Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Showy Spoils Me For Subtle

Next up on the Books-I've-Read-A-Million-Times list, Court Duel (or actually, Crown Duel, the two part book which used to be two books, the second of which is Court Duel).  I've read Crown Duel a few times and least, and Court Duel many more. Crown Duel is of course only of interest as a prequel to Court Duel.  Court Duel is a classic fantasy romance, so much so that when I first read it, I thought it was a ripoff of Georgette Heyer (I didn't realize then than all historical romance is a ripoff of Heyer :)) So I always enjoy it, even though I have my pet peeves - mainly Meliara's obtuseness, stubborness, impulsivity, and at times, stupidity.  She's not likeable at all, is she? :)

Court Duel is a book I know so well that when I reread it, I end up being intrigued by little details that give me minor insights into the book.  That's where Crown Duel is valuable - knowing the back story goes some way towards making Meliara's actions understandable. We also see a different side of Meliara, one that I think makes her more likeable  - the fearless rebel instead of the nervous court newbie.  So Crown Duel works for that, and it's also a not a bad read, and a fast one. And of course, we see a good amount of Shevraeth ;)  I quite enjoyed Crown Duel this time around.

So what about Court Duel? Well I liked it of course - but I do think it suffered from the usual ailment of well-thumbed titles - over-familiarity. I always knew what was coming, and that made it difficult to be fully engaged in it. I know you've heard it before, and it's no surprise, though I did think I hadn't read the book recently enough for it to be that familiar... now that I think of it, I think I did read it quite recently though, so maybe that explains it :)

How do I know? The ebook version of Crown Duel includes quite the extra - six scenes from Shevraeth's point of view.  And I remember reading them quite clearly while sitting on my couch at my house. So we're talking max two years ago, and probably less than that.  But of course I had to reread them along with the book this time (they may actually have been the reason for this re-read in the first place, I don't remember).  And rather than waiting till I finished the book, or inserting the scenes at the appropriate time (that would have been ideal, but difficult, since I usually read on Shabbos and these scenes are ebook only), I read them when I was just beginning Crown Duel.  And I must say - they are great fun. Absolutely great fun. But they totally spoil you.  It's like overly sweet candy. They're not well-written, they're really just fan fiction (they were originally posted on Sherwood Smith's livejournal site) but they hand you that coveted POV (Shevraeth's of course) on a silver platter.  And then you go back to the actually well-crafted story... and maybe you're just a little lazy to imagine that POV? I'm not sure, but I do think there was something of that in my reread.

This is in general, a very subtle romance - if you're not paying attention, either because you're too familiar or because fan fiction has spoiled you, you aren't really going to get the most out of it.  So much as I continue to love Court Duel, I have to say this reread was not my favorite. So can we say, book 5/5, reread maybe 4.25 :)

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