Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey. I'm not sure why it took me so long to pick up this book, when I was fairly certain it would be one that I would like. One of my library school friends (hi, Rachel!) gave me paperback copies of this book and its sequel several years ago, hoping to encourage me to read it -- I'm sure she'll be glad to know that I finally did!
Mennolly, daughter of a fishing family, dreams of being a musician, a Harper -- but in the strict traditions of her homeland, girls are not allowed to become Harpers. When the situation at home becomes untenable, Mennolly escapes, and runs into a fantastic adventure that may, in fact, take her just where she wants to be.
That summary barely scratches the surface of the story, but I'm trying not to give away too much of the plot. I was impressed at the intricate worldbuilding evident in just this novel. I know that there are scads of books set in the Pern universe, but I didn't feel like I was missing a lot, not having read them. This is an all-around enjoyable read, with great characters, plot, and setting. I'll definitely read the sequel, though I don't know if I will invest time in reading the entire massive series.
(Reviewed from an audiobook borrowed through my library system.)