Crown Duel

Crown Duel

by Sherwood Smith

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

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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 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!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142301517
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 06/28/2002
Series: Crown and Court Duel Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 182,933
Product dimensions: 4.36(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.26(d)
Age Range: 12 Years

About 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

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Crown Duel 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 268 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!!!
Aerrin99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fairly predictable fantasy involving a made-up kingdom, a king we're pretty sure is the bad guy (although why is a bit vague), a district devoted to overthrowing him, and a heroine who is mostly a heroine by mistake because she pretty much never makes good choices or uses her brain.It's short, and probably aimed younger than I'd thought when I requested it - I'd say this walks the line between children's and young adult, and as such I'm a little more willing to forgive the simplicity of some of the ideas which I think could have been more interesting with more time devoted to them. Decent enough, but I've certainly read this idea in far better forms before.
bell7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What would you do if your people had been taxed to the limit and the current king was planning on breaking a contract that would turn allies against you? Meliara and her brother go to war after the death of their father, the Count, but are surprised when no one will ally with them against the crooked king. They stand alone against the king's armies, knowing they're merely a thorn in his side and their people could be wiped out at any time.Mel's brother calls her quick-witted, quick tempered, and quick to judge, a characterization that she bears out in her actions and tendencies to jump to conclusions throughout the story. I came to different conclusions from her fairly early on, but seeing her character have to grapple with changing opinions was still worthwhile. The narrative sometimes reads with the stilt of someone using a thesaurus one too many times, but I read quickly enough to ignore this for the most part. The story ends satisfactorily while still leaving possibilities open for the sequel. Despite its focus on battles and political intrigue, there is very little on-scene violence, and I would easily recommend this to younger fantasy readers as well as high school students closer in age to Mel herself.
Herenya on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Meliara's father dies, making her and her brother promise they will fight to overthrow the country's king, who is taxing his people into poverty and planning to break the covenant with the Hill-folk. However (like in all good stories), things don't go according to plan and Mel finds herself a prisoner of the enemy. The first part of Crown Duel is very much an adventure and Mel spends much of her time trying to escape or evading being captured. Not only did this keep the story tense and suspenseful, but the intrigue of trying to work out who to trust and who not to trust means it is interesting, and unpredictable.The story is also about Mel learning the extent of her own naivety, and what it means to act in ignorance (an interesting theme to accompany the action) but I didn't find this frustrating. The first person narration meant I shared her perspective, and hence shared her mistrust. I could see the sense in her reasoning. The second part deals with Mel's experiences as she leaves her family's country castle for the royal palace in the capital. But court life is a world Mel is unfamiliar with - one of masks and deception, codes, plots and manipulations. When she encounters the Merindars - the family of the previous king - she decides she needs advice and turns to an anonymous source with her questions. However, there are more plots beneath the surface than Mel is aware of, and she does not know whose advice it is she seeks.This part is much more subtle. It is about trust, the more subtle manipulations of power (not the sort of power wherein one goes in with guns blazing - not that this world has guns), people, relationships and, perhaps, finding one's place in the world.(I must admit I had certain suspicions about one or two things, but instead of being irritated with that possible predictability, I was entertained, watching the story unfold and waiting to see if my suspicions were correct.)It might seem trite to say "this story is well written", but the use of language was quite deliberate and effective. It helps build an original world in a convincing manner, with believable depth to the history, the politics, and the court etiquette.To say I really enjoyed this is perhaps an understatement, for I have read it three times in almost as many days.
krau0098 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This sounded from the description like the type of fantasy book I would really like; and I did really enjoy it. Originally this was released as two books Crown Duel and Court Duel. I am glad it was finally released as one novel; for although there is a distinction between the two parts of the story it would've been hard to leave it after the first half of the book.Meliara (Mel) and her brother are up in arms against the king of their country in an effort to protect the Hill Folk and the Covenant; if they succeed they will be meeting the wishes of Mel's dead father. Their ignorance leads them into a fight larger than they expected and into an alliance with unexpected personages. In the end Mel must quell her headstrong attitude and lay down her sword to turn to a different sort of fighting; the fighting which takes place in the halls and courts of the king. She must also deal with her hatred of the one person who seems to fully understand her goals; Shevraeth.This was an excellent book. It was well-written and had many classic elements that make a young adult fantasy like this a good one. You have a stubborn kick-butt woman who is full of righteousness and conviction for her people and as the Countess of very poor lands does her best to protect her people. You have a man who is full of surprises and is not what he at first seems; doing his best to ally and quell her over-eager attempts at revenge. You have an evil king, a great war, and then of course a warrior maiden thrust into the dangers of court politics. I love these types of books and as such really enjoyed this one.The main strength of this book is the excellent characterization. Although the fast pace, great action scenes, and sweet love story intertwined in the plot all group together to make a very enjoyable read.I will definitely be looking at more books written by Smith and picking them up to read. If you liked this book a lot you would also enjoy Maledicte, Cast in Shadow (The Chronicles of Elantra, Book 1), and The Hero and the Crown. All of these books have a similar premise of a strong-willed girl being thrust into situations that she is not prepared to deal with it. All of these books deal with a lot of intrigue, have lots of action, and a love story intertwined throughout the plot.
unfufu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very entertaining and fun. Definitely for YA since it's very light and subtle. I would recommended for every tween and young teen out there. I only gave it three and a half starts because I am an adult so I found it a little too light. But if I were 13 I would have given it 10 stars.
Saieeda on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an excellent book! The plot was action-packed and fast moving though never predictable. The characters were well-developed and each had a clear motivation. The story was intriguing and entertaining. The book was never boring despite its length.
allureofbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith is one of those books that has been sitting on my shelves unread for years. I¿m glad I finally picked it up! I always really enjoy reading older young adult fantasy, and this one was no exception. While the world building left a lot to be desired, I fell completely in love with the characters. They kept me glued to the pages.Meliara and her brother Bran promised their father on his deathbed that they would save their kingdom from the evil King currently in power. As they do their best to keep their word, chaos erupts. From enemies to not-so-enemies to hostages to court intrigue ¿ the complications keep the pages turning. The plot is extremely strong and engaging.Now, besides the god-awful cover, the main issue I have with Crown Duel is the world building. Namely: the lack of. From the first page to the conclusion, there are numerous references to the Hill Folk. Who are they? What are they? Where do their allegiances lie? How do they think? All things we don¿t find out (at least not to my satisfaction). They end up being pretty vital to how things turn out, but we never learn anything about them! Not okay, especially when one of the main things that makes or breaks a fantasy novel is the world building.Also present are references to magic (like communication stones). Yet nothing ever develops about the origins of magic or how things work/how they are made. Huge disappointment there. I think Sherwood Smith is a pretty established fantasy author, so I was really surprised by how lacking I found all this.The book¿s major strength is the characters. Meliara is awesome! She is a stubborn, prickly piece of work, actually ¿ but that is why I loved her. She got on my nerves more than once¿the fact that she was imperfect made my day. Of course, she is also strong, intelligent and fiercely loyal. I don¿t take my heroines any other way. Her complex personality made me love her very early on, and kept me dying to see how her story would turn out.Speaking of complex: the Marquis of Shevraeth. The less said about him by me the better (you need to meet him for yourself!), but he can definitely be my (newest) book boyfriend. I absolutely love that man. Seriously ¿ read the book just so we can talk about him.So, while the book is definitely not perfect, it is absolutely worth reading. I loved the characters and getting to see their story! Also, bonus: since this is actually an omnibus of two shorter books put together, there is also an extra short story at the end after the HEA. I love getting glimpses like that into my characters¿ lives!