The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz
Available April 1, 2014 from Disney-Hyperion
Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?
Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.
But even with the aid of Emrys’ magic, Eleanor’s extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen’s Guard.
Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie’s face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she’s always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she’s always dreamed of–the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor’s court: trust no one.
I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I am in no way compensated for my opinions.
I really liked this book, right up until the very end, where I sat there, staring at my screen, wondering what the hell just happened.
Melissa de la Cruz has a way with words. Her descriptions are beautiful. There were lengthy description of dresses, corsets, jewels, etc. It all sounded very pretty. However, what de la Cruz gained with her description, she lost in character development.
I have to give her credit, as this story is written from multiple points of view, it was easy to follow. I knew who all of the characters were and I enjoyed watching them interact with each other. I was pretty hooked on the premise, engaged in the story line, but the buildup and climax left a lot to be desired.
Without getting into too many spoilers, essentially the clues that de la Cruz left hidden throughout the book were not enough for me to figure out what was going on. Perhaps she realized this, because we find out “The Real Story” from two of the main characters, as they explain to each other what happens. So you don’t actually experience the climax, only hear about it through dialogue. The story would’ve wowed me if I could’ve experienced it. It was such a letdown. It seemed to me that no one got what they wanted and everyone was forced to settle, which is depressing, especially when you grow attached to characters.
A lot of the girls in this story really had it hard. I know that this is how things were in the time period, however, the characters didn’t fight all that much to change things. They were under the “thumbs” of the men, and often other parts of their bodies, they had little respect for themselves, and when they did make “Big Decisions” all on their own, the ended up realizing they were “wrong” and running back to the men to make it all better.
The plot kind of fell apart at the end, as I said before. I felt like it ended before it was ready to be done. I wasn’t satisfied. I needed more punch at the ending, but it just died out like a wet firework as though the author grew tired of writing it.
I had never read anything by this author before, so I had no idea what to expect. As this is a series, and I did enjoy a lot of the book, I’m willing to give the second book a try in hopes that she’ll pick up all the scattered ideas she left at the end. (The writing was pretty!) I still want something of a happy ending, and I want the magic in the story to actually go somewhere, instead of everything happening off the page. Don’t be a reluctant writer, de la Cruz! Let us have it!!