Pendragon: The Merchant of Death (Book One) by D.J. MacHale


Bobby Pendragon grows up a normal fourteen year old boy, until the day his Uncle Press comes to him for help. Not help for himself, but help for some other people Bobby has never met. The catch- those people are on another planet and the outcome for their lives could affect the outcome for the entire universe. It turns out, Bobby is a Traveler, someone who can travel through time and space and usually, is meant to help. But not all Travelers are created equal and one Traveler, Saint Dane, aims to plunge the universe into chaos.

One of the most refreshing things about this book is that Bobby is a very realistic character. He starts out fairly selfish, but not in an awful way, just in a “I’m a kid and I want to go home and I’m scared because people want to kill me!” sort of way. You can hardly blame him. But ultimately, he is a good kid who does the right thing, even though it is hard and dangerous. Nothing he does is particularly extraordinary and yet the end result is something unbelievable.

There are two types of chapters: journal chapters and regular chapters. The journal chapters are firsthand accounts written by Bobby about what has happened to him. The regular chapters are about Mark (Bobby’s best friend) and Courtney (Bobby’s sort of but not really girlfriend) as they search for Bobby and read his journals. The biggest flaw to the book is that it completely lacks suspense. There is never fear that they may not get out of whatever situation they are in. By the very nature of the format, you know it all worked out in the end (more or less). If Bobby wrote it, then he had to live long enough to do so. I also find Mark and Courtney’s storylines 99% pointless. Think about how much more shocking the ending of the book would have been if we didn’t know his parents had disappeared until the moment he discovers it?

I’m assuming that the journals will turn out be important later in the series (at least, there seem to be hints that they will be and if MacHale is a writer of any talent, they will be), but to be honest, I’m not sure I liked it enough to keep reading to find out. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad, it just lacks the edge of my seat aspect that I’ve come to expect from an action-adventure novel.

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