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Crown Duel (Crown Duel / Court Duel) Mass Market Paperback – June 10, 2002
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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.
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This has long been one of my favorite books. I bought a second copy to go into my classroom, because I am always trying to introduce new readers. Read morePublished 1 month ago by J. Roman
I have lost track of how many times I have read this book. But I do know it's been well over 5 years since I've had free time to read anything. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Arockr
I really loved this book. Outstanding characters. Fantastical world creation. Beautiful relationships and plot twists intertwining so perfectly. Read morePublished 2 months ago by ktrose
Good book and an enjoyable read. Just a little too predictable to get any more stars.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Absolutely amazing book! It has been my favorite for years and I've read it more times than I can count!Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
I've loved this book since I first read it in middle school, and continue to reread it as an adult. The addition of Vidanric's perspective is a big change, that really adds depth... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Margaret A. Dolan Md
Love this book! It has everything in it that you could want: action, suspense, mystery, intrigue, romance, fantasy and historical elements. I can read it over and over again. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jen McNamara