Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: April 1st 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
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 the first instalment in a new series by Melissa de la Cruz that tells a story set in an alternate world where magic rules and America, due to a lack of magical weaponry and skilled users, lost the war for independence. The novel focalizes on a group of characters who all have their own motivations and troubles that make each of them individually interesting. There is a princess who has to sacrifice the person she loves for the good of her kingdom; there is a sorceress who has to prove herself to her father; a prince who falls in love with a girl who cannot marry him and finally, a girl who has to sell herself to the highest bidder in order to keep her family with the wealth and esteem they are used to.
I liked this novel and I think it would make a very interesting TV series simply because there are so many things happening. The subplots are numerous and the characters are all colourful and interesting. This made the novel a bit tiring to read though, if you can believe it. I didn’t think it was possible but ultimately I felt that there were too many characters needing my attention and empathy and I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to support. But honestly, this is a matter of personal taste and I’m sure other people will not mind the numerous cast. The writing is a bit clunky and not as sophisticated as I think the setting demanded but once the story took hold of me, I didn’t really care.
I thought that the primary conflict was credibly developed and though the foreshadowing was rather heavy at times, I did appreciate that Cruz tried to prepare the reader for the ending. I loved the friendship between Wolf and Marie, more so than any of the romantic relationships to be honest and I honestly was pleasantly surprised by the way the book ended. I won’t speak about the end because I don’t want to spoil things but I do think that there will be an annoyed outcry from many readers. I do think, however, that Cruz’s decision to end things the way she did is more logical than following the traditional route. The ending made me really like the novel and want to read the next one in the series.