It was a book from a while back about this special ring or loop that, when worn, caused thorns to pierce the holder's fingers. The main woman is transported from our world with it. There's also this king that can't taste and is kinda weird. There's also a young princess with a caretaker named Gerta, and she has a little white dog.

  • Hi, welcome to the site. In roughly which year (or range of years) did you read this, and when do you think it might've been published? Also, do you recall anything about the cover? Jun 15 at 22:45
  • If anyone correctly identifies this, you can mark that answer as accepted by clicking on the check mark beneath the voting buttons, as per the tour. Jun 15 at 22:56

1 Answer 1


The Barbed Coil (1997) by J.V. Jones...?

From a review:

Doorstopper new fantasy from the author of the Book of Words trilogy (Master and Fool, 1996, etc.). Tinnitus sufferer Tessa McCamfrey finds a remarkable barbed ring. When she puts it on, its points pierce her finger—and the pain transports her to another world. Here, Tessa will meet new people and enjoy various adventures involving the cruel and insanely ambitious King Izgard of Garizon: He wears a magic crown, the Barbed Coil—a larger version of Tessa's ring!—that helps its wearer win wars. In this world, too, illustrations—complex illuminations like those of medieval manuscripts—exert magic effects. Amid various subplots, the old scribe Ederius paints illustrations that transform Izgard's harras troops into relentless beast-warriors. Fortunately, Tessa's own scribing talents help counteract Ederius. Both crown and ring, she learns, are ``ephemera,'' magical objects that tumble in and out of reality. An ancient and mighty illumination binds the crown, preventing it from falling away into another world. So, somehow, Tessa must scribe an even mightier unbinding illumination to free the Coil and allow it to vanish, thus frustrating Izgard's dreams of conquest. Sparkling ideas embedded in vast swathes of conventionally inflated mediocrity: Fans of the previous trilogy should feel right at home.

From a Goodreads user review:

Second: it's nearly medieval Europe, but not quite. There are knights, monks, scribes, infidels, and hints of a renaissance buried deep under the Barbed Coil's demand for bloodshed. But look deeper under the surface - all of the main characters are vulnerable, in one form or another. They all struggle with disabilities. Until now Tessa has been severely impacted by tinnitus; Izgard has no sense of taste. Scribe's assistant Emith, although it is never clearly stated, appears to have autistic traits. Angeline, Izgard's trophy wife, might have been no more than an airhead in less capable hands, but Jones brings her to life in every chapter with such skill that her eventual bravery becomes even more realistic.

From another Goodreads user review:

One of the most annoying characters I've ever come across is Angeline. Dim-witted to the point of ridiculousness, the child-like bride of the antagonist takes up way too much of the POV space, and it is painful to see the world through her eyes. Surprising that Jones would create and highlight such a weak female character. Also, the ending of the book feels forced. Every little loose end is neatly tied up, with Emith caring for Gerta, and all the other characters getting married. Add to that the sudden and out-of-nowhere demise of the Bay'Zell banker, and you've got a last chapter that would have been better off never having been written.

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