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A HighFantasy novel by Sherwood Smith consisting of two parts, Crown Duel and Court Duel. The story is set in the kingdom of Remalna, where the people's agreement with [[MagicalSapientSpecies the Hill Folk]] to not cut down trees or burn wood has altered the standard MedievalEuropeanFantasy setting.

In Crown Duel, Countess Meliara Astair of Tlanth swears to her dying father that she and her brother will defend their people from the growing greed of the king. That promise leads them into a war for which they are ill-prepared, which threatens the very people they are trying to protect.

In Court Duel, Meliara is summoned to live at the royal palace, where friends and enemies look alike, and intrigue fills the dance halls and the drawing rooms. If she is to survive, Meliara must learn a whole new way of fighting-with wits and words and secret alliances.

!! This book provides examples of:
%%* ActionGirl: Nessaren. Meliara is forced into this about as often as she chooses it.
%%* AdiposeRex: Galdran
%%* AgonyOfTheFeet
%%* AloofAlly: Shevraeth, at times
%%* AmbitionIsEvil: Lady Tamara
%%* AndThereWasMuchRejoicing
* AnnoyingArrows: Averted. The whole continent has a pact against using archers
%%* AnonymousBenefactor: the Unknown
%%* AristocratsAreEvil: Mel and Bran start off believing this
%%* BackupBluff
* BarefootPoverty: Though a noble, Meliara only ever wore cast-off clothes and only bothered with too-large shoes in winter
%%* BatmanGambit: Shevraeth's plan to bring down Galdran
%%* TheBeautifulElite
%%* BetaCouple: Bran and Nee
%%* BigBad: Galdran in part one, [[spoiler:his sister]] in part two
* BigDamnHeroes: [[spoiler:Nessaren and her riding show up just when the wagon drivers are about to kill Mel.]]
%%* BigFancyHouse: The family houses around Athanarel's gardens
%%* BindingAncientTreaty: The Covenant
* BookDumb: Meliara, at first, as her father had burned their library when she was young.
%%* BrainlessBeauty: More than a few courtiers
%%* TheCaptain: Nessaren
%%* CivilWar: Ara's father, Prince Alaerec and Mel all want to avoid this
%%* CloserToEarth: Mel, and anyone else who the Hill Folk like
%%* TheConfidant: The Unknown is partly this
%%* CountryMouse: Meliara and Bran
%%* CrusadingWidower: Meliara's Father
%%* CulturedBadass: Shevraeth
* TheDandy: Shevraeth has this reputation. He surprises everyone by being incredibly competent
* DeadGuyOnDisplay: What would happen to the Astairs if Galdran got to them
%%* DeadlyDecadentCourt
%%* TheDragon: Baron Debegri is this for Galdran
* EveryProperLadyShouldCurtsy: The first few chapters of part two involve Nee teaching Mel about Court etiquette.
* EvilIsPetty: This is what brings down Galdran, who insisted on fighting the rebels himself after Mel made Debegri look the fool.
%%* EvilMatriarch: [[spoiler:Arthal Merindar]]
%%* EvilRedhead: Galdran
%%* FamedInStory: Meliara
%%* FarmersDaughter: Ara
* FascistsBedTime: The army imposes this on the towns they pass through while hunting for Mel.
* FirstNameBasis: Savona asks Mel to call him by his first name after their first dance, which almost no one else at Court uses. [[spoiler:Shevraeth]] also asks to be called by name once he and Meliara resolve their differences.
%%* FriendlyEnemy: Shevraeth, at first.
* GambitPileup: All over the place. Most of part one's unpleasantness could have been averted if [[spoiler:Shevraeth]] had worked with the Astairs from the beginning.
%%* GemEncrusted: At least one of Fialma's dresses
%%* GeneralFailure: Baron Debegri
%%* GildedCage: Galdran's Court is this for the young courtiers
* GoThroughMe: "I know I can't fight forty of you, but I'm going to stand here and block you until you either go away or my arms fall off, because this, too, is an oath I took."
* GoodWithNumbers: After learning to read as a teenager, Mel takes over Tlanth's business and taxes.
%%* GorgeousPeriodDress: In universe for Mel's masquerade ball
%%* GuileHero: Shevraeth. Part two is partially about Meliara learning to become this
%%* HeroicRROD: Meliara after [[spoiler:escaping Athanarel's dungeon]]
* HeroicWillpower: Meliara is a queen of this. She rides for at least three days with no sleep and faces down [[spoiler:forty wagoneers]], even though she has no hope of defeating them in a fight, just to help the Hill Folk.
* HomeFieldAdvantage: The Tlanthi led Galdran's army deeper into the mountains for this
%%* HundredPercentHeroismRating: Meliara and, to a lesser extent, Branaric
%%* IgnorantOfTheirOwnIgnorance: Meliara, until she can afford books
%%* ImpoverishedPatrician: The Astairs in part one
%%* TheIngenue: Mel has shades of this
%%* InterdisciplinarySleuth: Azmus
%%* IrrationalHatred: Meliara for Shevraeth
%%* KindlyHousekeeper: Mora
%%* LadyOfWar: Meliara
%%* LastRequest
%%* LeeroyJenkins: Mel falls into this sometimes.
%%* LetTheBossWin: Courtiers had to do this a lot under Galdran's rule
%%* LikableVillain
%%* ManOfWealthAndTaste: Flauvic
%%* MasterOfTheMixedMessage
%%* MedievalEuropeanFantasy
%%* MeeknessIsWeakness: Nee and Elenet avert this.
%%* MissingMom
%%* ModestRoyalty: The Renseleaus'
%%* MundaneLuxury: Wooden chairs and tables.
%%* NiceToTheWaiter: All of the protagonists
%%* NobleFugitive: Mel is this in both senses
%%* NoblewomansLaugh
%%* NonActionGuy: Bran
%%* NotQuiteDead
* OstentatiousSecret: Meliara uses this to spread word and anticipation for Nee's adoption party
%%* PassionateSportsGirl: Lady Renna
%%* PimpedOutDress
%%* ThePlan: [[spoiler:Flauvic]] has this going for him in part two
%%* PlantPeople: The Hill Folk
%%* PlotTriggeringDeath: Meliara's father
%%* PoliticallyActivePrincess
%%* PoorCommunicationKills
%%* PragmaticVillainy: Arthal Merindar
%%* PrincessInRags: Or rather, Countess
%%* ProperLady
%%* TheProudElite
%%* PublicExecution: Galdran threatens to do this to both Meliara and Branaric
%%* RagsToRiches
%%* RebelLeader
%%* TheResenter
%%* TheRevolutionWillNotBeVilified
%%* RichBitch
%%* RichBoredom
%%* RichInDollarsPoorInSense
* RoyalBlood: Mel and Bran's mother was the last of Remalna's greatest royal line
%%* RoyallyScrewedUp: The Merindars
%%* RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething
%%* RulingCouple
%%* SecondPlaceIsForLosers
%%* SecretSecretKeeper: The Unknown is a variant of this
%%* SelfDestructiveCharge
%%* SheCleansUpNicely
%%* ShelteredAristocrat
%%* SilkHidingSteel
%%* {{Socialite}}
%%* SociallyAwkwardHero: Meliara
%%* SpannerInTheWorks
%%* SpiritedYoungLady
%%* TheSpymaster: Azmus
%%* StandardRoyalCourt
%%* TheStrategist
%%* TakenForGranite
%%* TallDarkAndHandsome: Savona
%%* TheyKnewTheRisks: The village people who agree to fight for Tlanth
%%* TomboyAndGirlyGirl: Meliara and Oria in part one, with Nee taking over for Oria in part two
%%* ToWinWithoutFighting
%%* TrappedByGamblingDebts
%%* {{Tsundere}}: Meliara is this with regards to Shevraeth
%%* UnexpectedInheritance
%%* UpperClassTwit
%%* WellExcuseMePrincess
%%* WickedCultured
%%* WrittenByTheWinners
%%* YouRebelScum