Published By: Balzer + Bray
Series: The Crown’s Game Duology #1
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
This book instantly intrigued me when I heard about it. The whole impossibility of the situation made me want to read it. How could both of the enchanters, who are obviously instantly attracted to one another *eye roll*, come out of this situation alive? Not to mention that this book is set in tsarist Russia, a time period that just interests me for reasons that I don’t really know to be honest.
I think that one of the strong points of this book is definitely the pacing. It is super fast paced as we get to see so much magic use so often in the book. However, with this faster pacing came a world that lacked building in my opinion. I found myself having so many unanswered questions during the book. It seemed that the magic had very little rules and the details of the actual Crown’s Game were confusing. I think this book definitely could’ve been longer to get some more world building in there but hopefully it will be more thorough when the second book comes out.
Also, I do believe that the synopsis is quite misleading. In my opinion, I was expecting a duel similar to what was at the end of Throne of Glass rather than the two enchanters making ‘moves’ around St. Petersburg in order to showcase their power. I guess this was my fault but just warning you now not to expect any thing too action packed.
If you’re a lover of slow-burning romances and love triangles that are done well, I suggest you guys don’t read this one. Personally, the insta-love doesn’t bother me that much as I didn’t go into this book for the romance. The love triangle (or rectangle as the author claims) was also kind of unnecessary because it’s already super obvious who’ll end up with who.
On to the positives. I think that all the major characters (Vika, Nikolai, Pasha, Galina etc.) were either characters you love or love to hate. It was definitely hard for me to decide which enchanter I wanted to win the game because we hear from both perspectives.
Also, though I did say that the magic system did get confusing at times because there were just no rules, I did enjoy all the ways that Vika and Nikolai were able to utilize their magic. I found myself getting lost in the story because I just had to keep on reading in order to find what the next enchanter would do for their turn. It was definitely fun waiting to see what Vika or Nikolai would do for their next move. Sometimes we would get the POV of the enchanter preparing to make the move or we’d see Vika, for example, reacting to the previous move of Nikolai.
Overall, I’m very excited to continue on with the series because things definitely got interesting towards the end. I am also interested on how this second book is going to turn out because there’s a lot of lose ends to tie as this is only going to be a two book series; hopefully it’s longer than this one! Definitely give this book a read!
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD GO READ THE BOOK FIRST!
Okay, so hopefully if you’re reading this section you’ve already read the book. However, I don’t have that much things to talk about in this spoiler-y area.
I really liked this book because it kept me on the edge of my toes. There were so many points where I thought the game would end but of course, I knew how much of the book I had left so I knew it wouldn’t. Anyway, I thought Vika was definitely the front runner for the most of the game. She definitely won round one with the ‘Canal of Colors’, it just seemed so much better than Nikolai changing colors of buildings. However, when it came to round two I was very scared that she would lose because she refused to kill Nikolai in the storm, I thought that the tsar would want someone who was able to make quick decisions as his Imperial Enchanter. But of course, the game continued. Round three was again won by Vika because she conjured an entire frickin’ island overnight??? Damn. Then I remembered about the bracelet so I wasn’t sure if I should’ve been rooting for Vika the entire time. Whoops.
I found the ending to be pretty good and it definitely influenced the higher rating for this book. I know that Nikolai has to be alive somehow, there’s no continuing the series without him. While writing this, I just remembered about Aizhana, she’s definitely going after Vika if she finds out that she was the reason Nikolai died. I don’t know how she’s going to do it but Evelyn Skye better find a way to bring him back in the next book.
Speaking of Aizhana (the person with the name I still don’t know how to pronounce), she was just super intriguing and I hated how her chapters were super short because I just wanted to know even more about her. Despite my thoughts on her world building, I think that Evelyn did do a good job explaining how Aizhana’s resurection was possible and hopefully it means that she can help bring Nikolai back to life or something like that.
Pasha, oh Pasha. My opinion of him fluctuated drastically throughout this book. I definitely supported him in his endeavours to court Vika but I once his parents died he turned so cold. I still feel bad for him because I understand the reasons he has for acting this way. I mean, he is a ruler of an empire now. Also, can we talk about how he had a whole book talking about the history of magic in Russia but we didn’t get a single excerpt from it? That would’ve helped so much with the world building of the series! To be honest, I do like Pasha for Vika more than I like Nikolai for her because Nikolai just seems like the obvious choice. Don’t get me wrong, I like Nikolai as a person but just not for Vika. However, I definitely think he’s endgame for Vika. He just needs to find a way to get resurrected!