I chose to read this book when I realized that I was reading a lot less fantasy than I used to. It’s probably just a reading phase, but I thought I’d introduce some variety I actually enjoyed. Besides that, it was six months old, and for a book I actually wanted to read, that’s too long to wait.
Indevan-Dal, casually known as Inda, is the second son of a prince and thus acts as the protector of his brother, the heir’s, future estate, and his destiny is to stay there as his brother rides off to war and glory. He is still a young boy, but he is already betrothed and his future wife, Tdor, has grown up with his family, as is the tradition. At least, he thinks his life is set, until an unusual call is put out, to send the second sons to the King’s Academy. There, Inda’s unusual leadership capabilities and the treacheries of the royal court ensure that his future is not at all what he had expected.
I definitely enjoyed this book. It was good, solid fantasy with a lot of politics involved, but they were easily understood and I always enjoy that. Sometimes it’s difficult when an adult fantasy holds as its focus a young boy, but Sherwood Smith does a good job here and Inda is believable – I think we’ve all met kids and adults who are just natural leaders. His friendships are genuine and the characterizations are good for a fantasy novel. The plot goes along swiftly, and although it does get slightly predictable around the end, I was never bored and I never felt it dragged. I think that for other readers, the bits at the Academy may seem slow, but I have always loved the school atmosphere (even in Robin Hobb’s Soldier Son trilogy!), so I really liked those parts. Smith’s writing is fine and the book is definitely absorbing. I finished reading very excited for the next in the trilogy, which I do happen to have (yay!). I’m only holding back because the third is out in hardcover and I can’t afford it yet. I’ll be reading and reviewing it soon, though.
So, I would definitely recommend this to a fantasy fan. Great politics, plot, and characters – everything that is important. I don’t think it transcends its genre, but it’s wonderful for what it is. Buy this book on Amazon.