Royalty Gone Awry

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Royalty Gone Awry

Hard times for royals in fiction

As Lorde sings, “we’ll never be royals,” and maybe it’s for the best. This list includes stories of the royal life not being all it’s cracked up to be. Although we might have dreamed of running our own kingdoms as kids, now fiction tells us how fraught that experience would be. Enjoy your peasant status while you read about stressful politics, assassination, kidnapping and other trials in the court.

The Selection by Kiera Cass
America Singer thought she knew what her future held, but maybe a life with Aspen isn’t what’s in the cards. Instead, America is selected to be one of thirty-five girls to compete for marriage to Prince Maxon in a Bachelor-style spectacle broadcast to the entire country. It’s ruthless and, without her heart fully in it, America has to ask herself whether the wealth and status that will come with winning over the prince is worth leaving Aspen behind and the trouble of being a royal. When her family’s survival is at stake, what will she choose?

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
With something to prove to the faerie world that stole her away from the human world when she was young, Jude feels like she has everything against her. She wants to fit in, but it seems to be in the nature of the fae to hate humans -- and there’s the especially hateful Prince Cardan who goes out of his way to make Jude’s life hell. With her proximity to faerie royalty, Jude knows the royal life isn’t so easy, but she’s determined to have a part in the community nonetheless. But how far will she go to prove herself worthy of a spot there?

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Forever integrated with the darkness she works so hard to defeat, Rachelle has no interest in protecting the life of the person she hates most. But the king’s orders are the king’s orders, so she sets off to play bodyguard to Prince Armand. She discovers Prince Armand might have special knowledge that will unlock the secrets of a legendary sword that could end it all. Getting the full story means keeping him alive and keeping her own darkness at bay. With royal politics at play and evil around every corner, can Rachelle get the job done and save the kingdom?

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Three sisters, three types of magic, three heirs to the throne: but there can only be one. When Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katharine turn sixteen, they must turn against each other in a tradition that demands the assassination of two of the sisters so the surviving third may assume the throne. Their mother before them, grandmother before her, and so on have all done it -- and so must they. But murdering your sisters is not as easy as advisers and the rest of the kingdom make it out to be. When you have to kill to stay alive, what choice do you have?

The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Buttercup has loved once and never expects to again when she receives word Westley, the farm boy, is captured and killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Still, Prince Humperdinck is seeking a wife as his father is ailing, and he selects Buttercup, who then becomes the princess bride of Florin. But then Princess Buttercup is kidnapped by the ragtag team led by “criminal genius” Vizzini before being intercepted by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Will Buttercup love again, or will she be rescued from the Dread Pirate Roberts only to be imprisoned in a loveless royal marriage?

The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins
In a final effort to rid the kingdom of the beast terrorizing the land, the king makes an announcement: he that should kill the beast will win his daughter’s hand in marriage. Princess Aerity wants what’s best for her kingdom, but not at the expense of being treated as a prize to be won by a stranger. But then Paxton grudgingly enters the contest and catches Aerity’s eye. Paxton has priorities of his own, however, and might not be interested in the prize to be won. Can the kingdom escape its terror, or will Aerity choose herself, first?

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
When Feyre is captured by a faerie lord, she’s determined to survive whatever cruelty he throws at her. She’s the sole provider for her family of two sisters and a father, so she must make it back home. But Tamlin has no plan to let her go and is dealing with court politics in the meantime. Feyre, caught in the middle, looks for a way to escape -- but there may be more to Tamlin than meets the eye in this twisted retelling of “Beauty and the Beast.” The question is, what is it?

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Years after the assassination of the royal family of Lumatere, Finnikin is on a mission to seek out the legendary surviving princess. With the help of Evangeline the novice and Froi the exile, Finnikin strikes off across the land. While Evangeline shares her dark dreams, the mystery of the royals’ demises remains. Can Finnikin resurrect his home kingdom, or is the legendary surviving princess just a myth?

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Mia Thermopolis is as average as teenage girls get -- so imagine her surprise when she discovers she is, in fact, a princess of a small country called Genovia. In a series of journal entries, Mia describes her entry into the world of royals, which is, in many ways, far less glamorous than she anticipated. While she deals with the usual trials of high school and teenagehood, Mia struggles with her new role. Can she be the graceful princess she’s destined to be or is she doomed to be awkward forever?