schneefink: (FF River and Kaylee)
[personal profile] schneefink
I recently finished & enjoyed the first two books of the "Inda" series, and I'm currently reading the third. I wanted an distraction while a group of people overseas voted to kill millions of their own citizens, but then the characters rode into battle and I needed a break while worrying about which fictional characters will survive (and how.) Though this fantasy series has fewer and less evil enemies than reality.

The first book, Inda, was enjoyable but not really enthralling. Too much of it felt like set-up. It didn't help that I never really warmed up to the main character. Inda is smarter than everyone around him, he's good at whatever he does, his mother breaks a decade-long vow of secrecy among women and orders his sister to teach him women's secret martial arts, he's the only one among the scrubs who doesn't get a stupid nickname; but the moment his status as a Mary Sue (a term which apparently I hate only when applied to female characters) was cemented for me was when Cherry-Stripe mused about how much he wanted to be Inda's friend because he's so amazing, even though he was ordered to be his enemy. Characters like Inda, to me, are almost never interesting on their own, only in their relationships with other characters. I really liked (the potential of) Inda&Tanrid, Inda&Evred, and Inda&Tau, and I was very disappointed when two of these died. I did expect Tanrid and Tau to eventually die, but later, after we got more interactions that I was really looking forward to. Bäh.
Tdor, Hadand, Evred and maybe some others also have a lot of potential, I hope to see more in the next book.

The second book, The Fox, I did not want to put down once I started, and I finished it in one day at 2am. It has a lot of tropes and character dynamics that I really like, and the plot moved quickly (for ¾ of the book.) I did not expect Evred to become king in the middle of book 2!, I thought it would take a lot longer. On the one hand the Harskialdna and Sierlaef are dead, which is good, but he's still in a terrible position now, inexperienced king of a poor kingdom with failing magic and war threatening, and with very few if any good advisors. I was very sorry Captain Sindan died (though at least he had a good death.) I liked Evred's relationship with Hadand too, poor Hadand. (I was surprised how many unrequited feelings the book put emphasis on, I don't think I've seen that often but I'm not sure if I just don't remember right now.)
Inda the pirate commander! I loved his relationships with Tau and Jeje and Fox. The most interesting thing about characters like Inda are usually the people around them, and the ~rivalry between Tau and Fox is a great example.
I was very happy that Tau and Jeje survived; Tau in particular has probably become my favorite. And the author is setting up a mystery around his mother's background, which probably means he won't be killed off soon, good. Tau & Jeje is also a great combination.
For some reason I'm not really interested in the Venn, except as enemies. I don't really have a clear picture of them, except that their magic uses some Viking concepts. Probably contributing to that was that the last quarter of the book felt slower compared to the others. It took until the very last page for Inda to find out that Evred has become king, seriously? Ah well.

I like the omniscient narrator a lot, I enjoy getting glimpses into different characters' heads during the same scene. I also like the casual household magic in the background, and the natural way queer people are shown as part of the world. I want queer people in all media and everywhere, and I want them to punch dark lords and evil politicians in the face.
Back to the battle.

Date: 2017-05-04 07:42 pm (UTC)
muccamukk: Girl sitting on a forest floor, reading a book and surrounded by towers of more books. (Books: So Many Books)
From: [personal profile] muccamukk
I read about a hundred pages of Inda and decided I didn't care. It leans really hard on made-up languages and complicated titles, and since I didn't care about Inda himself even a little bit, I didn't have the motivation to trudge through all the jargon. I keep hearing that the investment of trudging through the first one is worth it as the rest of the series is great, but...

Date: 2017-05-04 07:55 pm (UTC)
naye: (book)
From: [personal profile] naye
It is~! I found the first half of the first book so hard and struggled with it to the point of giving up, but investing in it really pays off hugely and now I'm flailing at strangers on Dreamwidth about the it.

I'm guessing it might even be possible to just pick up at Part 2 of book 1 and use Sherwood Smith's guide to who's who to sort out any confusion? (There's a lot of background things being set up in Part 1, but I don't think you'd be completely lost without it.)

Date: 2017-05-04 08:02 pm (UTC)
muccamukk: Painting of a very small boat surrounded by big waves, lighthouse in background. (Lights: Little Boat in a Big Sea)
From: [personal profile] muccamukk
Maybe some day when I'm more into epic fantasy. It just seems like a big ask to trudge through 500 pages of something you don't enjoy to get to the good bits.

Date: 2017-05-04 07:51 pm (UTC)
naye: robin from one piece reading, with the words "book love" (book love)
From: [personal profile] naye
Ah, I'm so glad you kept reading! I was also gutted at the end of Inda when I thought Tau had died, and so pleased to find out he lived!

And Sindan dying was tragic, but at least he made it to like. 70! Which is impressive. Meanwhile poor Dun didn't even get to share his identity with Inda before he was killed. That really got to me, that the only person who knew about his mission (Sindan) died without telling anyone else, so nobody who knew him in his old life knows why he disappeared, and nobody in his current life really knew him at all...

Oh man Tau and Jeje and Fox's pirate adventures I love SO MUCH! Of course, I'm also hugely fond of Inda because he's the type of character I'm weak to (not an asshole, genius in some ways but really awkward in others, and of course loyal to the max which always gets me), but I also really love all of his friends.

Casual household magic is one of my FAVORITE THINGS about the books. And not just household magic: feminist magic. As in: their magic makes the world a much more equal place. Not only is there no rape (which is 100% a huge relief to me), but women can't get pregnant accidentally (because magic), and don't have to get pregnant if they don't want to (because birth spells)! Which leaves us with a world where women can fill all the roles men can - and vice versa, pretty much.

(I'm really curious if there's any magic that can actually change your gender? I wouldn't be surprised, really - I know canonically there's a spell that can halt the onset of puberty and freeze you in childhood... But it would make sense that aligning with a gender might be a matter of choice. At least outside of those awkward situations where you have alliance-marriages arranged between young children and all of a sudden you're left with two brides or two grooms. Which doesn't stop same-sex couples from going off and having kids - there's a GREAT example of that later on i the story!)

Anyway, that's a long aside. One last note: the Venn are totally Vikings. I mean. Some five millennia removed, but definitely Vikings. :D

I hope you like the next two books too!

Date: 2017-05-04 08:29 pm (UTC)
naye: luffy in a stained cape looking thoughtful (thoughtful luffy)
From: [personal profile] naye
There's definitely descriptions of the Venn land at some point, because I remember snippets of them - not sure when, though. I think when you see the early Venn POV they're all hanging out in the southern hemisphere rather than their homelands...

I'm almost a third of the way through book 3, and holy shit, does Evred not have any competent advisors??

...yeahhh you pretty much nailed it with the rest of that paragraph. Also remember that his uncle spent longer than Evred's been alive getting rid of good advisers. He literally went so far as to get rid of an 11-year old because even little boy Inda in his loyalty and competence was a threat to his plans. So thanks to his uncle anyone who might've been able and willing to really help Evred run the country is either dead or exiled - with the exception of a few women that he overlooked as too insignificant because they plotted really hard to keep from being noticed by him.

And about the sexual coercion - yeah, it's true, and it's super uncomfortable. But it's not most other fantasy books (or you know - reality!) where men use their advantages in size to assault women. Using your advantage in power the same way is gross and the people who do it are horrible, but at least it's a (more or less) equal advantage. (Poor Tau.)

Date: 2017-05-04 11:48 pm (UTC)
skygiants: the aunts from Pushing Daisies reading and sipping wine on a couch (wine and books)
From: [personal profile] skygiants
I read this series like eight years ago and I'm STILL mad about Tanrid; he was basically my favorite character in book one! Then he died and left me with a lot of brother feelings and nothing to do with them.

Inda, on the other hand, was never my favorite character either, but I grew a lot fonder of him when I realized (I think via a referece made circa book 4) that he was written as somewhere on the autism spectrum, and the entire series was built around the premise of an autistic character who is the best and smartest and most popular, because why not?

Date: 2017-05-05 03:28 am (UTC)
theladyscribe: (hit the road)
From: [personal profile] theladyscribe
I have not read the Inda series (and am not reading the spoilery bits of your post), but Sherwood Smith's Crown Duel was a formative part of my early teens/reading habits. Highly recommend for a fast read with lots of adventuring and spies and court intrigue! Also, it has some heart-clenching mutual pining in the second half (which is sometimes published as a separate novel titled Court Duel).

Date: 2017-05-05 09:08 am (UTC)
merit: (Default)
From: [personal profile] merit
I really need to get a copy - Inda has been on my to read list for a while!


schneefink: River walking among trees, from "Safe" (Default)

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