There were aspects I enjoyed in these books. The characters were not unlikeable until the bonus short story. The parts of the book where Mel was hiding out from the bad King, etc were entertaining. I did like that Mel was not perfect. In particular of the two books Crown Duel was fun. Court Duel was a bit tedious at times. "The Trouble with Kings" told the same court ladies are like IT girls in school plotline.
The thing that I didn't care for was the resolution happened off the page [that alone ruined the book in my eyes] while in Crown Duel the hill people showed up and took care of it while she clung to her guy.
It seemed to me the moral was politics are important. Mel felt such shame and self loathing when she was scorned over this in fact. But the book never showed how fan waving helped the kingdoms. They prevent war? How exactly did the bickering and back biting help her? The king the old courtiers were being held hostage to maybe. But why did Mel need to learn these tricks? She attended one meeting but left without participating and felt bad about herself.
But it in the end it was the hill people who resolved the conflict. Neither war nor politics saved anything.
Perhaps the real message was instead of a country charging into war the people ought to solve their own problems. Mel and Bran never once consulted the hill people about the Covenant being broken. That would've worked for me and made the ending feel less rushed.