I was in some ways impressed and tickled by Acorna, and in other ways unimpressed and chagrined. Being an avid reader of Anne McCaffrey since I was in junior high school, there are many traits that I’ve come to enjoy in her writing: tying mythical beasts and the paranormal to modern and future settings, abused and neglected children’s retribution against a world that would not have them (a facet of literature that I later came to hate with the mediocrity of Harry Potter), and her talent to develop characters into romantic chess pieces. Although I now feel that I am older and wiser in regards to romantic settings (and McCaffrey’s stance on homosexuality being little more than effrontery to me), I still find her universes complex and interesting. The Talent/Pegasus series has always been a favorite of mine and I am constantly rereading Damia and To Ride Pegasus for their science fiction/romance blend. In Acorna’s case, we have a book that is ostensibly young adult literature, set in the far future, while incorporating elements of the unicorn mythos. Since I’ve never taken the time to read up on unicorns from a mythological perspective, I feel as if I have earned an insight into their makeup that I wouldn’t have otherwise known. Additionally, a great many science fiction and science non-fiction made up a tremendous part of this story and it was all composed and inserted well and aptly.However, one could argue the dynamics of Acorna stop there. The plot is, to say the least, confusing. If the reader is to take the three miners as the story’s protagonists, the book should have ended when they reached Kezdet. I had actually been under the mistaken assumption that Acorna was going to feature… oh I don’t know, the character named Acorna? Instead, so many characters are introduced, their stories overlapping well, that one quickly loses sight of just who and what Acorna really is. One reads Dragonsong because they identify with and become empathic to its protagonist. One reads Damia because of her vivacious personality. Why is it then, that a book just called Acorna, doesn’t feature really any personal growth for the character. It is fitting that this book brings us from her infancy into her young adulthood with nary a stop along the way, because that is exactly how I feel her character was developed through out. I felt as if I was reading an abridgement of her story. I kept holding out hope for the text to become feminist or at least sympathetic to Acorna and her plight. I guess that would have required her to have a plight.I am really upset that I didn’t enjoy Acorna more. I have recently acquired the other books in her series, and I’m quite sure they introduce some interesting characters and funny scenarios, but… I don’t know if I’ll be able to muster up the will to read them. The question of whether or not the books begin to actually center on Acorna and who and what is unsettles me because I’m afraid I’ll never find out. I have to question the wisdom of having a female character-driven series begin with an episode-driven, masculine trio. What sense I do get from Acorna is that she has little regard for social niceties, a traint I do find appealing. Yet, I am also stymied by her utter lack of interest in the opposite sex (no doubt this is due to McCaffrey/Ball’s wish to make her a “late bloomer” as the story closes on her being all of three years old). As McCaffrey has rarely used homosexuality in her books, I find it highly unlikely that she would choose to make Acorna one (although I will look for fanfics to that end). Instead, I see Acorna becoming like Nimisha—a soul searching for something she knows not what and is willing to settle for the mundane and take on stereotypical female maternity roles in anti-feminist fable. Given that side characters have already recognized Acorna as being motherly, I have to wonder if Acorna will ever morph into a Lessa-like character that truly controls the fate of the story. I do not attempt to posit that motherly characters are anti-feminist or even that they don’t make good protagonist: I merely wonder if Acorna does.