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Crown Duel (Crown Duel / Court Duel) Mass Market Paperback – June 10, 2002

4.6 out of 5 stars 244 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Crown and Court Series

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sherwood Smith started making books out of paper towels at age six. In between stories, she studied and traveled in Europe, got a Masters degree in history, and now lives in Southern California with her spouse, two kids, and two dogs. She’s worked in jobs ranging from counter work in a smoky harbor bar to the film industry. Writing books is what she loves best. She’s the author of the high fantasy History of Sartorias-deles series as well as the modern-day fantasy adventures of Kim Murray in Coronets and Steel. Learn more at www.sherwoodsmith.net.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Firebird; Reprint edition (June 10, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142301515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142301517
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (244 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #651,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
First, my credentials: I'm an avid sci-fi/fantasy reader. I've waded through the dense writings of Tolkin (lets face it, Two Towers was difficult for us all the first time through), the fast-paced and twisted plotlines of Timothy Zahn, Orson Scott Carde, Brian Jacques, Anne McCaffery... you get the point. That being said, I was absolutely enchanted by these two novels. The heroine was not only memorable, but easy to relate to. I absolutely fell in love with the world, the people, and the writing style.

I'm glad this was the first book by Sherwood Smith that I picked up, because I'm not certain I would have fallen in love with her universe so completely if I had started with one of her other novels (of which I have now read a good number). In spite of the fact that I'd been able to peg a few major plot twists from the beginning (I won't spoil the surprises for those of you who don't see them right away), I found that I didn't mind suspecting what was coming next, because I wanted to see how the characters would figure it out for themselves.

As for the writing style, I find that the writing here is much better... more sophisticated... than in the other books I've read so far from this author. The language isn't as sharp as Timothy Zahn, nor as captivating as, say, Stephen King, and nowhere near as descriptive as Tolkin, but (to me) strikes a nice balance between all three. Perfect if you want something not too heavy, but that will still leave you tempted to go back to the beginning and start reading again after you've finished the last page.
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