Pendragon Series by D.J. MacHale, a Review


Pendragon: the Merchant of Death (Book 1 of a series)
by D. J. MacHale

Aladdin Paperbacks, 2002, 374 pages

Worldview: A moral universe with no discernible higher power.

Style: High action.

Review: This tale describes a story taking place on another planet, Denduron. It is mostly told by the protagonist, Bobby Pendragon, a 14-year-old American boy who strangely enough takes the time to write to his best friend Mark and girl friend Courtney, who remain back home, whenever he has the opportunity. The reader reads the letters along with Mark and Courtney.

Bobby is taken to Denduron through a wormhole gateway by his Uncle Press, who embroils him in a conflict between two factions who live there. One of these factions has enslaved the other. Meddlers from other worlds, called Travelers, are both good guys and bad guys. One, the oddly named Saint Dane, is a hugely evil bad guy who is abetting the conflict. Others, including Press and Bobby Pendragon, are trying to stop Saint Dane. Bobby starts off as feeling himself to be very incompetent, and gradually picks up some courage and competence as the story unfolds. He and another young Traveler, Loor, work together to foil Saint Dane. Saint Dane excapes to another planet through a worm hole. We suspect that will be the setting of the next book, with a similar plot: foiling Saint Dane, this time in a different world.

The story has many imaginative aspects as well as interesting characters. However, it fails to move me on several counts. One is the breezy teen-speak that Bobby uses for most of the book. It’s just not that easy to read. Another is the improbability of the plot resolution. Once Saint Dane is removed, the warring factions simply stop their conflict and begin to help each other. This is a feud that’s been going on for longer than Saint Dane was present. So why would removing him completely solve it? It’s not clear to me.

Another irritation was that some plot elements are left dangling, to be resolved in future books I suppose. These are major plot elements having to do with who Bobby is. We are told near the end of the book that the family that raised him is not his real family, and that Uncle Press is not his uncle. Bobby’s family has vanished, so he can’t come back to “second earth” and live a normal life. He is stuck being a Traveler now.

Despite these irritations, I do recommend this book for young readers. The high action is sure to please, and the moral compass of the work is sound.–Phyllis Wheeler

If you would like to buy this book, please buy it here to help pay the expenses of this Web site.

12 thoughts on “Pendragon Series by D.J. MacHale, a Review

  1. M. Kennedy

    Hi Phyllis,
    Thanks for your site and the work you put into it. As a Christian mom of a 9 year old and a tween who both devour books, it is impossible for me to review all the books they are interested in, so sites like yours are very helpful. In that light, may I ask a favor? When you do reviews, it would be great if you could offer specifics on the content of the book that may be objectionable. To me, this is even more important than literary value. For example, our family firmly believes in “garbage in, garbage out,” so we are very careful about what we read when it comes to profanity, violence, sex, occult/mysticism, etc. I would have allowed my child to read Pendragon based upon your review, but upon closer inspection of the book itself, I found offensive language, lewd and indecent comments, fantasizing about a girl and sexuality, and more. There was nothing at all in your review to alert a parent to this. Would you please consider including these types of alerts in the reviews on your site if you don’t currently? Thank you. M. Kennedy

  2. Editor Post author

    Hello M.,
    It could be that I reviewed the first book in the series, and you were looking at subsequent books. Also, it could be that my definition of objectionable and your definition are different, although we are both Christians.
    So, I will keep trying to be useful and will continue to try to add warnings such as these when applicable. Thanks for your feedback!
    Phyllis Wheeler

  3. Fanglover2000

    wooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!the Pendragon books r amazing!!!!!!!!!they kick butt!!!!!!!
    i’m reading the pendragon series rite now and i LOVE them!!!!!!!!!!yeah!!!!!go Pendragon!!!!!!!!

  4. Nicki

    I also find the profanity and sexual content maddening in this series and all series sold as childrens literature and would appreciate reviews in the style of the pluggedinonline movie reviews! I like specifics about what words are used, what is sexual content, what is spiritual content… That way I’m truly making an informed decision!

  5. Anonymous

    Only responding because I see that many others are doing
    so recently. The problem with viewing it as a “childrens'” book,
    is that it is not meant to be a childrens’ book, it is for a young
    adult audience, and while adults generally consider them to be the
    same thing, childrens books are usually aimed to children under 10
    while young adult novels are directed to those ages 14-18. Sorry,
    it just irks me when people complain that a book isn’t suitable for
    their children when a book is not marketed towards their child.

  6. B. Howard

    exactly this series is for young adult readers not children, and its found in that section in the stores. when u go to complain about something, make sure u do all the research, not the stuff tht makes it a bad series

  7. anonymous

    I’m a girl and I read the Pendragon series when I was in fifth grade. I’m in eigth grade now. My father and older brother also read the books,and they still let me read them. We are catholic and go to church every week. The books are mostly free of swears, however, there is violence. I loved reading this series and definatley reccomend it, especially to people that like fantacy. P.S. books 1,2,3,and10 are the best!

  8. Taylor

    The Pendragon series is quite amazing. I am now in college and started reading this series when I was in middle school. Even after the first read through they are worth starting to read over again. As some of the posters stated above these books are intended for the midteen age. Coming from that stand point the sensuality and violence was wonderfully done by the author and allows a more realistic feel to the story. Lets be honest, we all remember what it was like growing up and the first time we fell for someone. Showing Bobby not only fight the evils that exist but also allowing him to deal with normal issues that everyone faces allows a depth to the story that would have felt as something was missing if it was left out.

Comments are closed.