Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Review of Pengragon book 1 Merchant of Death

I had a long plane trip over Christmas vacation so I brought along a book: Pendragon Book One. I found it annoying initially but it got better as I went along until I truly liked it by the end.  There's some good and some bad and then I'll give my final opinion.

Part of the good is Uncle Press. Bobby describes him as a 'cool uncle' and he certainly is. His demeanor is this 'nonchallant-yet serious' heroism that convinces me that he really could inspire the Milago to rebel against the oppresive Bedoowan. He's also more physically powerful than a typical Obi Wan, possessing skill with both guns and spears. He's so cool he leaves me wondering why he needs Bobby in the first place.

Part of the bad is Bobby. Yes it never bodes well when The Protagonist is part of the bad. For me it was his constant whining. For the bulk of the book most of his dialogue is 'I shouldn't be here, I wanna go home.' However, it's not as bad as it could have been because part of his argument is 'Uncle Press should be doing this; he's better at it'. As annoying as his whining is I can't argue with it. If Press wanted him to be a world saving hero he should have prepared him for it instead of dropping it on him all of a sudden. He's just as confused as to why Press dragged him on this adventure as the reader, which nets him sympathy points. The sequel will likely be better because Bobby will be over that stage of 'reluctant heroness'.

The split narrative (i.e. the journals) are both good and bad. On one hand I've never seen a first person journal interwoven with a third person narrative so it was a fun novelty. Also, it's a plot point and serves a number of purposes.  On the other hand, it kills suspense because the reader knows that Bobby has to live through whatever it is he's writing about in order to write about it. Also, it makes his Totally Radical lingo more apparent and more painful because it's in the narration in addition to his spoken words.

The foreshadowing is the only unambiguously good part about this book. There are a number of things set up in the beginning that become crucially important in the end. It's that wonderful light-bulb-above-the-head thing when I reached that point and the pieces came together. For me, the last few chapters make the entire book worth reading.

Trickster Eric Novels gives "Pendragon Book 1: The Merchant of Death" a C+

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