Monday, August 16, 2010

A Master Class in Worldbuilding

But not quite as good as Book 1 and 2

KING'S SHIELD
Inda Book 3
By Sherwood Smith
Buy it

In the third book of the Inda quartet, Inda, on the verge of adulthood, is at last coming home. His best friend from his academy days, Evred, is now king. But instead of befriending and welcoming Inda, he puts him in charge of defending the kingdom. In saving his homeland from attack, Inda must prove himself-or lose everything he holds dear.
“The world creation and characterization within Inda have the complexity and depth and inventiveness that mark a first-rate fantasy novel... This is the mark of a major work of fiction…you owe it to yourself to read Inda.” - Orson Scott Card







The first book introduces the reader to a complex world - steeped brilliantly in as much history and diversity as our own - and to Inda, the title and main character of the quartet. He goes to military school as all aristocratic sons of the Marlovians do and build friendships with other boys his own age - ties that will last a lifetime. Here we see the beginnings of the military prodigy he becomes and  get caught up in the tragedy that befalls him and the exile he must endure, while at the same time cheering him on as he takes what he's been given and does better than ever expected.

In book two the genius that was hinted at blossoms and we really get to see Inda shine. There is action and excitement aplenty - and although I love magic, magic, magic and characters who learn how to use it I had no problem that there is barely any at all Inda's part of the world. There is some but it's not a huge part of the story. This book builds on the first beautiful as a study in character development, action and politics with real complexity.

Then we have book three.
 
King's Shield is a home coming tale and it has all the joy and poignancy you might expect without being cloying or superficial. Sherwood breathes life into these characters. But for me, the overall feel I got from this book was (I imagine) what some people get when they talk about 'middle book syndrome'. This is not a middle book per se but it is the hinge on which a major thread hangs - Inda Exiled, Inda homecoming, and to come, Inda at home. And that's fine.
 
These are huge books (just the way I like them) but I felt a lot this books battles where boring - unlike the sea battles Inda fought in Fox (perhaps because those seemed to happen faster and where more intimate).  I found myself more interested in the economics of the Marlovian kingdom, it's trade and infrastructure, and the internal politics than what was going on with the fighting. But that probably says more about me than the writing of the book :-D That being said there a lot of characters (most of whom are known by more than one name) and it does become confusing without a character list or a glossary in book. But, these are peripheral characters and as long as you retain the mains and their direct counter parts you'll do okay.
 
Sherwood Smith's imagination is captivating - and the background info on her site (for this story/world) is mind blowing - her characters are vibrant individuals and her grasp of history is epic. My biggest regret with this series is not buying Inda in hardback because this series (although I have yet to read book four) is going on my shelves as a keeper!
 
I can't wait to read more about this world, it is very, very exciting.
 
 

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