I had a very severe suspicion that I would absolutely adore The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye. Now why is that? Well, it contains all the greatest things in life including (A) beginning in a bakery, (B) Russian fantasy! and (C) magician duels! What could be better?!? And thankfully the book did not disappoint at all!
WHAT’S IT ABOUT:
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 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.
The story is a nice blend of fantasy and historical fiction. The author’s note says she did a ton of research and studied Russia in college and you can absolutely tell! The details are incredible and I honestly felt like the book had swallowed me whole. There are so many Russian words and descriptions of places and the culture was brilliantly woven in. I’m so so impressed! The attention to detail made it seem so very real.
“Imagine, and it shall be.
There are no limits.”
The characters were grand little bundles of magical joy! I was very impressed with the lot of them, although I confess I didn’t really emotionally connect to anyone. Probably because I am a stern melon at times. But the main trio was epic and fabulous, if not the most complex characters I’ve ever encountered.
- VIKA: She’s an enchanter, a fiery red-haired totally spunky girl. VERY powerful. VERY fierce.
- NIKOLAI: He’s the other enchanter, more like the quiet nerd? But he’s very intelligent, as opposed to Vika’s punch-them-in-the-face thing going on.
- PASHA: He’s the Tsar’s heir, and he kinda doesn’t want to be. He sneaks out, gets grubby with the commoners and is fun and quirky and generally nice. I think he was my favourite, honestly! (FYI his real name is Pavel and not Passionfruit as I deludedly assumed at first. Ahem.)
Now for the actual “game” part of the plot! But first, full disclosure: it wasn’t the kind of “game” I thought it’d be! If you say “game” I start thinking of violent things like The Hunger Games. Ah, no. It was more like “impress the Tsar with your magic skills” not actually “blast each other’s heads off.” I expected the book to be a high-staked blazing game of glory, whereas in reality it was a slower moving and more about magical creation than murderous duels. Despite that it was still so fun! So magical! The things the magicians created were magnificent and so visual!
There is a love triangle, but I didn’t find it irritating for once. The romance is on the quieter side, with the focus being on the magic.
I’m so glad I devoured The Crown’s Game! I think the stakes could’ve been higher and the characters more complex, but apart from that it was magical and exciting and beautifully written. The world building was exquisite and the cliffhanger was pure torture. I can’t wait for the next instalment!