The Merchant of Death: The Pendragon Series, Book 1 Book Poster Image

The Merchant of Death: The Pendragon Series, Book 1

Stock story and characters, but still gripping.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know


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.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Author:D. J. MacHale
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:March 19, 2006
Number of pages:374

This review of The Merchant of Death: The Pendragon Series, Book 1 was written by

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Teen, 13 years old Written byShe-WolfAlpha November 28, 2010

Awesome fantasy tale

Despite the fact that they have an opened mouth kiss at the beginning, it doesn't go into too much detail. They is some cussing now and then but it isn't anything major. The violence can be handled, for the worst is a man getting eaten and later they find his arm. Gruesome, but, again, not much detail. The teen smoking in a bathroom is an issue, but he a bully and no one likes him much. So a kid would think smoking is for mean people or bullies and people won't like you if you do smoke. It is a good plot and the climaxs are amazing. This book is perfect for fantasy lovers and Harry Potter fans. I just finished the second book, and I'm dying for some romance since only a wink happens in the book after this. If anyone has read the series, please tell me if there's any sparks in the future.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old February 19, 2011
Pendragon: The Merchant Of Death is a great book. Fans of harry potter will love it. The is moderate cursing and a lot of violence (a man gets pushed down a giant hole, a beast blows up and meaty chunks of it are everywhere). Also there is one brief kiss at the begining.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written by:)THE JOE ATTACK(: October 5, 2011


This book is great. How do i know? Well i never like to read but if u hold this book out ill read it till i read it *20 but anyway i think you should let you child read this. Why because, its full of adventure and excitement but there is mostly violence but it tells a good way to be a good teamworker. Good luck!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models