Title: The Crown's Game
Author: Evelyn Skye
My rating: 4.5 magical hearts
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pub. date: May 17th 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Synopsis: 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. (synopsis from Goodreads)
My thoughts: When I first read about this book, I was very intrigued, because it seemed interesting and different. I was really excited about the concept, and I had pretty high expectations.
I was not disappointed. This book was everything I hoped it would be and more. The setting for the book was perfect; starting on a small island with a lot of nature, but most of it took place in St. Petersburg, and I loved it. The characters were great, and there was character development, which you know how much I love. The plot was good; it was new and original, and it kept a good pace throughout the book.
I love Vika
She is an independent, badass character. She really knows what she wants and knows what to do to get it, and she’s not afraid of fighting to get it. Despite all of this, Vika is also very caring and nice. I really liked the contrasts between how she acted with her father and the people she loved, and how she was when it was about the Game. She was raised by her father, Sergei, and never knew her mother. Sergei is also her mentor. I really love the relationship between the two of them. I also liked that she felt realistic, and was relatable. Vika is a great example of a great YA heroine.
Nikolai is great
He is also very determined, and knows what he wants. He had a difficult childhood, and now he wants to become Imperial Enchanter, so he won’t be a nobody anymore. He’s trained to become Imperial Enchanter since Galina, who is a mentor, got him from the Kazakh steppe when he was a kid. At the Kazakh steppe, he was mistreated because he was an enchanter, and the people there didn’t know how to deal with him. The relationship between Nikolai and Galina is very different from the one between Vika and Sergei. Galina doesn’t seem particularly fond of Nikolai, she only helps him because she has to (and because she wants to beat Sergei, her brother).
I hate Galina with a passion. In the beginning, and through most of the book, I don’t really like her, but I don’t hate her. Then something happens and I think she might not be all that bad after all, and then she does something that makes me hate her more than before. I won’t tell you what, because that’s a spoiler, but I hate her so much.
I love the whole concept of the Crown’s Game
The Crown’s Game is a competition hosted by the tsar of Russia when there is more than one enchanter in Russia at the same time. The Game is supposed to show the tsar which one of these two enchanters are most fit to be Imperial Enchanter. The two enchanters get five moves each to show the tsar what they can do, and anytime during the Game, the tsar can choose one of them as a winner. If the tsar hasn’t picked a winner by the end, the Game chooses the winner. The winner becomes Imperial Enchanter. The loser dies. But it's rare, as there is usually just one enchanter at a time.
I found it really interesting and original, and it was even better that it took place in Russia in the nineteenth century. It worked really well in this book, and the settings only made the mood of the book so much better. Also, the way the author wove St. Petersburg into the story was great – I got a very clear picture of St. Petersburg 1825 without it ever getting boring (and other places in Russia). And since I love culture, and learning about other countries cultures, I loved it.
To sum it up, it was a great, original Fantasy book, and every Fantasy reader should read it. So what are you waiting for? Get your copy today!