Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith

I took note of Crown Duel by Sharwood Smith from Chachic of Chachic's Book Nook. Seeing that she loves fantasy as much as I do, I couldn't pass this one up. 

Synopsis from Wikipedia:

Young Countess Meliara swears to her dying father that she and her brother will defend their people from the growing greed of the king. That promise leads them into a war for which they are ill-prepared, which threatens the very people they are trying to protect. But war is simple compared to what follows, in peacetime. Meliara is summoned to live at the royal palace, where friends and enemies look alike, and intrigue fills the dance halls and the drawing rooms. If she is to survive, Meliara must learn a whole new way of fighting-with wits and words and secret alliances.

In war, at least, she knew in whom she could trust. Now she can trust no one.


Meliara is unlike any other female character that I've come across.  She is not much of a swordsman or a skillful fighter (think Katsa of Graceling), or an excellent marksman either (think Katniss of Hunger Games). She's no Hermione Granger either for she has not had the chance to learn to write and spell properly or be acquainted with books as what most that filled her mother's library were burned. But what she lacks in skill or knowledge, she more than makes up for in heart and wit. She is courageous and high-principled. She loves and cares for her people. She is more than willing to learn and accept her weaknesses and mistakes (albeit gradually). 

Although one might see Meliara as a damsel in distress in most of the situations that she's involved in as she required saving more often than not. But what makes her different from your stereotypical maiden is that she is far from delicate and you can definitely see her bravery and daring as she tries to get herself out of the tight and dangerous situations by herself. Assistance was merely given (and not asked) to her by some in view of the circumstances she was in. 

One thing that I wasn't quite fond of is the character Branaric, Meliara's brother. He reminds me of an overly perky sales person in a movie I once watched, the one with a permanent smile and a sing-song voice. I understand how being cheerful is hardly of any damage and perhaps might even help lighten the mood during an impending war but I'm Ms. Debbie Downer. So technically it has nothing to do with the character, it's just me and my gloom cloud.  

I liked romantic subplot and the twists and turns of the story. I didn't know who to trust and who betrayed whom. There's tension and mixed feelings. All the escaping and running away plus the political intrigue will keep you turning the pages. Overall, a very engaging fantasy read!
  

Comments

  1. Glad you enjoyed reading this! It's a classic and one of my favorite YA fantasy novels. I was delighted that I got to meet Sherwood Smith in person (picture here) back in 2009. If you're into the romance, there are outtakes from Vidanric's point of view in the ebook edition of this book. Those used to be uploaded in her site but they were taken down.

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  2. @Chachic
    Oh wow! I've never had a signed book and I have never met or even saw a single author (yet). Those two would make it on my bucket list. :) And Sherwood Smith's hair is like Meliara's! :)

    It would be great to know Vidanric's thoughts and feelings. he was pretty reserved. Too bad they took it down but I'll still check out her site anyway. :P

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  3. Well, if you're really determined to get signed copies, you can always order them online. :P Shipping to the Philippines is usually expensive though.

    If you buy the ebook edition, you'd get to read Vidanric's point of view in certain scenes. :) That's why I grabbed a copy even though I already had a paperback of this.

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  4. @Chachic
    You're right, I browsed around the net and although the signed hardcover is not really that far off from the local bookstore prices here, the shipping is pretty steep. I guess I just have to wait for the chance to spot J.K. Rowling walking around our neigborhood. Teehee. :)

    I have to hold off getting the e-book too because of the fact that I have hoarded a lot of books already. Haha! I'm alotting some cash too for future hoardings of the rest of Trese. I will be content with just guessing what Vidanric thought of Meliara....For now...:D

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  5. I read this earlier this year based also on the recommendation of Chachic. It's definitely somewhere at the top of my favorite Fantasy books.

    I would definitely recommend reading the Vidanric outtakes too. If you didn't love him already from the book, the outtakes would take care of that.:)

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  6. @Celina
    Celina and Chachic, stop tempting me with the outtakes!:D I've gotten way over my budget with some of my book purchases. Although I am terribly curious of what Vidanric's POV. Why does he have to be so brooding and secretive? But No, I cant! *lalalalala*

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