Underrated Gems: The Pendragon Adventure
In 2002, while everyone and their mother’s brother’s aunt’s sister’s cousin’s fairy-god granddad was anxiously awaiting the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire due the next year, the beginning of a new series of novels for youth quietly slipped onto the shelves under the UK-centric radar, overlooked and unnoticed. But then, I myself only discovered said books about two years ago as a senior in high school…
The Pendragon Adventure by D.J. McHale is a fantasy/adventure thriller with some sci-fi here and there. The first book, The Merchant of Death, introduces the staggeringly normal hero, Bobby, at age fourteen with his whole life ahead of him. His biggest concern is a basketball tournament and girl.
That’s when everything went wrong. Via your typical wise-old-man archetype, Uncle Press, Bobby is flung into a power struggle of alternate realities. Bobby is a Traveler, a person who can travel between the worlds, or “territories.” His mission: Confront the demon Saint Dane who is manipulating the various races towards war and destruction. A supporter of the darker side of human nature, SD believes that everything there is or was, collectively called Halla, must be destroyed so that he may rebuild it, according to his own designs. As each territory reaches a critical turning point, Saint Dane arrives, hoping to lead its people toward self-destruction. Bobby travels to the ten territories to thwart Saint Dane's plans, along with each territory’s native Traveler and various acolytes. But that’s only the beginning.
I found the first book a little lacking honestly, because, as a reader, a lot of world building and explanation makes for slow progress. However, from The Lost City of Faar and out the action picks up and never lets go. I burned through the series in a matter of weeks. Once you think you know the formula or the set up, twists, setbacks, and complications keep you guessing. At one point, several really, I found myself almost angry and ready to throw the book from me in a why-can’t-anything-go-right-with-this-kid-just-once kind of misery, but suspense kept the pages turning.Continued on the next page