Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Merchant of Alyss by Thomas Locke

Back Cover:  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 is 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 his 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 caries 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.

Review: It's been a few weeks since I wrote a review. I don't really have an excuse other than that the sun has come out and it's way too much fun being outside after a long, dreary winter.

Merchant of Alyss was a wonderful read and well worth coming inside for. As much as I have had trouble picking up a book lately, once I did  pause and open Merchant of Alyss, I honestly couldn't put it down. I am a huge fan of the fantasy genre. As much as it is not the main genre that I read it is definitely my favourite. The reason I don't read more fantasy is that good, wholesome fantasy is hard to find.

I read the first book in the series, Emissary, two weeks ago after reading the first chapter of Merchant of Alyss and realizing that the books need to be read in order. So I went to a local book store and picked up Emissary. This review is about the second book, but I have to throw this in here: Emissary is an amazing book! Before reading Merchant of Alyss make sure to read the first book. Not only will you understand the subsequent book much better, but the first book is incredible.

So, what did I like about Merchant of Alyss? Well, I loved the world. There are so many different tribes of humans, non-humans, and magical-type animals; best of all, these different 'species' are not your stereotypical fantasy creations. Thomas Locke has made the effort to make them unique. For example, the elves are not tall, willowy, blonde human-types like those found in Lord of the Rings. Instead, they are smaller, green folk that live in enchanted worlds accessed by the forests. I appreciate the author's efforts to make his world unique by not borrowing characters from other stories. I also liked how the worlds were layered. There is the world that the main character (Hyam) lives in, but then there are mirrored worlds where the *spoiler alert* dragons and elves are. An interesting touch to the story!

Like any good fantasy, Merchant of Alyss has magic. I loved how the mages don't have power on their own, but have to draw their power from "arteries" that flow through the earth...rivers of magical energy, if you will. Only by tapping into this strength can they do anything. This clause creates some rather interesting circumstances of Hyam and his fellow adventures.

Speaking of Hyam, he really is the main reason behind this series. I will try not to ruin the first book, but Hyam is a half-human with some pretty wild mage abilities. *Spoiler alert* During an epic battle in the first book, he destroys his ability to connect to the rivers of power and thus destroys his magical ability. Enter the second book and Hyam is reeling and trying to recover from his brutal injury. Despite no longer being a mage, the enemy is moving and he needs to keep fighting. His wife, Joelle, who is a warrior alongside him is cast under a brutal spell by the enemy and Hyam's search for answers becomes desperate. He teams up with a multi-faceted group of characters as he barrels head-long into madness. Hyam is a driven, self-controlled, general-type who sees the final goal and does whatever it takes to get him there. He is all business and isn't afraid to take risks or to sacrifice himself, if need be.

I'm trying not to ruin the story by giving away too much - needless to say there is more than enough action in these stories to keep the most impatient reader very happy. The plot is drawing but not too complicated and the characters are engaging and believable. Both Emissary and Merchant of Alyss are great teenage/adult fantasy read.

As a caution, I will mention that there is some more mature content in these books that I would caution parents of younger teenagers about. There are suggestions of intimacy between Joelle and Hyam, though nothing is stated explicitly (PG), there is a woman who lusts after Hyam even though he's married, there is mention of sheer garments on women and the use of sexual dances to lure in men, and there is a lot on magic, mages, and witches. So, I would personally not give this book to anyone under 15 or so (parental judgement required here), but for a mature audience these books are a great find.

Thank-you to Graf Martin Communications and Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, for a free copy of Merchant of Alyss for me to review.

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