Smith, Sherwood -- King's Shield

Book three of world-spanning prince-grows-up story. Inda is yanked home from exile, just as the long-threatened Venn invasion is about to start. Everyone then gets to spend the book building up resources and plans for the big fight. And I do mean "building up"; there's a big battle, but a lot more sending messengers around, preparing castles, sneaking soldiers around, and so on. Don't imagine that's dull stuff. (The invasion is down a narrow mountain pass from a beach landing, which gives plenty of opportunity for excitingly delaying actions.) In the meantime Inda is trying to get used to his home country, which he hasn't seen since age eleven; his king and his betrothed are trying to get used to having him home; everyone is trying to get used to Inda's outlander friends (pirates, mages, girlfriend ten years older than he is, oh my), and, oh yes, the Venn are secretly having a constitutional crisis. All these people, on both sides, are intensely real. The author even manages to get in a side plot about a group of eleven-year-old girls -- they are just as real as the adult warriors and princes, in a way that makes me regret my snide comments about Alistair Reynolds.

If I have a complaint about this book, it's that the plot bounces around somewhat unevenly. A lot of threads are packed in, and not all of them get equal weight. I assume a lot of stuff is being set up for the fourth and, I understand, final volume.

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