Review: The Fox

“In Sartotias-deles, only once have we seen pirates enjoy the protection of the strongest naval power in the world.” ~ Sherwood Smith, The Fox

The Fox (Inda #2) by Sherwood Smith
772 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Published by DAW Books, 2007
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: It doesn’t matter if the second half of this quartet is terrible—the first two have been so deep and filled with wonderful characters that I know I’ll be revisiting them both.

Reviewed by Pete

Spoiler-free review

The Fox is one of those books that picks up from the previous one so seamlessly that it feels like the same book. In fact, the beginning of this book made it feel as if Inda stopped before the climax even began.

Sherwood Smith’s Inda quartet serves as the foundation of her world of Sartorias-deles. These books are a prequel to countless others she’s written. Her writing is meaty, well-researched, and concise. A chapter can span months or longer. Entire battles are crammed into pressurized, three-page passages. The plot twists hit you like sucker punches, and things happen so quickly that it’s almost hard to keep up.

But it isn’t. Despite the massive amount of lore, history, politics, magic, and linguistics, I was somehow always treading water, and the second book in the series was a bit easier to read than the first. I mentioned in my review of Inda that I had a note on my phone containing over 90 characters. Well, Smith is consistent; that list grew to 184 characters after the second book, and I don’t think I would have made it through without taking notes.

The Fox is a masterpiece of a sequel. The book began with several events that I wasn’t expecting until books later, and the plot twists and battles just kept coming—for 400 pages. Smith doesn’t seem concerned with the notion of a traditional story arc. This book was frontloaded, and it has a beginning (if you can call the first half of a book the “beginning”) that rewarded the reader wonderfully.

Smith is a master at crafting convincing, dynamic, and entertaining characters that stick with you long after you put the book down. She took the characters that she developed so meticulously in the first book and put them through yet more trials that left them changed.

She also managed to further explore an already complex world—primarily by literally exploring it. Characters are sent to places only mentioned in the first book, yet she never shows too much. All it takes is a glimpse of a new city for her to create the sense of a massive civilization.

No part of this story was predictable, and the ending of the book told me little of what comes next, but that only makes me more excited for the third installment in the series.

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