by D.J. MacHale
Pendragon: The Merchant of Death
Aladdin Books, September, 2002.
Trade paperback, 368 pages.
Ages 10 and up
Bobby Pendragon is a fairly normal fourteen-year-old high school student. He lives with his parents, his little sister and his dog Marley. He also has a favorite cool uncle, who he sees periodically over the years. One evening, just before the big game, Bobby's Uncle Press shows up at his house and asks him to trust him, ask no questions and to come with him at once. Bobby reluctantly agrees, and unwittingly follows his uncle to another world, known as Denduron. Denduron is a primitive world which is ruled by a vicious tyrant and is on the cusp of a revolution. Uncle Press informs Bobby that he is the chosen one, and it's up to him to save this world-and possibly his own. Totally unprepared, missing his family and friends, Bobby wants nothing to do with the strange task he has been set. But when Uncle Press' life is threatened, Bobby shows that he just may have what it takes to save the universe.
The Merchant of Death is the first book in a projected series starring Bobby Pendragon. Written alternately in third person, and in first person accounts by Bobby (he finds a magical way to send his letter to his best friends Mark and Courtney), the story follows both Bobby's adventures in Denduron, and Mark and Courtney's activities back on Earth as they react to Bobby's mysterious disappearance. Bobby is a likeable teen and his reactions ring true, but Uncle Press is incredibly annoying at times. His continuing refusal to explain anything at all to Bobby creates most of the problems that Bobby could have handled if he had just been given some simple instructions about how to travel between worlds and what the rules are. Mark and Courtney are great characters; one hopes that they get to join in future adventures, instead of just sitting on the sidelines reading Bobby's mail. Still, the storyline is well-imagined, and interesting enough to generate excitement for the next installment.
Pendragon: The Merchant of Death is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the September, 2002 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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