Title: The Crown’s Game
Author: Evelyn Skye
Date Started: July 25
Date Finished: July 26
Format: Hardcover from local library
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, a 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.
After the misfortune that was The Square Root of Summer, I went into The Crown’s Game skeptical. I remembered adding this book to my TBR pile months ago and I was excited for it back then. When I picked it up a few days ago, I was trying to remember what exactly had me so excited. Then I read the summary and remembered. Oh, right, Russia. Magic. Tsars. Love triangles. So I dived in with a gusto. I was not disappointed. At first glance, The Crown’s Game reminds me a lot of The Night Circus; two enchanters/magicians who get into a game where they try to outdo the other with their magic and along the way they fall in love. Add in the third wheel, who just happens to be one’s best friend and the heir to the throne, and mysterious bloodlines of our two MCs and you got one interesting storyline.
Sure, you can say that the whole guy from the wrong side of the tracks who only has one special thing about him falls for the new girl with the same ability has been done before, but the way this story was told was brilliant. I was captivated by every page. I didn’t read for long on Monday at work – only three hours, tops? – but when I left I was already 58% of the way through the book. The characters jump off the page and the way their mysterious backstories are woven into the story is just wonderfully executed.
Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. I’m not sure if I 100% liked the ending, but it did set up nicely for a sequel. I also am not sure if I like Pasha or his sister Yuliana all that much. In fact, I somehow won’t be surprised to Yuliana turns out to be the villain in the next book.
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