Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith Review

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!

Check out Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith on Goodreads /Amazon (note that the Kindle version is only $3.99!)

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Chachic November 21, 2011, 12:15 am

    I don’t know why but I didn’t have problems with the worldbuilding in this one and it’s actually one of my favorite YA fantasy novels. I’m glad you still ended up liking it even if you found the worldbuilding unsatisfactory.

    I <3 Vidanric! Do you know that the ebook edition has outtakes from his point of view? 🙂 And A Stranger to Command is Vidanric's story while he was in Marloven Hess.
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  • Daisy November 21, 2011, 6:53 am

    I really loved this book, I read it a few years back and am now itching to reread it!!
    And YES the Marquis! You’ll have to do battle with me if you want him for your book boyfriend 😉 I so loved him. And Meliara is such a kickass character, I mean, walking into a court room while sporting a black eye? AWESOME!
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  • Ashley B November 22, 2011, 11:52 am

    I actually have a copy of this one! I know, weird, right? 😛 It sounds awesome! And I’ll be honest, I kinda like books that are lighter on the world building. It’s one of the reasons I feel like I so rarely like Adult high epic fantasy, b/c I sometimes feel like there is nothing BUT world building… So, perhaps I shall have to bump this one up my list a little! 🙂 (Although, not until after Anne, of course… [Now it’s MY turn to duck in shame])
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  • Nomes December 3, 2011, 4:37 am

    oh, this review is ever so compelling. i am not sure it is a me book, but that kindle price is SO tempting 😉

    x nomes

  • Meghan January 29, 2012, 8:19 pm

    I read this book forever ago and I feel like such a fail for not remembering ANYTHING about it. Maybe a reread is in order… *stares at towering to-read pile*


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