RATING: A GOOD Russian fantasy (3/5) // AMAZON
Pages: 416 pages | Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: ebook | Source: Bought | Age Group: Young Adult
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.
Although I only got the ebook copy of The Crown’s Game, there is no denying that this cover is beautiful. It turns Russia’s historic palace into a crown, which nicely ties in the cover and plot. It’s simple yet very intricate.
A historical fantasy set in Russia and an ancient duel between enchanters and a possible romance between the unlikely competitors… Yes, I’m definitely interested. Although I had high expectations for this book, they were never fully met. That being said, I did enjoy The Crown’s Game, but it wasn’t the kind of book that I’d stay up till 3:00 am to finish.
While I found the plot intriguing, I was never completely sucked into the world of The Crown’s Game. The story is told in multiple POVs of mainly Vika and Nikolai. Vika is the enchantress who has an affinity with nature, Nikolai is the orphan boy who has trained all his life to become the imperial enchanter and is the best friend of the crown prince, and Pasha is the free-spirited heir to the throne. I really wanted to like these characters, but I didn’t feel fully invested in any of them. And that is a huge part of me in liking a book. I need to feel connected to the characters, but I felt like there was some distance between myself and the characters while reading.
A love triangle is hinted in the synopsis, but the romance was never a big part of the book for me. Even though there were some nice romantic scenes, I wasn’t rooting for either boy. Maybe in future books the romance would grow on me, but I’m indifferent for right now.
As I mentioned before, the plot drew me in, but the pacing was a little slow. The Crown’s Game takes place in Saint Petersburg and each enchanter has 5 turns to impress the king, although he has the right to choose a winner whenever he likes. After the winner is chosen, the loser will die. When I first read the book’s synopsis I thought “an ancient duel” meant actual fighting, but the magic in this book isn’t focused on battles. Instead the enchantments are used to help celebrate the crown prince’s birthday with rainbow waterways and repainting old buildings. Although this doesn’t mean there aren’t traps hidden for the other enchanter for every turn taken. I loved reading about Vika and Nikolai using their magic. Skye does a great job making the magic come to life, and I could vividly picture each enchantment in my mind.
The Crown’s Game has a lot of interesting plot lines going on at the same time. Although some of them were a bit predictable, it was still a good read. For the majority of the book, I thought the pacing was slow, but the ending flew by in a blur. There was so much packed into the ending that I had to take a couple minutes to process everything correctly in my brain. It was definitely the most intense part of the book, and it nicely set things up for book 2. Even though the ending left me curious, I’m not sure I’ll be rushing to read the sequel. Although I found the The Crown’s Game to be lacking with character connection, it was filled with magical descriptions of enchantments and intertwining plotlines.