked tongues. They lisp"; Pernese dragons have no vocal cords, and speak only telepathically.