Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye

Title: The Crown's Game
Author: Evelyn Skye
Genre: Young Adult, Alternate History, Fantasy
Source: Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss

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.
Review by Nara

The premise of The Crown's Game is pretty dang awesome: two mages battling it out to be crowned the Imperial Enchanter; competing in more and more elaborate tests until ultimately one is the winner. But the magic of Russia can only be granted to one person, and so the loser of the Game is sentenced to death, in order for the magic to be undiluted in the winner.

First off, I'm just going to say I wasn't the biggest fan of the romance- it was sort of a love triangle/square, but I can't say I shipped either side. It felt quite rushed and superficial, and the one relationship that didn't feel superficial was unfortunately the one that I didn't ship. In fact, it definitely felt like the book could have done without the romance- why couldn't our main two characters just have been friends? I mean, you don't have to love someone in order to not want to kill them, just saying.

There are multiple points of view, focusing mainly on Vika and Nikolai, the participants in the Crown's Game, and I think on the whole this worked well. The points of view were all third person omniscient, making for a smoother transition between them, and it was interesting seeing both Vika and Nikolai's evolving emotions as the Game went on.

I honestly thought this was a standalone, and I feel that it would work much better as a standalone. No details have been released for the sequel, and I personally hope that it's a companion novel rather than a sequel, because this story ended well where it did, and should probably be left alone. I likely will read the next book though- always glad to be proven wrong about these things.

Really liked it
Overall: 7/10
Plot: 3/5
Romance: 2/5
Writing: 4/5
World Building: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 3/5