I loved this. It pushed all my buttons in a good way even though I could see right from the beginning why the heroine, the barefoot countess of Tlanth, Meliara, hated her ever-so-noble enemy Shevraeth with such a passion. Originally marketed as two YA books (Crown Duel and Court Duel) this tells of an unsuccessful uprising by the impoverished Tlanth, led by Meliara and her brother. As an attempt to take the throne from the cruel and despotic Galdran, their precipitous action is pretty much a failure, but as a focus for discontent it's the beginning of real change in the kingdom. Neither Mel nor her naïve brother have the expertise to succeed, but Shevraeth does and at the end of the first book Mel's actions have enabled Shevraeth, whom she considers to be little better than the hated Galdran, to complete his own plans and take the throne.
In the second book Mel's brother, Bran, established himself at court, becomes good friends with Shevraeth and finds himself a fiancee. Mel ends up at court for the wedding, which is almost as dangerous as her pitched battles during the uprising. Only gradually does she learn to navigate through intrigue and sort out friend from foe, but her unwillingness to throw her lot in with Shevraeth until it's almost too late comes within a hair's breadth of allowing the wrong person to take the throne.