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Court Duel

(Crown & Court #2)

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  9,057 ratings  ·  264 reviews
The evil king is dead, the war is over, and Meliara -- barefoot countess and reluctant heroine -- has been swept up into a different kind of battle in the dance halls and drawing rooms of the royal palace. Physical warfare is easy compared to the genteel skirmishes of the royal court. Here, Mel's friends and enemies look alike: Instead of swords, they wave fans; instead of ...more
Hardcover, 245 pages
Published April 15th 1998 by Harcourt Brace & World
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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 ·  9,057 ratings  ·  264 reviews

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Nov 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
I've revised my opinion of this book (or should I say these books?) after a second reading, so instead of editing my old review I shall write another here.

I enjoyed it much more than I did the first time! Actually I couldn't remember reading Court Duel at all previously, only Crown Duel, so unless I have a very short memory I must not have read the second part/novel very attentively. But anyway...

I thought Shevraeth was great, very clever and mysterious and suave. I do like a drawling hero! Alt
The second and stronger half of Crown & Court, Court Duel finds scrappy Meliara at the royal court of Remalna, trying to become a proper gentlewoman. The tyrant has been removed. The Marquis of Shevraeth is the likeliest candidate for the crown, although a few other possibilities remain. Mel’s brother Branaric is engaged to be married.

As for Mel, she’s spent the year since the events of Crown Duel educating herself. She’s no longer the ignorant girl who’s prepared to kill or die over a misunder
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I imagine if I could be more neutral, I might've given this book 3.5 or 3 stars. Despite its flaws, I liked and cared about the characters. Therefore, I couldn't bring myself to give it anything lower than a 4 star rating. Yes, I liked the book, but it could've been so much better.

The book had some of my favorite elements: an intelligent, sensitive, yet tough heroine; an entertaining court life full of intrigues and power struggle; and a very, very attractive hero. I admired Meliara's courage a
Sherwood Smith
Jun 06, 2009 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: my-books
The second half (Court Duel) I wrote in my mid-twenties.

Mel and I shared only one thing: being emotionally backward. I did try to keep that when I rewrote her story, in my forties.
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Rating and review to follow, once the Young Adult/Middle Grade battle kicks off!

As I said in my review of the first part, my reaction to this one couldn't have been more different than to Crown Duel. I loved this.

I believe Beth said it best when she commented something along the lines of this book (parts I and II combined, that is) is best when you kind of start in the middle first. Because the beginning honestly didn't manage to keep my attention at all and I was bored. Yet, now that I've fini
Dec 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I could go on and on about how much I appreciate the author for keeping everything fairly simple and great but I’ll keep it at a minimum. There were more politics in this book instead of the action present in the first book. I still really like Mel and she is still true to herself. She is headstrong, aware of her ignorance, and an all around nice girl.

Even though there was more politics in this book it wasn’t half as cumbersome as in other books I’ve read. There were a few times when I had to t
Court Duel is a much better read than its prequel the Crown Duel. Usually I don't get to say this because if the first book is not an engaging read I don't bother with the next in the series. Even though Crown Duel was a slow read it really did pick up the pace towards the end and stopped at an interesting juncture that I had to read Court Duel. I do not regret it at the least.

The story picks where it left off from the revolt coming to an end and the evil king put to rest. Now Meliara wants noth
Katie Hutchison Irion
Feb 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Cute, cute sequel to Crown Duel. If you pick this up, pick up a copy where both stories are in one book. I would have loved reading the first book and just flowing right into the second book. This one picks up right where Crown Duel leaves off and eventually finds Meliara in the captial. I really enjoyed the story and just loved that darling, elusive Marquis. I will admit, even though he was described as having very long light, blond hair, I just had to imagine him with dark hair because I could ...more
laurel [the suspected bibliophile]
Six months after the defeat of Galdran, Meliara has dedicated herself to filling in the massive gaps of her knowledge and restoring Tlanth to prosperity. She's certainly not thinking about a particular Marquis or her horrendous behavior towards him—at least, not until her brother returns from the capital with a fiancee and...the Marquis of Shevraeth.

Meliara quickly realizes that it's time for her to take her place at Court, for better or worse.

My feelings on this book are torn. While I love and
Feb 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, romance
This book is very, very difficult to rate. I liked it - I really did, but there were just some things that drove me crazy about it, along with a nagging feeling that it just didn't live up to its potential.

Meliara spends most of this book in a vastly different setting from the last one: Rather than running around in rags and boys clothes, wounded, sick, and hunted, she finds her wealthy and successful self in the glittering court of the capitol. She still has a couple of minor adventures and pas
Jun 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
I love this book.

First read: June 2013

I was not expecting much when I started this book. I was not expecting to like it at all. Boy was I wrong! I don't know if it was because I had such low expectations, but I LOVED it. I actually liked Meliara, which I was not expecting at all, and I enjoyed the story a lot more than Crown Duel. I enjoyed the intrigue, the politics, and, surprisingly, the romance. There are many ways the romance could have been over done, but it was perfect. It wasn't underde
Apr 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
These books (COURT DUEL and CROWN DUEL) are so delightful. I read them years ago and loved them (Vidanric remains one of my favorite heroes!), and I reread them only to love them even more. Mel is just SUCH an appealing character--she's sympathetic, funny, tough, and someone you'd want as your best friend. And Vidanric...well, let's just say "SWOON".

Be sure to check this series out! Sherwood Smith is one of my favorite authors, and her writing is always of the highest quality.
Sakina (aforestofbooks)
Dec 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own, 2017
4.5/5 stars!

THIS WAS SO GOOD! I preferred it to Crown Duel, mostly because I love court politics and seeing the inner workings of running a kingdom.

I loved every second of it – from the beginning when Nee was introduced and seeing Bran so happy, to seeing Mel learning about court behaviour and then adapting to court life. And the letters between her and the Unknown and just everything else! It was so cute and perfect and just gave me the right amount of feels.

About half way through the book I wa
Feb 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-rev, reviewed
Court Duel is better than its predecessor, Crown Duel, though it shares some of the same flaws. The story is a harmless young adult adventure, though it focuses more on court politics than I might have wished. On the pedantic front: the language is sometimes careless - several times, there are variants of "he had bade her to ...", where "bidden" would have been correct. But generally, it's a readable light fantasy.

More of a concern, even in a YA novel, are substantial flaws in court behaviour. F
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Reasons Why I Enjoyed This Wonderfully Written Duology:

1. Very likeable characters.
2. The adventure & magic.
3. The humour.
4. The letters & the Secret Admirer. *squeels*
5. The Romance. NOT cheesy AT ALL!
6. Maliara. Girl, you crack me up! XD And because I kept reading your name as "Malaria". Fail! haha
7. Vidanric. So mysterious & cool & collected... *sigh*
8. Maliara & Vidanric's constant bickering! Guaranteed LOL fest! Haha!

"I am very much afraid," he said presently, "that your probable futu
This is the second half of Crown Duel, so it, too, must be kept secret for battle reasons.

4.5 stars

Definitely way more into this one. The romance was really great. (view spoiler)

I also really liked all of the court stuff in general. I want more of that kind of thing in fantasy!

Re-read March 2016

Book battle re-read.
Joyce ☘ clutteredbooks ☘
3.5 *

Mel grew up halfway! That's good enough for me.
 Simply Sam ツ
Sep 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-light
I liked this one better than the first.

May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
I really enjoyed this book though the beginning was a bit hard for me to get into, perhaps because I was anticipating some torture to come. The first part is about an attempted revolt to overthrow a corrupt king. Told through the eyes of Meliara, a naive but brave young countess determined to lead her ragtag group to victory only to be captured and ensnared events larger than herself. The second part is about the aftermath of victory: the intrigues of heart and court as a country tries to knit i ...more
Jun 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2019
Time to enjoy the thrilling conclusion of a barefoot countess with the political acumen of a goldfish exchanging witticisms with a supercilious block of wood.

As fun as that was to write, it is not really a fair summation of this book. Smith's previous novel I enjoyed until about the halfway mark, and then my interest steadily declined. This novel had the opposite interest curve. I fully expected to have to force myself through this as the author attempted to weave court politics and intrigue in
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The kingdom is on track to recover from Galdran's reign. Mel and her brother Bran are no longer outlaws, in fact, Bran has been welcomed into the inner circle of nobility. After her horrible experience with Galdran's court, Mel has been strenuously resisting taking part in the new government, pleading the state of their own county/castle and it's genuine need for some TLC. However, with the former king ousted, there is no clear line of succession, so several nobles could put forward a claim to t ...more
Lydia Presley
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Original review posted here

Sherwood Smith, why oh why are your covers so horrifically bad? Because girl… you can write oh so good. Seriously, as I read this fantastic gem of a young adult fantasy duo I felt like pumping my fist and shouting GIRL POWER quite happily. Because this girl, this Meliara, she knocked my socks off.

So basically this story starts with an impoverished member of the court and his two kids, a boy and a girl. The girl has been left to her own devices, she’s run wild, and she
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read this book before the first (my mistake), but this book is so carefully written that it's able to explain to me what happened. I perfectly understand the events of the first (I did read it later) just from this book. The only problem I had was keeping Savona and Sharaveath apart, but I finally got a hold of that.

I can see why this would be better as an omnibus version.

Much of this book is spent learning court etiquette, which poses quite a few problems. Nothing in a physical plot really
Feb 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
So much potential to be a great little time waster, ruined by total lack of narrative focus and the main character being insufferable. She's such a prejudiced, self-important moron that the most basic human interaction is mysterious and upsetting for her. I couldn't believe she just kept getting worse; from being fine if generic at the beginning of part 1 to this- THIS. Ugh. Her brother also starts out generically acceptable, then keeps getting dumber and more brash until he seems in need of a m ...more
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
I love that the romance is slowly, slowly built up over these two novels, and I also love Shevraeth, who is cool, calm and collected at all times (and very well dressed!). Mel thinks he is disdainful of her, or at the very least, indifferent, but not so! A good Darcy-Elizabeth type romance in a story will always get me, and this is no exception - initial dislike leading eventually to love...sigh... I also always enjoy the court intrigue, the outfits, the balls, the language of fans and of course ...more
Mar 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Generally, I don't think much of sequels, but this book is a BIG exception. This is intrigue, romance, action, adventure and magic with a cherry on top! Our heroine faces a very different set of challenges from the first book, but she meets them with the same combination of honesty and spunk that she displayed in the previous volume. I have come to the point where I immediately buy any book by Sherwood Smith because I KNOW I'm gonna love it. Beat your feet down to the nearest bookstore or librar ...more
Shannon T
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So good! Absolutely loved this. The characters were great and it picked up right where it left off in the first part of the story so it drew my attention from the beginning. There was a lot of growth in the main characters focusing more on Mel, which was great to read about. There was also a lot of cute little things that happened that made my heart leap with joy! Recommend all the way; it has become a new favourite!
Maris Bave
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this story. The romance twist was a lot more believable than the one in The Queen of Attolia, although I had hoped that there would be no romance at all. I'm not a fan of it. Still, Mel's character arc and the overall plot were quite well done. I was very surprised by some events. But then, going back, all the clues were there. ...more
Jul 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very entertaining ending to the set. It was well written and lovely. Loved the cameos of the Hill Folk, and would really love to see more of them! Mel's character grew, but didn't lose her vivaciousness. Loved that she took the furthering of her education on, herself. Good lesson for young people. Keep learning, don't accept lack of knowledge.
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Play Book Tag: Court Duel by Sherwood Smith - 4 stars 3 12 Dec 30, 2018 08:38AM  

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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.

Other books in the series

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

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