Series: The Ring and the Crown #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on 1 April 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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 received a free ARC of The Ring and the Crown from Disney Hyperion via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*
The Ring and the Crown is a young adult fantasy story, which seems to aim toward a kind of modern fairy tale. While the story unfolds mostly in London in the 21st century, the world isn’t the way it is for real right now, there is magic, and a lot less technology because the mage wants to keep progress at bay to make sure people are still dependent on the magic. The Ring and the Crown is told from several different points of view, and the switching is not always very easy to follow.
The actual story of The Ring and the Crown could have been told in a much shorter book, and the plot is pretty thin. Marie-Victoria and Aewlyn grew up together in the castle, one to be the future queen, the other to become the main mage of the court. They were best friends, until Aewlyn was sent away to Avalon after she almost set the palace on fire. The time-line is very confusing, as sometimes, it says that Aewlyn was gone for four years, and other times it seems as if she was gone for ten years.
To me, the fact that The Ring and the Crown was told from so many different points of views made it really hard to connect with any of the characters, and at times, I actually just wanted the story to get on with it. The main theme of living the life destiny has chosen for them, or rather the love that they wanted themselves is a good theme, but I couldn’t really find myself to care all that much if any of the characters, be it Gill, Marie-Victoria, Ronan, Wolf, Leopold or Aewlyn ended up being happy or not.
The writing is good, the story flows quite easily, even if it tells more than it shows, and with many side-plots and more than one main character, The Ring and the Crown never managed to draw me completely into this strange world, even if I love magic, and I enjoy stories where there are strong female leads. I am not completely sure any of the female characters can really be called strong, though, as in the end, they all seemed to rather choose duty over love. And the last chapter is like a recap of all of the characters, what might happen to them in the next books in The Ring and the Crown series. I am not so sure I will pick up the next book, though.
She had cherished her experience in Avalon, but couldn’t imagine living there for the rest of her life as a person out of time, living in an endless present.
From his performance at the battle, it was clear he was a real leader, a hero brave and true, who had the love and respect of his subjects. Not that it mattered when it came to her happiness. She remembered him as a sly little boy, one who had little interest in other people other than as his admirers.
There were plenty of silly American girls who would jump at the chance to marry one of these fools, but Ronan was not one of them. At sixteen she had a restless, impatient quality that set her apart. It was the best and worst thing about her, depending on whom you asked.
Whoever said “heavy is the head that wears the crown” had not been born into a royal family. It was a pity that her hand and happiness were the price the empire would have to pay for peace with Prussia.