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A Stranger to Command MOBI Þ A Stranger Epub /

A STRANGER TO COMMANDIn this much anticipated prequel to CROWN DUEL Vidanric Renselaeus fifteen year old Marquis of Shevraeth finds himself sent across the continent to a military academy in Marloven Hess a kingdom known for its violent history Vidanric is used to civilized life in pleasant Remalna except that the evidence is increasingly clear that the civilization is only on the surface Too many young smart heirs have suffered accidents of late and the evidence is beginning to point to the king Galdran who has grandiose plans for expansionIn Marloven Hess no one can pronounce his real names and they assume his title is his name He becomes Shevraeth discovering that there are no marquises or dukes or barons in this kingdom and no one has the slightest interest in Remalna Or in foreigners Until very recently the academy was closed to outsiders But the king also fifteen and recently come to his throne after a nasty civil war wants him thereLearning about command turns out to be very different than Shevraeth had assumed and the Marlovens who are going through political and social change at all levels are not at all what he expected He makes friends as well as enemies experiences terror and laughter as well as challenges on the field and offHe discovers friendship loyalty and loveAll the while greater events in the world are moving inexorably toward conflagration drawing the smartest of the young people into key positions whether they want it or not They're going to have to be readyInvolving characters exquisite world building politics intrigue and choices to be made between love school and country A Stranger to Command has everything Drop what you're doing and read it immediately Justine Larbalestier author of HOW TO DITCH YOUR FAIRYWar games Courtly Vidanric sent for his own protection to train as a warrior in a foreign land four months' journey from home considers himself alien sensitive weak and ignorant among his fellow cadets Remaining a study in courage and integrity despite the grinding discipline that takes away even his name Vidanric's soldier's skills grow swordblade sharp even as he also learns lessons of the heart But capability responsibility and all too real invasion come together as Vidanric realizes that not only is he being trained for kingship he's capable of it too A diamond bright portrait of a harsh and magical journey to adulthood Elizabeth E Wein author of THE MARK OF SOLOMONSherwood Smith's universe is so detailed at this point that you feel like a traveller in a real foreign land charmed sometimes bewildered and finally at home with no desire to leave This book deals thoughtfully with the creation of a hero and also creates an exciting occasionally painful and always absorbing adventure Sarah Rees Brennan author of THE DEMON LEXICON

10 thoughts on “A Stranger to Command

  1. says:

    March 2016 This is still weirdly compelling and evocative I say weirdly because I can't quite pin my finger on why this is so successful and this is after multiple rereads over the last few years Maybe it's alternate school story charm albeit a fairly unusual school? Maybe it's sympathy for the isolated protagonist? Somehow I can read this story of said isolated protagonist no friends really even after years in the school nothing than friendly acquaintances and yet I can find so much humanity in it Maybe that's the key to the novel's success it takes the familiar school story and twists it just enough so that it's still recognizable but it's different enough that highlighting this one character's ordeals makes him seem not special Which is a good thing I don't think I'm articulating this very well What I'm trying to get at is sort of related to this McKinley quote The great thing about fantasy is that you can drag dreams and longings and hopes and fears and strivings out of your subconscious and call them 'magic' or 'dragons' or 'faeries' and get to know them better I think that's what A Stranger to Command does partly It still retains enough similarities to the familiar school story that Shevraeth's reactions always feel exactly rightAnd I finish the novel as always wondering what comes next What happens with Norsunder? Why does this enormous threat go almost unmentioned and unresolved even in Crown Duel? What happens when Vidanric becomes king with regard to relations with the Marlovens especially once you take into account how tiny Remalna is and the disproportionately close relationship Vidanric has with a bunch of influential Marlovens? How are the neighboring kingdoms Colend wherever Flauvic was a page handling the threat? September 2012 I was not expecting to love this so much A prequel of sorts to Crown Duel this book is nearly flawless in every regard the world building being the most notable with characterization a very close secondApparently Smith has written another four books set in this world I don't know how I'll wait for themOne last note all ebooks should be 399 I'd buy so many that way

  2. says:

    455 5 stars ARe read April 2018 I won’t change my rating or review Loved it even this time Thank you Sherwood Smith for renewing my belief that the main characters in a book can be all teenagers and Not be annoyingMarch 2016 reviewThis book is by far my favorite of those I've listened to by this author The fantastic narration is a big factor Fred Berman has a voice that can seamlessly move between young and old voices as well as male and female I liked how the bulk of the narration was done with an American accent and then when Vidranic was speaking or the letters between him and his family were reference it was with a different accent Anyway this is a character driven story of a young man thrust into the foreign world of a military school in a foreign country He has a shaky start but through determination intelligence kindness and wits he excels and spends the next four years learning and growing into a man and a warrior The 'big bad' in this story is mostly a looming shadow providing impetus for much of the training at the military school but doesn't really play a role action The focus is on Vidranric's education and his growth as a person and a leader I really enjoyed it

  3. says:

    This review is not for Sherwood fans who will read and love this book regardless but for anyone looking for a book which will contribute something to their lives It will be very hard to write it without sounding over enthusiastic in my praise Please remember that whatever else I say this book is both down to earth and highly entertainingDon’t be discouraged if the plot appears narrow at first in a time that feels medieval a fifteen year old boy attends a foreign military command school Because this setting introduces characters and themes that reach far beyond it It is not simply a coming of age story but a ‘coming to greatness’ story It gives insight into bringing out the best in human nature Not good looks strength rank or popularity but here insert every virtue you can think of it’s too preachy to list and the book is not preachy at allOne that does deserve a particular mention is kindness Not the soppy clingy kind but the hidden small and usually unrequited acts of selflessness that make life pleasant for others In military command school It’s impressiveAnd friendship And the last I must mention is leadershipThere are some special stories that everyone is entitled to know about I hope we haven’t yet seen the full scope of this series if you haven’t also read Crown Duel you must before this one and perhaps afterwards as well Maybe the author can be convinced to write another book exploring of the interesting histories and peoples glimpsed in this narrative But even standing alone the wisdom of character found in this one is original and edifying enough to make it extraordinary

  4. says:

    Okay I have a confession I didn't read this book for the longest time because the print copy has a picture of some young man who TOTALLY does not match my image of Shevraeth staring off into the middle distance as if he has just cut one and is hoping no one notices My apologies to the young man in the pictureI love prequels I love the narrative naivete that has the characters saying things where the reader knows what's going to happen but the characters don't I love getting a different perspective on later events There's just something about the structure of a prequel that I enjoy which is why I was so angry about the renumbering of the Narnia novels that suggests The Magician's Nephew is appropriate to read first But that's another reviewThat said I had some difficulty getting into this book Not only is it a prequel to Crown Duel it's in a sense a sequel to other stories set in this world none of which I have read and there were times when I felt frustrated and left out and wondering if I was expected to know this back story The book skips around a lot in POV some of which is necessary some of which contributed to the aforementioned sense of being left out and there were some scenes I could have done without entirely especially Senrid and Sartora talking about their mutual history It didn't help that I was reading the first quarter of the book in very small pieces and lacked the necessary narrative flowOnce I got fully into it I was really hooked I like military fiction and I loved Shevraeth's abrupt immersion in it yes I'm going to call him by the name everyone else does and I haven't missed that this is also the name he's known by all the way through Crown Duel his identification with the land he's responsible for is I think possible to read as a reminder that he's going to be responsible for all of Remalna someday I particularly like that the story didn't take the route of new boy gets hazed and then proves that he's the best so they respect him now Shevraeth ends up being good at some things and lousy at others and he makes a place for himself mainly by just being who he isI liked his inner journey than his military journey mainly because we get to see how Vidanric Renselaeus became who he is In Crown Duel we only see the end product and seen in that isolation he's almost too perfect too good a strategist and potential king Here we see his failures and especially the challenges that make him realize that he cannot afford the luxury of not becoming a leader This is where we see that Shevraeth was turning into the next king long before he realizes it himselfShevraeth's relationship with the lovely and talented Senelac was really well done even though I kept wanting to shake the girl and say What are you THINKING this man is MARRIED to SOMEONE ELSE because I identify far far too closely with Meliara It was just heartbreaking to watch him fall in love for the first time and know that love was doomed and doomed not because we know because this is a prequel that he ends up with another woman but because he and Senelac simply can't be together because of who they both are So sweet and so sad when he cries because that relationship is overOne of my favorite parts and the main reason why I enjoyed the POV hopping even though normally I don't and there's a part of me that would like to have seen this a tightly plotted novel is the development of Russav who doesn't get nearly enough screen time in Crown Duel because it's told through Mel's POV His friendship with Shevraeth is so fun and Russav is great as a window through which we see Galdran's court I loved that he came to meet Shevraeth when he was returning home because we got to see of them togetherI'm positive I'll enjoy this even the next time I read it I have the feeling there are things I missed because it is sort of large and sweeping so I look forward to the next time around

  5. says:

    This is a proper prequel in that knowing the future events in Crown Duel enhances the story and emotional connection in important ways This book is the story of Vidanric's training during the years he spent away from Remalna that are so key to who he becomes Interestingly it isn't just the martial and command training but we also get to see the formation of his theories of government royalty and the duties of rulership And it is interesting as Smith fits his theoretical journey into the plot in a way that advances the story even as he learns and explores the theories he is developingI particularly enjoyed the Marloven academy as the setting for the novel Smith obviously knows kids and their training intimately as the details and depth of the academy sang with authenticity Training young ish they seem to start around 10 or 11 boys for military command is a daunting task and depicting an organization that does so successfully is equally difficult That Smith makes it seem natural even easy is a tribute to both her skill and her knowledge of that domain Those boys felt real and I felt immersed in their environment in the best possible way ie without actually having to deal with a bunch of rambunctious kidsIf there's a weakness in the story it's in the lack of a central persistent antagonist Vidanric deals with a good deal of opposition being a foreigner in a prestigious native institution but members of that opposition are fluid His challenges in the school also morph over time the book comprises some fourish years as he grows and overcomes only to find new andor deeper problems to take on That could have left the novel feeling like a simple series of events but I never actually felt that way At least one reason everything felt cohesive than it might have is knowledge of who Vidanric is in Crown Duel As such you can see his progression towards that eventual outcome and that gives something of a unifying themeMore subtle but powerful I think is Vidanric as his own antagonist Or rather his ignorance and false suppositions Through his training he comes to understand the true challenge ahead of him once he returns home and getting prepared physically mentally and emotionally becomes the central conflict In other words Smith makes his intellectual journey the central thread of the plot—turning a potential weakness exposition and lessonstraining into a strength the thread that ties everything together into a cohesive wholeFinally though you can toss all of the above aside because Vidanric turns out to be an even interesting character than I had imagined That alone makes this book a treasure and the rest is all analysisjustification after the fact

  6. says:

    Mh young boys and academies I’m not usually too keen about straight coming of age tales much less those revolving around training schools yet lately I've read almost two in a row go figure Anyway I really liked this one I had my first Sherwood Smith's taste when I picked the excellent and I mean excellent The Trouble with Kings a story that within the borders of YA literature starts deceptively simple and becomes truly rivetingIts world building was particularly intriguing if light so when I learned that Sartorias deles was a shared setting spanning several books I jumped in on another standalone of hers because I really wanted to know about the cleaning frames My wish was granted I ended up reading Crown Duel too which is another great YA story following StrangerThe main character is very likeable without being a Gary Stu and there are nice interactions between the cast Also the author managed to make me feel his development and that surprised me as my expectations were about action than interesting introspection I got one and the other btwHigh time for Inda I’m really curious about her novels aimed at the mature reader Choose the duty you can most effectively execute that is finally all we can do in life

  7. says:

    Read this book instead of Ender's GameA child is sent into a foreign and militaristic world He encounters kindness bullies and seemingly arbitrary rules He is smart enough to learn how to work the system and innovate within itThey key difference is that unlike Ender VidanricShaveraeth achieves his goals through kindness He still builds community but it is based on respect instead of a combination of respect and fearEnder's Game meant a lot to me as a very bright kid who felt alone but for my own kids I intend to give them A Stranger To Command instead The story is straightforward a scion of a noble house is sent out his home country to keep him safe from political dangers at home He is dropped into military school which is a rude shock for him and his culture is very courtly and a little effete Through various trials and experiments he learns to play their game but he always retains his core of kindness and compassion That unusual perspective helps him build very solid teams and command structures Inevitably he is tried in a crucible of war and comes out the other side intactThere is a thread of romance and I really like the way it is handled as both age appropriate to the characters and serving the needs of the story There is also a looming enemy which ties into stories in the world I read this book before Crown Duel and liked it better but I'm sure it works excellently as a prequel after Crown Duel It also stands alone well although of course you like the world and characters enough to keep goingI enjoy Sherwood Smith's solution to the twin banes of fantasy writers how does a society handle sewage and how do travelers stay warm She has provided magic that works for these simple things and so you never have to think about one's heroes squatting behind a bush and they don't have to spend time gathering firewood On the whole the use of magic is balanced interesting and not overwhelming to the storyRead if you liked Ender's game You want a kind hero in your life You have enjoyed any other Sherwood SmithSkip if you really hate high fantasy Military school books are not your thing

  8. says:

    Despite the veneer of fantasy this is essentially a school story with a culture clash twist The king of Remalna is in the habit of having fatal accidents happen to the heirs of prominent nobles so young Vidanric's parents send him to a military academy in a far off land Vidanric comes from a courtly and less martial culture and most of the book is taken up with his efforts to learn new skills and adapt There are occasional hints of foreign threats the EVIL Norsunders but nothing actually happens on that front Magic also gets referred to but doesn't play a large role in the story In fact it seems to function mainly as a device of convenience allowing Vidanric to exchange letters with his parents and no one to ever need bathroom breaks I thought the magic was the weakest aspect of the book and didn't seem fully thought out If there are Transfer Plates allowing instant travel and boxes sending instant messages why do they get so little use? And if the evil dudes who are not explained very well here but I suspect are in other books have HUGE UNSTOPPABLE POWERS what's the point of training so hard for war? Questions like this made the larger plot seem pretty feeble However I did like the characters and felt interested in how they made out with their lives

  9. says:

    Love Senrid and Liere Cannot wait to read their stories Love Vidanric's parents madly They are so amazing Is there a story somewhere that tells their tale? I like the promise that Elestra has Vidanric make and then she says that she and Alaric have to practice it as wellVidanric is trying to come to an understanding of authority Civilization Kingship Command Duty Love Right and wrong It really is a growing up maturing coming of age tale for him He has a little D Y He can pick up on other's moods without being aware of itI like seeing him with Russav and parents best of allThe snippets of Remalna both Russav and Elestra Alaric were so tantalizing It was difficult to be wrenched away from those fascinating bits back to Marloven training which got dull at times esp the parts about Senelac Who frankly I detested It was no than attraction between them however keen with no true friendship to back it up nor upon which to build any sort of love It does make a lot sense though why Mel would appeal so much to Vidanric she has no artifice no deceit She is who she is she says what she means and means what she says A true rarity in his sphere And I liked seeing Senrid's insights into Vidanric's character Of course now I am dying to hear all about the great war with Norsunder And it was nice to see Senrid again though I quickly realized that I missed a huge story arc between this book and the end of Senrid Fleeing Peace And I need to go read all about how Senrid and Liere met now tooOh and the references to the Calahanras heir and the crazy Tlanth count They drove me mad I wanted to hear of their opinion concerning those events and people esp from Elestra who was supposed to have been such a great friend of Mel's motherLastly I do not think that I will ever stop hoping perhaps against all rationality for another Remalnan tale covering the events or less from Vidanric's return up through the tumultuous events of Crown Duel from the viewpoints of Vidanric Russav Elestra Alaric and even Galdran and the Marquise That would be fully awesome contented sigh just contemplating it

  10. says:

    First of all that cover is horridA He looks vapidB He doesn't look anything like I pictured VidanricC My mom said he looked like he was in his undershirtD I am very sure that they could have found a better looking guyAll that said I still loved this book I don't know why I liked it so much but I did I will not be able to write a review worthy of this book so I am going to keep it nice and short At the end I felt like I wanted There were so many questions running through my head that I read the last page times than was necessary Will he ever see Senrid again? Will he ever go back to Marloven Hess? What happened to Senelac? Does he stay in contact with his friends at Marloven Hess? My feelings at the end of this book are testimony to Smith's skill as an author At the end I experienced emotions that I hadn't thought possible before reading this story I had experienced them before but I hadn't thought it was possible to feel them simultaneously I felt like the story needed to keep going and I felt that it had ended at exactly the right spot This book was amazing and inspiring Nothing needs to be said