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Crown Duel

Crown Duel

4.7 251
by Sherwood Smith

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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


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.

The Firebird edition of Crown Duel combines the hardcover editions of Crown Duel and Court Duel-and features a never-before-published story by Sherwood Smith!

Editorial Reviews

The ALAN Review - M. Jean Greenlaw
The death of their father casts young Mel and her brother Bran into the unwanted roles of Countess and Count and into being leaders of a revolution against a despotic king. Their people have fallen on hard times because of cruel taxes, and Mel has grown up gloriously free of the trappings of court. As she becomes enmeshed in war, she is captured, and her journey from captivity to freedom parallels her coming of age. Mel comes to realize that she has led a very sheltered life and that people are often not what they seem. As she travels the countryside, her world expands; and she discovers the need for the education she had previously scorned. Intrigue, romance, and rousing adventure are all part of the saga. Sherwood Smith writes good story! Her use of language and imagery and her deft plotting keep the reader glued to the pages. This book is the first of the Crown & Court Duet. Smith's previous books formed the engaging Wren trilogy. Each book stands alone in its power and satisfactory conclusion, but each makes the reader want more. What more could we want as readers?
VOYA - Bette Ammon
This is Book One of The Crown & Court Duet. Remalna is a country with magical Hill Folk and their warmth-giving Fire Sticks, as well as the poverty-stricken Countess Meliara (Mel) and her brother Branaric. A revolution is underway against a greedy king who covets Remalna and will break the Covenant-a promise to sustain and protect the remarkable colortrees in Remalna forests. Ferociously courageous and defiant, Mel proves a worthy adversary to both real and perceived enemies. Her lovely, yet smudged face on the book jacket seems peculiar until readers realized that the scratches and bruises speak truly of Mel's bold adventures. The larger theme of war and those who ultimately pay the price adds depth to an exciting fantasy featuring an endearing, exasperating heroine, her loyal brother, a mere hint of romance, and the promise of further tales. Sure to please fans of Tamora Pierce's Alanna (Macmillan, 1983-1988) and Wild Magic (Macmillan, 1992 +) series, Smith's nifty Mel is a guaranteed champion. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
Kirkus Reviews
Fantasy fans will cheer this latest romp, subtitled "The Crown and Court Duet Book I," in which Smith (Wren's War, 1995, etc.) introduces the teenage Count Branaric and Countess Meliara of Tlanth. The siblings are noble-born, but there their good fortune ends; their father has died, leaving them in a cold, rundown castle, unable to pay taxes to the evil Galdran, corrupt ruler of the kingdom of Remalna. Galdran's cruelty forces the pair to lead their country in revolt: Despite some spirited fighting that leaves the king's forces scrambling, Meliara is taken hostage. Ill and threatened with torture, Meliara never lets panic overwhelm her, risking her life to be reunited with her brother and displaying admirable wit and courage in the process. Smith's lush descriptions evoke a fantastic yet credible world, where magic spells and enchanted stones are everyday facts of life. While the tale ends with the king's destruction, Smith leaves a few threads dangling for the next installment: The Count and Countess will no doubt saddle their mounts again soon.

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Crown and Court Duel Series , #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.25(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.13(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Sherwood Smith started making books out of paper towels at age six. In between stories, she studied and traveled in Europe, got a Masters degree in history, and now lives in Southern California with her spouse, two kids, and two dogs. She’s worked in jobs ranging from counter work in a smoky harbor bar to the film industry. Writing books is what she loves best. She’s the author of the high fantasy History of Sartorias-deles series as well as the modern-day fantasy adventures of Kim Murray in Coronets and Steel. Learn more at www.sherwoodsmith.net.

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Crown Duel 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 249 reviews.
Skookum More than 1 year ago
Yes, my life was sadly lacking this story for quite a while, and I didn't even know it! Crown Duel and Court Duel are totally awesome. There's a strong, yet imperfect heroine (the story wouldn't be as good if she were perfect. She has a quick temper and often jumps to conclusions. She is also rather tactless!), a mysterious, handsome marquis (whose name is the only real downside of the book. Shevraeth is a totally awful name, if you ask me), and lots of adventure and mystery. The characters are all very believable-I always have to put the book down and have a good cringe every time poor Mel runs into another huge embarrassment or problem. The only problem I would like to note is that Mel seems to switch too easily from her old wild, carefree, comfortable life to the life at court, which is structured and tight-she can no longer go riding off whenever she feels like it, etc. I find it hard to believe that the Mel of Crown Duel would enjoy going to parties every week like the Mel of Court Duel seems to. Sure, she could rise to the occasion to show herself intelligent and flexible, but enjoy it? Not fidget and complain to herself when she is alone? S. Smith just seemed to make the switch from lifestyle to lifestyle a little too smooth and easy. That said, I still LOVE these books! I want more stories about Meliara!
Ancamna More than 1 year ago
Crown Duel/Court Duel is narrated by Meliara, Countess of Tlanth, who has called herself (multiple times) a barefoot countess. She is open, honest, can't keep her reactions from her face, and very unassu....actually, very assuming. But she tries hard not to be. Sometimes. Oh yeah, and she has a temper. This is the story of the rebellion in Remalna that was starting to be planned in A Stranger to Command, only it doesn't happen the way they'd hoped. Meliara (Mel) and her brother Bran in Tlanth revolt against King Galdran because he's eeeeeevil and keeps raising taxes. Heh. Actually, it's because he's going to break the covenant with the Hill Folk who are magical and will basically decimate the country if Galdran goes through with his plan which is to rob them of their homes and try to kill them in the process. All for money, of course. So Mel and Bran and their bunch of ragtag fighters go against the army and start to win. Until Shevraeth is posted as the opposing general, instead of the king's stupid cousin. Then they start to lose. And then Mel gets captured. She escapes, runs headlong across the country (yes, on foot -- actually with a wounded foot) trying to get home. Then she's captured again. And, you know, I think I'll leave you there in suspense. Just read the book. It's about politics and home and finding love in a completely unexpected place.
Sakura23 More than 1 year ago
Crown Duel is definitely a must read book. The book is narrated by the main character Meliara, Countess of Tlanth. In the beginning we find that Meliara is no normal countess, but that she acts more like the "common folk" and, as far as she's concerned, that's exactly where she belongs. She has a great sense of pride and loyalty and would do almost anything for those she loved. Upon her father's death, Meliara and her older brother Bran find out that the King of Remalna, King Galdran, is planning on breaking an ancient covenant Meliara's people made with the magical Hill Folk of the land. It is with this information that Meliara and Bran set out to revolt against the king and keep their covenant intact, as well as free the land from Galdran's tyranny. Although their "army" is made up of local farmers and shopkeepers the fact that they are greatly outnumbered, Meliara and Bran manage to stay a step ahead of King Galdran's army. Things change however, when King Galdran's lazy cousin is replaced as General of the Army with the esteemed Marquis of Shevraeth. From then on things get crazy and nothing goes as planned for either Meliara or the esteemed Marquis and Meliara must use all her wits, strength, and courage as she, reluctantly and unexpectedly, becomes Remalna's one hope for a better future. Crown Duel is filled with witty banter, politics, action, and love and is definitely a must read no matter who you are or how old you are.
Misltoe More than 1 year ago
I really never realized that the book was two books in one until I ordered it. The book was great and I LOVE how Meliara had a hard time with Vidanric at the beggining. Also, I LOVE who her secret admirer is, ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books that stays with you. The setting was artfully crafted, the characters were complete and very winning. This book quickly drew me in, and held me, simply because Meliara was a character worth knowing completely.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was GREAT, Clean, and had lots of action!!! A little slow with the romance but, If you like books that make you squerm with delite this is the book for you.
willfulserenity More than 1 year ago
This book originally was printed as two books: Crown Duel and Court Duel. The first book tells the story of a young, threadbare countess who bravely and naively flies in the face of danger to keep her county from falling apart. It's action-packed and zesty - you feel each bruise and scrape, but you also feel the burning passion that Meliara feels: the anger, love and even fear that throws her headlong from one battle to another. The second book continues her story: the war is done and now she has to somehow play nice with the courtiers who, as far as she knows, turned their backs on her in her greatest time of need. Throughout the book, Meliara experiences considerable character growth as her education increases and her prejudices are laid to rest. When the final danger is revealed and a new war threatens, Meliara courageously rises to the challenge and faces her most deadly enemy yet. There is a beautiful thread of romance that unfolds throughout both books - very much in the style of Pride and Prejudice. I found myself eagerly turning the pages, lost in Meliara's witty narrative (sprinkled with quaint colloquialisms, such as "Burn it!" and "Stars!"). Sherwood Smith has treated her intricate plot with delicacy and grace: both the political battles and the romance comes through with strength and clarity. I honestly did not notice the length of the book, being lost in the awesome story. This is one of my mot favorite books. I have bought several copies throughout the years and shared it with many friends. The Nook version was decently free of typos, and it's a great deal for a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful read!
dentlhlpr More than 1 year ago
Great story. Nice to see such great character development through the whole thing. Imagime my suprise when I reached the end and found some bonus short stories!
ninjamcq More than 1 year ago
I cannot emphasize how magnificent this book is. Every time anyone asks me for a book recommendation, this book is the one I recommend. I reread it once a year and it just keeps getting better. I implore you to read this book and make everyone you know read it too. You will not regret it.
Lydia Scott More than 1 year ago
I got this book about five years ago. I loved it then and I love it now. I think that it applies to most aspects of a teenagers life: betrayal, confusion, love, loyalty and various social situations. Once you start reading, you will not want to put this book down!
ColieMolie More than 1 year ago
I devoured this book in two days! The story keeps you hooked and Mel keeps you personally invested in her struggles. If you like this I would also recommend The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley and The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Peirce
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book for the first time when I was 14 yrs old. A friend of mine had just finished it and passed it along to me since we shared similar tastes in books. 10 years later, I have my own battered copy of the book, having asked to borrow that same friend's copy enough times that she bought me my own. I re-read this book at least once a year and the story still pulls me in. At each age, this book has offered me something worthwhile. Meliara's stubbornness and combative nature spoke to me during my teenage years while her growth has mimicked my own transition to adulthood. I find myself holding my breathe as well as laughing at the same parts each time discovering the joy of the story. The battles, romance, and intrigue kept my attention at 14 and still keep my attention. I cannot wait to pass this story onto a daughter or niece. My only annoyance is that there are only these two books and I feel that Meliara must have had more adventures, I wish Sherwood Smith would continue this series further.
ellak More than 1 year ago
This is one of my all-time favorite books. It has everything a great book must have - great writing, fantastic dialogue, very well developed characters, and intriguing and unpredictable plot. First, the writing. I think Sherwood Smith is one of the most talented contemporary fantasy writers. Sadly, she is so overlooked. Her writing has no fillers, every sentence seems to be either adding to the story or to the character. The heroine in this book is Meliara, a future countess with a broken down and impoverished land holdings. She and her brother made an oath to their farther to protect their land and its treaty against the agenda of the king of Remalna. This becomes their struggle. And Meliara's adventure. She proves to be a fearless and loyal heroine. She's considerate of others, acting with good intentions, but driven by ignorance. Her antagonist, Shevraeth, one of the King's minions, is intent on bringing her down. He proves to be a worthy opponent. The plot evolves slowly and with precision. There are no unanswered questions at the end. It just fits perfectly together. A must read for anyone! PS. DO NOT read the prequel to this book first. It will be a major spoiler. And it makes more sense when it's read after Crown Duel.
okie_bookworm16 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It had twists that I didn't see coming and that's what made it so unforgettable. Sherwood Smith does an excellent job of entangling the reader in a world of fantasy, magic, love and court conspiracy. The ending was amazing yet absolutely shocking. This book was unforgettable. I would read this book again tomorrow. I recommend this book to everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was my favorite book in my entire 14 year old life!!! When I finished it I was walking around for 3 days unable to read anything else because I would automatically think of 'Crown Duel'when I would start to read any other book...But it was worth it and I think the second part was a little bit more exciting than the first one, but that's just my point of view. I doubt that there is ever going to be a book as good as this one!!! I recommend this book to everybody - small or big, young or old, You all won't be dissapointed, trust me!!!=)
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book will take you to a world you don't expect. The characters are never what they seem. This is he kind of book that seems so predictable, probably some princess or something being courageous. It's more than that, the twist in the plot are so unexpected, you can't put it down. Amazing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has been the greatest book I've ever read in my short life. I have never anticipated reading a book that makes me feel like I'm part of the world mentioned in the book. Ms. Smith has really been able to take me into another world with this novel. I've been reading this book since 7th grade and have never gotten bored of it. This is my favorite book in the whole world (without exagerating) and i really think that this book should be read by anyone who enjoys imaginative travels to a magical world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book, Crown Duel, is my favorite book of all time, and that is saying something considering I have read countless books. I have read Crown Duel so many times its practically in pieces. If you read this you will NOT be disappointed. It was fantastic!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Darkstarr More than 1 year ago
Really liked this 2-book series. Adventurous, romantic, sweet fantasy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been reading this series since I was in middle school- and now I am 24! This book is highly recommended for those who like the time of courting and sword battles.