Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Crown's Game Review

Book: The Crown's Game
Author: Evelyn Skye
Series: The Crown's Game #1
Genre: YA historical fantasy
Publisher: Balzer + Bay
Release: May 17th, 2016
Pages: 399



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 just take a moment to absorb everything that just happened. This book was nothing I expected it to be, and in a good way!

This book was one of my most anticipated debut reads in 2016, and I was not disappointed. It stars Vika and Nikolai, the only two enchanters of Russia. For Vika and Nikolai, being an enchanter of Russia means becoming the Imperial Enchanter, a close advisor and weapon for the tsar. Expect there can only be one Imperial Enchanter. And so the Crown's Game begins, a competition to determine who will win the title of the tsar's Imperial Enchanter, and who will lose and be sentenced to death...

Vika was everything I imagined she would be. She was fiery, passionate, and stubborn. She was alive, and is really showed in her magic and her overall will to live. Between Vika and Nikolai, it was Vika's life that got thrown upside down the most. She went through numerous major shocks in the course of the book, none of them exactly pleasant, and really served as a wake-up call to her playful ways. There was no argument over the power of her magic; Vika's control over magic is extremely powerful. It definitely was neat to see how she competed against Nikolai's detailed abilities with her wild elemental powers.

Nikolai, oh Nikolai. His power was such a fresh new take on magic. It wasn't bluntly powerful nor raw; rather, it was detailed, creative, performed with complete mastery over precision. In a battle of blunt force, Vika would win, but in a battle of creativity and finery, Nikolai would triumph. His enchantments were always able to capture his feelings better than he was able to express them. He knew from the start the Game would change him; either he would die, or he would be forced to live with the guilt of having killed Vika directly or indirectly. In particular, his stunt with the Jack and the ballerina perfectly summed up his reluctance at being part of the Game, and the sadness he felt. It was beautiful and emotional, all in an pre-orchestrated way. My heart goes out for this young gentleman of an enchanter, and everything he did while struggling to figure out just what he wanted from the Game. Especially the final revelation of his identity (I did not see that coming at all) and with the ending (more on that later).

Of all characters, Pasha's character arc was the most predictable. As the aloof prince, it became clear that something horrible would happen to force him to sacrifice his carefree personality and become the strict, stoic person he is expected to be. However, I have absolutely no idea where his character will be going from here, since my prediction developed very quickly in the book. Add to the fact we have Yuliana, the character I was--and still am--most wary about. She has the personality and capability to become a deadly manipulator, and I do fear what will become of her and what others will become of because of her influence in the future...

The Game itself was nothing like I imagined it to be. I thought it would be something along the lines of The Hunger Games or A Gathering of Darkness, where it would be consisted of physical battles or physical tasks of some sort. Instead, it was a bit open-ended, relying on creativity and aesthetics. At first, I was uncertain at how the pacing would progress without any kind of bloodlust to keep the book moving, but was surprised at how intriguing it became so quickly. Vivid creativity made the book very exciting, along with fact that we were always left with a mystery regarding what each enchanter was up to. Every time one of them made a move against the other, the story was so cleverly narrated by the enchanted being attacked. 

The relationship between Vika and Nikolai was full of tension. What better way to say you like someone than trying your hardest (or eventually not trying at all) to kill them? It was bittersweet, knowing that throughout the course of the book, every stolen glance or thought would only end in something painful. It reminded me a bit of Romeo and Juliet, with the star-crossed lovers, and the ending. That ending! Absolutely bittersweet. Though we didn't get a full on brawl I was looking forward to, I still enjoyed it, and the feels I got from it were off the charts.

Overall, an absolutely fabulous debut! The world building was absolutely spectacular and so very detailed, capturing Russia perfectly. I loved the characters, and the mystery regarding where their characters will be going in the next book. I cannot wait to read the next one!



"I am the Game, and the Game is me. This is what my whole life has led up to, and this will determine the rest of it."





18 comments:

  1. Great review Erika!! I've been hearing mixed things about this, but you sold me! I'm currently requesting from my library now. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! I'm glad to hear it. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did!

      Delete
  2. This book sounds really good! I've always wanted to read more books based on Russia. Great review, and I'll definitely check this one out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cloe, this book is absolutely fantastic! I honestly think you would enjoy it, and I really hope you'll give it a read!

      Delete
  3. I need to get my hands on this book ASAP! I keep seeing everyone talk about it! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am so glad you liked this so much! I completely agree - the Russian setting and the magic combined to make a very entertaining book. Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

    ~ Zoe @ Stories on Stage

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! I really enjoyed the Russian setting too, and I found the author's spin on magic very creative. I can't wait for the next one!

      Delete
  5. I keep hearing about this book everywhere, the reviews are positive, and it looks exciting ! So yeah I'll definitely add it to my to-read shelf ☺️

    "Book Addict"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm happy to hear it! It's a great book, and I hope you'll get around to reading it soon!

      Delete
  6. Great review Erika! Just wanted you to know I tagged you in the Infinity Dreams Award Tag! :D

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great review! I loved this one. I do agree about Pasha being the most predictable character. I loved the story though. I can't wait for the next book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In a way, I'm kind of glad he was predictable in the first book. I have no idea where he'll go i the next book, since his sister is a wild card in his character arc!

      Delete
  8. Sounds like a real winner. Thanks for sharing this review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're very welcome! Hope you'll read this one :)

      Delete
  9. Oh I didn't know about this until I read a review some time ago, and it really caught my attention! It sounds very original and interesting, I love books with characters as awesome as the ones you describe, and where there's great world building <3
    I'm glad you enjoyed it so much! :)

    Lipstick and Mocha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I hope you'll pick it up soon and give it a try :)

      Delete