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Published May 17th 2016 by Balzer + Bray
Synopsis From Goodreads
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.
Review - 5 Stars
I went into The Crown's Game with almost no expectations, I had got the general positive feelings from other bloggers but I didn't actually read any reviews before diving into this book. I found that the characters themselves were one of the main drivers of this book, but with the obvious plot of the Game which is described in the synopsis. I felt as though this book could be read as a standalone but it is also a great first building block to what I hope will be great series.
What Made This Book Such a Gem?
- As I mentioned one the main things for me was the characters, there is quite a range of characters in this book. They come in all ages, from different social classes and a range of backgrounds.
- My personal favourite character has to be Yuliana, after the first scene that she is in I thought she as one of these snooty, look-down-her-nose-at-everyone kind of princess characters. But as I quickly realized she is a cleaver, strong willed young woman who knows what she wants and is quite capable of doing what it takes to get it. Whether that be convincing someone to do something or sneak in where she's not meant to be. She does seem to be portrayed in a slightly more evil light nearer the end of the book, and I wonder is this because we are seeing her from a slightly different perspective or if she is just becoming more controlling?
"She was chilly, to be sure, but it was impossible for him not to respect her.
His sister knew what she wanted, and she knew how to get it."
I also enjoyed the sibling banter between Yuliana and Pasha. They are so different in character but they seem to get along. With Yuliana being the ultra prepared one (despite being the younger sibling) and Pasha who just seems to want to stick his head in the sand about everything going on
- My other favourite character has to be Nikolai. I love they way in which he is grateful to his trainer for taking him in and providing for him but this hasn't stopped him from having his own personality, with a dislike for social gatherings and the training she springs on him. It also hasn't stopped him from recognizing that she is a bit controlling and it hasn't prevented him from wanting his own life outside of her plans for him.
- There is then of course the Game itself. I have to say that I loved the mystery surrounding the Game, both in that the players don't know who the other is and that nobody in the city knows it is even happening! I don't know why but I had been expecting it to be slightly more 'Hunger Games' style with big crowd's watching and waiting for each move. I am glad that that wasn't the case I much preferred the way that the magic just happens around the city and the people rationalize it all, because of their disbelieve in magic and the universal mistrust of anything magical.
- I was surprised by the magic, as in the synopsis I got the impression that there magic was very limited. So I was joyously surprised at how creative, beautiful and well.... magical some of their creations were.
- There was an amazing flow between the different POV's (Points of View). I am generally not a great fan of having loads of POV's in a book, but this one managed to keep the story flowing as it switched between the different characters. There were a few random POV's which to start with I was just confused as to why they existed but as the story progress it gradually became clear that they are actually relevant.
- Lastly, so many twists and turns that I just can't explain to you with out spoilers, but they were just so good.
Thing's I Didn't Treasure!
There wasn't anything in this book that I can think of that I would label bad but are two things that I can't really explain but just didn't grab me, let me explain:
- Vika (who I would consider to be the main character) just wasn't my favourite character, I don't know why I didn't hate her but I also didn't love her.
- This also isn't necessary a bad thing, but it wasn't a overly complex book. I felt as though it was just a quick fun fantasy read, there wasn't any complex magic system and I felt as though the war side of it was hardly mentioned (although I am hopeful that this might take centre stage in sequels). Over all I felt as though the story was very focused on the Game and the three young people, rather than the need for a Imperial Enchanter, and the political situation and tensions at this time for Russia.
To Sum It All Up
The Crown's Game is fun fantasy read with a wide range of interesting characters. It is set in an alternative Russia where magic is rare and often feared. However, when the crown's game starts to be played we get to see the beautiful and creative uses for this magic. This book is full of the hope of romance and it told from multiple points of view which all flow smoothly together. There are so many wonderful twists and turns. I look forward to reading the sequels and exploring more of this world and, also to see what new unexpected plot twists that Evelyn Skye can write.