Review Rise of a Merchant Prince (Book 2 of the Serpentwar Saga)
In my favourite book of the Serpentwar series, we see Krondor at its most urbane and cut-throat, as Feist shows us the fortunes of Roo – who, as implied by the title, climbs to a position of wealth and influence.
While the story keeps pace with Erik (who has returned to Novindus with Calis and Bobby to try and end the threat of the Pantathians once and for all) the show stealer in this book is Roo, whose trials during the construction of an empire are enthralling in and of themselves.
This is also the point in his career where I feel Feist creates his most dynamic female characters, Karli, Sylvia and Miranda – and in turn, his most compelling relationships. Of note is the fraught nature of Roo and Karli’s relationship, which at first is one of nothing more than convenience and greed on Roo’s part.
Krondor itself is again at the centre of events, as Roo builds a shipping empire, through means both honest and dishonest, using Barret’s Coffee House as a launching point, making enemies of the Mockers, rival merchants and eventually becoming indebted to the Kingdom – while at the same time being its most successful merchant.
It’s easily my favourite story in the saga, and while I recommend (of course) starting with Book 1: Shadow of a Dark Queen, I reckon this is Feist’s best work to date.
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Ashley Capes is an Australian writer of fiction, poetry and very occasional non-fiction.
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