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The Ring and The Crown - Melissa  de la Cruz

This book started out fairly strong. A sorceress is returning to her homeland after some time away and rips the soul right out of a thief, then lets it snap back into his body like a rubber band. This is awesome and terribly horrifying all at the same time. The world building continues to build over the course of the novel, but the character development and plot are severely lacking.

The author introduces a good number of characters in rapid succession, and then alternates viewpoints between all of them without any forewarning to the reader. At first this made the book very difficult to read. While there are definitely things that make the characters stand out from one another later on in the book, at the onset it is overwhelming and confusing because they are just being introduced. Once I was able to sort everyone out, I enjoyed being able to see the plot from so many different angles and walks of life. However, at no point in the story did I feel connected to any of these characters. We see them develop relationships with one another, but the relationship with the reader falls short. By the end of the book, while I wanted to know what happened, I didn't care either way about the fate of any character in particular.

In addition to a lack of connection with the characters, the plot for this book is pretty non-existent. The focus seems to be more on building the world around the characters and their relationships with one another. Yes, events occur, but they all feel rather ancillary to the main focus of the story which is the characters themselves and the society in which they are living.

While I didn't absolutely love this book, I think I will pick up the second installment in the series from the library when it comes out. I loved the world building, and I loved the idea of many of these characters, I just couldn't get myself to feel anything for them. My hope is that the second book brings with it a stronger plot and better character development.

I'd recommend this book to fans of historical alternative fiction, magic, and books that focus on the lives of royals, with a caution that the book emphasizes world building over plot and character development.