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When Thomas’s family is annihilated in a raid, his life changes forever. Wandering for days, starving and hopeless, he is rescued by a monk and is taken to live at the abbey of Eynsham. There he receives a curious education, training to be a scholar, a merchant and a spy. His mission: to develop commerce in Muslim lands and dispatch vital information to the Holy See.
His perilous adventures during the 11th century’s commercial revolution will take him far from his cloistered life to the great trading cities of Almeria, Amalfi, Alexandria and Cairo.
But the world in which he lives is chaotic. Struggling with love and loss, faith and fortune, can Thomas carry out his secret mission before conflict overtakes him?
Spanning the tumultuous medieval worlds of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, The Sugar Merchant is a tale of clashing cultures, massive economic change and one man’s determination to fulfil his destiny.
The 11th century world through which Thomas Woodward travels is changing; marked by the emergence of a disruptive commercial revolution. In the Mediterranean, the great Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam meet, often in cooperation and peace but, at times, in bloody conflict. It is an era of migration, globalism and multiculturalism leading to a robust interchange of technology, ideas and the basic tools of international trade. But, the interests of the Christian west are on a collision course with those of the Muslim world. War is coming. The Church is rallying the nobles of Europe to embark on an ‘armed pilgrimage’ to reclaim the Holy Land. Now, Thomas and his Muslim and Jewish partners’ lucrative sugar trade is in jeopardy. Thomas’s own secret and dangerous mission, directed from Rome, will become filled with even greater peril.
The Sugar Merchant explores the massive cultural and economic change occurring in the later part of the 11th century through the eyes of a fictional participant, Thomas Woodward, and his Jewish and Muslim merchant partners. This turbulent period of history marked the creation of a European commercial economy based upon global trade and the birth of capitalism. New innovations in technology, finance, navigation and commercial organization were developed, often as a result of the robust exchange of knowledge between the Christian west and the Islamic east. Long-established political and social structures began a radical process of transformation, eventually leading to political, spiritual and physical conflict. Thomas is a witness to, and may become a victim of, this remarkable revolution
....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.