Plot: The plot of “The Sugar Merchant” flows along steadily at an upbeat pace. As the title suggests, the book focuses very heavily on trade and commerce. It is, essentially, a journal of an ancient trader over several years. There are momentary sparks of action, but everything else is fairly mundane. One of the more interesting aspects of the book is the look at the other side of the Muslim/Catholic conflicts of the first century.
Prose/Style: Hutson-Wiley's prose is simple, but it effectively captures the atmosphere and voices of the historical people and places. The book would benefit from a light to medium copy edit.
Originality: The originality of the book is in the perspective. Books about the Holy Wars and pilgrimages are common, but are usually told from the point of view of the crusaders. The Sugar Merchant gives readers a look at the other side of the story, even if it is told by a Catholic monk.
Character Development: The characters are all fairly standard, and their personalities would be enhanced by some more delving into their origin stories, motives, and individual emotions – nevertheless, they are realistic and memorable.
Date Submitted: April 04, 2019
5 Stars -
Reviewed By Divine Zape for Readers’ Favorite
...James Hutson-Wiley captures the soul and spirit of the era in a brilliant way in the narrative, allowing readers to relive the religious, cultural, and political tensions of the time. He weaves themes of espionage, religious intrigue, and the personal struggles of a man into a story that takes readers across different distinct cultures. The historical elements of the setting are skillfully knitted into the narrative and the author uses them to enrich the conflict. I was fascinated by the compelling social and cultural commentaries that paint a vivid image of the time. The use of the epistolary style enhances the plot points and the conflict while helping to deepen character development. The Sugar Merchant is a great achievement and a page-turner for fans of historical novels; a story with powerful themes, compelling characters, and a gripping plot.
eview #1: Review by Anne-Marie Reynolds
5 Stars -
Reviewed By Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers’ Favorite
....The Sugar Merchant by James Hutson-Wiley is a deep novel covering many subjects that are relevant to today’s world, including multiculturalism, innovations in technology and commerce, and immigration. Reading this novel, it's very easy to draw parallels between this time period and the current times we live in – there really isn’t so much difference! It is a well-written novel, brought fully alive by the descriptive style of writing that draws the reader skillfully into the story. It is well paced with plenty of action and with characters that are incredibly well developed to the extent that you feel as if you know them personally. Reading it was like being pulled straight back to the 11th century, seeing it in vivid color and experiencing life as it was then. I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the sequel.
...In essence, this book can be considered a coming-of-age story. Readers will see how Thomas develops from a naïve young man into an enterprising and respected individual in his own right. This evolution was shown through chapters detailing his transactions and interactions with the people he meets on his journey…The tumultuous history of early Europe, as well as the Middle East, served as a backdrop for the protagonist’s journey. The author’s vivid descriptions were evocative of the sights, sounds, and sensations of that era. There was also a careful and painstaking attention to even the most minute of details that added to the authentic feel of the book.
Though quite lengthy, readers will enjoy sinking their teeth into this book and getting lost in the annals of time. A full cast of characters, an intrepid hero, and an exciting plot were placed in the hands of a truly skilled author for the enjoyment of fans of historical fiction. Combining action and adventure with bursts of humor and humanity, this novel truly showcases the genre at its best.
Rating : 4 out of 5 stars