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CROWN DUEL by Sherwood Smith

CROWN DUEL

By Sherwood Smith

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-15-201608-2
Publisher: Harcourt

 Fantasy fans will cheer this latest romp, subtitled ``The Crown and Court Duet Book I,'' in which Smith (Wren's War, 1995, etc.) introduces the teenage Count Branaric and Countess Meliara of Tlanth. The siblings are noble-born, but there their good fortune ends; their father has died, leaving them in a cold, rundown castle, unable to pay taxes to the evil Galdran, corrupt ruler of the kingdom of Remalna. Galdran's cruelty forces the pair to lead their country in revolt: Despite some spirited fighting that leaves the king's forces scrambling, Meliara is taken hostage. Ill and threatened with torture, Meliara never lets panic overwhelm her, risking her life to be reunited with her brother and displaying admirable wit and courage in the process. Smith's lush descriptions evoke a fantastic yet credible world, where magic spells and enchanted stones are everyday facts of life. While the tale ends with the king's destruction, Smith leaves a few threads dangling for the next installment: The Count and Countess will no doubt saddle their mounts again soon. (Fiction. 12+)