With Inda, Smith introduces a complex world peopled with strong, disparate characters. The plot itself is fairly simple: a young noble boy is sent to the martial academy, where he makes friends with the despised younger brother of the King's heir. The world building is surprisingly unique and thorough. Linguistics are important; personalities are important; tactics are important. The first half of the book is a thrilling, engaging story of warrior training and intrigue, sure to be loved by anyone who liked Pierce's stories, or Lackey's of Valdemar.
And then, Smith goes a bit awry. Inda is abruptly shipped off to sea, splitting the narrative one too many times. This is the story's one weakness: Smith tells it from every possible angle. And truthfully, I don't need to know what every single person is doing, or thinking--I just need enough perspective to know what's going on and why it's important. There are far too many characters who get narration, and it gets frustrating. Think the middle section of any of the Redwall series, or The Two Towers, times 10. It's frustrating, and slows the story down a great deal.
Still, this is a great adventure story, with memorable characters and some first-rate world-building.