A Stranger to Command (英語) ハードカバー – 2008/8/30
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Vidanric Renselaeus, Marquis of Shevraeth, is a courtly, well-mannered teen coached in the noble art of dueling. Growing up in a court that on the surface seems civilized under an increasingly despotic king, he is sent by his father to the infamous military academy in Marloven Hess. He expects to be reading theories about statecraft, but finds that he is going to learn about military command from the inside-and finally, what it really means to be king. In this prequel to Crown Duel, the reader learns what made the elegant Vidanric into the enigmatic Marquis of Shevraeth. --このテキストは、ペーパーバック版に関連付けられています。
Sherwood Smith studied in Europe before earning a masters in history. She worked as a governess, a bartender, an electrical supply verifier, and wore various hats in the film industry before turning to teaching for 20 years. First book published in 1986. To date she's published over forty books, nominated for several awards, including the Nebula, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and an Anne Lindbergh Honor Book. --このテキストは、ペーパーバック版に関連付けられています。
Amazon.com で最も参考になったカスタマーレビュー (beta)
As always, the worldbuilding is excellent, and the characters are as well. I loved Vidanric's courage, intelligence, and integrity, which he retains in spite of the difficulty of adapting to his new environment. The difference between the two cultures is especially intriguing, as Vidanric finds that there might be more to be said for Marloven Hess than he originally thought.
This prequel is a surprisingly different novel than the Crown and Court Duel books for several reasons:
1. The original Crown Duel & Court Duel (CCD) was written adventurously and romantically to be understood by young adults, but A Stranger to Command is decidedly more adult, serious and complex though still simple enough for a younger audience.
2. The undertones of a Stranger to Command are more sinister from an unseen threat--perhaps because a lot is hinted rather than plainly stated in Crown Duel. It plays out in military style more of the subterfuge of Court Duel without any of the romance.
That said, it's a fascinating novel about Vidanric's teen years in that there is a pleasantly surprising link to the Inda novel series world.
While this book has some romance, it is nowhere nearly as romantic as Court Duel, but it gives a lot of interesting context to the person that Vidanric becomes in CCD.
My recommendation for the order in which to read the novels is below:
1. Crown Duel (any version)
2. Court Duel
3. Inda (which has four books, but you can get away with reading the first and last, or the first two to three of the four books as long as you check the online wikis to catch summaries of the rest of them.)
4. Optional: CCD again, this time paying attention.
5. A Stranger to Command (preferably the electronic eBook/Kindle version, which the author stated in September 2011 has the most completed scenes and recent revisions.)
6. The electronic version of Crown Duel published in 2010, because it contains both Crown and Court, and there are significant variations from the original hardcovers, as well as some extra chapters and scenes that the author added.
7. Then go to Sherwood Smith's website and livejournal blog to read all the extra short stories related to the world of these novels.
Yes, I realize that means re-reading Crown Duel multiple times, but most of us reading this review will have already read CCD recently, so it's really a matter of laboring through the complex adult series, Inda, and then refreshing our minds about CCD, and then reading it again after A Stranger to Command because it's those final reads in which the reader is delighted to discover the richly complex world that author Sherwood Smith has created and revel in what it all means.
The fan base for Crown Duel is probably mainly female, but boys will love this story too--Sherwood Smith's sense for military training is uncanny; you'll feel ready to take command yourself, when you've finished the book.
The world-building was excellent. The clash of unique cultures--Remalna manners against Marloven Hess customs--was fun. A few details made me raise an eyebrow, like Vidanric plunging his saber into the ground almost to the hilt to clean it (not the best way to clean blood from a blade even if he somehow physically managed the feat). However, things like this only happened few times and the questionable details weren't important to the story.
The characters were engaging and realistic--even Vidanric's enemies. I cared about what happened to them. The pacing and suspense were excellent, compelling me to read on to find out how the latest conflict or concern would be resolved. My one complaint is that we were only given a bare hint of what happened to Vidanric's Marloven Hess friends and charges after he returns home. He left them on the brink of war. I expect that's going to be another (not yet released) book, but I care enough about them that I want to know _now_. ;)
There was a romance and some kissing in the book, but no sex. Any bad language was done with made-up phrases. Overall, I'd highly recommend this well-written, clean novel to both teens and adults.
Reviewed by Debbie from Genre Reviews (genrereviews. blogspot. com)
This book is a followup to Crown Duel and tells Shevraeth's backstory. It was really interesting to learn about Marloven Hess and realize how much work Shevraeth's family had done to peacefully rid their kingdom of an evil tyrant. The book made me curious about the Marloven history, but at the same time, I still felt like I was missing a lot. I didn't mind in the end because it also made me search for her other books and reading each one felt like opening a new treasure.
My biggest gripe however...HOLY SMOKES! Who chose this cover?! And WHYYYYYYYYY?!
That is NOT how I pictured Shevraeth and it's completely ruined my mental image of him. It's burned into my mind and I wish I could gouge my eyes out. Haha. Dramatic, yes. But it really stinks when I re-read the books and all I can picture is this guy instead. Yech. I would have preferred anything----a spear, a tree, a gray building, a cat?---anything but this. Now I always have to cover my computer screen w/my hand when the thumbnail comes up. Thanks a lot publisher. >__<