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Book of the Month - Pendragon: The Merchant of Death


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Welcome to yet another installment of Destructoid’s Unofficial Book of the Month “Club”. For this month I have chosen a book that is very important to me. It is the first installment of the Pendragon series, my all-time favorite novel series. I discovered them in my tween-age years and I have loved them ever since. And so for this month I have decided to share it with all of you.

This Month’s Book:

The Merchant of Death

Pendragon: The Merchant of Death by D.J. MacHale

384 pages (a bit long, I know)

Genres: Scifi and Fantasy

Physical, Digital, and Audio copies on Amazon. You can even get a CD audio book if you want.

I discovered Pendragon in the sixth grade. I actually started on Book 2, since I borrowed it from another student (long, weird story that I’d rather not try to explain). I ended up loving it so I started acquiring new copies at our school’s book fair. Although I actually wouldn’t get The Merchant of Death until I was about halfway through the series (book fairs never had the first book, my mom found it at a book store in New York). Anyway, that’s the basic version of how I got into the series, now let’s talk about the first book.

Pendragon: The Merchant of Death is the story of Bobby Pendragon, a fairly normal high school teenager who gets caught up in an inter-dimensional battle to save the multiverse. The story is actually told from more than one perspective. Part of the story is told through diaries that Bobby writes while on his journey, recording his adventure. He sends these journals to his best friend Mark Dimond, whose perspective the other half of the story is told from as he awaits the next set of journals from Bobby. I can’t explain much more without getting into spoiler-y territory. But basically Bobby is on a quest to save ten different worlds (called territories) from the threat of a horrible villain. 

The way the book is written offers two unique perspectives that I feel makes this series so unique. From Bobby’s point of view, we get to go on a fantastical adventure fraught with danger and mystery. From Mark’s, we see how he deals with his best (and really only) friend being gone and trying to adjust to his new normal. Bobby avoids horrifying beasts and has to adjust to a new world he doesn’t understand. Mark has to deal with his childhood bully with his childhood friend no longer there to protect him. They both, in their own way, have to grow up and learn how to live without one another and make new friends (and enemies).

The journal method of writing also offers a lot in the way of tension. When the story is being told from Mark’s perspective, he is always waiting for the next batch of journals to arrive. He wants to find out what has been happening with his best friend. Especially if the last batch ended on a cliffhanger. And they often do. But I feel like, as the reader, you’re never that upset to shift from Bobby to Mark. While Bobby’s journey may be far more adventurous and extraordinary, Mark’s adventures are also quite engaging. It helps that Mark is a fairly relatable character (at least he was for tween-teen me). 

D.J. MacHale is a wonderful author that managed to create such a unique and interesting tale in the Pendragon series. I fell in love with the worlds he created, and so I want to share it with the Destructoid community. I hope you will check out the first book of the series, and if you enjoy it will check out the rest of the books as well. Especially since I don’t think I’ll be giving any of the other books a Book of the Month spotlight. Just no way to do so without spoiling things I think. However, I might change my mind on it. I guess we’ll just have to see.

See you next month with another book and happy reading!

Bonus Author Trivia!

  • Has worked in the television industry as an Executive Producer. Some of the shows he created include: Are You Afraid of the Dark?; Chris Cross; Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective; Tower of Terror; Ghostwriter; and The Strange Legacy of Cameron Cruz.
  • His first job in show business was writing After School Specials for ABC.
  • Used to work as a trophy engraver, a job he has given to some of his book characters as a sort of "Easter egg".
  • Didn't enjoy writing until his college screenwriting professor changed his mind. 
  • Pendragon: The Merchant of Death was the first book he wrote by himself. Previously he had co-written The Tale of the Nightly Neighbors with Kathleen Derby. The book is an adaptation of episode eight of the Are You Afraid of the Dark? series of the same name.
  • He has four other book series under his belt besides Pendragon. They are Morpheus RoadSYLO, Voyagers, and The Library.
  • The first Pendragon novel was adapted into a graphic novel. It was a commercial bomb and so no further books were adapted.
  • D.J. Machale has mentioned the unlikelihood of Pendragon being adapted to film. Despite his film/TV background he is against bringing Pendragon to the screen. He said he felt that fans had their own ideas of how characters and locations would look and he felt that nothing they did would be able to satisfy them. To him, it was better that Pendragon stay as a book rather than disappoint fans and their expectations.

DJ Machale Quote

- Thank You For Reading, And Remember: Hot Dogs are Sandwiches. #TeamSandwich

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About dephoenixone of us since 10:41 AM on 03.01.2016

Former Head of Destructoid's Unofficial Book Club, Former Head of the Unofficial Book of the Month Club, Wes's Unofficial Father, and Self-Appointed Supreme High Priest of #TeamSandwich.

Super Mario Bros. 3 was the very first game (I remember) playing. Since then I have been a big fan of the medium.

I'm an avid gamer and aspiring writer. RPGs and platformers are my bread and butter, but I'm also a fair action/adventure guy too. Really there are no genres I outright dislike, just individual games. Every game genre offers something different, and I've come to love the variety. I feel the same way with comics, movies, manga, etc. Not really hung up on "genres", I just like what I like, and I don't care what genre it is.

Recently I've been trying to "break out of my shell" by getting out of my comfort zone and trying things I normally would not. Because of this I have discovered lots of new games, books, manga, shows, and movies that I now love. I do my part now to try to help others expand their horizons and get out of their own familiar space and try new things.

Destructoid has been a big help in getting me to broaden my horizons, and interact with more people outside my familiar circle of friends and acquaintances. I've come to love this site, and look forward to sharing more with you knuckleheads.