Inda satisfies my two main desires for fantasy; characters I can care about, and a world that is unique.
4/5 19/25 Possible Score
Plot – 4(Strong)
Characters – 5(Very Strong)
Setting/World Building – 4(Strong)
Writing Style – 2(Weak)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 4(Strong)
The princes of each house usually teach their younger brother how to fight and protect their older brother, but this year all of the younger brothers are going to the same military school as their older brothers. Inda is the second heir from a southern territory that makes his way to the military school to train. Inda becomes friends with the king’s second son, Sponge. The heir of the king, Sponge’s older brother, sees his younger brother as a threat to his future rule, and goes out of his way to make Sponge, Inda, and all their friends, have the most difficult time possible.
What may seem like just young teenagers and children picking on each other, becomes something much larger, that will impact an entire kingdom.
What Is Good:
Inda has such good characters. We meet the majority of the characters when they are around 11-15, so we see a lot of growth from each character. It is very similar to the growth that the children in Harry Potter go through, because each story has a school at the center of the story. However, we see the children in Inda grow up faster and soon the military school is just the place where everything started to go wrong for characters.
Inda is a conscientious young man that doesn’t want to stand out but his natural ability to lead seems to rise to the surface. Sponge, the second prince of the king, would rather read books and scroll, than practice a sword. He is highly intelligent and threatens his older brother, that does not share the same acumen. Hadand is Indas older sister and her compassion is showcased throughout the book. Joret is a beauty unlike any other, but she does not like the unwelcome attention from men. This is just a sampling of the amazing characters in this book. I could name about 10 other characters that I found fun to read about. The important thing, for me, is that I cared about each and every one of the characters.
The world that Inda encompasses is extremely unique. That uniqueness comes from small details like women are the defenders of the home, and magic is mainly used for everyday chores like going to the bathroom. Most magic is limited to removing inconveniences in life. For example, you can remove your facial hair with a spell. The part of the world that Inda lives is cut off from most of the other world because of the reputation that Inda’s people have. They are known for their excellent fighting abilities and horse usage, but not for their ship usage. Ship usage is extremely important in this world but Inda’s people do not sail much. All of the houses and families that make up this kingdom, will take me awhile to get straight in my head.
The plot is unpredictable and it really works with this book. As soon as you are comfortable and used to the current situation, things change dramatically. This book will always keep you on your toes.
A lot of times fantasy authors do not think outside the box when it comes to female characters. There might be your typical story where women are just background pieces for men, or a story with an a-typical super agile girl that kicks butt. Sherwood Smith creates a “female system” in Inda that I am very fond of. Females are the defenders of the castles at home because the men are usually away on expeditions. Females are the holders of the secrets of magic and are found studying old history. Even though the men are mostly the leaders, the females have a role to fill in this society. I like this approach of creating a role for females instead of making stereotypical female characters, because now the female characters are characters unto themselves, not archtypes.
What I Didn’t Like:
The main thing that I didn’t like is Sherwood Smith’s writing style. There are a lot of characters in this story and the point of view jumped very frequently without a hint of the change. This was sometimes distracting, and caused me to reread passages, because I had to make sure I understood the scene properly. Many times Smith was telling us about things instead of the characters showing us the world. This is one time when the substance trumps the style though.
I would recommend Inda to anyone that loves character based stories. The book reminded me a lot of The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb. I find that is nice to read a book about teenagers growing up and joining a special school. If that is something you enjoy too, I would highly recommend this book. I feel that the series can only get better from here.