Author: Evelyn Skye
Genre: Young Adult | Historical Fantasy | Magic | Romance
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: May 17, 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 (goodreads).
A beautiful landscape wasn't enough to save this novel for me.
Plot: The Crown's Game doesn't waste any time rushing into the action and introducing the characters - which is a good thing because there are a lot of them. Each chapter is told from a different perspective which often interrupts the action and makes it difficult to keep track of what is happening. In terms of actual storyline, I found it to be lacking in the magical aspect it boasts. In Imperial Russia, the tsar must rely on an official enchanter to help hold off rivaling empires. Luckily, he was two to choose from. Neither Nikolai nor Vika have the heart to kill each other so I found these games to be pretty pointless. There are a few reveals that I never felt really helped move the story or bring it all together.
Characters: Fans of multiple perspectives, meet your match! The Crown's Game is told from at least five perspectives, but instead of delving deeper into each character, it only disoriented me. I found it hard to pick right back up at a scene featuring Vika after spending over 15 pages with Pasha and his royal family.
Vika, Pasha, and Nikolai are our main perspectives but each character is flat as all hell. Vika and Nikolai are in the middle of a great battle and Pasha is busy studying ancient magic in Russia...and then poof! They all seem to fall in love with each other. The love triangle in this was nonsensical because it went from barely talking to the other, to confessions of love. I didn't buy it.
Worldbuilding: The Crown's Game is a unique blend of history and fantasy and I would love to see more settings like this. Skye poured her heart into her research and explained the time period wonderfully.
Short N Sweet: The Crown's Game was a letdown for me unfortunately because of a weak plot and even weaker characters.