Sunday, October 5, 2008

Review: Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith

genre: fantasy
rating: 5/5

fyi: This book comes in two formats - either in two different books called, respectively, Crown Duel and Court Duel OR as one book just called Crown Duel (there's an amazon link for ya). Although I read the two separate books that my library had, I am reviewing it as one :)


Meliara was not raised to be the courtier she could be. Living in a ramshackle castle with her only brother Bran as a companion, she grew up free and wild. Chaos ensues when Meliara and Bran decide to revolt against the nasty king in order to protect their people from unreasonable taxes and to show support for the magical hill folk that live in the mountain.

Her peaceful life in the hills is then traded for a meager military existance fleeing enemies both known and mysterious. Her road is a long one, fraught with political and courtly intrigue. Meliara is an interesting and conflicted character. Her lack of education leads to mistakes with far reaching consequences - yet she is eager to learn and fiercely proud. My only complaint - and it didn't spoil the story - was that Melaria was sometimes stubborn to the point that I wanted to shake her a bit and tell her to chill out. I think, though, that this quality could also be seen as an asset because of all that she ends up being required to do.

This story, told in two parts, is really like a tactical game of cat and mouse. I was worried I would get bored as skirmish after skirmish took her further from her goal - but the characters and surprises kept me engaged throughout. During the aftermath of the war (essentially the entire second half of the book), I didn't want to let this book out of my hands - a delightful thread of romance was the perfect addition to the antics of courtiers and politicians. The fantasy world and culture that Smith created was a joy to spend my time in.

3 comments:

geebee said...

I don't read a lot of fantasy, but your review has sold me on this story. I'm definitely going to check it out!

Corinne said...

*geebee - great!! I hope you like it too!! And, for fantasy, it's pretty mild, I think. Not TOO out there :)

Melissa said...

YAY! *doing a little happy cheering dance * I'm so glad you liked it. (M and I had to go back and reread the end a few times just because it made us happy...) :) I have to admit, I've been sitting in suspense about your thoughts since I saw it on your goodreads list... ;)

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