Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

This first fantasy book in the "Pendragon" series by D.J. MacHale is published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.

The Merchant of Death is written for kids ages 9 to 14. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Bobby Pendragon kisses the girl of his dreams and heads for a basketball game when his eccentric Uncle Press takes him into a medieval world of another dimension called Denduron. Little by little, Bobby learns that he is a Traveler who, with his special powers, must try to help the Milago miners escape the tyrannical rule of the Bedoowans. The Bedoowans' leader, Kagan, is controlled by an evil Traveler named Saint Dane, who wants to bring chaos wherever he goes. With the aid of other young Travelers, Loor and Alder, Bobby saves his uncle from the Bedoowans and strives to stop the use of tak, a massively destructive weapon. Bobby writes about all his adventures and sends his journals back through time and space to his friends Mark and Courtney.

Christian Beliefs

Bobby asserts that the account of David and Goliath is "just a story." The Bedoowans force the Milago people to fight vicious creatures called quigs in an arena. Bobby likens this to the way Christians were killed in the Roman Coliseum.

Other Belief Systems

Bobby, Uncle Press and the other Travelers believe their mission is to save Halla. Halla is everything: every time, every territory and every living entity. It separates order from chaos, and if it crumbles, “there will be nothing but darkness. Everywhere. For everyone.”

Authority Roles

Uncle Press leads Bobby into intense danger, offering little explanation to the 14-year-old. Bobby's parents never appear in the story. They vanish along with his house when he first goes to Denduron. At the end, Uncle Press seems to indicate that Bobby will be fine without his parents for the time being. The villain, Saint Dane, is determined to cause havoc and destruction for all so that Halla (see "Other belief systems") will fall. He is able to change into any form, and he whispers suggestions to people to make them do his bidding.


Words like a--, h---, p---ed and the misuse of God's name appear several times. Scenes involving the predatory quigs often end in gory descriptions of the animals feeding on people (or each other). A homeless man runs in front of a subway train and dies.


Bobby and Courtney share an open-mouthed kiss in the beginning of the book.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at ThrivingFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Note: This is the first book in a long series.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

For additional parenting resources, download a free issue of Thriving Family, a marriage and parenting magazine published by Focus on the Family, at ThrivingFamily.com/magazine.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!