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Crown Duel (Crown & Court #1-2)

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  21,138 Ratings  ·  955 Reviews
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, wher ...more
Paperback, Omnibus, 471 pages
Published June 10th 2002 by Firebird (first published March 1st 1997)
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Sherwood Smith
May 04, 2009 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: my-books
Well, I loved writing this story when I was in my very early twenties, and I loved typing it up when I was in my forties . . . if I were to write it over, the Merindars would be central, not poor Mel, but hey. Time and tides.
Aug 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
I’m ashamed to say I’ve only read this classic of young adult fantasy now. How horrid, no? I don’t know what I’ve been missing out. Forget about Katsa, Katniss, and all those other strong hard-headed heroines you love. Meliara is the original and stakes her claim on the throne until this day.

The first book was filled with action, action, and lots more action. I wasn’t really gripped by it because of how annoying Meliara was. She was brash, stubborn, irrational, prejudiced, and very rude. She dov
Sherwood Smith
Mar 18, 2015 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Special edition: includes outtakes, and the edited version of Crown Duel that hereto only appeared in the e-book format.
May 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
I began to dislike the book early in the beginning, because Meliara has the same characteristics of other heroines that bother me. She is small, but feisty and tough, but small, and even though she's small, she fights. Did you understand that she is short and skinny? You understand that she's small, right?

Despite the fact that Meliara is constantly being reminded/reminding us that she is small and feisty, the book was hard to put down, though I don't really understand why. I guess I still wante
Apr 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Catie by: Jessica
Shelves: fantasy, ya, read-in-2011
3 stars

First of all, I just want to say that I love the cover of this book. I love her black eyed scruffiness, her frosty stare, and most of all, the impressive sword clutched in her hand. Unfortunately, all of these elements led me to believe that this would be a sort of powerful and resourceful female heroine who saves the day type of book. And, I guess it sort of is. But if you go into this expecting the strength, determination, and steel of say, Alanna, then you’ll probably be disappointed.
Nov 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I don't know what was wrong with me all this time. Something always kept me from reading this book. I can't even remember what is was anymore. Boy was I missing out. I should've read this book when I was younger, I would've loved this with every once of my being. Now that I've read more books I'm a bit more picky (but not by too much).

The plot was excellent. The beginning was a bit fast without any real excitment going on. It seemed like Smith just wanted to skip some scenes to get to Mel's adv
Branwen Sedai *of the White Ajah*
People change just as the seasons change, and each spring brings new growth. So nothing is ever quite the same.

Countess Meliara and her brother Bran promise their dying father that they will protect their people and the land from their tyrant of a King. But she soon learns that is easier said than done. For overthrowing the current ruler isn't all about battles and fighting and war. There is a war that takes place inside the politics of the palace as well. And Meliara must learn to think quick o
Apr 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book (well, technically "these books," but omnibus edition, so "book" is also accurate) the first time I read it a few years ago, but this time I downright loved it. I don't know why it only occurred to me on this reading that it's essentially a high-fantasy-with-war version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, because it now seems almost absurdly obvious, but that just makes it even more wonderful in my estimation. Sherwood Smith does great worldbuilding, lively characters moved by deep loyal ...more
May 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who's smart enough not to avoid YA just because it's YA! And ditto for fantasy.
Before I start this review, I’m just going to do a bit of basking in the feeling that I was wonderfully smart to abandon my huge to-read and maybe-read lists and reread this. I’m really not doing any rereading at the moment, which is the sad flip-side of discovering so many new books from friends here, so it was unusual enough to merit some comment. (If not basking, in all honesty.)

That done, I also want to mention that I got the updated-with-extras ebook from Book View Café for this reread, de
Apr 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jacob Proffitt
Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, favorite
I love this story and have reread it a couple of times over the years. A new edition with new scenes from Vidanric's point of view has been released through Book View Café, making this a great time to read it again. I highly recommend getting this edition as the price is incredible and the added stories justify the cost alone. If you're already a fan, you'll enjoy the added insights and Smith's writing keeps it fresh and much more than a simple retelling of the familiar in slightly altered form. ...more
Carla *Jen7waters*
I loved this book! Loved, loved, LOOOOVED IT! *happy mode* Even if part 1 and part 2 are so different - I loved the story itself, the scenarios, the chases, even the battles, the parties and the gowns, and most of all, the rebellious and CRAZY-stubborn heroine Meliara and her extreme, blind, completely prejudiced dislike towards Vidanric, when he clearly loves her in Mr.Darcy's style: with heavenly patience and absolute subtleness. (Well, if one doesn’t count The Wager part. Meliara, how could y ...more
Shadi ***save your ratings use disclaimers**
I almost rated this a 3 star but I decided to bump it up since I enjoyed the story even if it wasn't what I expected. However, this was not really a fantasy story. It was more historical adventure/romance with a random fantasy story byline that added to the story but it wasn't a central focal point. This was about a pretty average girl coming of age and growing into an adult. I really enjoyed the world Ms Smith created with the court and the detail she put into it but I wish she had put a little ...more
Melissa McShane
Jacob pointed out that there are spoilers in this, and rather than locate them all, or put the whole thing behind a spoiler tag (it's not that bad) I'm going to post this warning. Read the book first. You should probably do that anyway.


I dove into this yesterday evening and emerged, satisfied, some hours later, after which I spent more hours thinking and replaying parts in my head, because that is what I do when I don’t quite want to let go of a book. I read this first in two parts, back in 1
(Updated Review Jan 11, 2014)

This was a lighter tale of political intrigue and danger, with a little bit of magic, and a good dash of romance.

This edition is actually two books in one. Crown Duel, the first book, focuses on a rebellion against the king, with several people going after the crown. This book, I would maybe rate 3 stars, even though it was "just ok." I must have been in the right mood to read it at the time. It is full of adventure and calamity, as the heroine, Mel, escapes from on
Jul 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Crown Duel is an old favorite, and I've lost count of the times I have revisited Remalna, the magical kingdom Crown Duel takes place in. If you're looking for a book to get for a young teen who loves fantasy and you'd like it to have the kind of romance healthy relationships are based on, I highly recommend this novel.

Meliara Astiar is a stubborn, hotheaded countess who is as honest as she is ignorant. The novel begins in a drafty room in the Tlanth castle, where Bran and Mel swear to their fat
Sep 22, 2011 rated it liked it
I'm actually not sure if Crown Duel is considered YA or not, but given that I heard about this on the recommendation of a YA book blogger, and it seemed to fit that mode as I read it, I'm calling it YA.

I liked this well enough, with one major exception. Originally published as two books, Crown Duel was republished as one book with two parts, which I think works. My 3 star rating is actually a personal reaction to the main character, Meliara. I've developed this vendetta against a certain kind o
Feb 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: fans of Tamora Pierce
Shelves: fantasy, ya
Raised in obscurity and poverty, Countess Melaria vows vengeance against the tyrant ruling her country. She and her older brother embark upon an ill-advised guerilla war. Despite the naivete of her side (they consider itching powder in bedding a particularly successful tactic), they drive off the first commander--who is replaced by Shevraeth, a Scarlet Pimpernell type. He easily defeats the ragtag peasant army Melaria leads, then uses his triumphant return to the capital to stage an effective co ...more
Jun 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-ebooks
“It is a shame that so few have the time or inclination for scholarship these days. There is much entertainment to be afforded in perusing the mistakes of our forebears.”
Gail Carriger
Nov 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favorites, ya
This is a great book, a fantasy dealing out escape and battle, political maneuvering, and court etiquette underwritten by a beautiful romance of miscommunication. Crown Duel is two novella length stories (Crown Duel & Court Duel) about the same characters combined into one novel. Mel is a strong capable single minded heroine, very like Elizabeth Bennett, only with a sword at her side. Her love interest is clever, appealing, and gentle.
Jia Ling Pan
Jan 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tamora Pierce fans, David Eddings fans
3.5 Stars. Quite liked it for its 'sweet and simple' story.

Sometimes I think there should be a genre known as 'charming quintessential fantasy'; for the books that don't reinvent the fantasy genre but still maintains to be quite enjoyable if albeit predictable.

This book is actually a compilation of 2 books in the series (Crown Duel and Court Duel). The Kindle version comes compiled with about 30 to 40 pages of extras, previously written for the author's livejournal page. I'm not sure if the pri
Avy  (Book Looney) ❄️
I first fell in love with this book when I was 14 years old, taking a chance on these books and renting it from the library when the only copies they had were the separately published ones. 5 years later they are still one of the greatest, most heart-felt books I have ever read. This book touches my heart every time, and I can't express how much I love and enjoy it. I won't ever stop loving Meliara's story.

Literally me dancing in my room from the happiness this book gave me and my family walking
First Second Books
In which the under-educated, lacking-social-graces, and ill-informed heroine realizes that she is all of these things after becoming a heroine and then works to become better.

Why doesn’t this happen in more books?
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sophie by: Caroline
When I read this, I was in 8th grade and in bed sick and spent the entire day reading this book. It was also raining outside. I loved it! Reading it now I can definitely see the flaws but I am nostalgic.
First review of 2014. I am not impressed.

This did not work for me. It did not work for me for one simple reason: The first half of the book was weak.

This is a Fantasy Y.A. with political intrigue elements to it and a light teenager-y romance. Mel, our heroine, is a countess of a district called Tlanth, which falls in Remalna city. Mel and her brother have never been to the capital and after their mother's death, their dad filled them with hatred and fear towards the noble and the courtiers. Wh
Steph Su
Oh how I adore feisty heroines embroiled in duplicitous, action-packed fantasy political intrigues and romance! I wish I had known about this book earlier, for I have a feeling it will be one that I return to again and again for that magical dose of adventure, feminism, and romance.

Mel is my favorite kind of fantasy heroine: tough, resourceful, opinionated, and scared of being seen as vulnerable despite her deeply warm heart. I don’t even care that this type of female protagonist is a fantasy tr
Mar 09, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I wanted to like the first book, but found it frustrating: the politics are simplistic, the plot predictable, and in the midst of that the protagonist--intentionally written as immature--seems dim rather than merely inexperienced. But I'm glad I stuck with it. The second book retains these faults, but introduces delightful social complexity which makes Meliara's character flaws less one-note; I enjoyed the daily details of her survival in the first book, but I adored her imperfect maneuverings t ...more
Kirsty (Amethyst Bookwyrm)
This and my other reviews can be found at

Meliara and her brother promise their dying father to protect their people from the King’s growing greed, but they find themselves in over their heads both in the war they are waging and in peacetime at the court. Meliara is a very strong and independent person and Smith has a talent for writing interesting and well-rounded characters. This is an incredible story and would recommend it to everyone who likes enjoyabl
Crown Duel (Crown & Court, #1/2) - Sherwood Smith   Part I Capture the Castle, part swashbuckling fantasy. I just really enjoy stories about young people overthrowing a government, and if you can include sword fighting and horse racing, and romance, then even better. There's something very believable about Mel growing up half-wild and discovering just how much she doesn't know about everything. And remember fantasy fans: she'll always fall in love with the biggest library.I bought this.
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I am a writer, but I'm here on Goodreads to talk about books, as I've been a passionate reader as long as I've been a writer--since early childhood.

I'm not going to rate books--there are too many variables. I'd rather talk about the reading experience. My 'reviews' of my books are confined to the writing process.

More about Sherwood Smith

Other books in the series

Crown & Court (2 books)
  • Crown Duel (Crown & Court, #1)
  • Court Duel (Crown & Court, #2)

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“You, there, girl! Halt!"
Who in the universe ever halts when the enemy tells them to?”
“A wager?" I repeated.
"Yes," he said, and gave me a slow smile, bright with challenge. ...
"Stake?" I asked cautiously. He was still smiling, an odd sort of smile, hard to define.
"A kiss." My first reaction was outrage, but then I remembered that I was on my way to Court, and that had to be the kind of thing they did at Court. And if I win I don't have to collect. I hesitated only a moment longer, lured by the thought of open sky, and speed, and winning.
"Done," I said.”
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