Title: The Crown's Game
Author: Evelyn Skye
Pages: 416 pages
Publication: May 17th, 2016
Source: ARC from Brittany
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Rating: 5/5 stars
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.The Crown's Game is one of the strongest debuts I've read this year, in terms of both writing and story development. It was similar to Throne of Glass in the sense that there was a competition where contestants fought to the death to have a chance at serving the king, but in this case, we're talking about enchanters doing the fighting.
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.
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.
Vika and Nikolai are the only living enchanters in 19th-century Russia. Every few years when the tsar's enchanter dies, he must find a new replacement to aid him in the fight against the threats of the Ottoman Empire and Kazakhs. But he can only use one enchanter, which means they both must duel to see who would be of greater use to the tsar. But it's hard to kill someone you're so drawn to and even start to develop feelings for.
Skye's gives an extensive background for her characters. It's excellent, really. The first 100 pages are dedicated to giving an in depth story into Vika's and Nikolai's lives- their mentors, parents and how their powers first came about. I thoroughly enjoyed the amount of information we got and think it's extremely important for this to be included, especially if we want to understand the origins of their powers. Their upbringing also plays a large role in the story as their power solely depends on how their mentors trained them.
The characters were what done it for me. They're so loveable and human, god I can't tell you the last book I read where characters were terribly flawed and acted like real human beings (not these perfectly engineered robots). As you begin a new chapter, you enter a different character's thought process. Unlike most books that usually switch off POV's without notice, it was very fluent throughout this book. The character's voices were distinct enough for me to distinguish who was who when beginning new chapters without a problem. Rather than take away from my reading experience, I was able to fully dive into the story with the characters.
I knew from the beginning that there was going to be a huge power showdown between Vika and Nikolai. I did not expect, however, the amazingly well-done display of magic Skye was going to throw in there. I was expecting a lot of: She threw a shot of light in front of him, or something like: She blasted him with energy. The way their powers were interpreted... UH AMAZING. Don't think of it is as magical bippity bop crap, but more like Avatar the Last Airbender style. The magic is describe to be more concrete than most books that include magic and as something that can be held in your hand.
Oh heavens, there was a love triangle. As a reader who's not so fond of love triangles, I secretly enjoyed the one featured in this book. We're aware that Pasha, the heir to the throne and Nikolai's best friend, begins to fall in love with Vika. Despite both of the guys numerous attempts to woo her, she is composed and doesn't pine for either of them back. I freaking loved Skye's complex character and because Vika's problems root deeper than looking for a man to love her, she doesn't swoon like most girls would if you sought after by two guys (and both dashing, if I do say so myself).
The only real problem I had with this book was how predictable the ending was. Well I take that back because it wasn't so much of a problem as it was a habitual instinct. I always try to guess the ending of the books I read and when I started it, it was quite clear who prevail in the end. From the many reviews I've read, people have found the ending to be unexpected. As a reader who sucks at guessing the correct endings, for some reason, the ending was just so clear to me. But I definitely don't want anyone to let this be a problem or stop them from picking up this gem because seriously, it's a must-read.
Evelyn Skye likes small details. She would often eloquently drop hints regarding what the character was wearing, which brings me into my next order of business. Clothes. Fashion. We find out that Nikolai spends his free time tailoring clothes and criticizing people based on what they're wearing (ahem ahem Vika). To highlight Skye's attention to detail, I've decided to envision what I think Nikolai & Vika would wear in the 21st century.
Vika Andreyeva is a force to be reckoned with. Her vibrant red hair and gorgeous features are enough to woo the hearts of all men that cross her. She doesn't put as much time into her outfits as most fair ladies do in this time, but somehow still looks flattering. She wears her black stone necklace that she's had since birth. I decided to play with some neutral tones since she was never said to like the pinks and purples. I also got a tomboy vibe from her character and wanted to work with simple and non-extravagant items. A white blouse is ladylike and not too fancy. Leather pants show her kickbutt-assery. She can whip off the belt if someone needs to be punished. Boots are a must and sandals are optional.
Nikolai Karimov takes pride in what he wears. He has an eye for how things look and one of his many hobbies include tailoring clothes. Although he doesn't need to dress well when he already has a handsome and brooding face, he somehow manages to be best-dressed. Of course, who would Nikolai be without his frock coat. It's sleek and classy, what more could you ask for? A top hat to show off to the ladies *raises eyebrows* I added in cufflinks for show. And lastly, his dagger he received as a gift from his mentor before beginning the battle.