Review: King’s Shield


“Art separates the leaders of style from those who want to be perceived as stylish.” ~ Sherwood Smith, King’s Shield

King’s Shield (Inda #3) by Sherwood Smith
687 pages
Published by DAW, 2008
Genre: Fantasy
Re-readability: I will probably reread the series someday, but I wouldn’t reread this on its own.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by Pete
This review contains mild spoilers

I had been looking forward to this book for a long time, especially after the ending of The Fox.

The Inda Quartet is a military fantasy series set in Smith’s intricate and thoroughly researched world of Sartorias-deles. It follows Inda on his journey from childhood to adulthood, and explores his adventures in a military academy, at sea fighting pirates, and on the battlefield fighting for his country. Despite the amount of combat in these books, the characters are always the driving force and the reason I keep coming back to these books.

I enjoyed the first 300 pages or so of King’s Shield, as it was filled with things I had been waiting for since the first book—and Sherwood Smith really delivered. Many of my favorite characters (like Tdor and Hadand) came back into the spotlight, though Inda remained the center of all things as always.

Toward the middle of the book, the plot starts turning toward the event we have known was coming since the first book—all-out war against the Venn, a hostile empire in the north. Though this should have been exciting, it wasn’t. This part of the story was told through long meetings, messengers, and hushed conversations. It just kept crawling closer and closer, and when the combat finally starts, it feels rushed and anti-climactic. While all of this is going on, I just wanted to read about Tdor and Inda and the conversations they need to have so badly.

In the second Inda book, Smith firmly established a huge new cast of characters, Inda’s shipmates and comrades. I was fully looking forward to the converging of two casts of characters, but Smith seemed content to let Fox, Nugget, Jeje, and the rest of the crew go by the wayside, occasionally giving us glimpses of what they are up to.

These two worlds seemed to briefly collide at the start of this book, and I thought that this was Smith’s plan all along. If she has a plan for this, I will have to wait for the fourth book.

This was my least favorite book in the series so far, and I feel that it was clearly the weakest. Compared to the nonstop action and character development of the first two books, this one felt slow, rambling, and at times, inconsequential.

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