Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Merchant of Alyss by Thomas Locke

 I was a little skeptical about the book when I began. Last August I read another book by Thomas Locke, Trial Run. While I enjoyed the book, the genre and tone were so different. It was hard for me to imagine the same author writing this type of fantasy. This book is very different and even better in my opinion.

The Merchant of Alyss is actually the second in Locke's Legends of the Realm Series. The first book in the series is call Emissary. Never fear, if you haven't read Emissary you can still enjoy Merchant of Alyss. Before I picked it up, I didn't even realize it was a sequel. I would suggest reading Emissary first, but it's not absolutely necessary. There are a few points that I felt a little lost, but I was able to fill in the details as I went.

A rundown of the story,

"Beneath the hills of a primeval city, a vanquished enemy is gathering power. As this new threat arises, can Hyam summon his true heritage and overcome the forces of evil?

When Hyam reluctantly returned to the Long Hall, he never imagined how his life would change. Latent powers were honed, chance encounters brought new wisdom, and even love found a way into his heart. With his wife, Joelle, he now makes a home in Falmouth Port.

Hyam is slowly recovering from his battles when a mysterious shipment of Milantian scrolls arrives. Soon he is haunted by dreams of mythic beasts and coming conflicts. When Joelle falls under a sorcerer's spell, he must venture through the desolate lands to save her--and his community.

One particular scroll seems to hold the promise of new powers, but it also carries a hidden warning about an unfathomable threat. As Hyam sets out on another journey, he is keenly aware that he must rely on all his abilities--and his forbidden past--to succeed. His quest could bring deliverance . . . or devastation."

It didn't take me long to become fully immersed in the story. I really enjoyed the extensive world-building that Locke wrote into this story. It's not just one city and one culture, the book takes place in an entire realm. Many people distinct groups and cultures are woven into the story.

The characters were all new to me. I imagine that a majority of  the character development took place in the first book of the series. I still felt a deep connection with the characters and could see how they grew and developed over time. The only character I didn't connect as much with was Joelle, but she isn't as present in the book as the others. I really enjoyed Shona's journey. I thought Locke did an excellent job taking the immature girl and showing how her experiences transformed her.

I often feel a need to skip ahead and hurry up the story about 3/4 of the way through a book. A lot of times that's where books seem to lag and I want to get to the resolution already! For me though, this book kept me engaged the whole time. Sure, there were some standard fantasy elements that might not have been super original. On a whole though it was just a really enjoyable story. Locke could have explored deeper into Hyam's grief, but honestly I'm glad he didn't. You get that he has seen a lot of hurt, but Locke doesn't take the book too dark. He kept the story moving without getting bogged down in that.

This is a good clean fantasy read that can be enjoyed by many ages. Emissary is next on my list to read and I will be picking the third book up when it comes out!

I received a copy of this from Revel book in exchange for my review.  

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