Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Middle-Grade Review: Pendragon Before the War

May 12, 2009, is a big day for fans of D.J. MacHale’s time and space travel adventure series, Pendragon. Today is the release date for Book 10, The Soldiers of Halla, the final book in the series. I haven’t read this latest release yet, but I did recently read two add-ons to the series that will satisfy any Pendragon fan looking for more. (If you’re unfamiliar with the Pendragon series, take a look at my earlier review).

Three new paperbacks were released earlier this year called Pendragon Before the War, all prequels to the main Pendragon series. I recently read Book One of the Travelers, written by Carla Jablonski, and Book Two of the Travelers, written by Walter Sorrells. Each of these quick reads provides the background story for three of the Travelers from different territories, filling in the details of their lives before they became Travelers.

In Book One, we read the back stories of Kasha, the klee from Eelong; Gunny Van Dyke from First Earth (my personal favorite); and Vo Spadar from the water territory of Cloral. A third of the book is devoted to each of them, with details of the life-changing adventure that led to their becoming Travelers. Bobby’s Uncle Press is a presence in each of the stories, introducing the new Travelers – or in some cases, their predecessor – to the wider world of Halla and the responsibilities of being a Traveler.

In this passage from Kasha’s story, Kasha’s father, Seegen, has just met Press and learned about the Travelers. On Eelong, the ruling race are klees – large cats with speech and well-developed technology – and humans belong to a slave race known as gars. Here’s part of the illuminating conversation between Seegen and Kasha:

“What is that?” Kasha asked. She noticed he was wearing a cord around his neck with a large ring dangling from it. The ring had some kind of stone in the center, and what looked like etchings all around the stone. She’d never seen it before.

Seegen looked down at the ring. He took a moment before answering. “It is a gift. And a responsibility.”

“The ring is a responsibility?” Nothing her father was saying was making any sense.

“I had an extraordinary experience today,” Seegen said. He stood and paced. “I met someone very unusual.”

“Who?” Perhaps this meeting would explain her father’s odd behavior. Could he have met with some of the Council of Klee?

“A gar. A gar named ‘Press’.”

“The gar had a name?” Kasha hadn’t realized gars had names. Then she remembered that many families named their household gars. They often developed strong bonds with them. “Whose gar is it?”

“This gar is not owned by anyone.”

“A rogue?”

“No! He is his own person. He is not like any gar I have ever known. Ever imagined.” He shook his head. “Nothing is.”

“Nothing is what?”

“As I thought.”

In Book Two, I read the stories of Aja Killian and the addicting virtual reality of Lifelight; Alder, the Bedwooan knight; and Elli Winter of Quillan. Book Three (which I haven’t read), written by Walter Sorrells, includes back-stories for Loor, Patrick Mac, and Siri Remudi.

Although all three Before the War books are written by other authors, they are based on D.J. MacHale’s books (and written with his supervision) and are even true to his writing style. I couldn’t tell they weren’t actually written by him. I enjoyed the prequels very much and would recommend them to any Pendragon fan who can’t get enough of Halla and its Travelers. In fact, just writing this review has reminded me of how much I love this series – I can’t wait to read the final book!

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