Author: Evelyn Skye
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: May 17th, 2016
Standalone/Series: Book one in the Crown’s Game series
Genre: Fantasy – Young Adult
My rating in stars: 4 stars
My rating in words: Really liked this book
What it’s about:
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.
For the winner of the game, there would be unimaginable power.
For the defeated, desolate oblivion.
The Crown’s Game was not one to lose.
I was already sold as soon as I read the synopsis for this book. A fantasy version of tsarist Russia? Yes, please! This sounded amazing and I just had to start reading the moment I got this book. And though my expectations were very high, I did end up really liking this book. I did not LOVE it yet, but it was still a solid debut and I can’t wait until the sequel is released!
What I loved most about this was the worldbuilding. I’m one of those people who watched the animated movie Anastasia like hundreds of times and that’s part of the reason this setting intrigued me so much. And it did not disappoint. The descriptions were vivid and gorgeous and so well developed. It is very clear that Evelyn Skye studied Russian history, because this part of the story was just so well done that it felt like I was right there with the characters. The Russian words, the food, the architecture, … I loved every single word describing them. (Especially the food descriptions… man those sounded so good I really wished they were real!)
I also easily fell in love with each of our main characters: the fierce Vika, the brooding Nikolai and of course my favorite tsesarevich Pasha. I liked each of them, which made the story even harder on my feelings, because there was no way it could end well. Vika and Nikolai: two enchanters in the game and only one of them would be left alive by the end. And poor Pasha is the one who has been caught in the middle. A recipe for disaster and heartbreak.
I must say that the nature of the Crown’s Game was not at all what I had expected. I had expected brutal duels, but it was actually more like showing off one at a time. Except when our two enchanters were trying to kill eachother of course… But either way I did not mind. I loved the enchantments, I loved the magical feeling of it all and I loved the pacing. I loved the plot twists which I did not see coming. I loved the ending (even if it made me crave book two so bad). Everything about this book was so very good. Except…
Except the one thing that made me give this story 4 instead of 5 stars. And that is the use of the love triangle and insta-love. Though I must say, it is not done in such a way that it is taking over the story. I think it is still okay. I have a feeling it will turn around in book two and turn out not to be what we thought after all, so that’s why I’m still okay with it. But if there had been a way to lose the love triangle and insta-love, this would have been a solid five stars.
If you are someone who is turned off by the prospect of a love triangle, please give this book a chance anyway. It’s there, but I found the rest of the story so enjoyable that I did not mind all that much. So I hope you will give this book the benefit of the doubt as well!
“She wanted again to hold on to him, and have him hold on to her, so they could whirl together through the cosmos like galaxies that could not—and would not—be confined.”
“Imagine, and it shall be. There are no limits.”