Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: The Ring and The Crown

The Ring and The Crown
Title: The Ring and The Crown
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Series: The Ring and the Crown
Volume: 1
Genre: Historical Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: April 1, 2014

A Quick Introduction: Marie-Victoria is the heir to the Lily Throne. Aelwyn Myrddn is the bastard daughter of The Mage of England. One to rule and one to serve. Marie's mother Elanor the Second has, with the help of Aelwyn's father, maintained a stranglehold on the magic of the Franco-British empire. Marie will soon come into the throne, though she wants nothing of it. She doesn't want the throne, and she doesn't want the match that comes with it- she's in love with someone else. Aelwyn has recently finished her training, and now she wants more. The two girls stand at a crossroads and must now decide who will rule, and who will serve.

Out of Ten: 1/10

Review at a Glance: With it's aggravating and undeveloped characters and lack of plot, this historical fantasy really wasn't for me.

Review: This really didn't work for me, on so many levels. I actually considered DNFing it, but I pushed through so I could write a review (I don't really like to review books that I haven't finished, in case something happens in the last hundred pages to change my mind). That and the fact that I really don't like not finishing a book. So, without further ado, a review.

My biggest problem was the characters. I really didn't like any of them. They all bothered me, and didn't really seem to have any redeeming features. They all had a propensity for bemoaning every aspect of their lives. Princess Marie-Victoria is constantly ill and doesn't want to be princess-or to be engaged for Leopold VII of Prussia. Aelwyn Myrddn is jealous of all the princess has. Isabelle of Orleans has just been rejected by Leopold, losing her engagement to someone that she thought she loved. Ronan must make an advantageous marriage to save her family's fortune and her future. Wolf has constantly lived in his brother Leopold's shadow. Leopold is viewed as the golden boy of the Prussian empire. He's actually horrible. Beyond this, there is very little to these characters. They came of as shallow, and didn't seem to grow or change. I didn't find myself wanting them to be happy. Wherever there was a hint that a character could be interesting, or even decent, it wasn't expanded on, or didn't come off as true. They all have tangled relationships with each other, and dash about dithering, moping and going to balls/parties. 

The aforementioned relationships range from making me exasperated to making me incredibly uncomfortable. There was absoloutely no development between the characters- it was literally skipped over in some cases, so we went straight from second meeting to mostly undressed snogging, complete with romantic feelings. I am well aware that love and lust don't always got hand in hand, but it apparently did in this case. I say "apparently" due to the fact that despite the fact we are informed that some couples are in love, but they don't really act it. They all fall in "love" at the drop of the hat, and the resulting relationships range from simply annoying to deeply unhealthy. I doubted that there was any actual respect, much less love in several of the relationships.

There was basically no plot. I suppose that you would say Marie's desire to abdicate could be the plot, but it wasn't a very engaging one, seeing as I didn't like any of the characters. I wasn't rooting for her. I was hoping that she would stop being so annoying. What I think was intended to be the plot wasn't introduced until the last few pages, there was no discernible build-up or foreshadowing. In a lot of ways things were resolved too neatly at the end.

I also found the the writing didn't work for me. There was a lack of flow in how the story was conveyed, and it didn't seem to be properly fixed in a time period. It seems a little like, because the monarchy remained in power, nothing else changed- they still acted like it was the sixteenth century, or sometimes the nineteenth (it depended on the character and part of book). While the language didn't necessarily not belong in the time period where it was said to be set (early twentieth century), given that it was often treated in the manner of an earlier century it clashed. And, even a hundred years ago, diction was quite different, and it felt too modern in this novel. If the world had been structured in a way that suited the difference between speech having evolved, while the rest of culture remained stagnant, I might have been able to work with it, but the world didn't really mesh, and wasn't very engaging overall. There was a bit of mature subject matter that I don't feel was handled very well.

Overall this book truly wasn't for me. I didn't like the characters, who seemed flat and were generally very annoying, and if there was a plot it wasn't at all engaging. 

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