THE CROWN’S GAME
SERIES: THE CROWN’S GAME, #1
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: HISTORICAL RUSSIA, FANTASY, YA
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.
I think I might be in the minority here to say that I didn’t have particularly strong feelings about The Crown’s Game. It didn’t wow me but was an enjoyable read, and I liked it enough to pick up the sequel.
It was interesting that the love triangle was both central to the plot and not that important for most of the story. I didn’t feel either particular pairing brimmed with chemistry but neither particularly bothered me. I did really dislike though, the abrupt change in character finding out about his rival causes in Pasha. He was my favourite of the three main characters but he suddenly turned incredibly stupid and vindictive.
The magical tests themselves were pretty cool to read about — the Cinderella-style ball, the magical island, the dream benches — but they seemed like a silly way to test a future military/ political advisor. Also, the purpose of the game itself seemed a little lacking. So there’s not enough magic for both to use at once, but couldn’t they trade off when situations call for something that big? Say, whoever’s talents lie in the most useful area — like with transporting the Tsarina. One of the things I really liked actually, was the way Vika and Nikolai’s magic had different strengths. Having two enchanters wouldn’t seem to be a problem for the majority of the time.
I would have liked a little more Russian history considering the book is set in an alternate version of an actual time and place. It did have a bit more depth than some of the other Russian-inspired fantasy I’ve read but I just wanted more.
An interesting story with potential. The ending was wonderful and such a brave choice. That definitely impressed me and I think it will be interesting to see how things are resolved in the sequel.