Series: The Crown's Game #1
Published by Balzer & Bray on May 17th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Action & Adventure, General
eARC provided by HarperCollins
"Gorgeous and richly imagined."—Sara Raasch, New York Times bestselling author of the Snow Like Ashes series
"Teeming with hidden magic and fiery romance."—Sabaa Tahir, New York Times bestselling author of An Ember in the Ashes
Perfect for fans of Shadow and Bone and Red Queen, The Crown’s Game is a thrilling and atmospheric historical fantasy set in Imperial Russia about two teenagers who must compete for the right to become the Imperial Enchanter—or die in the process—from debut author Evelyn Skye.
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.
Wow! Where should I begin? This book had so much HYPE. I bought into that hype, I fully admit it. I am happy to say that it was well warranted. The Crown’s Game is pretty amazing, I am so excited to tell you about this book.
The Crown’s Game is set in Russia. The scenes are vividly described. The two main characters come from different places, but they have this game in common. In the beginning they are both being trained by a mentor to win the Crown’s Game, then they go off to actually play the game. In the game they each get just a few turns to prove they are better. The winner of the Crown’s Game gets to be the Tsar’s enchanter (or um, enchantress) and then their job will be to protect the Tsar from all enemies. Their mentors know that only one can survive the game, so they must be smart and ruthless when the time comes. What they don’t know is that they is more at stake then just their lives.
Ugh, okay, so my little summary doesn’t EVEN do this book justice.
This whole story takes place in Russia! Specifically the countryside, Ovchinin Island, and the capital, St. Petersburg. There is so much to see in this story, and it flows really well. Besides the awesome locations we are really immersed in Russian culture. Everything in this book is so well detailed; the food, the costumes, the parties, the housing, the everyday dress, the climate… almost everything. The descriptions are well weaved, I felt like I was right there.
I loved Nikolai and Vika. Although they are really different, this magic is something they have in common and they compliment each other. I so wanted things to be easy for these two, but alas, that was not to be. Vika was a such a great female heroine with her wit and bravery. And Nikolai was the ultimate tortured male lead with his heart and loyalties being tested. Yez, these two stole my heart.
There are layers and layers of elements to this story. The Crown’s Game encompasses some politics, old rivalries, and a lot of relationship drama. The Tsar’s son (the Tsesarevich) is Pasha. Pasha is really interested in life outside of being the Tsesarevich. He sneaks out and befriends Nikolai. Pasha goes against his families wishes and then he lusts for Vika. Pasha manages to weave himself into the lives of both elementals before he even realizes they are in the middle of a game. I am sure we will see more of Pasha in future books of this series. Pasha and the royal family is one story that needs to be told.
This story did have a few flaws. Should we talk about them? I loved this story enough to overlook everything, but I guess this review wouldn’t be complete without that stuff. The romance, although I adored it, was a bit of insta-love. I would have liked to see more development between certain elementals before they pledged their undying love. Also, there is a bit of a triangle, as much as we HATE that. Ugh! Also, and maybe this is just me but, there seemed to be other magicians in this place when I thought our elementals were the only two. The rules for who had magic weren’t clearly explained. I hate being unclear rules for magic.
Okay, other than those little things I really loved this story. I think this will appeal to fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo (two of my favorite YA fantasy fiction writers). This was a great story all by itself, but I am delighted to know it is the start of something new.