Book: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye
Published May 2016 by Balzer + Bray|416 pages
Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library
Series: The Crown’s Game #1
Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction
Vika Andreyev 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, a duel of magical skill. 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.
Imagine The Night Circus, set in Russia, where the “winner” of a magical duel becomes the adviser to the tsar, and the loser dies, because only one enchanter can access the magic source…and you have The Crown’s Game. The Night Circus is a magical book, and this book was pretty magical, with a touch of politics.
I really liked learning more about Nikolai’s family, but I wish we knew more about Vika’s family. I know that learning about Nikolai’s parents is much more important to the plot than Vika’s parents, but still. I’m holding out hope that we learn more about them in the next book.
I really liked both Nikolai and Vika, and how different, but also complementary, their magic was. It makes me a little sad that only one could survive but only one enchanter surviving makes a lot of sense. I also feel pretty hopeful we haven’t seen the last of both Nikolai and Vika- I only say both because I don’t want to spoil what happens, because it took me off-guard.
And that leads me to Pasha, who I hate with a passion. He is a complete idiot, and I hate that he became tsar. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time someone made bad decisions, and that people who aren’t good leaders become leaders anyway. Still, his actions caused a lot of hurt for a lot of people, and while I get that he didn’t fully understand the consequences of his actions, he did get a very horrible wake-up call when he finally realized the effect his decisions had. I hope he doesn’t try to get Vika back, because I don’t think she’ll have it. At all. And even if he does, I hope she doesn’t give him another chance. She deserves a lot better than the spoiled brat that is Pasha.
I also love that we have a fantasy novel set in Russia. Shadow And Bone is the only other Russian-inspired fantasy I can think of, and Russia is the perfect setting for the book! I love the story behind the magic and the Crown’s Game and the enchanters, and it all works really well together. Skye did such a great job with the research, and she blends fantasy and history really well. It’s such a believable story, and there were times where I forgot that magic wasn’t real because it blended so well into this world.
I expected something slightly darker to the duel, but the way that things went (at least initially) is what reminded me so much of The Night Circus. For some reason, they are very good read-alikes, and I recommend it to anyone who loves The Night Circus. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the magic, and everything about it the duel (again, initially), but based on the summary, I thought it would be a lot more cutthroat than what we got.
4 stars. I didn’t love it, and I did want something darker/edgier than what we got but I also loved seeing the magic, and I liked the blend of history and fantasy.