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11
4.4 out of 5 stars
Crown Duel
Format: Kindle EditionChange
Price:£2.79
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on 1 February 2009
When this book arrived i was worried it would be written in a way that would make it difficult to continue with if you were above a certain age; some books are just immature in that way. Thankfully this isn't one. There is plenty of intrigue, suspense, character development, even magic and romance. written so that one chapter flows easily into the next and you hardly notice the breaks in writing.
mel is likeable enough for a heroine and as the book progresses we are introduced to her brother, her friends and her enimies.

As a very basic summary; mel is a countess, her family is poor and she has spent much of her childhood running barefoot with the village urchins she considered her friends and dancing to the music of the mysterious hill folk. The book starts when her father is dying and calls her and her brother bran to his chamber where he makes them both promise that they will work together to rid the land of its tyranic king and try and instate themselves as rulers through a claim on their late mothers side. Brother and sister then rally the villages and start a revolt, hoping that the rest of the kingdom will join them and help make changes for the better. This is all disrupted when the king sends a prominent marquis in charge of his army and they manage to capture mel.....

the book takes us through captivity and a desperate flight across the countryside, then in book two to the delicate dance of life at court... but you'll have to find out the rest for yourself.

definitely a plesant weekend's distraction, for both young and more mature readers :)
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 28 May 2004
My copy has been sadly misused, dragged all over the place, layed lovingly under my pillow, shoved in and out of my bookcase... The fact is that the tale is so gripping and good that it doesn't wear off like paper does. Now reviews are for info, so here goes:
Meliara Astiar and her brother Branaric swear an oath to their dying father to keep the covenant and protect the people of Tlanth (even the names are brilliant). The taxes are too high, and they can't protect themselves and the covenant without going to war. The fact is that they are tactless, Meliara growing up a barefoot countess and Branaric so honoust he could nearly sprout wings. Court is no option, they lead the chase over the mountains of Tlanth. It's going fine, until another commander comes, and captures Mel, sort of.
Mel needs to find a way out, but how can she, when the whole court seems to be chasing her, and even the weather is against her? Join this stubborn, hot-headed countess on a journey that takes her from high mountain to scary dungeon, and maybe even to victory.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 November 2012
Meliara and her brother promise their dying father to protect their people from the King's growing greed, but they find themselves in over their heads both in the war they are waging and in peacetime at the court. Meliara is a very strong and independent person and Smith has a talent for writing interesting and well-rounded characters. This is an incredible story and would recommend it to everyone who likes enjoyable fantasy especially those who like Tamora Pierce's books.
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on 1 November 2009
This book was originally published in two volumes, 'Crown Duel' and 'Court Duel'. I think it works better as a single volume as it turns it into a very acceptable 470 page stand-alone novel.

Countess Meliara has grown up in a backwater castle and upon the death of her father finds herself with her brother leading the fight against a greedy King whose taxation policy is crippling his people. This eventually leads her to the royal palace where she struggles, un-used as she is to the intrigues of the court, and soon finds herself doubting those around her. One of them is the enigmatic Marquis of Shevraeth, a long-standing adversary, who manages to infuriate Meliara with his arrogant and foppish behaviour. Meliara must learn to fight with wit, words and secret alliances.

The characterisation (especially Meliara's brother) is sometimes a bit one-dimensional and the way the revolution is fought is stretching believability, but I thoroughly enjoyed Meliara's adventures.

All in all, the book is a light hearted, fun read and will appeal mainly to those interested in romantic fantasy.
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on 6 October 2014
An interesting story. I felt the author lacked sufficient knowledge to write detailed battled scenes from the period she chose to set her characters in, and as the start of the book is based around Mel and her brother Brans pledge to their father to bring down the unloved and bullying current Monarch, it seemed this lack of detail would be a problem. However, once that part of the story was out of the way and Mel became involved in the intricacies of court life and intrigue, this book really came to life. I enjoyed the way the lead character was portrait and found her character to be consistent. The love interest with her "Unknown" suitor was fun, though enough clues had been dropped to leave the reader in little doubt as to who this was. Still I thought it was sensitively handled and enjoyable. I did find her constant setting of events during heavy rain odd. Almost nothing noteworthy can happen in Crown Duel unless it was lashing down, no matter the season. Just a strange observation. But overall it held my interest.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 20 July 2003
I bought this book because of the great reviews it had recieved thinking it just another fantasty novel. However Sherwood Smith made the characters believable and human enough to react with while the plot was a page turner. Mel is a great heroine not simple because she stands up for herself and her beliefs but she defies everyone around her into not following the herd. Her attitude leads to her downfall yet builds her up to be a great woman respected for just being herself. Her brother is charming with also her "enemy" the marquis who drives her up the wall. I enjoyed the book from beginning to end and hope that Sherwood will continue this book into a series. Loved also the extra short story at the end.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 28 February 2004
This is a fabulous, five star, two for the price of one book.
It comprises of both Crown Duel and the sequel, Court Duel, of which the sequel is by far the better book.
If you love regency style intrigue and romance, mixed with a little fantasy, this book is for you.
Crown Duel is good, but mostly its worth reading so that Court Duel makes sense.
This particular edition is an especially good buy, as it combines both books in one
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on 19 December 2010
This was my first Sherwood Smith book and i enjoyed it thoroughly, so I went and bought all her books on Kindle. She is a great writer and Crown Duel is, in my opinion, her best novel. I found the protagonists likeable, and the way the plot unravelled to disclose things that were not obvious in the beginning...(can't say much without spoilers). It was a real page-turner. For fans of a great romance-adventure story this is just the thing!
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on 19 September 2012
I have read other works by Sherwood Smith, and was very disappointed by how witless the heroine is. She is not heroic in fact, but simply reacts in daft response to external events.There is clearly a romance at the heart of this novel, but it would perhaps appeal to a very naive 13 year old, and has no depth to it, nor is it used to illuminate the plot.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This book is brilliant. At first you might find it hard to get into it... the names seem so obviously "made up" but it doesn't take long until you are completely addicted! In some ways it is predictable, but in other ways not at all. I would definately recommend this book though, expecially if you love knights!
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