Book Review: The Wandering Inn

Mar 17, 2023 by HL Bernabe, in Book Reviews

Last week I finished reading The Wandering Inn by Pirate Aba. I have wanted to review more independent authors, and Pirate Aba wrote all of their works as a serial on their website. All nine volumes are available to read for free there, or you can read them in ebook format on Kindle. I read mine on the Kindle app on my iPad.

The Wandering Inn came under my radar because of my search for comparative titles to my own work. I wanted to find characters and situations that were similar. This book has an inn and is a fantasy. Alas, other than that, there was very little in common with mine.

But I read it anyway. This book is 1200+ pages long, and the following books are even longer, so consider yourself warned. It's a litRPG book, and I will say that it didn't get super annoying with all the listing of loot and skills earned. It was a lot more subtle, and I liked that. I hadn't bothered reading the reviews before I read this book, even though I normally do that to see if it is even a book I would be interested in. This time, I just relied on the blurb and because the subject matter was similar to mine, I read it.

The bad: poor grammar, punctuation, and so on throughout the book. Tenses don't match within the same paragraph. The point of view jumps around, too. The book could have benefited from a good editor.

At the end of the book, I wondered just what exactly I had just read. There was no bad guy per se (though there were hints one might come, perhaps in a later volume), just bad things happening. I never knew who the main characters were, since it seemed to be the two earth women, and yet occasionally the author wrote in a different POV, confusing the issue. I also had a really tough time liking most of the characters. There is little personal growth and their actions tend to flip-flop between selfless and sweet, and idiotic or downright mean.

The bad was enough to make me stop reading. I didn't stop, though, because of the good. The individual scenes were engaging enough that I was interested in what came next. I think that was due to the episodic nature of the way the author wrote it on their website (and is continuing to write it even now, with new installments twice a week). I read a chapter and wondered, "Oh, what's going to happen next?" So I continued reading to see.

More good stuff: this book had characters called Antinium that were basically ants that were larger than humans. The way their hive mind worked and how the author characterized them was brilliant and different from other things I read. I liked the comaraderie of Kylb and Relc. I also loved the Skinner critter thingy. Equal parts gross and fantastically horrific.

I think the episodic nature was also its downfall, because there is no structure to the overarching story. The author introduced characters, and it seemed like they might be important to the story, and then they got killed before storylines regarding them were resolved. There was no real cohesion. After reading 1200+ pages, I don't want to be left feeling confused and wondering what the point of what I just read was.

I can't say I liked The Wandering Inn. I can't say I hated it. Ordinarily, I would have dumped this book, and moved on to something better. Yet... something about the characters and the individual storylines is compelling enough that I am left wondering what happens next. Does the author pull it all together later? Does it start to make sense? Is this book act one, but just a really, really loooong act one, and I have to read the other novels to get the other acts? I must confess I am feeling obliged to read the next one, just so I can find out.