Review: The Merchant of Death

Series: Pendragon: #1

I know I’ve read The Merchant of Death / the Pendragon books before, but it’s been long enough that I couldn’t even say for sure when. It might have even been back when I was the same age as the eponymous protagonist Bobby Pendragon rather than more than twice that. I think I enjoyed it quite a bit though, so worth giving it a chance to reread.

On the plus side, the main characters were well enough done for the most part. They all felt distinct and for the most part felt real. The main counterpoints to that is the ‘big bad’ of the book Saint Dane–you can almost hear the mustache twirling and mwahahaing–and the ’little* bad’–an overweight caricature of the ‘corrupt queen’, constantly eating and laughing at the slaughter

On the downside, there are a lot of cliches going around (see Queen Caricature) and a lot of the worldbuilding just doesn’t make that much sense when you really get into it. We never get an answer to just what would be so bad if this one event on this one world of all space and time could lead to the downfall of everything; nor do we get much into how and why the Travelers work they way they do. It probably worked better a decade ago… but we’ll let it go for the moment.

On top of that, the book is written half in a journal style (the interesting half) and half from the point of view of Bobby’s friends left back home, reading the journal. Honestly, it feels like padding. There’s an abrupt slowdown every time it happens. I’d like to see an edit with only the main storyline.

Overall though, I’m glad I reread it and I’ll give at least the second a try. It’s not my favorite series ever, but amusing enough to spend the time.