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Reviewed by Foluso Falaye for Readers' Favorite
The Travels of ibn Thomas depicts a man's struggle to save his soul, gain recognition as a physician, and learn the truth about his father in a medieval world disrupted by the contrasting interests of Christians, Muslims, and Judaists. Born a Muslim and baptized in the Christian faith, Thomas practices as a physician but his identity is constantly threatened as each faith pushes him to choose a side and puts him in life-threatening circumstances. When Thomas finds out about the disappearance of his father, who had been a spy for the Church, he vows to find out what became of him. This charming and enthralling second book in the Sugar Merchant series by James Hutson-Wiley spans England, Egypt, Jerusalem, and the open seas, and presents the dangerous exploits of an ambitious physician.
I was hoping that the political and historical nature of the book would not overshadow and compromise the smoothness and appeal of the story, and I was thrilled to find out that this is not the case. The Travels of ibn Thomas is a historical novel that gets it right as it perfectly balances historical facts with a deeply engrossing narrative that teaches, entertains, and inspires. An impressive aspect of the book is how the characters are portrayed to have different beliefs but all share similar flaws and desires. I fell in love with James Hutson-Wiley's natural and lifelike characters, especially the calm protagonist and his talkative friend whose role adds great humor to the plot. There's just so much to like in The Travels of ibn Thomas that I consider it a favorite and would definitely love to read it again.