The Merchant of Death: The Pendragon Series, Book 1

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Merchant of Death: The Pendragon Series, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Stock story and characters, but still gripping.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 48 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.


Lots, some fairly grisly: a man runs in front of a train, another is eaten by a monster, fantasy battles, various human and creature deaths, by spears, arrows, etc.


One long, open-mouthed kiss.


Mild, infrequent swearing.


Milky Way bars, L. L. Bean, The Gap.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A teen smokes a cigarette.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's a fair amount of fantasy violence here, and numerous killings by spear, arrow, and explosives.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byPerryGF November 3, 2019

Great start to an excellent series

A really excellent series with a lot of surprises and twists. Mostly action. Very creative setting. It starts with an intense kissing scene, but that is the ste... Continue reading
Adult Written byktscarlett1982 December 23, 2011

Not for 11 year olds

The mention of the playboy magazine really bothered me. Not for my 11 year old boy definitley.
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2020

This book is fantastic! Highly recommended!

I really enjoyed this book. It is quite a page turner at some points in the book. This has fast paced action, high intensity scenes, and much more. The story li... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySunshine 14 November 20, 2018


Definitely one of the best books I have ever read! I read it when I was eight, and I am so glad I reread it again. It is sad, beautiful, and hilarious, and it a... Continue reading

What's the story?

When Bobby Pendragon is taken by his Uncle Press to an abandoned subway station in the Bronx, he discovers that he, like his uncle, is a Traveler, with the ability to ride "flumes" through space and time. Press takes Bobby through a flume to a world called Denduron, where an evil Traveler called Saint Dane is inciting war between the ruling Bedoowan and the virtually enslaved Milago miners. But almost as soon as they arrive, Press is captured by the Bedoowan and scheduled for execution.

Bobby doesn't understand anything of what's going on, and all he wants to do is go home. But, challenged by Loor, a warrior-Traveler from another world, he hatches a plan to rescue Press from the Bedoowan stronghold. Getting Press back, though, is only the beginning of stopping Saint Dane's plans for sowing chaos across the planet and throughout the universe.

Is it any good?

MacHale is the creator of such shows as Are You Afraid of the Dark and Ghostwriter, and his screen work has given him a shrewd sense of pacing. Though the book is overlong, it will keep young fans of the fantasy/adventure genre breathlessly turning the pages. The story careens along entertainingly, and parts of it are quite exciting.

The downside of the video connection is that the characters are from Central Casting, and the plot follows a stock formula. It's a good formula, as formulas go, but it does give the books a certain been-there-done-that feel, exacerbated by the bizarre refusal of everyone to explain anything to Bobby, an obvious and annoying plot device. Still, it's plenty of fun, and young fans of the genre aren't looking for surprises anyway.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the formulaic plot and stock characters.

  • Can you think of other stories that follow this same formula?

  • Also, the females in this story are all pretty much Amazons. Is this an empowering portrayal?

Book details

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