Book Review – The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

Book Review – The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye
Book Review – The Crown’s Game by Evelyn SkyeThe Crown's Game Series: The Crown's Game #1
Publication date: May 17, 2016

Vika Andreyev 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—and 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.

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Book Review:

The setting combined with the interesting premise of a duel to the death made me pick up Skye’s debut. I enjoyed the author’s vivid depictions of the Russian scenery but the romance felt contrived rather than organic.

The Crown’s Game is initiated by the tsar when there is more than one Enchanter in existence. Historically, magic in Russia has been hidden and oppressed, and considered heresy by the Church. But after the tsar’s Imperial Enchanter—his magical advisor—dies, the game must begin. Vika and Nikolai are both blessed with magic gifts. The Crown’s Game is a test of magical abilities and skills, each player making a move. In the end, only one survives, but neither player expected to fall for the other.

The enchantments, magical elements, and charms in The Crown’s Game were exciting and I enjoyed seeing Vika and Nikolai’s duels. Each time one of them made their move in the game, I couldn’t wait to see what the other person was going to do to outplay the other. Each character had their own specialty and area of expertise—Nikolai’s magic was more of the mental variety, while Vika specialized in manipulating the elements.

Interestingly enough, this book combines elements of reality with the author’s own alternate version of 1820’s Imperial Russia. The descriptions of the Russian setting drew me into the story and added a whole other layer. It was clear the author had a firm grasp on Russia’s history and landscape because I felt like I was there.

It took me a long time to get into this book. Perhaps it was the just the fact that I wasn’t in the mood to get into a novel’s sweet spot or maybe it was that the beginning wasn’t all that compelling to me. Either way, I wasn’t wholly interested until a little over half way.

The relationship between Vika and Nikolai didn’t feel fully imagined. The author needed to develop their relationship more in order to make the reader fully believe in their mutual feelings of love instead of telling the reader how they’re supposed to feel. The couple had barely spent any time together at all. Yet Vika felt “tingles” just by thinking of Nikolai, and Nikolai couldn’t stop the feelings of jealously from boiling over once Pasha started pursuing her.

Even though romance was lacking, I still enjoyed the book’s vivid imagery and setting. Considering the rather interesting turn of events at the end, I’m really curious to see what happens in the second book.

* I received an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye

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