{Review} THE RING AND THE CROWN by Melissa de la Cruz

Last week, THE RING AND THE CROWN was available on all e-reading platforms for $3.99.
Today, the price is back up everywhere except Amazon. For how much longer, IDK, but snag it while you still can!

(Although this is one book that looks especially lovely in hardcover in a way no ebook can. See below!)

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YouTube Link

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    There are two of them, bent over their dolls. One is small and sickly; the other is strong and tall. Their backs are turned to me, so that I can only see the delicate bones of their necks underneath their ponytails. The girls. While they play they are singing to each other, a song that the music master has taught them on the harpsichord. 
    Their singing stops. They have noticed my presence. The girls turn, and I can see their faces now.
    One is pale and thin, her eyes a waterless blue, their color  fading. 
    One is merry and bright, her eyes a vibrant hue, their color blinding. 
    After a moment they turn back to their play, ignoring me.
     Except now there is no more singing—only the darkness of the room as the curtains close against the light, and the dream fades.
    Two girls.
    One beautiful and strong.
    One plain and powerless.
    Only one shall be queen... 
    And the other shall serve her.
    But as I awake from sleep, I still do not know— 
    Which one of them is my daughter?  
    And which one is the traitor?
(Pages xi-xii, US hardcover edition)

There are a lot of characters to pay attention to in THE RING AND THE CROWN, so listen up! First up, we have Queen Eleanor and her daughter, Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the throne. Then there's the Merlin and his daughter Aelwyn. Throw in two princes, Leopold and Wolf, add the tragic romantic figures Gill and Isabelle, and throw in an American named Ronan trying to better her lot in life. You'll meet many of these characters through chapters depicting their own POV, and others through their interactions with those telling the story.

The heart of the novel centers around Princess Marie-Victoria, a sickly girl who has never wanted to rule. She's being forced to marry Prince Leopold after Prussia pulls out a Pandora's Box to win the war. Nevermind the fact that her own heart belongs to her guard Gill. Never mind the fact that she's always been better friends with Leopold's younger brother Wolf. Nevermind the fact that Leopold is an arrogant fool, that he's already engaged to Isabelle, nevermind that the Merlin's daughter Aelwyn is much stronger in many ways. Nevermind everything, because nothing matters save for expectation when you're the heir to the throne. Your life isn't your own. Only...what if it could be? What if there was a way to magically alter reality and change your role in life? Can the princess give up everything entrusted to her in order to follow her own heart, or will she succumb to the realities of her role in life?

If you love books with political intrigue and court drama, THE RING AND THE CROWN is definitely the book for you. Go into this one expecting historical fantasy. I went in under the misconception that it was high fantasy, so I read it at the wrong time, but if I'd gone in wanting to read something that felt historical, I would have been much more immersed in the story. There's a lot of drama, and a lot of focus on relationships. That said, it isn't hard keeping anyone straight, since the individual POVs have unique perspectives and give readers new insights on the various characters, creating a more full-fledged look at characters, showing both the good and the bad.

It's also really cool to see how Melissa de la Cruz created a new reality. This takes place in the early 1900s, but the world is distinctly different due to an alternate history. Magic is still prevalent, but so is science. It's also more modern in many ways. Society doesn't hide sexuality behind closed doors. A man is allowed to freely love another man without any eyebrow-raising. In many ways, the 1900s are much more forward-thinking than the way it went in our reality. In others, it still feels like a throwback to the times, with the gowns and wars and courts. It's a nice blend, and I like the inclusion of mythology and Arthurian lore mixed into society. I wish the world and magic had been developed even further, that it wasn't focused so much on everyone's relationships. The book ends cleanly. Originally, I went into THE RING AND THE CROWN thinking it was the first book in a series. Now, I think it's a stand-alone. But I hear it may still be first in a series. Either way, it ends cleanly, without any cliffhangers, and can be read alone. If it does continue as a series, I would love to see more focus on world development!

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG15 ( sexual situations )
Language: PG13 ( sexual language )
Violence: PG13 ( fighting)
Other: --
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The design for THE RING AND THE CROWN is so gorgeous, I had to share a video so you could see everything that makes it so special!

Isn't it gorgeous? I love the way the design elements touch every page, even as you're reading. Very well-put-together!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Received: For Review

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.


  1. I don't think I've read much (if anything) by Melissa de la Cruz before, but I'm far more likely to pick this book up than her vampire series! The alternate history sounds interesting and I do like some court drama/intrigue. Are the different POVs all written in 1st-person?


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