The Merchant of Death: The Pendragon Series, Book 1
What parents need to know
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?