banner ad
banner ad
banner ad

BOOK REVIEW: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

| 25 February 2016 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

Blazer + Bray
April 2016
Hardcover, $17.99 USD
Reviewed by Aly Locatelli




Vika packed the clay from the former pitcher in her hands. It hardened into a ceramic cannonball. “I don’t fancy dying.”
Her father emptied the bottle of kvass. “Then the only option is, you cannot.”

I think “bittersweet” is the perfect word to describe this book. Both with how I feel about it, and the general tone and atmosphere of the story. Set in historical Russia, you can tell the author is passionate about the history and sticks very close to what is real, even if she adds her own twists to it.

Vika, trained by her loving father Sergei, has lived a secluded life on Ovchinin Island, training to one day become Imperial Enchantress. Nikolai, an orphan from Kazakh and a fan of fashion, has also been training to become Imperial Enchanter under the wing of cold, unloving Galina. Vika and Nikolai do not know each other, and would never have believed that one day they would be battling each other in the deadly Crown’s Game for the same position they both desperately want.

With the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening invasion, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side. As royal heir, Pavel Alexandrovich Romanov, known as Pasha to his friends, knows that one day he will take the throne and rule the Russian Empire. But that’s not what Pasha wants, and his life is filled with frivolities as he tries to enjoy his freedom whilst he can.

“Commence the Crown’s Game,” she said as she retrieved a small but heavy chest from the hidden compartment. It looked, amazingly, like it had been painted and lacquered yesterday, as if the magic repelled dust from its shiny surface. In fact, it probably did. “Give Russia and Imperial Enhanter, Father, so we can fight if we need to. Do it for Pasha, for his birthday, even if he does’t know.”

As the enchanters face-off in a once in a lifetime battle of power, Nikolai and Vika know that only one of them can live. Only one of them can end the game. At the end of the game, one of them will die.

“Tell me.”
Nikolai restrained himself from reassuring her not to be afraid. He needed to know what the leaf meant.
“The jagged one represents… death. You were born of death, and…”
“And what?”
“And death will… follow you, always…”

The Crown’s Game is very well written, steeped in history and with many details that truly brought historical Russia to life.

However, it was also a let down. Maybe I’d set my expectations too high, and maybe I went into it with a one-track mentality, but I was seriously expecting assassin-like turns, where the characters would try and one-up each other at every turn, and that they would at least do their best to kill each other. But no. Instead of a battle to the death, we get very soft magic. Bearing in mind that the competitors only have five turns each before an Enchanter is chosen, I wasn’t impressed by Nikolai’s redecorating skills or Vika’s dressmaking ones.

The main problem was Vika. She was so spoilt and mean and she got on my nerves a lot of the time. So many times, in fact, that I had to put the book down after the first two chapters and really think it through. Thank God for Nikolai’s and Pasha’s chapters because they redeemed this novel  by 110%. If it hadn’t been for them, I would’ve probably DNFed. Vika is the sort of person who knows she’s perfect and shoves it in everyone’s faces. She holds herself higher than anyone else and disregards people and their talents because they’re not her, and therefore not good enough. At least, that was how it felt to this reader.

Although the romance is very subtle, the fact that it’s suddenly there and all up in your face was the most annoying thing of all. Suddenly, after a masquerade, everyone’s in love with Vika. Nikolai is, although he tries to hide it, and so is Pasha. It made for incredibly frustrating reading and didn’t fit well with the rest of the novel. At least not in the way it was showcased so suddenly.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom! I absolutely adored Nikolai and Pasha’s friendship. It truly was the kind of friendship that could have transcended ages, if it weren’t for Vika getting in the way. She destroyed everything they had, and even had the gall to be upset when neither of them would look at her…

Vika noticed that Pasha did not look at her. It was as if he didn’t know her either. Had she imagined the past two months? The dancing at the masquerade, the near kiss in the maple grove, the carriage ride after her father’s death? Everyone had forsaken her.

If it’s not about Vika, then it’s not worth her thinking about.

I really felt for Nikolai as a character. A boy borne from nothing, struggling to survive in the shadow of his best friend who also happened to be the heir of an empire, and needing to win the Game so he could one day serve and protect Pasha the way he had always dreamed. I even felt for Pasha, a boy born into royalty who wanted nothing more than to be a “normal” guy and enjoy life the way it is, without all the added benefits of being a prince. The two struggled in their own ways, but they always had each other, and all that is forsaken in the name of a girl who couldn’t care less about either of them.

Unfortunately, The Crown’s Game just wasn’t for me. I highly recommend it for fans of fantasy, but not fans of the Throne of Glass series who might expect something from this book that it just cannot provide.

(The Crown’s Game is the first book in the The Crown’s Game duology by Evelyn Skye.)

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

About the Author ()

21. A reader, a writer, a reviewer and a full-time sloth lover. I am addicted to coffee and my laptop, and love reading especially when it's rainy outside.

Leave a Reply

Please verify you\'re a real person: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

banner ad
banner ad