The Merchant of Death is the first book in The Pendragon Adventure. It is primarily set on the territory of Denduron, and otherwise set in the fictional town of Stony Brook, Connecticut on Second Earth.
Bobby Pendragon is a seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy. He has a family, a home, and even Marley, his beloved dog. But there is something very special about Bobby.
He is going to save the world.
And not just Earth as we know it. Bobby is slowly starting to realize that life in the cosmos isn't quite what he thought it was. And before he can object, he is swept off to an alternate dimension known as Denduron, a territory inhabited by strange beings, ruled by a magical tyrant, and plagued by dangerous revolution.
If Bobby wants to see his family again, he's going to have to accept his role as savior, and accept it wholeheartedly. Because, as he is about to discover, Denduron is only the beginning....
— Blurb on the back of The Merchant of Death
The story begins when Bobby is running late for his county semi-final basketball game. He opens the door to leave and finds Courtney Chetwynde, his crush since grade school. She confesses her feelings for him, and they kiss. Bobby is ripped away from this happy moment by his Uncle Press, who tells him some people need his help and takes him to an abandoned subway station.
At the subway station, Bobby sees Saint Dane for the first time, who's taken on the form of a city cop. He uses mind control to kill a homeless person, then transforms back into his normal form. Bobby runs away as Saint Dane and Press shoot at each other. He flumes to Denduron alone and finds himself on top of a snowy mountain. When Press gets to Denduron, he tells Bobby a little bit about being a Traveler and the flume. They have to leave quickly to avoid the quigs, so they take a sled down the mountain. The quigs chase them and they crash at the bottom of the mountain. Bobby sees Press get kidnapped by some knights on horseback, then he passes out.
Mark is trying to sleep one night when a woman (who is later revealed to be Osa) enters his bedroom and gives him a ring, saying it's from Bobby. Osa uses Traveler persuasion to make him fall asleep before he can ask any questions. The next day, Mark goes to school hoping to talk to Bobby, but he isn't there. Other students ask Mark why Bobby missed the game, but Mark doesn't have an answer for them. The ring Osa gave him starts twitching, so Mark runs to the bathroom and sees it deliver a journal for the first time.
After reading part of the journal, he runs to the gym to find Courtney. She confirms that she kissed Bobby and saw his Uncle Press the previous night. Mark asks her to go to Bobby's house with him, and when they arrive they discover that his entire house is missing. Mark tells Courtney to read the journal, and she does.
Courtney doesn't believe the story at first, but she is willing to help Mark find out what happened to Bobby and his family. They call his parent's workplaces and his sister's school, but they all say they didn't come in that day. Mark and Courtney decide to go to the police, who think they're playing a prank because the Pendragons were never in their system. Before they have a chance to convince them to help, though, the ring delivers another journal.
Bobby wakes up in a hut in the Milago village. He meets Loor and Osa, who presumably brought him to the hut. Osa uses her powers to heal Bobby's wounds. Bobby leaves the hut and runs into Figgis, who unsuccessfully tries to sell him a sweater. Osa, Loor, and Bobby walk through the village, and Osa tells Bobby about the Traveler's power to hear all languages as their own. She also tells him that the Milago are being oppressed by the Bedoowan and treated as slaves. The group then hears the drums that signal a transfer ceremony, where one of the miners is weighed against the day's haul of glaze to see if they mined enough. The group runs back to the village to watch. Bobby quickly realizes that Mallos, the Bedoowan coordinating the ceremony, is actually Saint Dane. Mallos makes it impossible for the miners to match the man's weight, and the miner is killed by being pushed down a mineshaft. After seeing the horror, Bobby begins crying and yelling, asking Osa why they didn't try to save him. Osa tells him that they couldn't or they would be punished. Bobby insists that they should still do something, and Osa says that the Milago are planning to revolt against the Bedoowan, and that Bobby is going to help them. Bobby refuses, deciding that he's going to flume back home the first chance he gets.
Later, Osa asks Bobby if there's anyone back home whom he trusts above all else. He tells her about Mark. Osa then tells him to begin writing his journals. After he finishes Journal #1, Osa shows him how to send it with a Traveler ring. Bobby asks a few questions about how the ring works, but Osa doesn't give him many answers. She leaves, telling Bobby there's a stream where he can bathe himself if he wants to. He runs into Figgis again while walking toward the stream, who gives him a cryptic message about how "tak" is the way. At the stream, Bobby hears music and goes to investigate, finding Loor humming to herself while washing clothes. He doesn't interact with her for fear of being attacked. He stands there for a while, until he hears someone behind him who turns out to be a Bedoowan knight. Bobby promptly freaks out, tackling Loor and sending them both into the river. After saving her from the rapids, Bobby expects praise from Loor but is instead scolded for "saving" them from Alder, the Traveler from Denduron. Alder finds them again and tells Bobby that they've been expecting him to lead the revolution against the Bedoowan. Bobby refuses, saying he has no idea how. Alder also tells them that Press is scheduled to be executed the following day. Loor becomes enraged, telling Bobby it's time he saw the truth. She takes him back to Osa and tells her that he needs to see the mines. In the mines, Bobby sees dozens of miners laying on the ground, looking sick. Osa tells him that the miners are dying from breathing in a toxic gas that's released when glaze is mined. When Bobby asks why she showed him this, Osa says that he had to see how desperate the situation is for the Milago. Bobby begins to run away, saying that he's going home, but before he can get far there's an explosion in one of the tunnels. He watches to see what the miners do, but they don't seem to have any emergency plan. He asks Osa how often they have explosions like that, but Osa tells him she doesn't know what an explosion is and never seen anything like that on Denduron. Bobby sees Rellin, the chief miner, exit the smoking tunnel, and then begin to laugh. Bobby doesn't know what to make of this,
Bobby and Osa leave the mine and find a dead miner was was shot with an arrow. They try to run, but a group of Bedoowan knights stop them and say they're here for Bobby. A fight follows, with Loor showing up and helping to defeat the knights. Osa orders Loor to hide Bobby, and Loor reluctantly obeys, taking Bobby into the Forest. Osa seems to defeat the knights on her own, but the knights with bows and arrows were hiding in the trees. They shoot Osa in the back. Loor and Bobby escape the knights and go back to see Osa when it's safe. Osa gives Bobby the ring she used earlier, and then dies. Loor tells Bobby that he is selfish and untrustworthy, and therefore cannot lead the revolution, and that she is taking him home tomorrow. Bobby realizes that she's right, and that he needs to at least try to save Press. He tells Mark that he needs help, and that he's attached a note with instructions on what to do.
Mark and Courtney are reading Journal #2 on the sidewalk in front of the police station, but they don't finish it because the police officer they spoke to earlier asks them to come inside and talk to him. He takes them to see Captain Hirsch, who says that he believes Mark and Courtney because he knew the Pendragons. He asks them if they have anything else they can tell him about where Bobby and his family might be, and they say no, making the decision to keep the journals to themselves. They leave the police station and run into Andy Mitchell, who takes Mark's backpack containing Bobby's journals and threatens to drop it in the sewer. Courtney stands up to the bully. After Andy leaves, Mark and Courtney decide to finish the journal at Courtney's house.
After finishing the journal, Mark and Courtney read the note to see that Bobby wants them to get him some things from Second Earth. They gather the items and meet back up the following day. They try using the ring to send the stuff, but it doesn't work, so they go to the subway. They find the flume, and they see Bobby flume in. They all hug, Bobby asks why Courtney is there and Mark admits he shared the journals with her. Mark and Courtney try to convince Bobby to stay, but he tells them he can't leave Press there when he's going to die. He flumes back to Denduron, and Mark's ring activates almost immediately after he's gone.
Bobby Pendragon - The protagonist. He writes journals to send to his best friends Mark Dimond and Courtney Chetwynde.
Press Tilton - Bobby's uncle and the Traveler from Second Earth before him.
Mark Dimond - Bobby's best friend who takes care of his journals.
Courtney Chetwynde - Bobby's close friend and crush who Mark shares the journals with.
Loor - The Traveler from Zadaa. She is a warrior who helps defeat Saint Dane on Denduron.
Alder - The Traveler from Denduron. He is a Bedoowan knight who helps defeat Saint Dane on Denduron.
Osa - Loor's mother and the Traveler from Zadaa before her. She is a warrior like her daughter. She dies in this book protecting Bobby from Bedoowan knights.
Saint Dane - The antagonist who attempts to make Denduron fall into chaos.
Rellin - The chief Milago miner who begins the revolution against the Bedoowan,
Figgis - A Milago merchant. At the end of the book he is revealed to be Saint Dane, and that the real Figgis died when he discovered tak.
Queen Kagan - The ruler of the Bedoowan.
Mallos - The queen's advisor who is quickly revealed to be Saint Dane.
Andy Mitchell - A bully at the kids' school who specifically antagonizes Mark.'