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Reviewed by Caitlin Lyle Farley for Readers' Favorite
Building a Trade Empire: Wyrms of Pasandir #4 is a fantasy tale by Paul E. Horsman. Eskandar the wyrmcaller has headed north to hunt down his enemies. With Eskander’s blessing, Purser Shaw and her business partner, Nate, return to Seatome to start a trading company that will fund the wyrmcaller’s ‘children’s army’. With the gold found in Smalkand and loot from their battles against pirates, Shaw secures a warehouse in Seatome, hires staff, and officially opens the Pasandir Trading Company. With a vast supply of capital behind her, the goodwill of the Weal, and her sharp business skills, Shaw is set to realise her dream of running a trade empire. However, Shaw’s endeavour is not without danger. Pirates still roam the seas, and Shaw’s rapid expansion earns her enemies as well as friends.
Building a Trade Empire focuses on business and trade, and while these do come with some level of danger, it’s not the usual series of battles and challenges one encounters in the traditional fantasy story. This on its own distinguishes Building a Trade Empire, but the effortless, seamless inclusion of steampunk elements in the world building ensures that this book is unforgettable. Shaw stomps on the clichés surrounding female lead characters. She’s a firm but generous leader, and although her vision difficulties pose a unique challenge, she’s never the damsel in distress. While Shaw is a little insecure about her appearance, in general she’s a clever, capable character who I found both endearing and admirable. There were occasions where I felt success came a little too easily in the story and I would’ve liked to see the characters face more critical challenges. Building a Trade Empire is an engrossing and highly enjoyable adventure nonetheless, and although it is the fourth instalment of Horsman’s Wyrms of Pasandir series, it can be read as a stand-alone.