For me, before Gandalf and long before Dumbledore, there was Robinton, Masterharper of Pern. I got introduced to McCaffrey's work in 7th grade just as I was starting to read books in the upstairs (adult) section of our library. Her books were really important to me because they featured female characters who were the capable heroines in their own stories. Her books were also the first fantasy series of novels I had come across and from there I was off and reading. My favorites are still Dragonsong and Dragonsinger, stories about 15 year old Menolly, an outcast in her home hold who escapes that life and heads off to the Harper Hall to become an apprentice to Masterharper Robinton. She's a talented musician at a time in Pern's history when the role of harper is not open to women and the books chronicle her path as the catalyst for change. Pern has dragons and their smaller cousins, fire-lizards, and some of McCaffrey's other novels focus on them. My favorite character from those is dragonrider F'nor.
Anne McCaffrey led me to Mary Stewart, Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Heinlein, Orson Scott Card, and Ian Fleming. I'm forever grateful.
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