Thursday, December 9, 2010
PENDRAGON #1: The Merchant of Death by D.J. MacHale
The story opens with a kiss. That’s right, a KISS! Now, that’s uncommon! It’s between our hero, Bobby Pendragon, and his girlfriend, Courtney. It’s right before the big game that Bobby is a big part of, blah blah blah.
But then, right in the middle of Bobby and Courtney’s kiss, Bobby’s Uncle Press shows up and tells Bobby that he needs his help. A bunch of people are in trouble-no kidding-and he needs Bobby’s help for some reason.
Bobby tags along somewhat reluctantly to a deserted subway, where we meet our villain-Saint Dane.
I just want to say something about this guy. Saint Dane is about the smartest villain I’ve encountered so far. Compare him to Voldemort. Voldemort is smart enough, but he focuses on the big huge take-over-the-world plot rather than work out all the kinks in his kill-Harry plots. Saint Dane isn’t like that….mostly. Sometimes he’s stupid and Bobby is able to use his mistake so to speak, but he does it a lot less often than Voldemort and the rest of them. Bobby and his friends have their work cut out for them with this guy!
Then Bobby gets flumed. Literally. See, Uncle Press and Saint Dane decide to duel it out. Saint Dane, naturally, decides to get a start on his kill-Bobby plot and tries to do just that. Just in the nick of time, though, Bobby jumps into this thing called a flume and gets transported to another dimension.
That dimension just happens to be called Denduron. Bobby finds himself dumped there, alone. Luckily, Uncle Press soon drops in and they set off.
Unluckily, Saint Dane has a little surprise for them, in the form of these creatures called quigs. They take different shapes on different territories, but for now, on Denduron, they’re these weird bear-dog beasts.
The only way to get past them is to sled. Luckily, Bobby is able to fend them off with a very high-pitched dog whistle thingy. Unluckily, though, almost as soon as they reach their destination, Uncle Press is captured by these guys called Bedoowan knights. As he gets dragged off, Bobby blacks out and the journal ends.
But the adventure isn’t over just yet. Back on Earth-actually, it’s technically Second Earth-, Bobby’s best friend Mark is having adventures of his own. He is visited by a mysterious woman who gives him a weird ring with equally weird powers-it delivers Bobby’s journals from Denduron straight to him!
However, there are even more pressing problems than oddly magical jewelry on Mark’s mind. The Pendragons have literally gone missing-not just Bobby, his mom and dad and sister Shannon too! It’s downright abnormal, provoking the police into mounting a full-out search for the missing Pendragons. They find-nothing! Literally. It’s as if the family never existed. No records, no grades, no nothing. It’s truly mindboggling.
Meanwhile, Mark confronts Courtney, who hasn’t seen Bobby since Uncle Press walked in on their kiss. The two go to Bobby’s house, only to find that it’s gone too! Weird. And, as if to underline it, Bobby’s next journal arrives and the adventure continues.
Back on Denduron, Bobby wakes to find himself in the company of two of my favorite heroines anywhere anytime, Uncle Press’s buddy Osa and her daughter, Loor. They may be a mother-and-daughter duo, but these two have complete flip personalities. Loor constantly wants to beat up on anything and anyone who strays in her way-including Bobby. (Don’t worry-they get along later. It even gets interesting at one point, to say the least. But forget I said that, OK?) Osa, on the other hand, is much calmer and constantly wants to stop Loor beating up on Bobby. They both have one thing in common with Bobby and Uncle Press, though-they’re both Travelers, though they aren’t native to Denduron, but another territory called Zadaa.
We then get to see what, exactly, is up on Denduron. The problem is the Bedoowan-remember the guys who took Uncle Press? They’re not the only people on Denduron. There are also the Milago, who are very good at mining a certain material-a mineral called glaze. The Bedoowan have enslaved the Milago, forcing them to mine more and more of the stuff, while they live in luxury.
And that isn’t the least of it. Saint Dane has taken over as the chief miner and has begun a very cruel practice-he force the Milago to mine enough glaze to balance a guy on a scale. If it’s enough, good for them. If it’s enough, the poor guy doesn’t live to see the sunrise.
Fortunately, not all the Bedoowan are bad. After an embarrassing episode involving Bobby, Loor, and a river, we meet the Traveler from Denduron-the Bedoowan knight Alder. And it’s just in time, too-not long after, Bobby, Loor, and Osa are pursued by more of the Bedoowan, and Osa is shot to death with a bunch of arrows.
That’s right. Osa is dead.
And that’s just the beginning.
The battle has barely started, and already Bobby has had second thoughts. All he wants is to go home. He isn’t even sure if he wants to try and save Uncle Press.
But Osa’s death has put things back into perspective for him. He can see that it’s not just Uncle Press’s life at stake. It’s all of their lives, from the highest Bedoowan to the lowliest Milago. You don’t know it yet, but it also has at stake the fate of everything, everywhere, that has ever been or ever will be. That’s the whole basic plot of the Pendragon series, essentially. But that gets explained later. In the meantime, it’s time for some action!
However, Bobby can’t save everything everywhere all on his own. He enlists Loor and Alder to help him rescue Uncle Press. He also enlists Mark and Courtney, who send him a bunch of stuff from Second Earth that Bobby uses to set Uncle Press free.
I have two words for you, Bobby: Bad idea!!
And boy was that a big bad idea. See, you’re not supposed to mix things between territories. We find out why when one of the Milago gets hold of one of Bobby’s batteries and uses it to set a time bomb.
On Denduron, the Milago have one big weapon: an extremely volatile mineral called tak. They were planning to use it to defeat the oppressive Bedoowan once and for all, but there’s a problem: when it explodes, it blows up just about anything, including the nearby Milago village. But thanks to Bobby, the Milago now have a way to time the bomb so the Milago can get away in time.
It’s about to get messy. Bobby, Loor, Alder, and Uncle Press get caught by the Bedoowan and sentenced to death by quig. In the middle of the execution, though, one of the Milago show up hauling a bunch of tak-rigged glaze, prepped and ready for explosion.
Will Bobby be able to figure out a way to deactivate the tak, get the Bedoowan and the Milago to work together again, defeat Saint Dane, and get all his friends out alive to boot? That, my friends, is the question. I know, but I’m not going to tell. You’ll just have to make like Hermione and get the book!
Well, that’s why I like the Pendragon series! And this isn’t the only one, either-it’s got a full ten books! The next one is called Pendragon Book #2: The Lost City of Faar. I’ll probably review it next, OK? Hey, I never said I was going to abandon you until next July! Well, see you then and happy hippogriffs to you!