One of the best tools as a writer is to read books. It can give you ideas in writing style, character development, inspiration, and especially enjoyment. I have read a lot of books over the years, though sadly not as many as I would like to in the past few. I am just too busy. Now I listen to quite a few audio books so I can get my reading fix as I drive to and from work. Regardless, I have several books that I have read many many times. I find that in picking up a book that I know well, I can enjoy having something to read while not worrying about forgetting what is going on if I have to put it down for a while. Probably my all time favorite book is Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, originally published as Crown Duel and Court Duel. I picked it up for the first time in high school and it was one of those books that I saw on the shelf at the book store a handful of times before I finally picked it up. For some reason, it always drew me in and I would pick it up, read the back, and put it back down. After I realized it was staring at me, I bought it. Now, I own three versions: the original that is a little worse for wear, the hardback original publications that were published first as two short novels, and the kindle version.
From the Back Cover:
I love anything and everything medieval. Most of what I read is Fantasy, though I have found through the years it is hard to find stories set in the worlds that I want to read about. They usually have too much magic emphasis, the world is not medieval enough, or they are too caught up in royal politics. Fantasy in my eye is all about swords and chivalry, princes and princesses, damsels in distress and whatnot. I suppose I look for more fairy tale type stories. Crown Duel has the perfect amount of my favorite things: Evil King, Dashing Antagonist turned Protagonist, Strong Female Heroin, Duels, Intrigue, Struggle, Love, Twists and Surprises. It is the epitomal Fairy Tale – and not too mushy.
The story is narrated from the perspective of Meliara, a young countess whose father has died, leaving her and her brother to lead their people in a fight against the king whose heavy taxes and pursuit of a treaty-protected rare wood have put tension on the kingdom. She has a strong voice and her narration is witty. I have read the book a dozen times and it still makes me smile. She takes a very hands on approach to the war, putting herself in the center of the action rather than watching her charges doing her bidding.
Enter the dashing Marquis of Shevraeth, with a reputation of being a court fop concerned only with fashion. Turns out he is quite the military strategist. Meliara and Shevraeth immediately get off on the wrong foot and their relationship is my favorite in the story.
Speaking of my favorite part of the story… I am a hopeless romantic and I love a good love story, especially one with stubborn characters who are slow to realize how they really feel which leads to a tension filled climax as those feelings come to the forefront. I always root for the love story, and I can’t count the times I have skipped ahead to a certain point in the book just to read that moment – it gives me all the feels every single time.
But, I don’t want to ruin the story. I could ramble on about how much I love this book for pages, but that isn’t the point. This book has been my stand-by read when I need a lift fix for a good story. I think a sign of a good book is one that can inspire emotions regardless of how many times you read it. I think everyone should read this book. Do it! You won’t be disappointed.