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Crown Duel (Crown Duel / Court Duel) Mass Market Paperback – June 10, 2002
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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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Top customer reviews
I thought she had a lot more potential than what was actually given her. I thought maybe she wasn't that type of princess, but it would be rather nice to have a girl who knew how to fight and fight well enough to protect herself. It is well and good then that the little countess doesn't get beat up too much. But still, you feel like she could have been so much stronger, less muddle headed. Why was she always one step behind the hero?
We are told the hero is perfect, and he really is. But we never get to see any of his thoughts aside from an expression here and there. Keeps him mysterious but doesn't make us like him as we should. Makes even less sense when the heroine suddenly decided she liked him, and all was forgiven, even though she really hated him a few chapters earlier, and he really did surrender her to the enemy at one time because he didn't think much of her at the time.
Really the only character who was developed for me was the little countess. Everyone else just seemed to revolve in and out of the scene around her.
While I loved the tension between H and h you never really see them develop their affinity towards one another. Though you realize it's a foregone conclusion, all that build up and the reveal was all too quick, all too accepting. Aside from the enmity between them, there's no chemistry when they finally see the light, and there' no toe curling swoon moments and you feel a bit deprived at the end.
Not much of a plot, and the grand finale was sort of thrown in at the end to mix it up for one chapter. Literally the most evil villain has only one chapter to make his grand reveal and exit. Sigh.
The writing style flows really well and so the author makes it hard to put it down. All in all a good read but you feel like it could have been so much more, both in characters and plot could have had much more depth. These are two books put together for the price of one, so that's something.
I enjoy Sherwood Smith's writing. This version of Crown Duel is really two books in one, originally titled Crown Duel and Court Duel. The novel takes place in the same universe as the Inda series, but is a subplot regarding the young countess, Meliara (Mel) Astiar, her brother Bran who becomes the count upon his father's death, and their fight to save the tree-people of their upper lands of Tlanth. The poverty-stricken area is rich in trees that the evil King Galdran covets. Galdran is a classic bad guy--easy to hate for all the right reasons. He over-taxes the people, is paranoid and vicious. He is also greedy. The king trumps up charges of treason and attempts to take the land and the siblings fight using guerrilla warfare tactics--many of them thought up by the young princess. After holding off the stooge sent by the King to take the lands, a new commander arrives to challenge the young heirs to Tlanth. Before you think this story is all about the good fight against a bad kind, the arrival of Vidanric, Marquis of Shevraeth, converts this battle into a well-hidden romance which isn't resolved at all until book two. (Or Part Two of this version of publication.)
If you pick up this book, I'd advise you to read A Stranger To Command beforehand. It will make reading about Vidanric's struggles to combat a pixie child in the woods that much more entertaining. Though it was written after the Court Duel series, it truly is a prequel and, if you are like me, it is much more enjoyable to read things sequentially. Not a necessity, but a preference with this series.
Sherwood Smith wrote the Court Duel series early in her career, you can see her development as a serious and complex writer with each successive work. So, reading Court Duel has a youthful zest and a bit of naïveté that some of her later works do not possess. This makes them more appropriate to Younger Audiences. The further you get in the Sartorias-deles world (the planetary host of a growing pantheon of novels) the better the works get. Reading the Inda series was the highlight of my reading for many months. But with Court Duel/Crown Duel you get to meet the author at her earliest and that is a charm in itself.