Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Still One To Hold On To

Well, well... all caught up and now... 3 behind.  That's what happens when you spend a 3 day yom tov all alone (ok, all alone except for the 3 other frum families in Carteret + my DH).  Anyway, Shavuos is over and I have 3 new books to review... fresh in my mind-ish for now, but let's see if I can get them all done while that's still the case.  Numero uno was begun before Shavuos (first half was finished, but I'm reviewing both together) - Court Duel (or actually, it's Crown Duel for both together).  Not sure when the last time I read this was, certainly not since I started the blog.  So does it hold its flavor? Does it still pass muster?

The thing about Court Duel is, I never thought it was perfect.  Meliara was always annoying in some ways (and yes, Huvi, Branaric can make we want to scream) and while Shevraeth is awesome, I'm not sure I ever thought the romance was ideal.  And of course, I always had very little interest in all the political intrigue and whatnot.  So if I had any of those complaints this time around, I wouldn't say Court Duel isn't what it once was.  I'd say I had all of those complaints - Meliara is as stupid as ever, the romance doesn't have enough interaction or enough from his POV (I have to say, the former might be a new complaint, I'm not sure this is something I minded initially), and the nuance imagined behind every word, glance, or action at court seems excessive.  But like I said, nothing new.  What was new? Well I find I did appreciate Mel's finer qualities a little more -  I think they stand out much more in the first book, which of course I have read far less frequently.  Yes, she's stupid and mostly wrong - but she is brave, spunky, and even heroic. I can see what Shevraeth likes about her, she's definitely got something.  And I always like it when the romance doesn't feel ridiculous or made up.  She's pretty too - something I'm always trying to determine and which is also more clear from reading the first book.

So much for the new - what about the old? Is it still one heck (apologize, apologize) of a romance? I'd say so.  He's just awesome, that Shevraeth.  And he loves her, he does.  It is definitely problematic that we don't see anything from his POV and even more so that they really don't interact much (at least in the second book) but it got me back into my somewhat abandoned habit of imagining what isn't written.  And there's plenty of fodder for that here.  And the details of court life are as enjoyable as ever of course - nobility being, after all, my preferred milieu.  The book remains a solid historical (fantasy - whatever) romance, though years of chic lit have somewhat deprecated my appreciation of its uniqueness (that is to say, I don't know many other fantasy romances - I guess Sharon Shinn) but the usual chic lit fare does a fine job with romance in its own way).  Still, still, still - I don't feel stupid that I know this book almost by heart (not quite as well as I used to of course).  It satisfies my ideals of a romance with angst, tension, and happy culmination, and a royal hero to boot.

Verdict: 4.75/5

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