Pendragon: The Merchant of Death by D. J . MacHale is about 14 year old Bobby Pendragon who is going to save the world. It all starts when his uncle, Uncle Press, visits his house before he goes to a basketball game. He tells Bobby that there are some people who need their help and asks him to come with him. After putting an ample amount of thought, Bobby agrees to go with Press. Press takes Bobby to an abandoned subway station in Bronx. Bobby is flabbergasted by the place where his uncle took him, but Press reassures him to trust in him.
As they head into the abandoned subway station, Bobby and Press come upon Saint Dane, who will be the main part of the conflict later on in the story. Since Bobby has no clue who Saint Dane is, Saint Dane controls a homeless man to jump in front of a subway train just to show Bobby what he’s in for. Or as he says in the story ” Just wanted to give the boy a taste of what is in store for him”( MacHale page 28). He attacks both Bobby and Press. Press tells Bobby to find a door with a star on it and to yell Denduron.
When Bobby and Press arrive in Denduron, he demands an explanation for what is going on. Press explains that he is a Traveler, which are basically people who voyaged through the universe doing battle against evil. Press also explains the concept of the term ” territory”. Denduron was one territory and Earth( or Second Earth as mentioned in the story) was another. Travelers used “flumes” to arrive at the territories. ” When you travel to the territories through flumes, you’re not just going from place to place, you’re moving through space and time”( MacHale page 50).
Bobby observes that Denduron is exactly like Earth( oxygen, gravity, landscapes, etc), and Press replies that all the territories are similar to Earth but different in a certain way. For example, Denduron had three suns; one to the east, the north, and south. Besides that Denduron has similar characteristics as Earth. Press instructed him to change from his clothes into Denduron clothing. The reason is that they have to fit in like everyone else. Press finds a bobsled, two spears, and a dog whistle.
As Bobby and Press start to descend from the mountain, they are attacked by a group of quigs( Wild animals that are special to each territory. Appearance of quigs vary from the different territories. Ex. On Earth the quigs are like dogs). They manage to get past the quigs, but their sled crashes. Press is captured by Bedwoodan knights and Bobby passes out. Bobby is rescued by Osa, a traveler warrior woman, and her daughter Loor, also a traveler and dislikes Bobby throughout most of the story. They are joined by Alder, a Bedwoodan knight who’s actually a traveler from Denduron in disguise.
All three of them explain the conflict that Denduron is in. There are two tribes, the Milago and Bedwoodan. The Milago receive vile and cruel treatment from the Bedwoodan. The Milago live very poor in little huts without running water or even outhouses, and have to mine for glaze( a valuable stone) every single hour of the day in order to meet the needs of Queen Kagan, the ruler of the Bedwoodans. If the need is not met, one of the miners is selected at random and executed by being pushed into an abandoned mineshaft.
The Bedwoodans, on the other hand, live in luxury and have more advanced tools and technology. Bobby also learns that Press will be executed. Bobby teams up with Loor and Alder to develop a plan to help save Press. During this time, Bobby realizes how luxurious the Bedwoodans live compared to the Milago. After rescuing Press, Bobby learns that bringing items from Second Earth to Denduron was a huge mistake. While Bobby was sleeping in a ventilation shaft before the rescue attempt for his uncle, Figgs, a Milago merchant, stole his flashlight from his bag.
They discover that Figgs had been selling tak, an unstable explosive, to the Milago people. The final part to build a weapon that could destroy the Bedwoodan( and probably the Milago as well) is the battery and the switch from the flashlight, which Bobby accidentally supplied them. The Milago’s was to present the tak bomb to the Bedwoodan during the transfer ceremony, where the Bedwoodan would receive the mined glaze, disguised as a large mine cart full of glaze, and destroy the remaining Bedwoodan with smaller amounts of tak.
Bobby, Loor, Alder, and Press mange to stop Rellin, the chief miner, from setting off the bomb. All of the Bedwoodan and Milago evacuate to a field where the battle between the Bedwoodan and Milago tribes begins. Bobby discovers that the tak can be dissolved in water, so he and Loor pour water on all of the tak. The tak is gone except for one ball inside Bobby’s pocket. Figgs lures them into the mines, where they discover a huge amount of tak. They realize that Figgs is actually Saint Dane. The real Figgs died when one of his mines backfired.
Saint Dane sold tak to the Milago disguised as Figgs and encouraging them to rebel against the Bedwoodan. At the same time, he disguised himself as Mallos, Queen Kagan’s chief advisor, influencing the Bedwoodan to turn against their neighbors the Milago. Saint Dane’s plan is to destroy the barriers between the territories of Halla, which is basically every territory, person, and living thing. He traps Bobby and Loor inside the mine. Bobby develops an escape plan and throws the small ball of tak he had in his pocket. Saint Dane escapes the explosion by using a flume that Bobby and Loor found in the cavern.
The two are about to use the flume as well ,but a Saint Dane sends them a killer shark, causing them to be trapped inside. To make matters worse, the strong force of the water pushes Loor into a cavern wall knocking her unconscious. Bobby is able to escape the explosion by pushing a mine cart , with the unconscious Loor in it, through a ventilation shaft. When Bobby returns to shore, he finds out that even though the explosion caused prodigious damage most of the people still survived, including his uncle and Alder.
The Bedwoodan castle is destroyed , most of the Milago huts a burned, and the mine is closed forever. Therefore, the two tribes will have to unite to reconstruct their homes, and team up to improve each other’s lives . Bobby travels back to Second Earth thinking that he can live his normal life again. However, he discovers that his house is missing, and there’s not a trace of evidence that supports the existence of Bobby nor his family. Press reassures him that he’ll see his family again, and now Bobby has to fulfill his duties as a Traveler.