Treason's ShoreIf I had to pick any day of the week to be assigned as the ‘Geek Sabbath’, it would have to be Tuesdays.  Don’t you think?  Most new releases of books, DVDs, or a long-awaited album land on Tuesdays, which is why most of us look forward to them so much.  This Tuesday is a great one because it’s the day we finally get our hands on the fourth and final installment of Sherwood Smith’s Inda series.  It’s called Treason’s Shore and it will wrap up a truly epic fantasy tale that follows one of the most endearing and interesting casts of characters I’ve ever had the pleasure to read about.  I strongly encourage you to take a closer look.  Start with Inda and go from there.  You will never ever be sorry.

In fact, like me, you’ll probably go back for rereads.  I just reread The Fox (Inda #2) and I started rereading King’s Shield (#3) this morning so I can refresh my memory in preparation for the epic ending she has in store.  Rereading these books is such a pleasure because they’re thick enough that I’ve forgotten lots of cool details and they’re so well-written that I never regret starting over from the beginning.  In fact, it was while rereading Fox that I decided I just had to urge everyone I know to read these books.  That one is my particular favorite of the bunch (so far) and I was rather amazed at how fantastic it still is, even after a second look.

If you know anything about Sherwood Smith you know that she’s written a lot of young adult fantasy.  I’ve mentioned her YA fantasy before and on another day I’ll probably mention it again.  However now, NOW is the time for you to pick up this series.  It’s definitely for grownups (without being graphic or vulgar) and it’s masterfully written. 

The series encompasses an enormous story that starts out quite small.  If I had to compare it to anything, I’d compare it to Orson Scott Card’s brilliant Ender’s Game.   Sure, Ender is sci fi and Inda is fantasy, but they begin in much the same way.  Here we have a boy (Inda, our hero) with a wicked penchant for leadership and command who ends up in a military academy at a very young age.  He quickly becomes the center of an impressive group of fellow mini soldiers who quickly fall into orbit around him.  Inda is that endearing and completely without guile.  He is that gifted.  His friends don’t ever vocally or consciously declare their loyalty, but there is no need.  They are a unit, with Inda at the head.

Sounds a lot like Ender, don’t you think?  Inda is similar to Ender in the best way possible: characters.  Smith, like Card did with the Ender series, creates a beautiful set of characters around her hero right from the beginning of the first book.  The antagonists are complicated and terrifying in their determination to get what they want.  They have weaknesses and Smith makes us feel for them, even though we know they are the ‘bad guys.’  The protagonists are many, also complicated, and truly a joy to get to know.  By the time I was two chapters into Inda, I was ready to follow these people through as many books as Smith could write.  I’m delighted that we got four whole books.  Four big, fat books.

The FoxSee, Smith writes the best kind of fantasy there is.  We get political intrigue, assassinations, shocking plot twists, magic, believable romance, war, lust for power, humor, and, the best of all – pirates.  We get SO MANY FANTASTIC PIRATES!  If the thought of reading about pirates makes you say ‘Peh!’ and think of Treasure Island, please – wait.  I will give you a mattress salesman guarantee:  No one ever says ‘ARRRrrrg!’  There is plenty of booty (ahem), but they never tie a damsel to the mast.  No one has a hook for a hand.  And, if you’re not positively thrilled by Smith’s pirates and the breathless battles, mutinies and sneaky ruses she writes, I’ll pay you for your copies of the books feel desperately sorry for you!  Really.  You can hold me to that promise.

The cool thing is that Inda’s story doesn’t just take place where he happens to be standing at the moment.   When circumstances tear him from his loving home and academy friends at a very young age, he ends up at sea.  The riveting story at home continues without him as he makes his way on multiple ships, learns how to be a sailor, a pirate, and eventually – you guessed it – takes command.    Of course, being the hero of such a well-written tale, you can never count on him to do the expected.  But Smith is so adept at writing about Inda as a true leader, that we as the readers have no problem believing in him. It makes perfect sense that the group of fascinating people around him would follow him so willingly into such harrowing situations.  Heck, I’d lay odds that most of us would go right along had we the chance.

But wait, does it sound like these books are all about dudes?  Puh-lease!  As you’ll find in any Sherwood book you read, it’s the women who are the most fascinating people around.  There are wonderful women in this series–smart and real women who work together for the greater good but still have to deal with their own losses, joys and heartaches.  And yes, there are pirate women.  Good ones, too.  Not the cheesy ones who dress up like men to be taken seriously.  Oh no.  These gals are not ashamed to swashbuckle with their boobs out! (Figuratively.)  (Mostly figuratively.)   That’s one of my favorite things about Sherwood Smith fiction: her female characters demand to be taken seriously, not only by their male counterparts, but by us as the readers.

In short, you have *checks watch* 5 whole days to get your hands on the first three Inda books, read them, and be ready for the release of Treason’s Shore  on Tuesday.  I say you should go for it!  These novels really do have a lot going for them, aside from all the brilliance I mentioned above.  Again, I must revert to my inner mattress salesman:

Inda is now a complete series of 4 awesome books!  No more waiting around for the next book! (I love you Patrick Rothfuss.  I do.)  There are no dragons or dwarfs!  You won’t once think to yourself, ‘Jeez, Lord of the Rings, much?’  Three of the four books are in paperback, which makes for cheap purchases and easy commuter train reading!  And there are pirates!!  Wait, did I mention the pirates?