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Sherwood Smith began her publishing career in 1986, writing mostly for young adults and children. To date she’s published over thirty books. The latest was Treason’s Shore, last of the four-book Inda series, with Coronets and Steel scheduled for September 2010. She also writes for young adults, her most popular book being Crown Duel, from Firebirds—the e-book edition of its prequel, Stranger to Command, will be her first offering through Book View Cafe. She’s also written short fiction, and collaborated with several authors, including the Grand Master Andre Norton. One of her books was an Anne Lindbergh Honor Book; she’s twice been a finalist for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and once a Nebula finalist. Some of her stories have been reprinted in “best of” anthologies, and her work has been translated into numerous languages.
Sherwood Smith was a teacher for twenty years, working with children from second grade to high school. She specialized in literature, history, and drama. She still does writing workshops at schools, and freelances for Publishers Weekly.
on Nov. 02, 2010 :
Cross-posting my review from Wordpress - http://chachic.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/sherwood-smiths-crown-duel/
This is a duology, originally published as two books (Crown Duel and Court Duel) but Firebird combined both books in one edition.
Meliara (Mel for short), the impoverished Countess of Tlanth, tells the story from her point of view. I loved the fact that Mel is such an unreliable narrator and how the story unfolded from the way she sees things. The first part of the book involves a war against a tyrant of a king because both Mel and her brother Branaric promised their father that they will do what they can to oust the king from the throne. While the second part of the book involves court intrigue and politics. Mel is a believable character because she blunders and is not afraid to admit when she makes mistakes.
I've been giving this book as a gift a lot lately and to one friend, I included a note that said "I know you haven't read a lot of fantasy and this is a good book to get you started because this is YA fantasy at its finest." This book has everything - incredible world-building, believable characters, intelligent dialogue, subtle romance, court intrigue. I've reread this book a couple of times and it just doesn't get old for me.
Sherwood also posted a couple of outtakes in her website. You can check these out after reading the book because these are scenes of Crown Duel, written from Vidanric's point of view.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Aug. 25, 2010 :
I read this book a LONG time ago and I was so happy to find that Sherwoods Smith extended it. It's such a good book. It's fast paced and funny in a world so wonderfully creative. It's a must read!
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on Aug. 12, 2010 :
This is one of my all-time favorite books. It has everything a great book must have - great writing, fantastic dialogue, very well developed characters, and intriguing and unpredictable plot.
First, the writing. I think Sherwood Smith is one of the most talented contemporary fantasy writers. Sadly, she is often overlooked. Her writing has no fillers, every sentence seems to be either adding to the story or to the character.
The heroine in this book is Meliara, a future countess with a broken down and impoverished land holdings. She and her brother made an oath to their farther to protect their land and its treaty against the agenda of the king of Remalna. This becomes their struggle. And Meliara's adventure. She proves to be a fearless and loyal heroine. She's considerate of others, acting with good intentions, but driven by ignorance. Her antagonist, Shevraeth, one of the King's minions, is intent on bringing her down. He proves to be a worthy opponent.
The plot evolves slowly and with precision. There are no unanswered questions at the end. It just fits perfectly together.
A must read for anyone!
(reviewed long after purchase)
on May 09, 2010 :
LOVE This book! Not hocus-pocus, but more earth-y magic involved. The characters are really spunky and interesting, and are humble, which is the most important thing. This version comes with an epilogue scene, and scenes from Vidanric's perspective!
I love books like this that combine romance, adventure, and humour, and which are well-written at the same time. Highly recommended. I was giddy for a week after reading this book, and it is still one of my favourites!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)