Title: The Ring and the Crown
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Release Date: April 1, 2014
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 Ring and the Crown is a YA fantasy novel by Melissa de la Cruz that I would love to see more books like. It is a well-constructed blend of historical fiction, alternate history, fantasy, and romance. The characters are all fascinating and demand your interest, keeping you glued to the pages. By the way, did I mention that there was royalty, scandal, and swooning? No?! Well, there is, and it is glorious!
The main difference between our world and that of The Ring and the Crown is that Henry VI inherited the throne of France from Charles VI, while he also held the British throne. Other differences were that magic existed, the United States lost their Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution did not occur as in our reality because of magic. There is a lot going on, but wasn't anything overwhelming. It seemed like an extended daydream of "What Ifs" that the history major in me had a tremendous appreciation for.
There is a pretty huge cast in The Ring and the Crown, but there were not any characters that were lacking in development and were surprising. The ones who really stood out to me were Ronan Astor and Wolf. I suppose they're considered secondary characters to Marie and Aelwyn, but they were my favorites to read. Their flirtation and the parallel of their relationship with the relationships between other characters was the best part of the book. However, all of the characters are very important to the story.
The writing of The Ring and the Crown was a welcome surprise for me because I did not enjoy my first de la Cruz book at all. She was able to weave together a magical world very nearly like our own and a huge cast of characters in a way that was not confusing. The writing was tight, and there wasn't a lot left hanging. With the scale of everything, there was a lot that could have gone wrong, but it all went right. Well, for the book itself - not the characters. But I won't go there.
The Ring and the Crown was an exceptional read, not only because there aren't many young adult books like it, but it is well-written, well-researched, and smart. I hope The Ring and the Crown becomes at least a trilogy, and I'm tempted to check out de la Cruz's backlist now. I will for sure be looking for future books by her.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.