Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Crown duel by Sherwood Smith

Meliara lives in her family home in the mountains, a small and modest keep where she spends her days running the kitchens and keeping the books while her father slips away towards death and her brother tries to keep up with the news at Court.  The news that comes from Court is not good, the current king is selfish and cruel, and his taxes are crippling the people.  Worse still, he plans to break the Covenant with the Hill Folk, which places everyone at risk for the Hill Folk will protect their forests as they have in the past. 

Meliara and her brother Branaric are about to become the figure heads of a push for change, but that push brings them to the attention of the king and he does not accept challenges for his power.  Suddenly Mel and her brother are fighting a war that they are ill equipped to win, a war where they must use all their skill and knowledge of the land - but it is not enough and Mel finds herself captured by the enemy and thrust into a world of politics, danger, and duplicity.  Is it really worth it?

The edition of this book that I read was actually Crown duel and the sequel Court duel published in one volume - with a bonus short story published at the end.  The authors note at the back of the book says that this is a version where the original names she planned have been restored, so it sounds as though there are several versions of these books in existence.  They are a nice length, not too big and not too small, and I finished the book in one day reading through both "books" and the short story.

I have read these books several times over the years and have enjoyed them each time, although this time the writing seemed a little stilted, a little stiff, which I have not noticed before.  It is a reflection of the time it was written (about 15 years ago) and it appears that I have become somewhat spoilt for choice in recent years, with books for teenagers offering much more than they used to in terms of quality.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed re-reading these books immensely, and enjoyed the challenge for my vocabulary, but it was lacking some of the character of other books I have read recently.

Suitable for younger 'tween readers, and having some exciting sword fights and chases, it also appeals to both the boys and the girls.  There is just a touch of romance, a subtle undercurrent that flows through the stories that may appeal more to the girls, but there is also drama and suspense to keep older readers entertained.  Hopefully I will enjoy it as much again when I re-read it in a few years time.

If you like this book then try:
  • Court duel by Sherwood Smith
  • Alanna the first adventure by Tamora Pierce
  • Dragons blood by Jane Yolen
  • Dealing with dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
  • A posse of princesses by Sherwood Smith
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  • Princess of the midnight ball by Jessica Day George

Reviewed by Brilla

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