Commerce Emperor


The world is up for sale, and he’s making an offer.

When Robin Waybright became the Merchant Hero, all of Pangeal turned into his marketplace; for the Merchant can buy and sell anything. Youth, skills, memories, hair color, joys and illnesses… in the trade of power, every deal can tip the scale.

And Robin needs power. His homeland of Archfrost teeters on the brink of collapse, the sinister Demon Ancestors plot in the shadows, and twenty-one other Heroes, each with their own Class, have been chosen to save the world of Pangeal. Not all of them are friendly.

There’s work to do… and profit to make.


Review written after reading book one. Alas, book two isn’t out yet, but has been stubbed on RR already. What timing!

I love Void Herald and all their works. The Perfect Run is a masterpiece. Vainqueur the Dragon is hilarious. But… I’m a bit eh on Commerce Emperor.

I’m reading this after coming off The Immaculate Collection, as I wanted another take on merchant / commerce progression. And on the face of it, this series should deliver. After all, Robin is the Merchant, one of the seven great heros. He can trade [almost] anything, including years of life, the colour of someone’s eyes, or, you know, normal things as well. He’s even joined with his vassal heros, the Artistan and Alchemist, and with their powers combined, he has the means to create this empire of commerce alluded to. Marika (the Artisan) can craft a whole ship in a day, instead of the normal year it would take a ship yard?

So why the long face?

Well, because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere, I think. I want progression in my progression fantasy. The idea of Robin being able to trade anything has so many possible exploits, and yet many of them (like trying to trade someone’s strength or agility) do not work. Even with the things that do work, most of the book is spent worrying about the Demonic Ancestors and their bid to screw everyone’s life up. Robin doesn’t open a store. He doesn’t become fabulously wealthy. Apart from a few things (which I won’t go into because spoilers), he doesn’t seem to exploit his powers like I was hoping for him to do. Robin wants to fix up an entire city, and at one point, the Alchemist turns a warehouse of human waste and rubbish into marble… But we don’t see this marble used. We don’t see the city transformed, life come back to it, the heroes turning things around. Maybe that’s covered in book two (but I doubt it given the ending of book one).

At the end of book one, Robin has a bunch of skills he’s getting better at (like fencing), but in terms of commerce… nothing. Those ships he had made? The references to them are mostly as jokes due to the strange name of the ships. What have they bought? Have they returned? What trade routes have they established? No idea.

The warehouse of marble. What was that used for? How did that help the city? No idea.

The plans to spend the city treasury on infrastructure like fixing the road and bridge to the capitol. Did that ever start, or was it all delayed? No idea.

The characters are all great, I have no complaints there. They each have backstory, their own issues and motivations, their own mannerisms, and the interactions between them are fantastic.

I’ll read book two when it’s out on KU in a fortnight, and I have my fingers crossed so much that there’s more commerce in it, but I feel like the story may simply appeal more to those coming in wanting a more classical good vs evil, prophesied demons vs heroes take, and I simply came in with the wrong expectations.