Series: The Crown's Game, #1
, May 2016
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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.
I’ve had my eye out for this book since last November. I fell in love with the cover, the blurb, and after seeing pages of positive GoodReads reviews, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. When it finally arrived at the library last week, I was thrilled.
But as I turned the pages, my thrill turned sour, and at page 54, I marked The Crown’s Game dnf. Why? Well, there were a few reasons:
1. The slow beginning
And when I say the slow beginning, I mean the slooooowwwww beginning. I loved the depth of description when it came to the scenery and magic – Skye’s writing prowess really shows here. But when it came to her two main characters, Nikolai and Vika, Skye fell flat. They had no depth, no vibrancy to them that made me care about them. Granted, I put the book down after only 50 pages, but there should already be a character hook here.
2. This felt a little familiar…
Let’s get this out right now: I am in no way accusing Skye of plagiarism. It was more that The Crown’s Game felt like The Hunger Games set in 1800s Russia with magic instead of arrows.
3. I really hate violence against animals.
It’s one of my major pet peeves in books. Honestly, it may be the one thing that will make me put down a book and never pick it up again. Around page 50, when I was wallowing back and forth on putting this book in my return bag, Nikolai returns home from his first sighting of Vika to find his room filled with wild animals, including a tiger and vipers. His mentor, Galina, tells him he needs to kill them to get used to the sight of blood.
What? Seriously? Useless killing so he can get used to blood? No.
I liked the premise of The Crown’s Game. I loved the idea of it: a magical test of feats, set in Romanov Russia. I wasn’t too big of a fan of the idea of a love triangle, but I was willing to look past it. But after a slow start, lack of character development, and the out-of-the-blue animal violence? I’m done.