I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: The Ring and the Crown #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on April 1, 2014
Source: the publisher
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 one rule that matters in Eleanor's court: trust no one.
The Ring and the Crown was one of the most amazing books I have read in a long time. Before I picked it up, I was in a reading slump that began after I finished an incredible, heart-breaking book in early March. I only managed to read four books in March because of this reading slump and I feared it would never end. The Ring and the Crown completey blew me away and ended my reading slump.
This book was a perfect blend of historical fiction and fantasy. There was court intrigue, a season in London, beautiful ball gowns, romance and courting. But there was also magic. Though the historical fiction side of things was enough to pull me in (I love books set in this time period), the magic added something extra that really grabbed me and refused to let go.
There were a lot of characters introduced throughout the book, but they had such distinct voices, I never really felt confused as to who was who. My absolute favorite character was Ronan. Just two pages in to her story, and there was something about her that intrigued me. She was the outsider, the outcast American. She wasn’t always likable – she could be vain, shallow and a little bit snobby – but she was always relatable. She definitely experienced some growth and maturity from beginning to end, though I was really upset with how certain things turned out for her. I wanted her to have her happily ever after and, in some ways, she did still get it. She was smart and resilient and never backed down, no matter how many times she was pushed.
Another favorite of mine was Aelwyn. She was fascinating, willing to give up so many things so her friend could be free. The magic, the darkness within her, the conflict she felt, all added to her character and personality. And the twist at the end? Wow. I definitely would have liked to see her more in the story – Not that she wasn’t a prominent character, but I would have liked to learn more about her background and see more of her and her powers.
I wasn’t crazy about Isabelle at all. She did nothing for me, though I did feel bad for her and the way her story ended. And though the story centered on Marie, I found her to be boring and selfish in the beginning. I definitely feel that Marie had the most character growth of all the characters, though. As I said, she started off so selfish princess in the beginning and by the end, she was a selfless queen, accepting her destiny and her heritage.
I loved, loved, LOVED Wolf. So much! I could just sit here and fangirl over him because he was that awesome and swoon-worthy. I loved all the scenes with him and Ronan on the Saturnia. It reminded me of Jack and Rose in Titanic. It was just amazing and epic and.. Did I say amazing?
There are so many characters worthy of a mention, I could go on forever. But real quick, here are some characters worthy of an honorable mention: Gill was kind and his heart was in the right place, but his attitude at the end was selfish. I never trusted Leo, and with good reason! Louise… Oh, I can’t even… *Sniffles*. Archie and Perry were adorable and hilarious. Eleanor and Emrys creeped me out.
There were so many twists and turns in the end, I feel like I have whiplash! One twist after another, one shocking reveal after another. So many things I never saw coming! Not everyone got their Happily Ever After and I definitely had hoped for some different outcomes. But overall, though The Ring and the Crown didn’t end how I hoped it would, it was the perfect ending for this book and for the characters. Any other ending would have felt forced.
Melissa de la Cruz is amazing. I loved her Blue Bloods series and her Witches of East End series. With The Ring and the Crown, de la Cruz stepped up her game and wrote an incredible story that, I think, will touch many people. I HIGHLY recommend it!