The Crown’s Game // Evelyn Skye
genre: YA Fantasy
pages: 399, hardcover
publisher: Balzer + Bray, (May 17th, 2016)
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.
LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT. This book is was a fast-paced, addictive, lovely read. I picked this up at my library because Sabaa Tahir has a quote on it, and if Sabaa liked it, you know it’s good. It was the first fantasy novel I’ve started in AGES and it’s as if my deprivation got the best of me. My reading experience of this was awesome and so enjoyable.
However, I wouldn’t go into this book expecting Name of the Wind-quality work. There’s many cliches that an avid fantasy reader would’ve seen before. The characters may have a few stereotypes here and there. There might have been a terrible love triangle. But, ahem! my ladies and gents, The Crown’s Game was like taking a sip of water after spending a week in the Serengeti; I devoured this thing. Therefore, I’m going to try to not let that entirely affect my actual criticalness and vice versa. Here’s the entire breakdown:
- The beginning starts off slow. There’s character introductions, world building, and all that nonsense that made the first fifty pages a drag. The pace picks up quite quickly after Vika and Nikolai are tossed into the competition for Imperial Enchanter.
- The characters = well-written + stereotypical. Vika is your typical butt-kicking heroine with cool magical powers and very beautiful physical features. Nikolai (as adorable as he is) is your typical dark, tall, and handsome bad boy with a troublesome backstory. Pasha is the nice prince dude who gets in the way of the main ship, and screws everything up by making a love triangle. At this point in life, what even is the point of love triangles when Pasha clearly is going to lose? That doesn’t even count as a spoiler since anyone with half a brain can see it coming. The stereotypes are made up for by beautiful writing. Skye makes you see pass the stereotypes by weaving intricate descriptions and details about them, and the characters seem a lot more grounded and less airy (does that even make sense?!). Whether I wanted to or not, I developed a connection with Vika, Nikolai, Pasha, Ludmila, Renata, and even Galina.
- Character development was poop, sadly. It was very “instant,” as some may say. As Vika and Nikolai “fight” against each other, it really sad that they don’t even try. I wished one or the other was more iron-willed and determined to not-die rather than become sappy, emotional soldiers the moment the Game started. You’ve been training this for your entire life! Don’t you want it at least a little bit?! You’re not suppose to realize you can’t kill her/him until another two hundred pages! The instalove between the two was disappointing. There was no turning point for their relationship, and Pasha, even though he is kind and gentle, just complicated things even more. Hopefully, in the next book, the characters get a grip of themselves.
- The world = two thumbs up. It’s based in a fantasy-based Russia, and it couldn’t be more enticing to read about the culture, clothing, and architecture.
- The plot was kind of cliche…we’ve seen this story prompt before. But it’s all good, because the writing & technique was the-bomb-dot-com. Every book has a rhythm, and The Crown Game’s was easy to find.
- Other judgements: cover? eh. It does suit the book, but it’s not in-your-face-wowing-beautiful.
In conclusion, The Crown’s Game is a fantasy novel that’ll probably sate an avid fantasy reader’s appetite for a little bit. If you’re new to fantasy, I wouldn’t recommend this book because it may put you off because of the poopy love triangle and make you dislike the genre since it’s certainly not the best work. I have high hopes for the sequel!
Who is the most annoying character you’ve ever read about, and why? Mine is definitely Octavian from The Heroes of Olympus…that little bugger deserved his fate.