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What is Impression?

“A feeling of joy suffused Lessa; a feeling of warmth, tenderness, unalloyed affection, and instant respect and admiration flooded mind and heart and soul.” (Dragonflight, p 79)

On the surface, Impression is the creation of a telepathic and empathic bond between dragon and human that cannot then be broken, save by the death of one of the partners. It is a connection rather than a fusion of minds: thoughts and emotions are shared, not merged. The instant of Impression is usually described as being accompanied by a sense of euphoria, deep mutual love, and with the new rider becoming aware of his dragonet’s name.

Culturally, the Impression ceremony is a Weyr-specific rite of passage: a ritual through which the young of the community hope to prove their worthiness of the higher status awarded to dragonriders. The mechanism for this proving is the discretion of the hatchling dragons themselves. “The dragon chooses” is often uttered, mantra-like, to explain the mysteries of Impression: a submission to a power beyond the understanding of mere men.

But on its deepest level, Impression serves a more crucial purpose. It is a powerful tool for survival so fundamentally built into the life cycle of dragons that they literally cannot live without it. And the dragons’ total reliance on the Impression bond with humans was perhaps the most crucial of the modifications Kitti Ping made to the genetic template provided by the native fire-dragonets.

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