by Sherwood Smith
San Diego : Harcourt Brace, c1998.
*Spoiler warning* for the first book in the duet, Crown Duel.
After returning to Tlanth without a word to her brother or the Marquis of Shevraeth, Countess Meliara has been busy rebuilding her home and educating herself on the history and politics of Remalna. When her brother arrives with unexpected guests, Meliara embarks on her toughest assignment yet: learning the ways and intricacies of the Court.
In some ways, I liked this better than the first book. I like Vidranic, the Marquis of Shevraeth, better than I like Mel (this was true in the first book, too), so I chafe sometimes that she is the narrator. While she makes mistakes and learns from them, I as the reader have figured some issues out ahead of her and become a little impatient with her to put the pieces together. The characters and Mel's narration still sound like a thesaurus on occasion, but this was less distracting to me this time, perhaps because I was expecting it. A solid fantasy story that I'd recommend primarily to middle schoolers.