09 June 2009

Book Review: Pendragon 5 and 6

Title: Black Water
Author: D.J. MacHale
Published: 2004 Pages: 427
Genre: YAL, SciFi
Rating: 3.5/5

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The fifth book in the Pendragon series, Black Water strays from the first four in one way which to me is very intriguing. Much like the past books, the central conflict revolves around two tribes of people, but on Black Water, the controlling group are human-sized, intelligent cats and the oppressed population are seemingly unintelligent mute humans. Fascinating.

Obviously, the conflict involves the human slaves rising up against their cat masters, but it is not that simple. The humans are not trying to destroy their masters, merely escape to a legendary, if not mythical, land referred to as Black Water. Saint Dane is of course there to wreak havoc and he does so by committing a Traveler sin - bringing items from one territory to another. Unfortunately, Saint Dane is not the only Traveler doing this. As a matter of fact, the "good guys" are doing something much worse.

I really enjoyed this story. The number of characters and their personalities were impressive, and the plot was interesting and more complex than I first thought it would be.

Title: The Rivers of Zadaa
Author: D.J. MacHale
Published: 2005 Pages: 405
Genre: YAL, SciFi
Rating: 3/5

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The Rivers of Zadaa is the sixth book of MacHale's Pendragon series which chronicles the adventures of Bobby Pendragon, a teenage boy who is on a quest to prevent the destruction of Halla (all times and places).

In this installment, Bobby is on Zadaa, home of Loor, his friend and fellow traveler. Saint Dane, the bad guy, has fueled the fire to cause war between the two tribes of Zadaa: the Batu and the Rokador. The two tribes have lived in relative harmony for generations, but a water shortage has pushed relations to the edge.

This part of the plot was interesting, if a bit predictable. The real interest for me in this book was the growth of the protagonist, Bobby Pendragon. In the first five books, Bobby is more of an unwitting, unwilling hero who enjoys the excitement of these adventures while admitting to being perfectly terrified and rather unsure of himself. In this, the sixth book, he seems to be growing into a more mature Traveler, discovering his own abilities and strength.

MacHale doesn't go far with this plotline; it is more hinted at with Bobby's first training in combat and a strange event at the end which I won't detail here. I'm betting the seventh book explores this further.

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