Author: Melissa de la Crus
Series: The Ring & the Crown #1
Publication Date: April 1st, 2014
Number of Pages: 384
Genre: YA, Historical, Romance, Fantasy
Source: Public library
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 actually enjoyed this book a lot up until the beginning of the end.
I’m an avid fan of romance and having some drama sprinkled in is okay. I take it kind of like gossip and I like laughing at it.
But this drama was ridiculous.
My first question about this novel.
How did Marie’s mother physically give birth to her? From my understanding, the English royal family is human. So the fact that Queen Eleanor gave birth to Marie at age one-hundred something makes no sense.
What happens is that the queen had her deceased husband’s sperm frozen until she needed it (which makes no sense because I’m pretty sure they didn’t have that technology back then but the book says it’s possible because of magic) but then uses it at age 100-something. For one, the female body reaches menopause at about 45-55ish so it’s impossible that the queen had her baby at 100. Apparently there are no boundaries to magic in this world because a woman can have a period at age 100+.
Science errors aside, this entire book is just drama on top of drama. It is not, like the summary says, about two girls that fight over the crown. It is instead, about many characters that are each ridiculously thirsty for a love life.
Which is okay with me because I found it a whole lot of fun to scream at characters. This book was actually going to end with a solid 2.5-3 star rating. Until I read the last few chapters.
Everything, and I mean everything that the book had set up, was ripped apart in the end. Every couple feels like it’s static and done but then one character has a change of heart and it all goes to hell. It felt out-of-character and way too abrupt. The conspiracy theory and everything is summarized into a page and dumped on readers for a wholly unsatisfying ending. It’s a total mindfuck of an ending.
Before that, the widely un-unique characters and weird romances were totally okay. I mean, it’s a book that is almost all drama so I might as well try to enjoy it right? But the random addition of a conspiracy theory which I suspect was supposed to be the actual plot made the book feel messy and incomplete. There was no build-up to it. I felt like more time should have been dedicated to actual plot details rather than the social lives of each character.
I also hated the message it told.
The book ends with Marie running away from her love, Gill, and returning to save her kingdom (they had been planning to elope in America). After spending more than half of the book moping about how she didn’t get to marry her wun-twue-wuv, she suddenly has a change of heart and decides that it’s her obligation to do what is best for the people rather than herself.
The entire book had been sending the message to do what makes you happy not others, but then suddenly changes it so that it has a completely different theme.
And I hated this.
There’s also the little fact that apparently Marie wasn’t sick of the wasting plague. It was just the officials giving her some poison/magic-y thing so that she’d be forever weak. And she’s so passive when she accepts this. I’d be furious if I’d known that my entire childhood had been ripped from under me because someone had purposefully poisoned me.
And Marie is okay with it. Is she human at all? Or is this just part of her nice, generous personality?
There’s a limit to that you know.
At times, the writing felt like too much. Too many descriptions. Too many appositives. Too much vomit-inducing romance.
The one that killed me the most was this.
“Oh, Leo,” she cried. “I can’t let you go!”
“My little French nightingale, this is not good-bye. Far from it. You will be with me always,” he said. “After today, we will never be separated from each other again.”
“Truly?” she asked with a rapturous look on her face. It was exactly what she wanted to hear.
“Do you doubt me?” he asked.
“Of course not, my darling. I will not sign the papers this afternoon. I will not release you,” she said, feeling brave and determined.
“No, my dear,” he said, the smile fading from his face.
“You must sign them. Sign whatever Eleanor demands. Our future depends on it.”
“Our future?” she asked, her eyes bright.
“Yes, our future,” he said. “You must sign the papers so that the treaty is not called into question.”
“But-!” she tried to protest.
Excuse me while I go vomit.