After the high standards of Inda, the prequel to Sherwood Smith’s The Fox, it was next to impossible to be better this time. But, still, Smith delivers a quality second book in the series.
After the drama of the first book, Inda was left at sea after being forced from his homeland. Smith had really run Inda through a ragged race of events while growing him slowly into the man he would become. That process continues in The Fox. Inda remains, as always, the leader without an ego. He follows the impossible standard of leading from the front. As a weapon against pirates, that had been effective.
At home, the politics of selfishness and hunger for power continue to spiral towards an inevitable conclusion. Inda’s family continues to cope with the second and third order after-effects of unconscionable acts by members of the ruling family. This is not an instant process — rather the villains continue to grow more and more isolated from reality as their actions lead further and further from the honor and loyalty that is expected.
The many supporting characters remain very interesting. Flaws, strengths, and change are all part of each character’s story and Smith really keeps them moving. It’s like a well choreographed ballet with many different dancers moving at the same time.
However, I felt at times that the story seemed to drag. As a reader I would come to a point where the inevitable next step was obviously coming and I didn’t want to slog through another 100 pages to get to it. The “filler” sections were not really boring, but they didn’t seem as vital to the story as they did in most of the first book. That doesn’t mean that The Fox was slow — merely that Smith had a lot of story to tell and sometimes it felt like it took a long time to get where she wants to take us.
Again, Smith’s ability to treat different moral perspectives as windows into a character’s personality instead of a judgment made several divisive themes entirely appropriate. She effectively creates character faults and shows us how things taken too far can turn from bad to good.
On the whole, The Fox was a good book. Not as good as Inda, but still worth the effort to get through almost 800 pages of text. I look forward to further journeys in the world Sherwood Smith has created.
Inda — (2006-2012) Banner of the Danmed takes place 400 years after the INDA books. Publisher: Indevan Algara-Vayir is the second son of a powerful prince, destined to stay at home and defend his family’s castle. Inda is sent to the Royal Academy where he learns the art of war and finds that danger and intrigue don’t only come from outside the kingdom — and that one can find oneself on the outside, fighting the dangers that do exist there.