Next on my list of recommendations is Sherwood Smith’s Crown Duel – another one of my all-time favorites. This is a duology, originally published as two books (Crown Duel and Court Duel) but Firebird combined both books in one edition.
A girl in Remalna traditionally spends her Flower Day being feted, dancing with friends, and celebrating her passage to womanhood. Countess Meliara spends hers on the front lines of a war. She and her brother promised their dying father to free Remalna from the oppressive rule of Greedy Galdran and to preserve the vital Covenant with Remalna’s aloof, unhuman Hill People. Courageous, stubborn Meliara, honorable and sharp-tongued, is determined to win or die fighting.
Brought to court by a mysterious letter, teenage Countess Meliara finds herself the subject of all sorts of courtly intrigues and attentions, including those of the deposed king’s sister and an ardent, secret suitor.
I found out about Crown Duel the same way I found out about MWT’s Queen’s Thief series: through Shannon Hale’s blog. I know I keep mentioning Shannon Hale and I haven’t even written about her. My next post is going to be about The Goose Girl though. Anyway, I remember the day I saw Shannon’s interview with Sherwood. Upon reading the description of Crown Duel, I knew that I wanted to read it. So after work, I went to Fully Booked The Block and was very happy to see that there was one remaining copy of the book. That means I was meant to have it! (Pardon my reasoning) I read when it I got home and fell in love with it.
Meliara (Mel for short), the impoverished Countess of Tlanth, tells the story from her point of view. I loved the fact that Mel is such an unreliable narrator and how the story unfolded from the way she sees things. The first part of the book involves a war against a tyrant of a king because both Mel and her brother Branaric promised their father that they will do what they can to oust the king from the throne. While the second part of the book involves court intrigue and politics. Mel is a believable character because she blunders and is not afraid to admit when she makes mistakes.
A friend mentioned that my previous post was a little too long so I’ll try to keep this short. I’ve been giving this book as a gift a lot lately and to one friend, I included a note that said “I know you haven’t read a lot of fantasy and this is a good book to get you started because this is YA fantasy at its finest.” This book has everything – incredible world-building, believable characters, intelligent dialogue, subtle romance, court intrigue. I’ve reread this book a couple of times and it just doesn’t get old for me. There’s so much more that I could say! But since I’m keeping this short, I’ll stop here. Feel free to leave a message if you have any questions or if you want to discuss the book after you’ve read it. 🙂
Sherwood also posted a couple of outtakes in her website. You can check these out after reading the book because these are scenes of Crown Duel, written from a different point of view.
There is also a wonderful LJ community dedicated to Sherwood Smith fans – athanarel, feel free to join and post questions or anything else that you can think of. athanarel and sounis are my favorite LJ communities. People are so nice in both communities, there are also lots of awesome recommendations and interesting discussions. Sherwood is also active in athanarel and she’ll answer any questions that you have about any of her books.
Other book details:
Availability – Crown Duel is available in Fully Booked bookstores. If it’s not available in a Fully Booked near you, call up the High Street or Rockwell branch and have them transfer a copy and you can pick it up when it gets there. Last time I checked, both those branches have copies. Here are the numbers in case you do need to call them:
Rockwell – 756-5001
High Street – 858-7000
Price – P378
Here’s the Amazon link.
It’s also coming out in e-book format soon, I’ll edit this post and add that when it becomes available.
Thanks for reading this post! I hope that after reading this, you go ahead and buy a copy. To those who’ve read the book, what do you think? 🙂 Non-LJ users can leave anonymous comments.