This sounded from the description like the type of fantasy book I would really like; and I did really enjoy it. Originally this was released as two books Crown Duel and Court Duel. I am glad it was finally released as one novel; for although there is a distinction between the two parts of the story it would’ve been hard to leave it after the first half of the book.
Meliara (Mel) and her brother are up in arms against the king of their country in an effort to protect the Hill Folk and the Covenant; if theysucceed they will be meeting the wishes of Mel’s dead father. Their ignorance leads them into a fight larger than they expected and into an alliance with unexpected personages. In the end Mel must quell her headstrong attitude and lay down her sword to turn to a different sort of fighting; the fighting which takes place in the halls and courts of the king. She must also deal with her hatred of the one person who seems to fully understand her goals; Shevraeth.
This was an excellent book. It was well-written and had many classic elements that make a young adult fantasy like this a good one. You have a stubborn kick-butt woman who is full ofrighteousness and conviction for her people and as the Countess of very poor lands does her best to protect her people. You have a man who is full of surprises and is not what he at first seems; doing his best to ally and quell her over-eager attempts at revenge. You have an evil king, a great war and then of course a warrior maiden thrust into the dangers of court politics. I love these types of books and as such really enjoyed this one.
The main strength of this book is the excellent characterization. Although the fast pace, great action scenes, and sweet love story intertwined in the plot all group together to make a very enjoyable read.
I will definitely be looking at more books written by Smith and picking them up to read. If you liked this book a lot you would also enjoy Maledicte, The Cast Series, and Hero and the Crown. All of these books have a similar premise of a strong-willed girl being thrust into situations that she is not prepared to deal with it. All of these books deal with a lot of intrigue, have lots of action, and a love storyintertwined throughout the plot.