The stirring sequel to Crown Duel finds young Meliara at the center of a deadly court intrigue.
Children's Literature - Rebecca JosephWith the brutal war she helped to win over and the horrible king dead, Meliara returns to her family's country castle to resume the simple life she prefers. Her peaceful time lasts only a short while-until she is invited to the royal court to celebrate the upcoming marriage of her brother. At court she is swept into various intrigues involving a revolt led by the dead king's sister and communications with a secret admirer. Not sure who her real allies are, Meliara once again comes to the defense of her country. This well-written fantasy is an enjoyable read, especially the descriptions of Meliara's difficulties adapting to life at court and the mystery surrounding her secret admirer.
VOYA - Bette AmmonThe recalcitrant Meliara is at it again in this sequel to Smith's Crown Duel (Harcourt Brace, 1997/VOYA June 1997), Book I of the Crown & Court Duet series. With her rural kingdom on the mend and her brother soon to be married, the outspoken Countess Mel is coaxed to court by Nee, her future sister-in-law. Mel promises to learn courtly ways but it becomes clear early on that she is too honest to suppress her true thoughts and feelings. It is through an exchange of letters with an anonymous suitor that Mel discovers much about this courtly world-the treachery, nobility, and romance. Those who were absorbed with Mel's misadventures in Crown Duel may be less than thrilled with this sequel. What little action there is occurs briefly at the end, and in the meantime readers must endure Mel's time at court where she, of course, causes continual commotion with her bluntness. Will the real villain-the one who would have the throne at any cost-ever reveal himself? Will Mel never figure out the identity of her secret correspondent and find her own true love? These criticisms aside, Mel still radiates as a courageous, forthright, and intelligent young woman, one we will be eager to meet again. VOYA Codes: 3Q 3P M J (Readable without serious defects, Will appeal with pushing, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
School Library JournalGr 6-9In this sequel to Crown Duel (Harcourt, 1997), the teenage Countess Meliara finds herself compelled for political reasons to leave her small castle in county Tlanth to stay at the royal palace Athanarel in the capital city, Remalna. She is completely unprepared for court life, preferring to run barefoot over the hills rather than learning how to hold her fan correctly, but luckily her brother's new fiance takes Meliara under her wing and teaches her the nuances of court etiquette. Mel soon finds herself swept up in a dizzying whirl of flirtation and political intrigue, and she remains confused about both until a plot to take over the throne brings many secrets to light. Court Duel stands well on its own, although readers will immediately want to go back and read the first book. Mel is a likable heroine who is constantly chastising herself for her ignorance and quick temper, and the other characters are fully realized and fascinating in their own right. There isn't much action until the very end, but readers will enjoy immersing themselves in the subtleties of courtly life and love.Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
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