“The Solders of Halla”
by D.J. MacHale
3 *** = Good, may not be for everyone
Bobby Pendragon and I have been through a lot together. We’ve run many miles together, baked many cookies, oh, and fought the evil demon traveler Saint Dane.
Bobby has kept me company through hundreds of miles of the I-5 corridor, and I’ve cheered him along as he’s toiled to save the universe, or “Halla” as he calls it.
I’ve spent more time with Bobby than almost any other fictional character: ten audio books -136 hours to be exact. (Yes, I do have relationships with real people too.)
Bobby and I need a break.
The Pendragon series is every fantasy geek’s dream. There’s a little Star Wars. There’s some Harry Potter. There’s a little more Back to the Future. And, there’s a lot of Lost. A LOT OF LOST. (There’s even a polar bear. I kid you not.)
When I picked up book ten, “The Soldiers of Halla,” from the library, I felt very similarly to the way I felt when I started the last season of “Lost.” My thoughts exactly? This had better be worth it.
Let me explain a couple of things. The Pendragon series is long and wild. It follows Bobby as he bounces around ten different worlds, or territories, along with his fellow “travelers,” attempting to stop the villainous Saint Dane from manipulating history for his own personal gain.
Author D.J. MacHale lets very little on about the underscoring theme of the series until book nine, “The Raven Rise.” Up to that point, it had mostly been children’s adventure books. In the final two books, things get way more spacey and spiritual. Let’s just say it didn’t go where I thought it’d go.
“The Soldiers of Halla” is Bobby’s final journal documenting the travelers’ final stand against Saint Dane. It’s a lot of action with an ending that was way better than I had anticipated. The more I think about it, the more beautiful it seems.
And, unlike “Lost,” it answered all my questions. Take that, J.J. Abrams.
If you’ve read the first nine books of the series, I don’t think I need to convince you to finish. However, if you haven’t started the series, allow me to make some recommendations.
It’s a good series. Really. But it’s long. Really. I think that the only reason I hung in there was because I was listening to the audio books. I barely made it past the first book because I wasn’t a huge fan of the narrator. Let’s just say his “girl voice” is kind of annoying. It’s for that reason that I’m not holding one of the main characters, Courtney Chetwynde, against the author. Yeah, her personality isn’t my favorite, but I think it’s her voice that drives me crazy.
All of the books are written primarily as part of Bobby’s journal. And although Bobby is pegged to be one of the “cool kids,” he’s actually a cornball. Sometimes, I would snort with laughter over some of the dialogue. It was kind of hard picturing many of the conversations occurring in real life.
I think these books are mostly for middle school kids, professionals with long commutes, or bored runners. (I’m 2 out of 3, so it worked out).
If you’re one of the above, then read on, and “Hobey-ho.” You’ll get that later.