The Merchant Prince

by TaxReligion

Original ONGOING Adventure Drama Fantasy Historical Anti-Hero Lead Grimdark High Fantasy Multiple Lead Characters Mythos Ruling Class Strategy
Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Sexual Content
  • Traumatising content

Enter a world of deceit and assassins.  Augustus DeCastellian is a member of a wealthy merchant family, with ports all over the known world.  He is sent on a voyage to new lands to open trade routes, but when he returns he will need to fight, using his tools of manipulation and cunning, for what he is owed.

Author's note:  This story is somewhat slow-paced, especially in comparison to the norm on Royal Road.  The first three chapters act almost as a prologue, to give you a feel for what the rest of the story will be like.  So, I suggest new readers try to get to the end of chapter 3 before deciding if this story is for them.
A few of my reviews have said that this story is abnormal for Royal Road.  I agree with that sentiment, at least based on what I've read on the site.  It was just an idea that was in my head, that I began trying to write once my hobbies were cancelled due to the virus.  I found Royal Road after I started writing it.  Honestly, it's probably not even tailored for the web-novel format.  But it's the story I wanted to tell.

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TaxReligion

TaxReligion

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Vera Anne Wolf
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Power, Politics, and an Ambitious Antihero MC

Reviewed at: Chapter 4

 

Overall: Overall the story does a commendable job of keeping me interested, though I would encourage the reader to get past chapter 1 first before making a decision. The plot picks up quickly with chapters 2 and 3.

The context of the story follows the “Antihero” Augustus, who is the third son of an influential trading family that gives me Medici/Florence vibes thus far. I don’t want to give away the drama that plays out in the early chapters but if you enjoy political intrigue, the struggle for power and wealth, and the backstabbing of nobility, you’re likely to find this story as appealing as I did. Augustus makes for an interesting MC as an Antihero who reminded me of Cesare Borgia because he is both cunning, cold, and yet deceptively “good.”

Style: The writer chose a more narrative approach, that for me, hampered the immersive feeling of the story. (See chapter notes) It is a stylistic choice, but one that does not work for me. Example: Character details are almost listed as opposed to being shown actively. Events are described by “tell” not “show”; even though they are actively happening they are described passively not actively. All and all I just feel the overall experience could be improved with just this area alone.

At some point, even the sentence structure felt very simplified and overly structured to simply give the barest details necessary.

But what I really missed/wanted overall was the tension and emotion such “told” writing usually lacks. The details themselves sometimes made me think, “hmm, could something go wrong?” but they didn’t make me feel it (if that makes sense—it might just be me who reads this way).

Story: It’s a wonderfully dark story/realistic without being traumatizing at all (so far). The interaction between the Volencia men and the natives as described was reminiscent of the tales of Columbus and the American natives. Just enough is “told” to make you perceive human injustice has been done. Augustus decision to administer justice for the way the natives were treated also gives a unique perspective into not just his character but the internal conflict for power between himself and his older brother.

Grammar: No complaints. I think I was more hung up on the style than anything. Nothing stood out as far as grammar mistakes.

Character: It really only felt like Augustus, the MC, was fell fleshed out by the end of chapter 4. The side characters were visible, but also reserved to the point they were almost invisible unless they acted—and they only acted to perform a task given by Augustus. While I appreciate a well fleshed out the MC is, I would also like to see the other characters prevalent in the story being more fleshed out.

I have hopes for Marielle, who is introduced in chapter 4, but I did not get enough time with her to really distinguish her from any other obedient noble daughter raised to become a nobleman’s wife. Why was she chosen for the marriage (spoiler) she was chosen for, I assume for the financial benefit because of the port her family has some sort of control over? Not sure I fully grasped that but again, early days as far as Marielle, her marriage, and her family are concerned.

 

Ariana Vivoni
  • Overall Score

A breath of fresh air

Reviewed at: Chapter 6

“The Merchant Prince” is a budding story with potential, that is for sure. Following the journey and struggle of Augustus as he prepares to navigate the political intrigues of his world was a delight I have rarely experienced these days. Since it is relatively early in the book, we still don’t see many hard-core fantasy tropes like magic. Instead, we are given solid and immersive world-building and a plethora of characters that promise to develop in intriguing ways. I loved the setting and deep thought the author has put in their story, detailing religion, commerce, customs and so much more. This pulls the reader in with both its similarity to our own world and the masterfully interwoven unique alternate reality/fantasy elements. Strongly influenced by Renaissance Italy and the journeys of Columbus, the story has built a stable foundation for its further development.

The work’s style is very descriptive with emphasis on details. The pace is slow but the author notes himself that it is intentional. Besides, there are solid hints that major turbulent events are waiting just around the corner. Although there are some repetitions and odd word choices (take this opinion with caution, since I’m not a native speaker), there are no major flaws that disrupt the reading process.

The characters have potential and are multi-layered, possessing a delightful number of flaws. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that they are poorly written, on the contrary. They are not the flat one-dimensional hero, villain, good boy, girly love interest types of protagonists. No, they can be nice and righteous and then in the next moment act like jerks making me agree with them, support them, and criticize them. I loved the experience. It has been some time since any characters made me feel this way. They were like real people, or at least how I imagine real people in Renaissance Italy would act in these circumstances.

As a conclusion, if you want to immerse yourself in an intellectual, well-built fantasy where brains and schemes are even more important than brute strength, I highly recommend “The Merchant Prince”. For me personally it was a true delight reading thus far and I’m eagerly awaiting the next chapters.

lalasu
  • Overall Score

Mature and consistent writing

Reviewed at: Chapter 5

Trying to not review novels this early, but I have a good feeling from what the author is writing so far. Simple, yet fresh and mature; with a promise of politics, trading, and maybe a romance.

The story started by introducing the main character, the third child of the current head of a wealthy family. He is quite capable, but doesn't do anything that goes beyond his role, a young master that never did manual labour. Though, unlike his counterparts from other stories, he shows what the key difference between a commoner and noble is; resources, behaviour, and education.

Before we dived in the main conflict, the author makes sure we have a basic understanding of the main character and the people closest to him. But he does it so you don't get bored. This and the way each chapter goes was what led me to the decision to write this.

I hope the author will keep moving in the same direction and I wish him good luck with it.

George Haufman
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I'm kind of a sucker for stories like these. However, it is very rare I can find any. I think the style is extremely consistent throughout, which is a huge plus for me. Grammar wise, nothing gets in the way of reading, just some minor mistakes though. The story has a pretty straight forward premise that makes it easy to follow. The characters in the story are very organic and feel like they existed before the plot begins to roll, which is a very good thing. I think the author has a great thing going here, keep it up.

Yanutag
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An older style of fantasy book, nice break from the LitRPG.

Reviewed at: Chapter 4

Really love the names! Good choices.

This prose threw me back to the old days of opening a physical fantasy book. The start of a great adventure with good characters and lots of dialogues.

Thank you for your contribution.

Kerma B
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What a read, did not expect this at RoyalRoad

Reviewed at: Chapter 14 (Part 1)

Wow. Okay, first off, the author is not kidding about the traumatizing content. This story does not gloss over the dirty parts of history. The story is set in a second-world fantasy in what I would guess is based roughly on 15th or early 16th century Italy, especially Venice. It explores the increasingly complicated system of economy of the world in many details, but also shows the ugly sides of the colonialism with more realism than I have seen in most other stories. While a magician's guild has been mentioned, so far, no magic has been relevant. 

I love that, personally. I love how conflict is derived entirely from interpersonal relationships and the thrive for power of the main character. Augustus has been described as an anti-hero in other reviews, but I personally do now view him that way. He is certainly no angel, either, though. He is a fascinating young man, as is the second main character, Marielle. Personally, I like Marielle even better than Augustus. Full marks on the characters, anyway. 

The style of this story works hand in hand with the world of the story. It doesn't read like a modern web-novel. It reach much more like an older text. There are style issues in the first chapters, like overly long sentences, which get better. The same goes for grammar. Especially the dialogues of the first chapters have some more than minor issues with punctuation. Everything is still readable, though.

As for the story - I don't really know how to sum that up, without giving too much away. I already touched on the worldbuilding, which is awesome and believable, and feels rooted in history and unique at the same time. Beyond that, there's a rivalry between brothers, assassins and a whole new religion. Best if you read it for yourself, especially if you have a liking for history. 

Ozzy
  • Overall Score

Ambition is the game, Augustus is the name

Reviewed at: Chapter 13 (Part 1)

Ambition is what drives us all, and it is shown greatly in this story.  I don't want to spoil anything, but if you love cloak and dagger type intrigue with some politics mixed in, you'll love this.  Can't wait to see more!

staggen_mx
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A fantastic story about the nobility, with a great setting!

Reviewed at: Chapter 12 (Part 1)

Overall - 5/5

Had to question if I was going to get hooked into the story, but that all changed right after the events of Chapter 2. Chapter 1 was mostly peaceful, then Chapter 2 just changed all of that.

Grammar - 5/5

Just one complaint, I suggest adding space with each paragraph, since I got confused with some parts. Thankfully, the indentions do help. Despite my complaint, I'll still uphold my 5-star rating for this.

Story - 5/5

I was tricked into thinking that the story was all about Augustus and the natives they met in the prologue of the story.

The actual story is all about the nobility backstabbing each other, just so they can receive power in their family (i.e. the DeCastellian family). It's a nice break from all the common types of novels here.

Style - 4.5/5

Now, there are some parts of the story with extremely long dialogue. I suggest shortening some of it. The descriptions, mixed in with the slow pacing, helped me get a vivid imagination of how the world, and characters looked.

Despite the slow pacing, I was managed to be still hooked in. The pacing helps a lot with the story. It helps us understand more about the world the story is set in, the characters, etc. I could see why the author chose to do so.

The author has quite a wide vocabulary, so good on that as well.

Characters - 5/5

Out of all the characters I've been introduced to so far, Augustus is the one I see which is fleshed out. We know all about his past, his personality, etc.

As for the events in Chapter 3, it was quite a joy knowing that he was also disgusted by the actions done by Marcus. However, in Chapter 6, I do feel like he was kind of a douche to Marielle.

Now, in Chapter 4, we are introduced to the 2nd protagonist, Marielle. She was a character that out of all the people we are introduced to, the one I'm quite intrigued about. I was especially hooked on to her right after Chapter 5,

Spoiler: Spoiler

The villain, whose name I shall not mention, is quite... a douchebag, just from reading the dialogue about him.

Spoiler: Spoiler

Now, for the final verdict, do I recommend this story? Hell yes, I would indeed recommend it! 

 

Gunsrule
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How is this not trending?

Reviewed at: Chapter 13 (Part 1)

This story is amazing, I've enjoyed every chapter so far and I have no complaints, it truly deserves 5 stars. If you saw the title and were interested then give it a try, I know I was in it for the long haul within 5 chapters.

Zenopath (AEV)
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An Exciting Voyage and Story.

Reviewed at: Chapter 12 (Part 1)

I enjoyed reading this well crafted story of adventure on the high seas as Augustus and his friends Heratio and Marielle explore various locations and interact in thier unique and interesting world. 

The prose is engaging and the dialog feels natural. Highly recommended.