Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Merchant of Death (Pendragon #1) - a review (kind of)

The Merchant of Death
D.J. McHale
384 pages

Sometime back in the early 2000s when Harry Potter hysteria was reaching its climax, and the first Gossip Girl book came out, and the last His Dark Materials book was released; a series of books was nudged in there without notice.

We've had our Percy Jacksons, our Hermoine Grangers, there's been a Gossip Girl, there's been hunger games and mazes and some questionable brother and sister plot lines, and an entire decade of books about a kid named Bobby Pendragon.

Now, you might ask yourself as I did when hearing about this series, who the f*ck is Bobby Pendragon? Is he a wizard? No. Is he battling an oppressive government? No. Well, okay, kinda. Does he have super powers? Kind of. Is he a vampire? No. This kid sounds as boring and plain as Vanilla Ice at a Butter Appreciation Festival.

But not really.

Let me slide us back to 1995. Back in those days there was a television show called, well, Sliders. About a group of people who slide into other dimensions like how Kayne West slips into a conversation; loudly and rudely, no matter how rude they're saying they aren't.* (the characters had a "no interference" policy with each reality, but somehow ended up screwing everything up by interfering).

So this Bobby Pendragon kid is a traveler. He's a Slider of sorts. He travels to other dimensions and times to territories that are on the verge of becoming extremely chaotic or all peaceful and Vulcan-like. Whatever. The book also switches between first person and third person, because Bobby is writing a journal and sending it to his friends on Second Earth (why we aren't First Earth is never made apparent)**. Whatever.

I have one serious question. Who the f*ck is Bobby Pendragon? How does a series of TEN BOOKS that were released between 2001 and 2010 completely escape my notice? You're telling me that in the decade of shopping on Amazon, of going to the library, of talking to other readers, of blogging, of going to bookstores that I've never heard of this kid?

It's not only that, I enjoyed the heck out of Bobby's adventure. There's mysteries of the universe to solve. There's badly used 2000s slang that we all regret using. He doesn't have an iPhone! He isn't concerned with Twitter or Facebook! He doesn't kiss girls, he macks on them. Macks. He macks them!

Seriously! He uses that word! Macks!

I think I'm a traveler. Or a slider. I think I've stumbled into another universe, one where Bobby Pendragon is a reality. One where my nostalgia for a simpler era of YA novels lives. I'm okay with that.

Three Out of Five Fucks Given
(Full Disclosure: I purchased this and read this on my Kindle)
*Universal Truth #1,592: The people who claim not to be rude are often the rudest. "I'm not a rude person, but your sweater totally doesn't match your pants." "Yes, yes, you are very rude for saying that."
**I wanted to chant "We're number one! We're number one!" the entire time, but apparently we're a huge number two.
Note: I apologize for any book history I might have messed up. 


  1. Heh. I've had this series on my radar for a while, but like you said, with the advent of HP, PJ, and other things, it just kept getting put off. But, sounds like it would be a fun series to race through and relive the iphone-free charms of early 2000s.

    --Sharry from

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