Pendragon - The Merchant of Death

Style: Poor

Attitude: Unobjectionable

In Brief: Poorly written; unobjectionable

Cover of Pendragon - The Merchant of Death

Author: D.J. McHale

Series: Pendragon

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Published in: 2002

Age Range: Young Teens

Period: Contemporary

Setting: Earth / Denduron

Genres:  Fantasy


  • Bobby Pendragon is a 14-year-old who discovers that he is a Traveller, one of a group of people destined to guard time and space.
  • Mark is Bobby's best friend who receives Bobby's diary by instalments through an interdimensional portal (!)
  • Courtney is Bobby's feisty girlfriend, better than the boys at most sports. Bobby's Uncle Press is one of the Travellers.
  • Saint Dane (try saying it quickly) is a Traveller who has gone to the bad.


Bobby Pendragon has just kissed his girlfriend for the first time when his Uncle Press turns up and demands that he accompany him on a mission of vital importance which turns out to be through a portal which takes them to another world. Uncle Press is captured and Bobby must save him and the local low-tech population from the bullying, armour-wearing Bedoowan.


The author notes in his acknowledgements that, when it comes to launching a new series, “... the hard part is getting it published... so that family & friends aren't the only ones who get to read it.”. In this case, you have to ask yourself whether he should have made the effort.

Chapters alternate between Bobby's first person narrative diary, which his friend Mark receives in installments, and Mark & Courtney's own experiences in coming to terms with Bobby's disapearance. To emphasise the difference, the perspectives are represented by serif and sans-serif fonts respectively. Just in case you couldn't work out for yourself who's talking, presumably. Frankly, I wouldn't even bother trying.

Bobby's thought and speech patterns are steeped in a early 21st century argot which seems incapable of anything more than superficial and emotional reaction. His uncle, the wise and slightly mysterious mentor figure you always find in these things, fails to demonstrate anything other than a rather irritating air of calm superiority.

Things to note: the concept of parallel worlds and Halla, which seems to represent the cosmos.

I hadn't suddenly got all hero macho and figured I could whip up on a quig. It wasn't like that at all. But I had an idea and if I was right, it might give us all a chance of getting out of there alive.

I ran up to Uncle Press and stood beside him. I expected him to see me and be totally surprised and shout something like “Bobby, no! Go back! Save yourself!” But he didn't. Instead he looked down at me as if he were expecting me to show up all along and calmly said, “I forgot to tell you, that Courtney Chetwynde is pretty cute.”

I've got to hand it to the guy, he was cool. Maybe a little crazy, but cool.

Tuesday 29th July 2003