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The Fox, by Sherwood Smith
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: DAW
Published: 2008
Review Posted: 6/9/2013
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

The Fox, by Sherwood Smith

Book Review by Joshua Palmatier

Have you read this book?

I finished The Fox, the second book in the Inda series from Sherwood Smith, over the weekend. This is an epic fantasy novel on the world-covering scale. My comments on the first novel were that it was not a complete novel unto itself, that if you wanted the rest of the story, you'd have to read on . . . and that's true for the sequel as well.

There were significant changes in the world and in the characters during the course of The Fox. All of the relationships that were begun in the first book and then ripped apart come back in significant ways in this novel, as the political climate in Inda's homeland shifts and then dramatically changes. All of the compatriots we met with Inda at the academy come into play in some way. All of the boys and girls you grew to love grow into their young adulthood here, making mistakes as they go, but also beginning the roads they were meant to travel in life from birth.

Of course, as events transpire, not all of those roads end up being smooth.

We see Sponge learning how to wield power, Inda gathering more and more friends and allies around him as he sails the high seas, and increasingly both get drawn into the shifting politics of the world as the Venn continue their efforts to seize more of the southern lands. For the first time, we get to see some of the Venn point of view, instead of only elusive ships on the horizon and rumors. But the main focus for Inda and Sponge, at first, are the pirates the Venn have set to ravaging the coast lands and interrupting trade. Most of the book centers on this, as the power shifts back in Inda's homeland. But having Inda run up and down the coast destroying pirates would soon get boring, so of course Inda's plans need to change. Unaware of what's happening at home, he sets his sights on the Venn instead, but for that he'll need help. The second half of the book focuses on that search and the gathering of information.

There's intrigue and action and betrayal and pirates, ARRR!, and lots of sea battles, as well as subtle political maneuvering. The maneuvering is at times hard to follow (I'm still having problems with the tons of names and ranks, etc) but as before it doesn't really slow down the understanding of the book at all to sort of skip over those. And you can skip over those, because the reason you're reading is to experience the world--which is deep and rich and so interconnected--and to live life with the characters. They're who you care about. You're reading to find out what happens to them. And with so many characters to follow, the plot can get convoluted. It does, but Sherwood Smith's writing doesn't mean that they're knotted or hard to follow. Quite the opposite actually. There was one plot element that I felt was a little too . . . rigged. It didn't quite fit as smoothly into the general flow and felt contrived and perhaps a little too "accidental" for my tastes, but in a book of this size, with this many elements going on at once, that one little wrinkle is easy to ignore.

And now I need to know what happens in the next book. What happens to Inda? And Fox? And . . . well, the list would go on for quite a while. I'd recommend this book for anyone, at pretty much any age level. There is fighting, and even a torture scene in this one, but nothing is ever explicit and those at a younger age will read right over anything leaning toward anything you'd be concerned about. Sherwood Smith balances adult interest with young adult action excellently. Definitely a series to check out if you're at all interested in pirates. *grin*
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