A Deathbed Promise To Their Father Sends A Daring Girl And Her Brother Off To War Filled With Intrigue, Romance, And Magic, This Spellbinding Novel Is A Dramatic Coming Of Age Story About A Girl Who Rises From Impoverished Beginnings To Take Command Of Her Own Fate Smith Tells A Fast Moving Tale Of Adventure, Intrigue, And Honor, With Mel A Likable Heroine And A Lively Narrator Booklist Still one of my favorite books. I would have given this a 3.5, but the anticipation it has kindled for the sequel rounded my rating up The book is beautifully written, with a vivid landscape and culture I enjoyed the adventure, the magic, and especially the Renselaeus characters.Meliara is, in many ways, a fantastic heroine clever, determined, brave, and fiercely loyal Unfortunately, her mistrust, anger, and sometimes outright rudeness became a little exhausting at times In very brief moments, and then at the very end, you could tell that there was some complexity, but otherwise her character seemed pretty flat I m hoping that the next book will develop her character.I would recommend it as a clean, romping story and an easy read. 2.5 2 stars Crown Duel is a fantasy story that involves a young woman coming of age story It was my first experience with Sherwood Smith, and it was good that I began reading it without a good idea of what it was about besides a fantasy tale In brief, it s about Meliara Mel Astiar, a noblewoman from an impoverished province, who along with her brother Branaric or Bran , starts a desperate war to depose the tyrannical king Galdran After a short period of battles, she is captured and taken to the capital And that is just the beginning.I kind of liked her, despite the fact that she comes out unsure of herself, capable of misunderstanding people and situations, which leads to mistakes that drive part of the plot She comes out as immature most of the time, in fact we don t know how old she is, so I can t say it s not appropriate Other times, she lacks plain common sense and seems too reckless considering what she is fighting for depose a king All this can be irritating at times Nevertheless, she is never less than courageous Towards the end we understand that she can learn with her mistakes and starts to change.It s clearly a young adult book, not my type Despite that, it s very well written and being relatively short I was able to read through to the end without problem. This was a difficult read I don t know whether it was because it was different from my usual genre or because I was not in the mood for such a book when I started reading it Either way I am placing the blame for not enjoying this book entirely on my shoulders as I am not the targeted audience for this.I never felt this frustrated while reading any other book Not because of the story or anything but because it didn t finish sooner That was exactly my thoughts during the first 100 pages or so then the book picked up its pace and just when I was about to start enjoying it the book stopped abruptly Talk about irony..When I wanted it to end it just went on and when I wanted it to continue it just stopped In a way you can call this a perfectly strategic move on the author s part because now I don t think I can rest without reading the second book in the series The universe that the author has created requires a special mention The land of Remalna were ordinary people live together with magical beings known as Hillfolks For years they have lived together in a form of truce where the people have agreed to refrain from cutting down trees for their own profit But that is about to come to an end as Remalna is now under the rule of a tyrant King who plans on breaking the covenant for his own gain That is were our protagonist enter Lady Meliara of Tliath, Mel to her friends and family and countess of the a land that has fallen on tough times She along with her brother Bran on the dying wish of their father has decided to wage a war against the tyrannical king and save the kingdom of Remalna from destruction The story goes on form there, Wars, Horse Riding, Escaping for Dungeons etc etcand then the end The truth is I admired the heroine from the start She had the courage of spirit from the beginning and faced difficult situations head on The hero on the other hand Vidandric did not get the same amount of face time as I would have liked but he did make an impression There are a lot of names thrown at you, character name that is that can be a bit overwhelming at times but those of who are experienced with those kind of books it is not going to be much of a problem Intially I thought of giving it 1 star rating then after 50 pages it increased to 2 stars then towards the end 3 stars which makes me wonder whether I would have enjoyed it if the book was a little bit longer Guess I have to read the next one to find out. I first encountered Sherwood Smith in an excellent anthology Firebirds , where I was taken with her story Beauty Purely on the strength of that story, I went right out and bought the related double novel, Crown Duel I m sorry to stay the story was far better than the book In fairness, I note that the story was written several years later.This first book was disappointing For one thing, some of the language is careless Early on, a pair of characters are described as having hip flagons Flagons Flasks are traditional here A flagon is large pretty much by definition, generally not watertight, and basically not suited for the hip There are a few others like this not a lot, but enough to throw me off as a reader, and to weaken my confidence in the author Some continuity flaws don t help.The story itself is determinedly Young Adult, though the protagonist s age is never clear That s no problem I like YA But even writing about a teenager doesn t excuse some of the weakness here For example, on the run, fearing torture and death, repeatedly ill, just past escaping a trap, and literally surrounded, Mel nonetheless decides to play a childish prank Young is one thing Dumb is another, and not one that most readers are looking to relate to.Even before that point, the story has its flaws Mel is injured, gets sick, gets rescued and partly healed, gets sick, gets rescued and partly healed, gets sick you see where this is going It s just not the most inventive of plots There were opportunities here for some interesting growth and reflection, as Mel and her idealism confront cold hard reality, and realizes there s to the world than she knew Unfortunately, that brief realization is about as far as she goes The characters are likeable and Mel is mildly fun, but there s no real depth anywhere.All in all, disappointing I admit that the short story left me expecting a lot, but this isn t even close to what I hoped for If I hadn t bought this as a double novel, I wouldn t have gone on to Court Duel. I love this book so much, I can t believe that I haven t reread it since I joined Goodreadsseven years ago My last reread was probably a couple years before I joined Goodreads.Yes, it has its flaws view spoiler Mel spends a lot of time unconscious and probably has 30 TBIs by the end of book one, but honestly, the trope of having the female protag black out a lot or get knocked out a lot was and is a huge trope in YA fantasyso in the YA fantasy not written in the past 5 8 years hide spoiler This book manages to both exceed and fall short of my expectations It s a strange phenomenon I was expecting a fantasy with a strong female lead In fact, I perused GR lists looking for just that You know there are lists for everything here on GRs and several with fantasy and some derivative of strong female lead as the topic Surprisingly this book, unbeknownst to me at the time, was in the top running on several of the lists I found Needless to say, I had high hopes So let s start with those criteria, shall we First off, fantasy This is very light low fantasy, not epic fantasy or high fantasy or whatever other sub category of fantasies there are There are some fantasy elements that are mentioned briefly and sporadically, and a weird history involving portals to other places and magical special trees None of it is ever fleshed out and it really just made for a semi awkward reading experience Like the portals to other worlds, they were mentioned once, maybe twice, and that was it The Hill People who roamed behind the scenes for much of the story remained mysteries No real explanation or background, just that they are It just wasn t cohesive I really felt like I was reading a period piece with random magic stuff and hard to pronounce names thrown in here and there to make it a fantasy Now don t get me wrong, I like period pieces but it s just not what I was hoping this book would be I wanted MORE Maybe that s just me being a greedy reader but there it is Next up is our strong female lead Hmmm I will admit, what Meliara lacks in common sense she makes up for in gumption She was never one to shy away from a fight or back down from a bully She fought for her people earnestly and without reservations But honestly, throughout the book she was always running recklessly into one situation or another She didn t stop to think or plan ahead, she just rushed in and hoped for the best Of course this never ended well for our young protagonist In fact, times than not she ended up either captured or injured or both Fortunately, towards the end of the book she experiences some character growth and is able to reflect back on her actions and see them for what they are decisions based on ignorance Not quite the lead character I was hoping for but I didn t hate her That s a plus I am super critical of female MCs I have this hyper awareness of faults and lackings when it comes to heroes of the fairer sex I know it s not fair and it s not just, but heroines tend to bug me FAR than their male counterparts So the fact that Meliara, our young and often foolhardy MC, did not earn my permanent ire is actually a nice and surprising if I m honest thing So the plot is basically Meliara Mel and her brother Branaric Bran , the unofficial Countess and Count of Tlanth, try to lead a revolt against their tyrannical king They have obtained proof that he s about to break a very sacred covenant that the kingdom has established with the Hill People having to do with the super special trees I mentioned earlier However, before Mel and Bran can secure the allies they know they are going to need, an army led by Baron Debegri, who has his eye on their lands as his prize, begins marching in and they are forced to attack to the best of their meager ability And, though their ability is meager their hearts are not and they hold off the troops for far longer than anticipated Enter in the cold, aloof Marquis of Shevraeth charged by evil King Galdran with bringing these troublesome mountain people to task And, unlike his predecessor, the Marquis seems to know his way around the battlefield It isn t long before Mel and Bran begin the realize that this is a losing battle so thus begins the real conflict of this story.The plus side to this book is this it is extremely readable Though there was some repetitiveness in storyline like her goal was always to escape and the world building and magic system left a lot to be desired, the story moved quickly and kept me engaged I basically read it in a day It helped that I read the omnibus as well so after completing the first book I went straight into the second, which I liked even than this one, but for totally different reasons 3.5 stars First posted over at my blog where you can find book talks and general book nerdery Crown Duel was a quick paced adventure for sure that, despite a slow start for me to warm up to, really pulled me in and made me eager to grab the conclusion at the library and check out the novellas It really hit the ground running with the father dying and with Mel and her brother quickly having to go war against a tyrant king who is threatening their kingdom It was quite the adventure from the start and I knew pretty early on that I d really love Mel even when she s kinda rude and stubborn I loved watching Mel and her people think of cunning ways to outsmart these larger and well trained troops I always root for the band of misfits As soon as Mel s adventure breaks off from the rest is where it gets even intense and made for a great story of adventure, survival and political maneuvering I really liked the world, though that and the magic system were a little too sparsely constructed for me at times, and loved finding out about the other kingdoms and players within I wanted to understand of the magic and the Hillfolk to be honest I will say I WISH THERE WAS A DAMN MAP IN THIS BOOK I had the hardest time picturing places traveled to or talked about which was really hard for me I looooved the Marquis and how Mel and he interacted I see a good ship for book 2 especially because you know I love me a hate to love ship Although I think I would have enjoyed this when I was younger I did quite enjoy this adventure Definitely a book to pick up if you are craving fantasy but want something shorter and fast paced Rating and review to follow, once the Young Adult Middle Grade battle kicks off 2.5 starsI read this for the YA MG battle, and my review and comparison to the other battle book can he found here.This is book I of a two book story, and even though the ebook I read had both books combined into one, I m still going to rate and review them separately Mostly because they are very obviously two separate books, but also because my reaction to each part was vastly different I struggled with the beginning of this book and as a result, didn t really like this all that much until I was nearly at the end, while I ended up loving the second book part.I said most of what I wanted to say in my match up post already, and I do believe that if I were to reread Crown Duel right now my feelings would be different Yet, until I have time for a reread and I will be rereading this at some point, without a doubt I have to be true to my original opinion.This was fine, and it is important to mention there was no excessive drama, which I am always grateful for However, I struggled too much to get into the story initially, and I believe book II is definitely much better.
I am a writer, but I m here on Goodreads to talk about books, as I ve been a passionate reader as long as I ve been a writer since early childhood.I m not going to rate books there are too many variables I d rather talk about the reading experience My reviews of my books are confined to the writing process.
- 224 pages
- Crown Duel (Crown & Court, #1)
- Sherwood Smith
- 20 November 2018 Sherwood Smith