Quillan Games (Pendragon) by D J MacHale
|Quillan Games (Pendragon) by D J MacHale|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: And so we go, to a seventh entrant in the series (fourth for me) which again adds intrigue to the grand arc of the plot while also satisfies with a hefty new world, this time of lethal game-playing.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 512||Date: May 2009|
|Publisher: Simon and Schuster|
I would like to start with an admission. I know by now, having read three earlier books in this series, the set-up. We have a demonic entity creating chaos and destroying life itself, territory by territory, and a young teen and his friends, originally scattered across said territories one by one, combatting the nasty and putting each and every world to rights. What I don't know is to what extent this is a religious allegory. I saw a lot of sloth in book four (or, if you prefer, the first commandment), and gluttony and covetousness in books five and six, which had similar plots. But I wasn't helped by the ending of book six, in wondering if this is a straightforward Christian tale, disguised as teen fantasy. Does acolyte equate to apostle? How messianic are the characters going to turn out to be? Do the ten planets and ten adventures here point us to the Decalogue?
But rest assured, there is no need to have read any of the Bible before this book, or even the first six books in this series, although it would be a little foolish to miss out on so many good action scenes, dramatic quandaries and dangers for our hero, Bobby Pendragon. This individual planet, Quillan, takes us back to a more sci-fi based story, as he faces first a host of robotic critters - left as usual by Saint Dane - and then a bland, futuristic world run by a huge monopoly (an Ultra-WalMart) where life is ruled by gaming. We see life hang on an arcade game, people chased by officials for not honouring bets, and an unfortunate circumstance for Bobby to live through - is he truly game for this adventure?
Forced to play along in their own way back home on Earth are his best friends, and the flaws in this being book seven are that we face a lot of recapping of their recent goings-on as well as Bobby's, as their story gets more and more important as the cycle goes on. Still, I guess it ramps up the tension as the hints already dropped as to what will happen there are yielding results earlier than we might have thought.
The whole series has been a very good premise, and I really enjoyed the drip-feed of intrigue and mystery about the whole thing. It's a series to get your teeth into, lick your lips with the possibilities of the climax, and I'm sure some regret when the whole lot is eventually over. Such that I can't recommend this book as a stand-alone purchase - yet there is a feisty drama to be played out with all the games and the society on Quillan.
It's also a little awkward to recommend highly to a fellow fan of the series - I really wish his editor and publishers had said 'hang the friendly outlook, accept this is 7/10 and give us what we need'. There is too much going over books five and six to welcome in the newbie - and questions still remaining from those that we don't find the answers to - and as a result this gets the unlikely and unwarranted length of 480pp.
Beyond that there is little to fault. After two similar fantasies we have a sci-fi based drama, with technological variants on Gladiator games, all televised to a ponderously pliant society. There's Bobby's growing hubris, and as always dramatic action that uses the first person narrative to get us empathising and right in the picture.
Beyond that, to quote Pendragon himself, yet another confusing twist had been thrown into the soup. What has happened to Earth? Why do we still know nothing more about the pictures now appearing in the flume rides? And when Bobby gets a skin-tight metal armband planted firmly round his bicep here, how can he change his long-sleeve T-shirts? (And don't get me started on his oft-mentioned boxer shorts...)
I had mixed feelings about this book. It did what it had to do and kept me up past my usual bed-time, but that's partly down to it being too much of a slight return to prior volumes. I guess it comes down to another four star adventure, but in a five star series. It is getting so delightfully convoluted. Anything and everything could become a Chekhov's gun, and as we have seen with past failures for Bobby, anything and everything might be expected from MacHale as he leads us through his interlocking drama.
For that I have a great admiration for the series, and I think anyone dipping into it would easily be likewise converted - religiously or otherwise.
I must again thank Simon and Schuster for my review copy.
You can read more book reviews or buy Quillan Games (Pendragon) by D J MacHale at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Quillan Games (Pendragon) by D J MacHale at Amazon.com.
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