Monday, August 4, 2014
The Ring and The Crown
Disclaimer: I read the advanced reader's copy (ARC) of this book; this book was released on April 1, 2014. Undoubtedly, there will be minor changes between the version I read and the published version. I acknowledge that I could pick up the published version, but it seems as if it would be a wasted effort on my part.
I confess, I became very hung up on the historical events in this book and how accurate they were to what was being portrayed in the book. There was clearly a lot of creative liberties being taken with the magic of the world, but it was slightly off-putting to find real historical events taking place with a wizard who was hundreds of years old.
Anyways, an amazon summary, "Magic is power, and power is magic...
Once they were inseparable, just two little girls playing games in a formidable castle. Now Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the mightiest empire in the world, and Aelwyn Myrddyn, a bastard mage, face vastly different futures.
Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second. With the help of her Merlin, Eleanor has maintained a stranglehold on the world's only source of magic. While the enchanters faithfully serve the crown, the sun will never set on the Franco-British Empire.
As the annual London Season begins, the great and noble families across the globe flaunt their wealth and magic at parties, teas, and, of course, the lavish Bal du Drap d'Or, the Ball of the Gold Cloth.
But the talk of the season is Ronan Astor, a social-climbing American with only her dazzling beauty to recommend her. Ronan is determined to make a good match to save her family's position. But when she falls for a handsome rogue on the voyage over, her lofty plans are imperiled by her desires.
Meanwhile, Isabelle of Orleans, daughter of the displaced French royal family, finds herself cast aside by Leopold, heir to the Prussian crown, in favor of a political marriage to Marie-Victoria. Isabelle arrives in the city bent on reclaiming what is hers. But Marie doesn't even want Leopold-she has lost her heart to a boy the future queen would never be allowed to marry.
When Marie comes to Aelwyn, desperate to escape a life without love, the girls form a perilous plan that endangers not only the entire kingdom but the fate of the monarchy." AMAZON LINK OF MILD CONFUSING NOISES...AND JUSTICE
This book is about multiple people and how their stories all interconnect. It reminded me a lot of the love map that happened in A Midsummer Night's Dream.... [SPOILERS] except there was no magical moment to correct everything in the end. So no neat wrap ups here. [/SPOILERS]
The time period is irrelevant because there is a war going on that is heavily influenced by super powerful magic weapons. In an effort to end the war, the Queen has set up for her daughter, Marie, to marry Leopold of Prussia. HOWEVER, every character is already caught up in their own love story.
DUN DUN DUNNN....back story exposition!
Marie is in love with a member of her guard, Gil.
Isabelle is in love with Leopold, Aelwyn has an adoration with Leopold.
Wolf and Ronan fall in love with each other but they're both too stubborn about it.
Marie needs to marry Leopold to spare both their countries of the war, so Isabelle has to break the engagement she has with Leopold of risk the war continuing.
Marie's backstory is pretty simple; she's the princess of a massive empire who has no desire to hold the throne.
Aelwyn's backstory makes me suspicious that this is actually a second book in a series because she is the daughter of Merlin (Merlin is a position that a mage can hold, not necessarily one person's name). Aelwyn trained her magic on Avalon's shores before returning to the real world. She also has a super spooky moment with magic when a thief tries to make off with her belongings when she first arrives. In order to stop him, she takes control of his soul and makes him wait in place until she finds him and retrieves her satchel thing. There are about four intensely magical moments in the story (to me) where magic really seems to matter. But they're very isolated incidences. For the most part, magic seems to be treated as an expected commodity for those who live in the palace.
Isabelle's history is a bit twisted, you'll have to read the book find out more about her.
Leopold loves his country and tends to have a domineering personality; he's agreed to marry Marie for his country.
Ronan Astor's family has fallen in status; they're managing to maintain appearances but their money is basically gone. Ronan has decided to have a season in London (she's from America) to try and win the heart of a wealthy man....or just a wealthy marriage (no love required).
Wolf is the angsty younger brother of Leopold who has a love/hate relationship with both his father and brother. He is second in line to the Prussian throne and constantly engages in underground fights in an attempt to feel more 'alive' (is my suspicion, there's not too much to go on with him). He scoffs at the political scene as he can never truly take part in it with any authority (due to not being next in line for the throne). He is still sought after, but mostly as a connection to get to his brother Leopold.
Combining all these characters together to let the pot 'boil' creates an interesting political climate constantly being thrown about by the love and passion of the characters in play. There was a lot more that could have been done with the story if a central narrator or a couple narrators were chosen to have a more significant part.
However, I found it a bit overwhelming to have so many main characters to the story as it felt as if no one's story was completely told (except for maybe Marie's). The entire book could have done completely without magic as it seemed to serve no vital function or role within the society presented. It did help some plot devices ease into play, but for the most part, the magic was significantly underwhelming.
The most frustrating part to me is the back of the book that I read made a big deal out of being vague about the fate of two girls. However, there were a lot of fingers that clearly pointed at Aelwyn and Marie as the two girls, yet there really wasn't much done about the vague, prophetic statements. It just seemed like a vague foreboding; almost like when you're an hour down the road trying to go on vacation and realize you forgot the camera.
It just came across as a very puzzling read as it didn't seem to establish any point. Maybe there's a second book? I kind of hope not. [SPOILERS] There is a bit of a wrapping up moment where every major character gets a line or two about what happened to them in the end. It'd feel like cheating if a second book was released. [/SPOILERS]