“The soul screamed.”
I bought this book back in 2000, and that this is me finally getting around to reading it probably tells you a lot! Of course, I had to wade through the rest of the Riftwar series first, from the pretty good Magician through somewhat repetitive tomes of dwindling interest… sigh. I don’t dislike the books at all, but I really need to be in the mood for the fantasy fluff these days.
Not that I’d entirely describe this as ‘fluff’: the key word from the title is definitely ‘merchant’, as the bulk of this novel is about the economics of building a fortune in Midkemia. Urm… yeah. It’s not as bad as it sounds, to be fair, and there is enjoyment to be had from the twisty business dealings along the way.
Interspersed are a few (sub) chapters continuing with the previous novel’s forays to another continent, hoping to head off the invasion by the terrible Dark Queen. As the book progresses, we get more of an even split, which sadly just highlights that the secondary plot has by this point become far more interesting than the now-dwindling main storyline.
I think the biggest flaw, for me, is that the main character – Roo – is actually downright unpleasant, at least towards women. I’m sure he’s not meant to be anything worse than a good-hearted scoundral, but I found the list of flaws to be rather irredeemable when taken as a whole. Making him generally likable, regardless, only served as salt in the wound.
But, hey-ho. Two books to go, and then the rest of the series. When I’m in the mood for fluffy-ish fantasy.
Hardback: 406 pages / 21 chapters
First published: 1995
Series: The Serpentwar Saga book 2 (of 4)
Read from 13th July – 30th December 2015 (yes, I put it down for a long gap!)
My rating: 5/10