Maybe fantasy is better

The Ring and The Crown - Melissa  de la Cruz

I didn’t finish this book, stopped reading on page 118, but I’m still going to write a review and rate it. For the first time ever, I’m rating a book I didn’t finish. I want to vent my frustration with it.

I did leaf through the rest of the pages and read the last few chapters, so I know how it ended. And I disliked it intensely, although I must admit: it is a good book. The writing is very strong, the plot is moving nicely, if a bit slowly, the tension escalates, and the young characters are diverse and three-dimensional. I like them all: the sickly Princess Marie, the ambitious sorceress Aelwyn, the American girl Ronan, and the impish Prince Wolf. The others too – everyone in this book has a distinct personality, his or her own desires and ambitions. And nobody, I mean NOBODY, gets what they want.

Marie doesn’t get to marry the man she loves. Neither does Prince Wolf or Ronan. Aelwyn has to accept the invisible role of a magic wielder, submit to the stringent rules of the empire, against her aspirations for magic, beauty, and glory.

The empire, the mighty empire is that insatiable altar where all the young people’s happiness is sacrificed upon. The old Queen and the powerful Merlin rule the empire with iron fists and ruthless determination. They manipulate everyone, their children included, so none of the royal youngsters – neither Marie nor Aelwyn nor Wolf – has a choice. They must play their assigned roles or else…

I hate such books, hate the necessity to bow to contingencies and conveniences. I have enough of that in my life; I don’t have to read about it in fantasy novels. Fantasy is the genre where everything should be possible, where rebels win, and dreamers get respect and recognition, where love triumphs. Nothing even remotely ‘fantasy’ happens in this book, despite its magical implications and hints. The story reminded me of reality too much to finish it, too much even to like it. 

If so many young people have to sacrifice their happiness for the good of the empire, maybe that empire shouldn’t be maintained. Maybe it should be broken, so more people would have a chance at happiness? Maybe magic should fly, and love should conquer all? Then, it would be a proper fantasy book, and I might even like it. Maybe…