Thursday, May 8, 2014

Double Take - The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

Published: April 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 384
Copy Provided by: NetGalley
Summary: by Goodreads

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 sounded so interesting when I first read the summary on NetGalley.  I was hooked on Frozen (#1 of Heart of Dread series) just a few months ago so I thought I'd give this one a read.  If you like fantasy and the idea of Merlin the Magician, you may enjoy this one as it is based loosely on his character. Yep, I'm a huge Merlin fan too, but without giving away too much of a spoiler, Merlin is very much of a side character in this book.

Merlin's real name is Emry's and he had a daughter, Aelwyn who would grow up to be friends with Marie, a future queen.  After being separated for years, the two friends come back together at the castle as Marie is paired with a Prussian prince and prepped for marriage. (Nice bit of alliteration there Christinabean!)  A prince she does not love.  Although he is handsome and brave and desired by the majority of the female population, she just isn't interested.

Aelwyn, taking after her father, yields and controls magic.  Marie seeks her friend's help to escape from a marriage of convenience to pursue her own dreams with the man she desperately wants to be with.  But there are other things happening in the castle which seem to take priority over everyone's happiness.

I loved the story and the characters.  We did not hear much about Emry's, which I was hoping for but I did feel that each and every character had a very distinct voice. You're right C.  With such a huge cast of main characters - Marie, Aelwyn, Isabelle, Ronan, Leo and Wolf - it was nice that each one was very easily identifiable and each was integral to the story if not always in equal ways. I did wonder just exactly why Ronan and Isabelle were included, but as the story progresses you really see why they are part of the whole.

I found myself getting wrapped up in the story.  It was hard to put down. I'm with you there C.  I powered through this one. I had a brief spell at the beginning where I wondered about finishing it, but then I got hooked and didn't stop until the end.  I think I finished it in less than 24 hours.

Something that bothered me - Marie giving up her responsibilities in the castle to leave and let her friend take the fall if anything happened.  To ask her friend to live her entire life as a lie is a pretty big thing to ask of someone.

I just enjoyed it...Marie's sense of duty was a little disheartening but it sounds like she's led a pretty unchallenging life, dictated to her and she has a sense of weakness due to her health.  Took a few turns that I wasn't expecting and a big surprise at the end.  That big surprise at the end really changed my feelings about some of the characters, but to say more would be a huge spoiler, sorry.  On hindsight I feel as if I should have known, didn't you?  The hints were there, I just didn't pick up on them at all.  I'm with you all the way though, the book was just very enjoyable, and had the added bonus for me of being a stand-alone.  Not enough of those out there these days.  I do feel like I should have figured it out but I think I was just enjoying the flow of the story for this one.  To be honest, I'm not sure if it is going to remain a stand-alone...although I would certainly like to see more stand-alone novels.

Christinabean and Curlypow

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