Book Review: The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye

Book Review: The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye

Published May 2017 by Balzer + Bray|415 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: The Crown’s Game #2

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/YA Alternate History/YA Historical Fantasy

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.

I didn’t like The Crown’s Fate as much as I thought I would.  I wanted to like it more, but I just wasn’t as interested in this story as I was with The Crown’s Game.  I did end up skimming a good portion of it, but at the same time, I was really curious to see how things ended.

I had a harder time getting into this book than I did with The Crown’s Game.  Now that we have an imperial enchanter, I just wasn’t interested in what came after the events of the game.  It has some consequences, and while I did like seeing how Nikolai tried to return to the real world, but I also liked him less in this book.  He wasn’t the Nikolai we knew from the previous book, though I understand why he was much different in this one.

I didn’t really care about Vika or Pasha in this one, and it was a struggle to get through it.  Oddly enough, I initially tried the audio book but switched to print because I couldn’t stand the narration.  So that was out, but I was so determined to see this through, even though it didn’t have the same pull that The Crown’s Game did.

I think I would have been fine not reading it.  I mean, we do see the Imperial Enchanter in action, and it’s this alternate Russia where magic exists, and it’s a cool concept.  But The Crown’s Game worked pretty well as a stand-alone, and while we see more of that world, I don’t know that this book really added anything to it.

It didn’t really have the same direction the first book did, and a lot of the things I loved about the first book were gone in this one.  I just didn’t care about what happened to Russia or the fact that the crown is at stake.  I was just…bored.  While I was initially excited to see how things turned out, by the end, that excitement was long gone.

2 stars.  It was okay, and I think I would have been fine not reading this one.  Everything I liked about the first book wasn’t there, and I just didn’t care about the story as much.

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Book Review: Like A River Glorious by Rae Carson

Book: Like A River Glorious by Rae Carson

Published September 2016 by Greenwillow Books|432 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #2

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Fantasy

After a harrowing journey across the country, Leah Westfall and her friends have finally arrived in California and are ready to make their fortunes in the Gold Rush. Lee has a special advantage over the other new arrivals in California—she has the ability to sense gold, a secret known only by her handsome best friend Jefferson and her murdering uncle Hiram.

Lee and her friends have the chance to be the most prosperous settlers in California, but Hiram hasn’t given up trying to control Lee and her power. Sabotage and kidnapping are the least of what he’ll do to make sure Lee is his own. His mine is the deepest and darkest in the territory, and there Lee learns the full extent of her magical gift, the worst of her uncle, and the true strength of her friendships. To save everyone, she vows to destroy her uncle and the empire he is building—even at the cost of her own freedom.

The second epic historical fantasy in the Gold Seer trilogy by Rae Carson, the acclaimed author of The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

I really liked this book!  I really liked the first one as well when I read it, and I don’t know why it took me so long to continue reading the series.  At the least the last one is out, and I can start reading it soon.

I loved seeing Lee and her friends build up a community.  It really is built on friendship, and I really liked that, because I feel like it doesn’t come up in historical fiction a lot.  I also liked that she let them in on her secret, because it means she really trusted them.

I really hate her uncle Hiram.  He’s a horrible person, and what he did was not okay.  I am curious about whether a particular revelation is true- I hope it’s not, and that he was just lying in the hopes that it would get Lee to help him. I was glad to see her handle it the way she did.  However, this book is more of trying to escape Hiram.  In the first book, I knew we hadn’t seen the last of him, but with how this book ended, I am curious to see if we’ll see him again, or if there will be a different villain.  Things were pretty tied up in this book, I thought, so maybe there will be another adventure for our characters.

The slavery of Chinese and Native Americans was really hard to read.  I can’t speak to the representation of either group, but I wonder if maybe the book did play into the white saviour trope.  I really wish I had paid more attention to that when I was reading the book, but I may have to re-read it again.

I also am not a big fan of the romance between Lee and Jefferson.  It seems really forced, and she, to me, doesn’t seem very interested in him romantically, but he still keeps asking her to marry him.  Like she’ll eventually change her mind if he asks her enough.  I know that was a time when being married would probably give her a lot more protection that being unmarried would, but I don’t blame her one bit for not wanting to be married.  I can’t see her married, and I think she and Jefferson really are better off as friends.

It did seem a little slow at times, especially at the beginning.  It did pick up, but even then, it seemed like it was dragging a little.  Still, I do want to read the next book to see what happens.

4 stars.  I did really like it, even though I’m not sure about how some of the characters are represented.  And even though it seems like things are pretty resolved, I do want to know what’s going to happen next.

Book Review: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

The Crown's Game CoverBook: 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

Blog Graphic-What It's About

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.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

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.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

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.