Published by Disney-Hyperion on April 1, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
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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.
The prologue for The Ring and the Crown sets the scene with mystery and intrigue – which girl is the traitor, and which one is the real Princess? As the book begins however, it isn’t immediately obvious what the prologue is about. But if you sit back and relax, enjoy the drama and the extravagance, it will take you on an enjoyable ride.
Set in a the British Kingdom protected by a Merlin, The Ring and The Crown presents a wonderful piece of light historical romance. With characters such as the sickly princess, playboy prince, powerful sorceress and a few heiresses, there is an elegant, fairy tale like quality to the book.
How could he love Marie if he would take her away from the palace, everything she knew and everyone who loved her? How could one man’s love equal the love of an empire, a family, a mother, a people?
There were many character point of views in the book, but I was never confused by which one I was following. They each had interesting, definitive and well-rounded personalities which set them apart. I was impressed with the authors’ ability in writing concurrent storylines and while developing multiple characters throughout the book. From the regal Marie, to the flirty playboy Prince Leopold, the honourable fighter Wolf, the scorned Isabelle and the powerful and loyal Aelwyn, I was determined to find out how their stories would turn out and who they would end up with.
Aside from who people were going to marry (for the women) or who they wanted to bed next (for the men), there wasn’t a lot in terms of plot. Everyone has their own agenda and their own stories, which i enjoyed following and seeing where it was all going to go. This won’t suit every reader however, as it was a bit slow and draggy until the last quarter of the book.
She felt like a caged bird, struggling and flapping her wings as the cat pounced. A bird, a mouse; always she felt like an animal around him, and now she wondered, was it her or him who made her feel this way?
While I enjoyed seeing everything come together, the big reveal was rather jarring. I didn’t see it coming and the explanations and events leading up to it seemed to be a matter of convenience, making sure the story tied up neatly. It was more a case of telling rather than showing, and the author didn’t do a very good job of foreshadowing.
The world building is quite poor, aside from the British kingdom and talk of the New York Astor and Prussian lines, we don’t really know why magic is such an integral part of the world and how it came to be. I was fascinated with how the ‘invisible order’ of Merlins and Morgaine were part of the royal court, and wish there was more about it.
The Ring and the Crown is an addictive, quick read with an elegant setting about the love and the life of royalty and heiresses. I enjoyed the soap opera romance and vibrant characters, as well as the experience of reading without knowing where it was all going to go. It doesn’t offer a particularly strong plot, or much in terms of world building, but I loved the twists at the end and how the ending is very different to what we anticipated. I can see this is a series however, so I’d definitely be keen on picking up the sequel.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
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