|Title: The Ring & The Crown
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Publication: April 1st 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Source: Personal Purchase
Plot in a Nutshell:
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.
Thoughts in General:
Then we have Ronan, who’s a New York socialite trying to find a husband in the London Season. She is my favorite among the leads and the reason was that she wasn’t what I expected her to be. I was pleasantly surprised that her character had a certain fiery quality. I assumed that she was only a social climbing socialite who was spoiled, but that wasn’t the case at all. Yes, she appeared to be snooty in the first parts of the book, but as I took her entire characterization I fell completely in love with her. She was a no nonsense kind of girl who was determined and strong-willed. Independent, beautiful, but vulnerable and sentimental at the same time, Ronan Astor is truly one of my bookish crush!
We also have the perspective of Isabelle, the former fiancee of Leopold. Oh Izzy… Where do I begin? Okay, her story line was the most heartbreaking and depressing one in the entire novel. At the beginning, I didn’t like her that much because I just assumed that she was some annoying high society girl who was shallow. However, once I got to see her circumstances I really sympathized for her. Everything that she’s been through was just horrific and I really wanted to give her a hug. There were moments in the book that was just cringe worthy because of what happened to her. All I wanted was for her to have a happily ever after (she truly deserved it) and in some way she did get it, but not in the manner one would think.
Lastly, we have the perspective of Wolf, the brother of Leopold. This dude was just the coolest! Man, he really was suave, brusque yet you will see his gentler side, which was a winning combination. He’s values were shady at times, but overall he was really enjoyable to read about. For the first time ever in the history of my reading life, I never had a more passionate “shipping” stance on a set characters other than Wolf and Ronan. Seriously, I frigging adored every moment of the book that involved these two! Their chemistry were sizzling hot and it was extremely interesting. They were just perfect, so when the ending happened, I was heartbroken and depressed.
The ensemble of minor characters in this book was well-written. Leopold was such an arrogant, disgusting, horrifying excuse for a human being. I hated him with a burning passion and I was so glad that he got what he deserved.
Hugh was also another disgusting piece of garbage that I wanted to bury alive. I hated him too because of what he did.
Louis was charming and I felt really bad with how his fate turned out. I was beginning to like him but then Melissa de la Cruz did that. C’est la vie.
Gill was the most disappointing character in the book. He was the love interest of Marie-Victoria and I felt that he didn’t won me over. He acted merely as a a plot device to make Marie-Victoria’s story a whole lot more interesting, but aside from that he didn’t left a huge impact on me.
Emrys, the monarch’s Merlin (a.k.a head magician) and Aelwynn’s father, did not made a lot of appearances in the novel as well as Queen Eleanor, mother of Marie-Victoria. They were merely side characters that served their purpose as minor threats in the two main characters lives. They weren’t as big of a threat as I thought they would be, which was slightly disappointing. I expected their involvement to be HUGE and epic, which didn’t happen.
The Ring & The Crown was set in the 20th century mainly in London. I have to hand it to Melissa de la Cruz, she can definitely write opulent and totally rich scenes. I love how reminiscent it is of The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (which is my all time favorite classic).
The magic in this book didn’t have a huge part in the story, which was a little disappointing. I was expecting more sorcery and action from the novel and it didn’t met that expectation. Although, the culture and traditions of the kingdom was really intriguing to witness and I enjoyed the addition of myths from Arthurian legends because it sparked my inner mythology nerd.
The novel’s plot was a mixture of the five main characters and all of them faced different stuff. Aelwynn’s story line was incredibly minuscule and the novel did not focus on her. This is misleading because in the blurb, I initially thought that she and Marie-Victoria will be the focal point of the novel. However, it wasn’t the case and she was sort of pushed aside for the other characters. I would have liked to see more from her perspective as she was the only magical character among the leads. I wished the author delved deeper in her training in Avalon and her activities in the congregation of the Morgaine.
Marie-Victoria’s plot was enjoyable, if not a little bit cliche. I kind of expected where it went, but even though it was that transparent, the ride was still fun and exciting. The way she handled herself in the end was inspiring and I was really proud of how she took her responsibility seriously and became the queen she was destined to be.
Ronan and Wolf’s story was, in my humble opinion, the most exciting and enjoyable to read about. Their romance was just undeniably cute and adorable. I liked how Melissa used the familiar romantic troupes in their story line. Even though it was typical, she made their love story so swoon-worthy and I couldn’t help but ‘ship’ them! Although the ending really saddened me, I still got to see the two of them mature and their character development came full circle.
Lastly, Isabelle’s story was, as said earlier, the most heartbreaking of them all. I think her story’s plot balanced out the romantic and sometimes too sweet stories of the other characters. It was through her that I got to see the darker aspect of this world and the authenticity of it. Everything did not go smoothly with her and I was glad that the author did that, even though I felt that it was too harsh.
Even though The Ring & The Crown had its faults, I will still give it a…