Mar312017

Coop de Book Review: Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Hello Gentle Reader! Notice I have NAMED the book group? Henceforth we shall be known as “Coop de Book” kind of a play on Carriger Pigeons.

Anycoo…

(See what I did there, huh huh?

So this last month I chose Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith which is actually an omnibus of two shorter works. I, however, always read it is one book (albeit in two parts) so that’s how I’ll approach it.

I picked it up back in 2014 from a Goodreads Recommendation List “Books to Read if You Like Tamora Pierce” or something similar. It was a great recommendation. I really enjoyed this book and have reread it a half dozen times since then.

I hope you will forgive me if I review it by comparing it to a lot of other books I love. Because, well, that’s just kinda how it works in my head. The first part really does remind me of Tamora Pierce’s Alanna or Robin McKinley’s Blue Sword, perhaps with a little Ever After movie thrown in.

“Welcome among us. What is your name?” I said.
“Jerrol, as it pleases you, my lady.” And again the bow.
“Well, it’s your name if it pleases me or not.”

The second part, however, is more reminiscent of later political YA like The Selection or To Play the Lady. In which our brash bold outrageous hero, must learn the subtle art of court manipulations.

“She couldn’t read or write, wouldn’t even sit still indoors. All summer she would disappear for a week at a time, roaming in the hills. I think she knows more about the ways of the Hill Folk than she does about what actually happens at Court.”

In a way, this is the journey my YA reading took. From these simpler takes on the hero’s journey that were common in the 80s and 90s to the politically driven stuff that owes a lot, I think, to feedback loops between YA fantasy and adult epic fantasy and space opera.

I really like this journey told in one book, it’s not often one you see with the same character. All too often they style of a YA fantasy novel is either one or the other. It’s fun to watch a character archetype of the first kind, transition to the second.

You can even see it in the cover art, where the first image above shows an old-fashioned Pierce-like cover while the second shows a more current style icon cover (made popular by Twilight and then the Hunger Games books).

One of my favorite things about this book is the romance thread. I love the secret letter writing confessional (very Ella Enchanted) and I am a huge fan of the enemies to lovers romantic trope (AKA the Pride & Prejudice model).

Shevraeth said, “I’m very much afraid it’s my fault. We met under the worst of circumstances, and we seem to have misunderstood one another to a lethal degree.”

I like how Mel’s willful misunderstanding of Shevraeth is part of her generally stubborn and blundering country-girl personality. She is wild and willfully ignorant (huh, yet again with the Lizzy Bennett comparison) and that is why she can’t and won’t understand his careful political maneuverings, and also his own reserved interest. They are good match in the end, because they are so different.

Again like Lizzy and Darcy.

And like them she refuses to do anything but call him by his last name.

In the end a fun book and a  chronic re-read for me. A good offering to YA fans of wide tastes in the fantasy genre, both old fashioned and modern. I hope you all felt the same.

Join the discussion on Goodreads.

{Gail’s monthly read along for April is Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman.}

PROJECT ROUND UP

  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novel by G. L. Carriger
    Status: With Copy Editor
    Contemporary m/m paranormal romance featuring a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

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