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Crown Duel

Crown Duel - Sherwood Smith Originally two novels, Crown Duel and Court Duel, this was an enjoyable YA fantasy featuring Countess Meliara, a plucky heroine reminiscent of many of Tamora Pierce's YA heroines.

In the first novel, Meliara and her brother Bran promise their father on his deathbed that they will lead a revolt against the their corrupt king, who intends to break a treaty that her family was sworn to uphold. The first novel consists of a lot of traveling and fleeing, with Mel being captured, escaping, being recaptured, gaining allies, and then finally facing the king in combat.

The second novel is more of a political fantasy taking place at the royal court in the aftermath of the first book. Mel becomes drawn in to court intrigues and romances swirling around her brother's upcoming marriage, and the crowning of the new king. She must decide who to believe amidst conflicting information and confusing courtiers.

Overall, the characters were well-crafted and drew me in to the story. Although I vastly preferred the second novel, I'd recommend them as one cohesive tale. This edition also contained a cute short story about Meliara and the husband she chooses at the end of the second novel, which I'm glad was added to give a taste of their happily ever after.