In this sequel to Inda, Sherwood Smith follows her young hero through some seaside adventures as he grows up learning to fight against pirates after his exile from his childhood home. Inda’s complex plans and capers form the basis for most of the storyline, but exciting events are also afoot in Iasca Leror, Inda’s birthplace. When his brother is killed, Inda becomes the heir to Choraed Elgar, his family’s realm, and they launch a search to find him. Treachery strikes the royal court and if Inda ever goes home, he will find a completely different place than he expects.
While I really enjoyed Inda and found it was a great fantasy to lose myself in, The Fox suffered from second book syndrome. A lot happens, but it’s spread out over the 750+ pages, and as a result the book feels fairly slow even though there is actually plenty of action. Not much at all is resolved, but progress is generally made across the plotlines as the characters that were introduced as children in the first book grow up.
I will admit freely that part of the problem I had with this book is that so much of it took place on a ship. I’m one of those strange people that really prefers fantasy books in particular settings, and aboard ship has just never been one of them. The only exception to this rule so far has been Robin Hobb. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been on a ship, but I just found it really hard to continue paying attention during the sea battles, and given that 2/3 of the book takes place there, this was a problem. I always enjoyed it when the narrative returned to Inda’s family and friends on dry land in Choraed Elgar because I vastly prefer kingdom politics to piracy politics. Luckily, this one seems to indicate that more of book three will be spent on land, so my enthusiasm for the series is not as diminished as it could have been.
Regardless of my criticisms, I really enjoyed how the characters developed and I found myself caring a lot about them. I’m interested to see where the story is going and that is really what matters here. It’s still a fairly solid continuation to a promising epic fantasy saga, and I think approached in that way would be a very enjoyable read for anyone who likes that kind of book.
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