After having this books it on my monthly TBR for a while I finally got around to reading it! While I though the premise behind the book was really interesting, as well as the Russian setting, I just could not get past the love triangle that was one of the main focuses of the story.
Title: The Crown’s Game
Author: Evelyn Skye
Date published: May 17th 2016
Page Count: 416
My Rating: 1/2
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.
I really wanted to love this book, and I did love some parts of it. But, honestly, I could not get past the whirlwind and ‘flat’ love triangle between Vika and both Nikolai and the prince Pasha.
Firstly, lets get to the things I really liked about the book. I loved the whole premise behind the story, the battle between two enchanters to become the Imperial Enchanter and to serve the Tsar. The way The Game is run by letting each Enchanter take a turn to perform a certain act of magic while also trying to eliminate the other Enchanter in the meantime led to some really exciting scenes and clever uses of magic from both Nikolai and Vika.
Vika and Nikolai were also interesting characters and I enjoyed getting to see The Game from both of their perspectives. They each had different upbringings and different types of magic- Vika is more elemental and raw while Nikolai is more material and refined. They both compliment each other and as we see throughout the book, call to each other. The setting of the book, in a historical real-world Russia where magic is understood but kept secret from the public, was new to me and really suited the story Skye is telling.
Now, lets get to why I only give this book 3 and a half stars- that love triangle. I know it is in the description and heavily set up throughout the book. While I am not the biggest fan of these types of romantic plots, when they are written right they can make for some memorable romances. I found the whirlwind aspect to the romances between Vika and both Pasha and Nikolai felt so forced and spontaneous. They declare their love for her after only a couple days and at times try to pressure Vika into entering a courtship with one of them. I cringed inside when Nikolai said ‘I Love You’ as it felt so wrong and did not suit the setting nor their relationship. If the relationships between Vika and the two boys was more of a slow burn and involved more development and more dates and outings and deep conversations, It would have fit into the story a lot better and made the ending of the book more powerful.
Overall, while I liked the story, I could not enjoy the romance scenes at all. I am not looking to read the sequel any time soon, but I think I will pick it up in the future to finish the series.