Title: The Crown's Game
Author: Evelyn Skye
Recent Release Date: May 17, 2016
Synopsis: 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: The beginning of this novel reminded me of a fairy tale. It has a Disney Princess feel to it, like Belle's opening number. This is a pretty out-there reference, but it also reminded me of the opening to King's Quest 7. I guess it just has a 90's fantasy feel, at least at the start.
I was surprised when every two chapters, a new character was introduced. It gave just enough time to get to know one character before leaping into the mindset of another. I enjoyed this about the whole book. There are multiple perspectives, which really kept the reading fresh. The momentum of the story kept moving forward. There was never a moment of boredom when reading this book. And each of the characters were so different and interesting.
I had hope for a same-sex romance early on, but it turns out Nikolai just has great chemistry with every character. There was romance in this book, but I liked how not reciprocated so much of it was. The affections made sense.
I liked how the author blended real Russian history with fantasy. The aesthetic of the Russian landscapes paired with the descriptions of the magic painted a beautiful picture. The description of evanescing was so great. It made me want to turn into champagne bubbles myself.
There's a certain quality to this book that reminds me of Star Wars, just in its storytelling. There's plenty of mythology there. And characters are involved with each other in ways they don't know when the book begins. Some things the reader finds out first and gets to anticipate the characters' reactions.
I really enjoyed this book. The characters are wonderful. The world is magic, while still feeling historic. The magical acts are described in wonderful detail. I give this book a 5/5. Highly recommend!