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The Ring and the Crown, Book 1
Goodreads⎮Reviewed Jan. 2018
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Length: 10 hours 23 minutes
Publisher: Recorded Books⎮2014
Synopsis: Princess Marie-Elizabeth, heir to the Lily Throne, and Morgan Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. 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 the Head Merlin, 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 Eleanor’s extended lifespan is nearing its end.
The princess must marry and produce an heir. When Marie is promised to the heir to the Prussian throne, she turns to Morgan, desperate for help. The best friends form a perilous plan: Morgan, a powerful magician herself, will take on Marie’s face, allowing the princess to escape with the boy she loves and live the quiet life she’s always wanted. And Morgan will get what she’s always dreamed of – the chance to rule. But the 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.
4.75★ Audiobook⎮ The Ring and the Crown had one foot planted in fiction and the other in history. Still, I wouldn’t call it historical fiction. At least, not the Philippa Gregory kind. This was more decidedly fantasy, but with an air of alternate history.
Melissa de la Cruz drew inspiration from several fountains. Some of her characters were from Welsh/Arthurian legends and some were derived from history pages. A prime example is the pairing of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and the mage Merlin, her adviser. In a twist of alternate history, Britain conquered France and France became a part of the British Empire. I love alternate histories, but most seem to be either in a futuristic science fiction setting or revolve around a “mission to save the world” plot with a historical fiction setting. The Ring and the Crown was neither.
The Ring and the Crown was this beautiful mix of everything I love. It felt like it was plucked straight from my brain (and then made way better). There were several different subplots that seemed completely unrelated for much of the story. I enjoyed Ronan Astor’s story and I appreciated her flaws, even though she wasn’t always the most palatable character. Her side of the story was delightfully reminiscent of The Luxe Series.
Princess Marie Victoria and “Wolf” were by far the most enjoyable characters. I haven’t shipped a fictional couple in quite sometime, but I loved them together. Their friendship was so pure. I would have a really enjoyed seeing where de la Cruz took them. I say “would have” because this series was canceled by the publisher in 2014. Melissa de la Cruz released the unedited manuscript for fans to read soon after the cancellation and then the second installment was released on November 12, 2017. Honestly, the whole situation is rather confusing but I’m hoping that the recent release of The Lily and the Cross means that an audiobook isn’t completely out of the question.
As disappointed as I am that I may know how de la Cruz intended to end the series, I’m relieved that she didn’t end this installment with a massive cliffhanger. That would be unbearable. Most of the storylines were contained nicely by the end of this installment, except for Isabel’s, and I can live with that.
Melissa de la Cruz tends to paint with broad strokes and then hastily color in details for before the conclusion. It’s annoying at times, but I enjoy so much of the other aspects of her writing style that it doesn’t really bother me anymore. I do wish she would have drawn out the ultimate resolution a little more. I feel like there was more there to be savored. Her big revelations are often told rather than shown. But again, this is a minor concern for me. I’m a huge fan of Melissa de la Cruz and I look forward to settling into more of her work.
Narration review: Jennifer Ikeda is one of my favorite narrators. She has to be one of the top narrators for YA Fantasy, if not YA Fiction. The Ring and the Crown really allowed her to show off her many accents. The story frequently changed point of view and Ikeda kept pace with it spectacularly. Not once did I ever wonder whom was speaking. The transitions were smooth and even. This was a wonderful audiobook to experience and I highly recommend giving it a listen. ♣︎