Title: The Crown's Game
Author: Evelyn Skye
Published on: May 7th 2016
Published by: Balzer + Bray
Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.
And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.
Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?
For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.
And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love... or be killed himself.
As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear... the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.
I am in a complicated relationship with this book. On one hand, there were so many parts that made my insides curl in disappointment. But on the other hand, I couldn't help but flip the pages so fast because it was just so damn intriguing. So, since The Crown's Game confuses my brain, I'll just make a list of everything I liked and disliked.
What I liked:
- The setting. The Crown's Game takes place in 19th century alternate fantasy Imperial Russia.
- Sergei and Galina. These two have an unconventional sibling relationship. They are rivals in a sense that they raised Vika and Nikolai, respectively, separately, to become the Imperial Enchanter. Galina makes it seem like there's bad blood between them and when they were sent to Siberia, I feared that Galina would kill Sergei but as it turns out, they truly care about each other as brother and sister and that this rivalry only encompasses the Crown's Game. Furthermore, they are the total opposites. Galina is cunning and very haughty and Sergei is passive and compassionate so their interactions were all amusing to no end.
- Character deaths. I know this should make someone sad but I really like that this book doesn't back down from killing characters.
- Aizhana. For me she's the most interesting character. She's rotten, vile, and disgusting (pun intended), but she's got the saddest backstory that tugs on the heartstrings.
- The plot twists. They are unpredictable and get my blood going!
What I didn't like:
- Love triangle. No explanations needed.
- Insta-love. With Pasha to Vika- He saw her once and the next, he was obsessed with her already. With Nikolai and Vika- Because their magic call to each other and because Nikolai is so goddamned hot in the eyes of Vika.
- Characters going complete bonkers because they felt betrayed. I understand that the characters were grieving because certain characters died, and that one character felt betrayed by his bestfriend and so they want to channel their hatred to something, yes, that is very understandable but does that justify their being irrational? No, it doesn't. While grief and betrayal are a way to trigger character development, what really made me dislike this part is how it made the story feel so contrived and the fact that the resolution to these problems was so unremarkably quick and predictable left a bad taste in my mouth.
- The magic tricks aren't explained enough. The magic tricks Nikolai and Vika used during the Crown's Game were all very... magical. And creative too. I just wish the author gave more insight as to how they both made those magic whenever it was their turn to attack because they all look too good to be true. Don't get me wrong, I understand that this is fantasy but even if its fantasy, I still want a touch of reality in there. I hope the second book goes more meta than this.
It seems like that most of my issues about this book are the three most important characters. This doesn't mean I don't like them though. I like Pasha a lot and Vika and Nikolai are distinct characters too and they have redeeming qualities, but 80% into the story and everything about them just turned south. I'd like to say that the last chapter was their saving grace but I can't because dang that ending is just sooo confusing I can't even begin to explain. As well, the lack of mention of Aizahana in the last chapter raises more questions and confusions. But nevertheless, Evelyn Skye's The Crown's Game is one compelling read and I'll be damned if I don't read the sequel upon its release.
Rating: 3.5 Fairy wings