Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Discoverers by Paul King

The Discoverers by Paul King is another of those books I snagged from Half Priced Books off of the dollar rack.

The novel starts with the fall of Constantinople, a famous event in 1453, that created crisis and opportunities. While some trading families lost their fortunes due to former trading shores being cut off, others took this opportunity to expand their own ventures.

In the era when religions waged war against another when crusades took men from their homes to across the seas, we see that not all who fight on one side or another are righteous. One of the main characters, Giovanni Ruggi, loses his love while defending Constantinople not to the invading Moors, but to Christians who betray the cause to loot and plunder.

The mix of nationalities and the strains of having so many different people ply the same trading routes comes through not only in how the characters interact with one another, but how they grow as characters. Judging individuals based on their own actions as opposed to where they come from.

The act of piracy itself is no stranger to some who take to the role with a 'gentleman' style, leaving those who ask for mercy alive, and by those who are merciless and kill all, leaving no survivors, claiming that their newfound wealth is from their skills as a merchant.

Paul King's writing is solid if a bit wandering. He takes a long time to bring his cast of characters together, and the wrap-up happens quickly when it occurs.

His style brings to life the ships of the era. The attacks of pirates, the uncertainty of nature itself. Will the winds blow today? Is the ship using oars? Can patience be rewarded?

If you're interested in seeing one take on how one writer handles sailing, exploration, merchants, and other bits from the era of exploration, the Discoverers has some enjoyable bits to it.