The Sugar Merchant


Thomas Woodward, merchant of Al-Qahirah, is the main character in this first-person saga set during the years just prior to the Great Crusades.  Orphaned as a young boy when Flemish mercenaries sack his village, Thomas finds himself rescued from a beggar’s life by the monks of Eynsham Abbey.  In exchange for his salvation, Thomas must pledge fealty to the Abbott and his brother monks. He is trained, educated, molded and groomed to be the perfect infiltrator. Thomas naively accepts this assignment and travels to the Holy Land to set up a trade with the Far East in the guise of generating revenue for the failing Eynsham Abbey.  Completely unaware of the ulterior motives of his superiors, Thomas is faced with the realization the world is far bigger and broader, much more complex than he has ever imagined.  Moreover, this new understanding gives birth to questions Thomas never let himself ask —about God, featly, holy writ, love and what it means to be faithful.

Mr. Hutson-Wiley’s epic adventure “The Sugar Merchant” spares no expense crafting a brilliant tale set at a time when humanity is discovering itself, when the world through trade becomes a smaller more accessible place.  Historic details paint an exquisite picture of the lives of the peoples of this time.  He brings a veritable life force to each character, masterfully leading the reader into this world of foreign gods and strange customs, blurring the lines between greed and pious duty.  This character-driven novel will enthrall anyone who has ever imagined traveling ancient trade routes, founding dynasties, or simply discovering a new world.

Kimberly Gunvaldson