Monday, February 22, 2016

Merchant of Alyss Book Review

Note: This book was given to me Free in order for me to review it. Regardless of that my review is my own, my feelings about it are true, and they are not influenced by the fact that I got the book for free.

Hardcover, Paperback and ebook: 368 pages
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: January 5, 2016

Merchant of Alyss is Book 2 in the best-selling Legends of the Realm fantasy series. Book 1 is Emissary.










Plot Synopsis

Life for Hyam is bittersweet. Admired by the citizens of Falmouth for his heroic rescue mission, he cherishes these peaceful days with Joelle by his side. Yet grief over the loss of his magical skills during the great Battle of Emporis threatens to engulf him. Sometimes he even wishes he had never known magic at all.

When Hyam comes into possession of an ancient Milantian scroll, he is thrilled to feel the surge of power that courses through him whenever he touches it. But what he discerns in the text could mean war. He embarks upon another journey to determine its true meaning and forestall any attack. But as Hyam is seeking answers, he is unaware that the merchant of Alyss is seeking him…

My Review

Wow. This series is interesting. It is also way out of my “wheelhouse” as far as my usual reading choices. It took me longer to read than I would have liked. I think it is because of my own laziness. When I would read I would read in large chunks, getting very involved and interested in the book. It really is good, just not my usual reading choice.

Hyam and company... The characters are fully developed and I felt like I was one of the company, traveling around with them; on their quest; through good times and bad, times of strength and weakness... and the story is not over yet. There are still many things to conquer.

Good guys: Mages (like wizards), warriors, kings and queens, ghost soldiers, dragons,  elves and everyday good guys. Bad guys: witches, warriors, evil leaders and more. Good vs. Evil. A classic foundation for a book. It really draws you in. You really root for the good guys and hope the bad guys get what is coming to them. Also, good vs. evil is a reality of life and so a book like this can give us hope for our own world. And, we as Christians know that ultimately our Savior and Lord will win out over the bad guys.. it is just hard, sometimes, to continue fighting while we wait for his coming.

In some portions of the book a beautiful setting and a place you would love to live; terrible in other parts. So well described that you can taste the dryness and feel the uncomfortableness of the wearisome journey across the sand and actually see the strange boat as they travel across the water to see the dragon.

My favorite quote from the book... “There are few actions that bring greater satisfaction than knowing the right choice and taking it.” pg 226.

Yes. So true. So many times I ask the Lord what to do. What do I do now? What do I do next? What do I do in this situation that I find myself in?

When, in those rare times I know what I should do, what God wants me to do and I do it; it is with great gratitude and feelings of accomplishment.

I am caught now, if I wasn't before. I want to read the next book and find out what happens to Hyam and Joelle, Shona, Selim, Meda, Fareed, and Alembord. Will Hyam find Joelle's breath and bring her back to full life? Will the good guys win out over the evil in the land? I sure hope so.

I heartily encourage you to read these books.

Free PDF sampler of MERCHANT OF ALYSS – Chapter 1

About Thomas Locke

Thomas Locke, author of Legends of the Realm fantasy seriesThomas Locke is an award-winning novelist with total worldwide sales of seven million copies.
His work has been published in twenty languages, and critical acclaim includes four Christy Awards for excellence in fiction and his 2014 induction into the Christy Hall of Fame.
Thomas divides his time between Florida and England, where he serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College at The University of Oxford. Visit Thomas at


Q and A With Thomas Locke

Emissary and Merchant CoversQ: Why did you write MERCHANT OF ALYSS?

A: Thomas Locke: I began work on MERCHANT OF ALYSS before EMISSARY (book 1 in the series) had been accepted for publication. I had no idea anyone would accept these stories, since they were so utterly different from what I had been writing up to that point. But I was so captivated by the concepts and the emotions that I had to write it.

Q: What was your favorite scene to write?

A: Thomas Locke: My wife was speaking at a conference in San Francisco, and I had come along to play spouse. I rented a bike and was cycling around the city when I was struck by the image of a guard standing on the parapet in a fierce winter storm, watching a new crimson mage. Who then turns away from the city, walks down to the magic grove protecting Hyam’s home, and attacks.
By the time we returned home, I had the first quarter of MERCHANT OF ALYSS mapped out.

Q: There is the element of magic to the story. What do you hope readers take away from the “Magic” element in the story?

A: Thomas Locke: The issue of using magic was something I grappled with for some time. I found immense guidance from the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Four thousand years ago, when the concept of “epic” fiction originated, there was a specific purpose behind stories where magic and mythical beasts played major roles. The Greeks sought to create worlds that were bigger than life, with challenges and obstacles that were completely and utterly beyond the reach of mortal man.

The authors sought to portray through story that a normal human being can grow beyond the impossible challenges of life. They wanted to show normal people, with flaws and weaknesses as great as those we all carry today, can in fact rise up. They can triumph

That is what I seek to do with the Legends of the Realm series. I want to return to the original aims of fantasy fiction. I want to re-insert the concept of heroic struggle, and challenges greater than life, and triumphs over evil and darkness.

Q: For what audience did you write this novel?

A: Thomas Locke: Increasingly, the younger generations within the faith community are moving away from the mind-set of their parents. I am not suggesting that they are abandoning their faith. What I mean is, they are abandoning their parents’ concept of church.

Many younger believers are trending towards a faith that dwells inside the larger mainstream world. Their lives no longer center upon a church so large it contains its own sense of community. They worship in home churches, or smaller centers focused on outreach. They accept a multi-cultural and multi-racial lifestyle, and seek a church that reflects this.

And their entertainment is being drawn from this wider arena.

At the same time, they are not comfortable with much of the darkness that dominates current television and movie trends. With this Thomas Locke brand, I seek to join a small but growing number of believers who are doing this with books and film.

The preliminary response, both from within the younger generations in our faith community, and from the mainstream, has been more than wonderful. It has been a gift.

Q: What question about MERCHANT OF ALYSS do you wish someone would ask?

A: Thomas Locke: For MERCHANT, I wish someone would ask, “How did you develop such a sense of natural flow out of a realm that doesn’t exist? How did you manage to structure a fantasy where the logic and surprise fit together powerfully?”

I feel this is a crucial element of both EMISSARY and MERCHANT. And with these two books, the answer is extremely different.

With EMISSARY, it came together as naturally as breathing. This happens sometimes. I wish it happened more often, but that is really in God’s hands.

With MERCHANT OF ALYSS, it was the exact opposite. I burned with this story. I had to write it. The passion and the joy were immense. But it was still such a struggle. And the first draft reflected this.

So I completed the work. Then I set it aside. Six weeks later I did a full-bore redraft. Then I set it aside again.

Six weeks later I did another total redraft. Then I sent it to the editors, who said, “Don’t change a thing.”

Then I did the entire process a third time. It went into line edits. And I did it a fourth and final time.

A lot, lot, lot of work to make it as smooth and simple as EMISSARY was at first draft.

Q: Where can we learn more about you and your books?

A: Thomas Locke: You’ll find me at these online outlets:
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