This book was an unexpected gem! I bought the e-book because a gender-reversed, reluctant Beowulf is a premise good enough for 5 of my hard-earned dollars. I would have been happy if The Legendary Inge had followed through in any way on that premise, but what I got was so much more.
Inge herself is a delight. Dragged to the palace as a hero after sort of accidentally killing a terrible monster, she can't believe it when the king mistakes her for a boy and adopts her as his son. "Just roll with it," says her guard, "you can't go against the king, I'm sure everything will be resolved soon." Inge is a practical, common-sense peasant and her horrified bemusement is pretty enjoyable. Then she decides she'd better start asserting herself and we find out there's more to her than everyone thought.
Her guard, Raske, the Demon Scourge of the army, is also a delight. He's unflappable and smart and carries a sword named Mercy (which he is not embarrassed about, thank you very much). We get the measure of his character when he is sent to make sure Inge's younger siblings are going to be okay without her, and I won't spoil the scene that ensues. His reaction to all the siblings is priceless, and I was on Team Raske from that point on.
Inge's six siblings are my favourite part of the book: each is an individual with a fully-developed personality, and I loved their interactions as a family.
I don't think there is a single character in the novel who is what he or she appears to be at first, and watching people reveal hidden depths is always satisfying. The plot is also surprisingly twisty (I could see most of the twists coming, but they were still fun). It was a fast, enjoyable read—reminded me a bit of T. Kingfisher's A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking. (Less finesse in the way everything came together, and Kingfisher is better with magic and overall weirdness (nothing can top sentient sourdough starter), but similar themes of ordinary people stepping up and turning out to be not-so-ordinary.)
A must read if you've ever read Beowulf* and want to poke a little fun at its heroic tropes. Or if you like heroines who care about who is going to keep the children clothed and fed (and stop the twins from pushing over the outhouse again).
Warm biscuits with butter and honey. And maybe raspberries, because my garden is overflowing with them. Oh, heck, make it a berry shortcake (and now I want to make biscuits to go with my strawberries and raspberries, but I already bought strawberry and ginger yogurt gelato. The biscuits can be for breakfast!)
*I've actually read it in the original Old English, but that was more years ago than I care to reveal, and I don't remember a word of it. Except the opening: "Hwaet!" (And then, I think, "We in yeardagum," but that's as far as I go.)