Customer Reviews

229
4.6 out of 5 stars
Crown Duel (Crown Duel / Court Duel)
Format: Mass Market PaperbackChange
Price:$8.89 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2006
This is easily my favorite book. I first read it in early high school and now, at the end of college, get just as much if not more out of it with every re-read. It combines a vivid, original fantasy world with realistic sociological and political portrayals and analyses, absolutely fascinating to any sociology or political science major. Neither the magic nor the romance overpower this book; the romance is fulfilling even while the book focuses on more important themes.

The most fascinating part of this book, however, and what brings me back to read it over and over again, is the heroine, Mel. She makes real mistakes, misinterprets practically everything, and is driven further into trouble by the very ignorance she strives to rid herself of. Mel is as real to any young adult (or anyone who remembers that age) as any heroine ever written. I can't count how many times I've read of her mistakes and winced myself in sympathy, knowing I've made the same mishaps and showed identical character faults. Anyone who enjoys realistic fantasy with a dash of romance and sci-fi will adore this book.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2005
Wow. I got this book for Christmas and I could not put it down! From the very beginning Smith hooked me with the way Mel was a Countess in a crumble-down castle, and she was fighting the good fight with no other noble to help her. Mel's brother is nice, but he doesn't understand her. The one person who understands her is her so-called "enemy," Shevraeth. He was sent by the king to put down her uprising.

I'm not going to give the whole book away, so let me just say that this has something for everyone. Girl tries to kick butt, but finds it is harder than it looks. Then she's a captive, and running from the bad guys. Later, she is playing a game of deception and secrets when she goes to court. And, last, but definitely not least, she falls in love.

I love the way Sherwood Smith's characters are all well-developed, no matter the role they play in the book. I am amazed and gratified at the incredible job she did.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
I'm a bit shocked by the rave reviews for this book (originally 2 books merged into 1). The story tells the tale of Mel - a young, poor, tomboy of a noble who gets swept up into the bigger world when the evil King sets his sights on her little corner of the world. Eventually she makes her way to court where she strives to overcome her ignorance and succeed in the complex web of relationships that make up the court. Sounds promising, yes?

The first half of the book finds Mel largely on the run from the evil King and his minions. During this adventure she makes so many poor choices, including consistently being rude and untrusting to the one person who repeatedly saves her life, that it becomes difficult to continue to cheer her on. Also, somewhat humorously, Mel finds herself unconscious every time anything exciting is going on. Madcap escape from the dungeon? Well it happens but you don't really know how because Mel snoozed through the whole thing. So much of the adventure is lost as its basically happening "off camera."

Later at court Mel is supposedly learning to navigate the labyrinth of courtly manners and intrigue. But sadly there is absolutely no tension about it. Mel seemingly has nothing at risk, there isn't really much point for her to be there, and at any point she could happily return to her home without any repercussion. The given reason for her to be there is to decide if the heir apparent to the crown (Shevraeth who after saving her life repeatedly seems to be still highly suspect as a person - seriously?!?!) will be a good king. However she gives almost no time to figuring this out as she is too busy with pointless social outings and party planning. She also strikes up a pen-pal relationship with a mysterious person which supposedly develops over time. However we're only allowed to read a few of their correspondence (this book suffers from a lot of "tell, don't show" writing) so mostly we're TOLD that they write constantly and that she is eager to find letters. When her mysterious pen-pal reveals himself nobody will be surprised by his identity. The only surprise is that he actually has feelings for her despite her truly horrible behavior towards him.

In all fairness, I'm not a 10 year old girl (I'm a Mom who occasionally dips into the YA market for escapist fun) so perhaps I simply don't represent the target. But if I were going to find a YA appropriate epic fantasy I would lean more towards some classics like The Once and Future King, the Libba Bray series, Graceling, or the ever fantastic Black Cauldren series (a must read for any YA fantasy+ romance lover). But this book had so many flaws and there are so many great books out there it seems a shame to waste time and money on this one.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2005
...I absolutely loved this book!!! I can't write a book review to save my life but this was a 10 star book all the way. As soon as I put this down I was ready to read the sequel...only to realize it was out of print and was too expensive to buy... The action keeps you going, the bravery and heroism that young Meliara must demonstrate is an awesome experience. I was astounded by this book. I re-read it so many times I practically know it by heart. Read it! It's sooo COOL!!!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2011
I give this book 2.5 Stars.

The idea for this story was a good one, promising. But. I read that this was originally meant to be just one book, but the author had to write it as two for some reason, then was allowed to combine them into one later on - the story suffered as a result of this, if it's true.

The first half (Crown Duel) is... well, it was just boring and does not feel like a complete story. The main character Meilara is on the run and it should be exciting, but it feels dragged out and her misplaced attitude and bad decisions are too frustrating for my tastes. In the second half, Mel's gotten a bit better, she's educating herself, but her judge of character hasn't much improved and her brother's obliviousness is, again, frustrating.

I wanted badly to like the love interest, but you're not given a chance to get to know him enough because Meliara is too stubborn, so when they do finally get together, you're left wondering why this guy still wants to be with her.

It's a pity that the whole tale wasn't written in Shevraeth's point of view - at the end of the ebook, there are some scenes retold in his POV and they're so much more interesting, you get to know him (he actually has a personality, and a sense of humor!) and see the side characters in a more interesting and revealing way, and you can understand why and when he fell in love with Meliara.

I will say that it got much better by the end of the book, I enjoyed it a bit as Mel got out of her own way, but it took quite a while to get to that point. If you are looking for a good read from this author, I would suggest The Trouble With Kings, instead of this one.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2002
This book is great because it is the first and second books (two for the price of one). There is also a little short story at the end, Vidanric's Birthday Surprise, which is like an epilogue.
The main character, Melaria, isn't a typical countess - she spends her summers running barefoot with the village children and her winters shivering in a windowless castle. She tends to be a little ignorant, angry, and forceful. She can barely write. And she is forced to take up a war (with her brother Bran) against her own King. She spends most of the first book, Crown Duel, being angry with the Marquis and being stubbornly ignorant. However, I found it extremely interesting and could hardly put it down.
The second book, Court Duel, takes place in a whole different atmosphere, where she must grow out of her childishness and learn the ways of nobility. She's worried about fitting in at first, but becomes popular with the Marquis' cousin (which makes her popular with everyone). She acquires a secret admirer who she grows to love, but she is afraid of discovering his identity. The ladies' fan signals are cute. Unfortunately, she is still unable to apologize for her ignorance in the first book (til the end).
The first book has a war-against-all-odds and a lying King. The second book has a fabulous plot and a scheming magician. A great read for everyone who loves anything medievil, as it is surprisingly devoid of a lot of the tacky stuff some fantasy seems to roll in. The different colored trees and firesticks are about the only fantasy elements involved until the magician shows up.
A great book to read if you're bored.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2004
I've recommended this book to several of my friends (teenagers) and they've loved is also. This is the book that caused my bookcase to be filled with fantasy, particularly fantasy that contains court-life etc. It's just so good!
I've read it so many times that the front cover fell off (i probably should buy a new one, i just am kind of attached to it) and i never get tired of it.
The characters seem so real, despite being in a well written fantasy world and you really start to feel for them and want things for them. I never had a book that i've loved the main character in so much. Meliara is not the typical female fantasy heroine, she can't fight (she's too scrawny) and she mistrusts nobles and court. There is something about her that you love though.
My favourite books aren't usually first person, but this is and it really works. I normally dislike the presence of an nonomniscient narrator, but you get really attached to Meliara this way and experience everything through her eyes. It also makes the twists (of which there are several) all the more exciting.
So in conclusion, this book is just so good and i really recommend it, especially the two-in-one book, which is the most convenient and less frustrating (once you finish the first book, you just have to read the second). Trust me, once you've read it you'll realise why all us reviewers are so enthusiastic about it.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2004
I am a huge advocate for more books that have strong female heroines in them; this is one such book. The Countess, "Mel" as she is affectionately called, is a heroine in her early twenties or so who is trying to uphold a vow to her fatehr that she would fight for the protection of the local mystical "Hillfolk" and their rare trees. In her efforts to protect this vow the books (there are two books in this novel) take the reader through wars in both the battlefield and the royal court. Mel soon learns that courtiers are not all that they seem and to the readers' delight there are many plot twists and suspenseful moments sure to keep you reading.
Although I don't want to spoil the ending, there is a large amount of romance in this boook that leaves you feeling excited and cheering for the heroine. One good feature of this particular binding is that it features a small short story, "Vidanric's Birthday Surprise," additionally included in the end, that is about the central characters and is evidently not found in other versions. I highly recommend reading it because it gives you a wonderful closing to a wonderful duo of books.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2007
Crown Duel is a pretty clean read - wih no sex, scenes of intense violence or other material usually featured in fantasy novels. The story commences well, with an underlying, slowly developing romance. There are a lot of silly parts. The main character, "Mel," is developing into a woman. And it really doesn't happen overnight. She is gaining alot of emotional maturity (as time goes by) but suffers many emotions I certainly felt myself as a teenager, and that take time to grow out of. From an adult perspective, I enjoyed Mel's character and the things she learns, but didn't identify with her as much as my younger self would of.
Alot of the storyline is summarized instead of artfully written - creating a flatter, less intense story. I read and kept reading because it was interesting, and because there was a lot of action to keep me turning the page - but the writing style needs a lot of polishing.
Part 1 and Part 2 really are like two very seperate books, as the description says they were originally published as. Not really sure why they were combined into one, except that part 1 had a pretty unsatisfactory ending.
The little short story at the end is pretty silly, but honestly very realistic: having been pregnant, that is pretty much how it feels (crying, happy, sad, all at once). It's too short even for a short story - just a few thin pages - maybe to give the book more of a "happy ending" feel?
Mel might be a better character to read about from third person-a little space can go a long way.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
26 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2005
I'm not going to write a summary of this book, because plenty of other reviewers have. All I want to say that this is now my absolute favorite book! I finished reading it three hours ago, and I still can't stop thinking of it or get rid of my excitement over it. This book has everything--from an evil king, a rebellion led by a poor teenaged countess, and several captures and escapes of that same countess, who leads soldiers across the country playing tricks on them along the way; to the confusion and deception of court life, and a romance with the mysterious Marquis of Shevreath. Well...I guess that was somewhat of a summary, haha, oh well! All I can say is that I'm pretty certain that ANY girl would absolutely love this book, and I recommend it more than any book I've read before.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed
Crown Duel: The Crown & Court Duet, Book I
Crown Duel: The Crown & Court Duet, Book I by Sherwood Smith (Hardcover - April 1, 1997)

Court Duel: The Crown & Court Duet, Book II
Court Duel: The Crown & Court Duet, Book II by Sherwood Smith (Hardcover - April 15, 1998)

The Thief (The Queen's Thief, Book 1)
The Thief (The Queen's Thief, Book 1) by Megan Whalen Turner (Paperback - December 27, 2005)
$4.48
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.