As I mentioned earlier this week, this is the first in a series of weekly book giveaways. Throughout the month of September, I will give away four books that have influenced me as a writer (The list can be found here). This week the bo0k is:

Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith

It begins in a cold and shabby tower room, where young Countess Meliara 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, a war that threatens the homes and lives of the very people they are trying to protect. But war is simple compared to what follows, when the bloody fighting is done and a fragile peace is at hand. Although she wants to turn her back on politics and the crown, Meliara is summoned to the royal palace. There, she soon discovers, friends and enemies look alike, and intrigue fills the dance halls and the drawing rooms. If she has to survive, Meliara must learn a whole new way of fighting–with wit and words and secret alliances. In war, at least, she knew whom she could trust. Now she can trust no one… (Firebird Fantasy)

Of the four books I’m giving away, this one is the only one that actually dates from my high school reading years. Which means that I first read this book (well, these books…but we’ll get to that) at least eight years ago. Wow, I just blew my own mind.

Every Friday after co-op (weekly gathering of homeschoolers for socializing, also, some teaching occurs as well), I would head across the parking lot to the public library behind the church we used. I can still close my eyes and picture Crown Duel sitting on the top shelf, a white spine mixed in with some many other darker colors—well, two white spines. Crown Duel was originally published in two volumes: Crown Duel and Court Duel. I personally, prefer the two separate titles because of the symbolism that the changing of one creates, but seeing as how I have no say in the matter… Anyways, I pulled down the books and there  she was, this girl with sword propped over her shoulder and a  nasty looking black eye. It looked exactly like my kind of book.

I believe that I mentioned in a previous post how Lord of the Rings was the book that got me writing (First person to correctly identify that post gets a double entry into this drawing). Crown Duel is the book that got me writing my own stuff. It is also the book that most heavily influenced the first drafts of the Cinderella retelling that’s sitting on my computer waiting for me to rewrite it (which will happen, just as soon as I finish with Mind Games and etc.). The only real story I had completed before then was my little LOTR-wannabe. While the idea for Shattered‘s premise was inspired by another book entirely, everything else was originally influenced by this book right here.

My copy has been read a couple of times, so it’s a little battered. It even spent a few years buried in my brother’s room because he’d been interested in it (I finally told to either find it or buy me a new one). This is one of the few books that I have been able to introduce into my circle of friend (come to think of it, all four books make that list) instead of the other way around. It has everything that I love in a book: adventure and misadventure, a smart sword-wielding heroine, mistaken identity, a dysfunctional romance (in a good way, not in a Cathy-and-Heathcliff way) and a whole lot of intrigue.

And you can get you hands on your own copy of this book (as long as I will be shipping to an address in the good ol’ U.S. of A).

How?

Just leave me a comment between now and September 8th at noon (EST). Tell me about a book that found you. One that you weren’t really looking for, but you ended up taking home anyways. Make sure that you leave me a way to contact you (email is prefereable) should you be the lucky winner. You can also earn extra entries by completing the three options below. For each one that you do, you will get a certain number of entries into all four drawings, for a total of up to four extra entries per drawing. They are:

1. Follow me on Twitter (@TheGladElf). This is good for one entry for anyone who follows me after10 a.m. today EST. Please make sure that you put your Twitter username in your comment so I know to credit you.

2. Spread the word. Join the discussion on another blog post and then post the link through your Twitter. Make sure you tag me so that I know you’ve done it. One time use for new followers. Anyone following me before 10 a.m. today can cash in twice on this option (two separate posts, obviously)

3. Subscribe! Sign up to receive my blog posts as they come out and you’ll get not one, but two extra entries into each drawing.

The only other rule for the extra entries is that if you already own any of the books, please let me know so that I can take out your entries for that particular entry.

And now it’s your turn!

(P.S.-Here’s the original cover for Court Duel as well. I absolutely adore this cover, another reason the one volume version makes me sad despite its purse-friendly size.) —>

EDIT: The deadline has been extended until 9:00 p.m. Sept 8th.

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