Thursday, July 03, 2008

Pendragon: Book Nine- Raven Rise by D.J. MacHale

Bobby Pendragon risked his life to trap the rogue traveller Saint Dane on Ibara, collapsing the flume in an avalanche of rock. Confident he has trapped his nemesis, he spends time with the villagers rebuilding after the enormous battles with Saint Dane's army. This leads to Bobby eventually becoming invited to be part of the village council, and he accepts.

For Mark and Courtney, they are on First Earth, trying to prevent the technology Mark invented from being used to make the robots that Saint Dane has been using to conquer the territories, but they ultimately fail. The company they contracted with, even though Mark destroyed the prototype and the plans, has been able to reverse engineer his design and refuses to consider giving up this new technology. Giving that idea up as lost, Mark, his parents, and Courtney return to New York. But on the trip back over by ocean liner, Nevva Winter shows up and threatens to kill Mark's parents unless he gives up his traveller ring. Mark, after some thinking, does so, but wonders why she wants it.

Meanwhile, a sickly boy named Alexander is dying. But he is visited by a Raven bearing a strange ring...

Once back in New York, Mark and Courtney are approached by Patrick, a traveller from Third Earth. Third Earth was once peaceful and serene, but now has become a dump full of trash and broken things, where the library Patrick once worked at has become a shell of its former self. Trying to understand why things have changed, and what caused them to change, he discovers that strange men in red have destroyed all records of the 21st century. Gaining the trust of the last librarian, the man gives Patrick the cover of a book marked with the five-pointed star of the travellers. This is what the men in red have been looking for, and later, the men come back to once more beat up the librarian and demand the book cover. Patrick manages to escape and seek Mark and Courtney.

All three return to Second Earth, but the abandoned house that the flume empties out into is no longer abandoned, and the occupant fires his gun at them as they flee the house. Since they have been away, Second Earth has been taken over by a strange sect of people tattooed with the mark of the Travellers, whose philosophy is that only the exceptional people deserve to have all the benefits of civilization. Anyone else deserves to be in prison camps where they are forced to work for their betters. Of course, Saint Dane is behind the whole thing, and he's somehow broken out of his supposed imprisonment on Ibara with the help of Nevva Winter, so Bobby must follow him and take up the sword once again.

But Saint Dane's plans are far advanced. Can Bobby pull off the defeat of Saint Dane's plans, or is this the end of the separate territories and the start of convergence?

This book has a very dark tone. Unlike the other books in the series, where Bobby felt he at least had a chance of defeating Saint Dane, the rogue traveller seems to have all the cards... this time, at least. And Bobby is starting more than a day late and a dollar short. As Saint Dane's machinations pile up, things start to look more and more hopeless, when at the end, Saint Dane takes away Bobby's last hope as the man opposing Saint Dane's plans turns out to be a transformed Nevva Winter, and she is working for him, enabling the last hope to be snuffed out like a candle flame.

But when you're at the literal bottom, the only place to go from here is up. Saint Dane thinks he has won, but Bobby has just started to fight back...

This book was a bit depressing to read, but sets up the last book of the series so well that I definitely plan to read the final book. It also brought up a lot of questions, such as, how is Saint Dane able to mess with time, and pass on that power to his compatriot Nevva Winter? We have already seen that several of the territories are merely time shifted versions of similar territories. First Earth is Earth in the 1920's and 30's, Second Earth is Earth of the Present Day, and Third Earth is the Earth of the Future. I hope these questions will be answered, though I fear the territories will never be the same.

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