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Original Essays | September 17, 2014

Merritt Tierce: IMG Has My Husband Read It?

My first novel, Love Me Back, was published on September 16. Writing the book took seven years, and along the way three chapters were published in... Continue »
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Pendragon, Book 1: The Merchant of Death


Pendragon, Book 1: The Merchant of Death Cover


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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

wor375, January 9, 2009 (view all comments by wor375)
D J Machale is a real magician with words. Spelling a captivating tale from start to finish he publishes the rich and exubert joys of growing up along with a touch of unike magicality that will make you unable to put the book down. - pendragon is one of the best
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Shoshana, May 2, 2007 (view all comments by Shoshana)
The Merchant of Death is the first in the series and sets the grounds for the rest of the series: Bobby Pendragon appears to be a typical popular young teenager, but discovers in a Gaiman-esque scene in an abandoned subway station that he is a Traveler, a sort of interworld, intertemporal good-guy who has a role in the battle between good and evil. This premise is okay and generally well-executed. The device of having Bobby writing to his friends on magical parchment also works reasonably well.

The major problems with this first volume are the overuse of artificial-sounding teenager language in the narration, the formulaic feel of the plot, and implausible worldbuilding that decreases suspension of disbelief. To give two examples of the latter problem, one more throwaway and one more crucial: One of Bobby's earliest observations of Denduron is that it has three suns, which set simultaneously in three quadrants of the sky. Other than a chance conversion I don't see how this is possible. It has no relevance to the plot, so its only actual function is to irritate the reader. More critically, Bobby and his Uncle Press endure a dangerous and harmful journey from the subway to Denduron via a flume that deposits them atop a snowy mountain surrounded by evil creatures called quigs. Later it is revealed that there is a second flume, much more convenient to the village and with no mention of quigs. Apparently Uncle Press didn't choose this flume solely because the author needed Bobby and Press to be separated. This is poor plotting and not compelling.

I don't mean to be overly critical. This series is clearly beach reading, not enduring literature. It's entertaining enough, and judging by the reviews online, children enjoy it even when critics don't. The next few volumes should show whether this is a picaresque series in which a world is saved per volume, or whether a larger plot unfolds.

There are a number of books entitled "Pendragon" out there, including Lawland's Pendragon Cycle. You'd do best to search for this series by the name of each installment.
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Product Details

Machale, D J
Aladdin Paperbacks
MacHale, D. J.
Lee, Victor
D. J. MacHale
New York, N.Y
Action & Adventure
Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic
Children's 9-12 - Fiction - General
Children's 9-12 - Fiction - Fantasy
Legends, Myths, & Fables - General
Fantasy fiction
Imaginary places
General Juvenile Fiction
Action & Adventure - General
Fantasy & Magic
Fiction : General
Children s-Science Fiction and Fantasy
Edition Description:
Pendragon Quartet
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
September 2002
Grade Level:
from 5 up to 9
f-c cvr
7.62 x 5.12 in 9.38 oz
Age Level:

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Related Subjects

Children's » Action and Adventure » Adventure Stories
Children's » Middle Readers » General
Children's » Science Fiction and Fantasy » General
Young Adult » Fiction » Series
Young Adult » General

Pendragon, Book 1: The Merchant of Death Used Trade Paper
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Product details 384 pages Aladdin Paperbacks - English 9780743437318 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Bobby Pendragon is a seemingly normal and somewhat reluctant 14-year-old boy who is swept into an amazing five-year quest. Each unique mission is part of an overall quest, which will be revealed and resolved in the breathtaking final chapter of the series.
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