Author: Evelyn Skye
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication date: May 17, 2016
Source/format: ARC borrowed from Ana from Owl Always Be Reading
Synopsis (from goodreads.com):
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.
M Y T H O U G H T S
Vika Andreyeva and Nikolai Karimov are the only Enchanters around in Russisa. However, it is rare for there to be two Enchanters at one given time. Yuliana suggested to her father, the Tsar, to hold The Crown's Game. This deadly game is not only a place to showcase the skills of each Enchanter but the winner will earn the title of the Imperial Enchanter. Unfortunately, the defeated will die. In this intense game, Vika and Nikolai will have to battle each other. Each Enchanter is granted five turns, each alternating between each turn. However, only one survivor will remain. Who will it be?
Evelyn Skye wrote this historical fantasy set in the nineteenth century. Not only is magic woven into the history of Russia but Skye makes the magic come alive! With her writing in third person, readers discover many of the characters in the book. The Crown's Game is engaging and descriptive. The places she describes are vivid. The people we meet seem so real. The upbringings of Vika and Nikolai are fascinating. Their heritage shapes who they are today. However, everything they know to be true are tangled in a web of lies.
I am surprised when I found out Galina and Sergei are related and how they are both mentors to the only Enchanters in the country. Galina knew this fact and is secretive. She manipulates the situation. It is her way to prove to her brother that she is better than him by using Nikolai. If Nikolai wins, she would have the glory and Sergei and Vika would have to suffer. How conniving of her.
Pasha, the tsesarevich, and Nikolai have a healthy friendship between them. Nikolai feels torn since Pasha is enamored with Vika and Nikolai has some feelings for Vika as well. I am not too partial about the love triangle and about the instalove. The romance seemed unrealistic and I wish there was more relationship building between Vika and her male admirers. I found the friendship of Reneta and Nikolai to be quite endearing.
In terms of the actual Crown's Game, I expected more of a dual instead of a showcasing of what Vika and Nikolai can do with their talents. I feel it was more of a display of who can make the better masterpiece and who can wow the crowd. However, the game does include outwitting the opponent but in a way most people do not expect. It's clever and keeps the story interesting. You never know when Vika or Nikolai will strike. The story is multi-layered and I am sure the next book in the series will explain a lot of things that occurs in The Crown's Game.