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The Soldiers of Halla (Pendragon Book 10) Kindle Edition
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Every question is answered. Every truth is revealed. The final battle has begun.
It was all leading up to this moment. Nine books—nine battles for nine territories—have brought Bobby Pendragon to where he is now. At last, Bobby and the rest of the travelers must join forces in an epic war against Saint Dane for not only one last territory, but for all of Halla. With more than three million books in print, the number one New York Times bestselling Pendragon series has a huge and passionate fan base, and these fans will not be disappointed as the series comes to an action-packed and satisfying conclusion in the tenth and final installment.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The missile hit without warning.
We didn't know we were under attack until, well, we were under attack. It was fast. It was violent. I had no idea what it was all about, other than the fact that I had only been on this strange territory for a few minutes, and I already wanted to leave.
Uncle Press was walking maybe forty yards ahead of the Travelers. The small missile screamed in and thumped down in the space between us. If it had landed twenty yards farther ahead, Uncle Press would have been liquefied. Twenty yards back and every last Traveler of Halla would have been obliterated. Our final stand against Saint Dane would have been over before it had the chance to get started. We were lucky.
Lucky? That's a relative term. After the first boom, good luck seemed to be in short supply.
"Down!" Uncle Press screamed as he ran back through the burning debris that hung in the air.
Too late. I was already down. The force of the blast had knocked me off my feet. My eyes stung from the cloud of dirt that hit me. My ears rang. Since I had been leading the group, I hoped that I had taken the worst of it. I rubbed my eyes with the sleeve of my Second Earth sweater, desperate to clear my vision and get back some control before another missile arrived.
Again, too late. Two more explosions erupted, though not as close as the first. I was halfway to my feet and got knocked down again. I heard a scream of fear. Not of pain, of fear. That was good. Fear was better than pain. It sounded to me like Elli. She was an older, frail woman. She hadn't experienced anything like this before. If any of us needed help, it would be her.
"You okay?" Uncle Press yelled at me.
"Yeah, where's Elli?"
"I got her," he said, then screamed out to the others, "Scatter! Find cover in the ruins!"
Ruins? What ruins? All I had seen of this wasteland was a bunch of dust in the air. At one point I caught a glimpse of a tall, tilted building through the haze, but it was too far away to reach while trying to dodge a storm of incoming missiles. I wiped my tearing eyes to scan for something closer.
I heard a loud whoosh and sensed, more than felt, a dark shape swooping by overhead. Looking up, I caught the fleeting image of a low-flying aircraft. It could have been a small helicopter, but it seemed more squat than that. I didn't hear the typical sound of a chopper engine, either. Whatever was powering this thing, it was pretty quiet. Was this the beastie shooting at us? It flew by at treetop level. That is, if there had been any trees in this barren place. As I watched in wonder, I was hit with the beam of a powerful light. Turning quickly I looked up to see two more of these flying craft headed toward us. Each had a single headlight that swept the ground. Searching.
"We must find shelter," came a calm voice at my shoulder. It was Loor. She was still in one piece, I'm happy to say. Looking around I saw that none of the Travelers seemed hurt. Uncle Press had an arm around Elli's shoulder and was hurrying her off to...somewhere. Everyone else was following Uncle Press's instructions and moving in different directions to find shelter.
Kasha, Gunny, and Spader scrambled together in one direction, Alder and Patrick in another. Siry led Aja off, holding her hand like a protective brother. To him she was a living legend from the distant past of his own territory. I knew he would protect her. They all disappeared into the swirling smoke and sand. Only Loor and I still stood in the path of the oncoming aircraft.
Two more missiles tore at the ground. These flying craft weren't just searching. They were attacking. I grabbed Loor's arm and ran. I didn't know where we were going, but we ran. We sprinted blindly through the thick dust that hung suspended in the air. I heard the sounds of more explosions. Some distant. Some closer. The only thing I knew for sure was that nobody was shooting back at them. These craft were hunting, uncontested. I was totally disoriented. The only thing that felt real was the deafening roar and the shaking ground as the missiles exploded around us like a violent fireworks display.
"Structures," Loor announced, looking ahead.
Through the dust I saw the outline of several small stone buildings. None looked higher than maybe two stories. They were clustered together around a central, open area that could have been a courtyard at one time. I say "at one time" because these buildings were bombed out. Destroyed. Empty. Whatever they were, they were no longer. This war we found ourselves in the middle of wasn't new. We were surrounded by destruction. The derelict buildings looked to be made of gray stone, much of which was shattered and scarred. As we got closer, I saw that the courtyard area held a large, empty hole in the dead center. It wasn't a bomb crater; it looked like a man-made pool of some kind. Or a moat, since it was basically a trough surrounding a pile of large boulders. There was no water in it though, only dirt and debris.
"We can take shelter in there," Loor suggested.
The two of us ran to the edge of the trough and jumped in. The sides were just above head level. I had to stand on tiptoe to peer back out.
"Where are we?" Loor asked. She wasn't even out of breath. "What is this territory?"
"I was hoping you knew."
"I do not. Nor do any of the others."
"The flumes exploded," I told her. "I saw them. It was like I was floating in space and they just...self-destructed."
"I know," she said calmly. "I saw it as well. We all did. Wherever we are, Pendragon, we will not be leaving."
Two of the dark helicopters swooped overhead. We ducked. We didn't need to. We weren't the targets. The marauding shadows headed for what seemed to be a long, low building around forty yards from us. They hovered over the dilapidated structure. Their headlight beams cut through the dust, trained on a large, jagged wound in the wall that had probably been a doorway at one time.
An amplified voice blasted from one of the gunships. "Walk out of the building," came a no-nonsense command.
The dust seemed to be clearing. It gave me a better view of the ships. They were indeed helicopters, but without the familiar tail and rear rotors. Instead, a single overhead rotor controlled the craft. Two pontoonlike skids hung beneath. Affixed to the sides of these pontoons was the bad news. The rocket launchers.
Who were they? Why were they coming after us? Where the heck were we in the first place? My momentary thrill of being reunited with Uncle Press and the rest of the Travelers had turned into a confused nightmare.
"I want to get a closer look," I said to Loor, and made my way around the boulders in the center of this dry pool. She tried to stop me, but I was already moving quickly toward the far side of the moat, closer to the building that was being targeted. Loor followed. The two of us stood peering up over the lip as the scene unfolded.
"Did any of the Travelers go in there?" Loor asked.
"No idea. Maybe. They ran off in all directions."
The amplified voice boomed again. "There is no option. You must surrender immediately."
"Or what?" I whispered to Loor.
I sensed movement to my left. Somebody was creeping up on us. I tensed. Loor did too. I gave her a quick glance, as if to say, "Ready?"
She nodded. She knew.
We quickly dodged in two different directions. If somebody was going to attack, they wouldn't get us together. I hit the inside wall of the trough, crouching, ready. Loor swept her wooden stave from behind her back and held it out, poised to fend off whoever was dumb enough to attack us. We froze. Neither of us understood what we were seeing. Actually, I understood it better than Loor, but that didn't mean I wasn't confused.
What we were both squared off against, ready to battle, was a penguin. I'm serious. A two-foot-tall, black and white penguin. The goofy little bird stood in the center of the trough, staring at us as if to say, "Who are you two clowns?"
"Is it dangerous?" Loor asked, confused.
It was actually funny seeing Loor coiled up, ready to battle a little penguin. I guess it's more funny now as I think back on it. At the time I didn't feel like laughing.
The amplified voice boomed one more time. "You have been warned."
What followed can be best described as obliteration. Both flying vehicles unloaded their weapons on the building. One drifted slowly to the right, the other to the left, as they launched a series of missiles at the already damaged structure. Sharp pieces of stone flew everywhere. That broke the penguin's cool, and it waddled off quickly. Fire erupted inside the building, licking out of the glassless windows. Thick black smoke billowed from every crack, new and old, like blood pouring from open wounds. If any of the Travelers were in there, they were going to get hurt. Badly. I made a move to jump up onto the lip of the trough to see if anybody needed help, but Loor held me back.
"What would you do?" she said calmly.
She was right. There was nothing to do but watch and hope.
"Look!" she declared.
On the far left end of the building, people were crawling out of a window, escaping. People we didn't recognize. They wore raggy, nondescript clothes. I guess back home in Connecticut I'd say they looked like homeless people. They didn't quite look Flighter nasty, but they were definitely people who were having a rough time. A few of the men actually wore what looked like ragged business suits. Some women wore blue jeans and sweaters. There were a couple of kids, too.
A powerful-looking guy with long black hair that touched his shoulders stood outside the window, helping the others out. He wore jeans and a faded, torn sweatshirt. It looked as if he were in charge. At the very least he was taking control of the situation. He seemed more worried about getting the others to safety than about his own getaway.
The gunships hadn't seen them. Yet. They continued their methodical mov...--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
It has all been leading to this. Every victory. Every loss. All the thrills and sadness; the hope and despair. Bobby Pendragon's heart-pounding journey through time and space has brought him to this epic moment. He and his fellow Travelers must join forces for one last desperate battle against Saint Dane. At stake is not only the tenth and final territory, but all that ever was or will be. Everywhere. This is the war for Halla. Every question is answered. Every truth is revealed. The final battle has begun.
Behind the Book: From the Desk of D. J. MacHale
I'm often asked the question, "Where did you get the inspiration for the Pendragon story?" I wish I had an easy answer, like "It all came to me in a brilliant flash of creativity, fully articulated and ready to go." It didn't. The truth is much more complicated.
Bobby's adventure didn't start out as Bobby's adventure. It sprang from multiple ideas about many different things. I always like to write about things that I know. Of course I've never traveled through a flume or battled a quig, but so much of what is contained in the Pendragon story jumps from real life...blown up to fantastical proportions. I've written about things I've done and things I've observed. I had an idea for a story about a bunch of people who became addicted to a video game; a discount store that took control of society; a primitive tribe that discovered a devastating, natural weapon; and a world that was in danger of being wiped out by a tainted food supply. I guess the only "brilliant flash of creativity" came when I decided not to write any single one of these stories, but to string them together as part of one overall saga. Being a TV guy, I realized it was a decision that made it impossible for the story to work on television and too big for movies. That's what brought me to writing books.
The question then became, how do I string these together? The answer came pretty quickly. I've always written character-driven adventures about young people. That's what I do. So I created the character of Bobby Pendragon. Unlike most hero stories about young people, I didn't want to go the standard route of making him a loser who somehow finds the hero within. That might work for a single adventure, but it's hard to maintain over ten stories! That would have been a REALLY SLOW character arc. Instead, I made Bobby a guy who had it all going on...and lost it. He became a very real guy who made mistakes and didn't have all the answers. I didn't give him superpowers. In my mind he had to be someone who readers could relate to, so they might think: "What would I do if I were stuck in this situation?" Bobby couldn't wave a magic wand or fly or calculate options at the speed of heat. He acted and reacted the way normal people do. And over the course of the adventure, he grew up.
That is the essence of the Pendragon story. A real person dealing with very real and understandable conflicts where, as in life, there aren't always right answers. The trappings may be bigger than life, but the core is very real and relatable, both with character and with story.
Maybe the most amazing thing about Bobby's journey is that it worked! Meaning, I outlined all ten stories in the very beginning. I knew the theme and setting of each book, and the major events in Bobby's personal journey from the get-go...and I stuck to it. When The Soldiers of Halla is published, Bobby's journey, and mine, will come to an end. I am thrilled and delighted to say that it all worked out the way I planned it. All it took was a lot of work...and maybe a touch of inspiration.
--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B001NLKTFG
- Publisher : Aladdin; Reprint edition (April 23, 2009)
- Publication date : April 23, 2009
- Language : English
- File size : 703 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 609 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #410,546 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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I will admit, at first, I was a little worried how MacHale would set up the pace. The first 150 pages, while undoubtedly important, seemed to have an aggravatingly slow, detail by detail method of storytelling. Those concerns were luckily unfounded, as the action never ceased once Bobby finally set off on the main adventure. The action was well done, and the explanations behind all the Traveler mysticism actually worked surprisingly well. Many complained of how MacHale revealed all the secrets in only 70 pages in one book. I can see why, but I'm glad he chose this route. I feel like if he had revealed these secrets in bits and pieces throughout the series (as several people have suggested), it would have made the truly cosmic revelations less interesting, and probably would have overloaded the books. I also appreciated how MacHale used description. While prose isn't his strong point (and arguably, these books weren't supposed to provide epic prose in the first place), in this book he finally nailed the right balance on how much detail to reveal. His descriptions of the Territories in the first 9 books were epic, but were sometimes burdensome. Since the final book doesn't spend too much time on any one territory, it's finally free of that problem. The characters were of course still as lovable as ever, though I do feel like some (Notably Siri and Gunny) could have been given more to do. But I guess one has to keep in mind that this ultimately is Bobby's story (in this book more than any other). Overall, I feel the story the book told made a good finale. It wasn't perfect, but no book, and especially no book finale, ever really is.
O.K, I lied. I will spoil one thing, because I absolutely have to talk about the ending.
For those who don't know, the story ended with the Travelers departing this world to take on their role as almost-literal gods. The epilogue had a Bobby with no memories of his life as a Traveler, dying in a hospital with his beloved Courtney, making out, just like in the first book. Uncle Press walked in (sound familiar?), and handed Bobby the Journals he recorded as a Traveler. The End.
Many people hated this ending. It boggles me as to why. I totally understand why MacHale did this: He wanted to prove that the job of being a Traveler is a selfless job, a theme he tried (and largely succeeded in) weaving throughout the series. But he knew that he couldn't just have Bobby go through all he went through with no reward (He even had Bobby point out the unfairness of this). So he gave Bobby the one thing he wanted: a normal life. Many didn't understand how this was possible, but I think I do: Uncle Press mentioned that the Spirits of Solara have the ability to live in whatever reality they want. I think this was what ultimately happened to Bobby. I think he chose to live a life as if the Traveler adventure had never happened. As to why MacHale had Uncle Press show up to remind him of this adventure, I don't know. But I suppose it doesn't matter: I personally like endings that don't always give you all the answers.
So overall, this was a great book, and a great way to end a great series. Hobey Ho!
What this book has going for it, in my opinion, is the relationships that I've been able to form with the long-time characters presented in the series. However, my overall impression of the characterization in this book is that there are many characters who say things simply to get a message into the reader's head. Much of the spice that the character's have previously introduced has been forgotten in the recipe of this book. The things that made the characters unique before are only kept alive by the passing reminders of the actions in the previous entries.
What I found most objectionable was the blatant repetitive quality present in the writing. Often, MacHale is apt to repeat himself three or four times within a single page, and if he hasn't repeated himself too soon, he'll hold onto the thought and bring it up ten more times throughout the following chapters. Even the major events of the book seem to be, concept for concept, rehashing phrases and thoughts that had already been worked through a couple hundred pages prior.
Between the sections that repeat themselves, there is quality narrative occurring. I found myself in various stretches to be enjoying the content. MacHale always had a grand sense of adventure present in his other Pendragon novels. As a lifelong fan of the series, who found myself reading a different Pendragon novel every year up until I moved away for college, I'm happy to say that I've read the final book of the series. I've tied up a loose end of my own youth.
If I had read this book five years ago, I may not have thought that the morals the story attempts to convey were so cliche. I'd have felt okay knowing that young me was reading a story where everyone comes together to make something bad turn into something good. These are nice thoughts, but there's nothing particularly unique about the way that MacHale conveys them. It's very much like the textbook entry on the concepts of good and evil was rewritten as the caboose for the major plot points throughout the book.
While places like Denduron, Zadaa, and Cloral will always stick with me in my mind as unique landscapes I could visit, the war-torn dystopia of Ravinia will be, what I imagine, the least memorable location of the Pendragon saga. Despite this, the book takes the opportunity to visit some of our old favorites in quick jumps from chapter to chapter. It's rather comforting to have visited these places for one last time.
If it's been years since you read a Pendragon book, this book may bring you back a little bit, but it probably won't have you rereading the prior novels. If you're a fan of the series, then by all means, purchase this book. The journey will be enjoyable, but will be tough to consider memorable.
Perhaps this deeper story-line is what lifts the Pendragron Series beyond the realm of the television screenplay. What seemed like the story of a preadolescent thrown into an adventure beyond him (in volume 1) has become the story of the unlikely hero fostering what is most noble in the human spirit, not simply to preserve a civilization but to "save the world".
On a personal note, I received this volume (like the last three volumes in the Pendragon Series) on the day it was first made public. The reading has been exciting, stimulating, entertaining, troubling... all the things that make for an engaging story. Will the Pendragon series stand the test of time? Is it too American? Time will tell. For our place and time, however, the Pendragon series is an important contribution for those who would engage the issues of our time: justice, integrity, solidarity, loyalty, the humble pursuit of truth, the need to fight for what is right (to name a few). Pendragon, from book 1 to this final book 10, is a series that I highly recommend.
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Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on February 20, 2022