Evelyn Skye - The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game #1)Published: May 17, 2016 by Balzer + Bray
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Find on: Amazon, Book Depository, 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.
~(...) Pasha knocked on Nikolai's head. "Then if you're not asleep, talk to me. You're my best friend. I think I love her, and she might die."
Nikolai peered up from the table. "You cannot love her. You hardly know her."
Believe me when I say this is irony. Nikolai was the one calling Vika "a diamond in a sea of quartz."
This book is kinda/sorta Hunger Games-y, but unlike the actual Hunger Games, the scene is more innocent. In The Crown's Game, everything is romantical, Vika is desired by everybody, food is delish, and emotions are spewed. But seriously I adored Pasha. That's his nickname, thankfully. The name "Pasha" makes me think of food.
The book opens in a bakery, literally named Cinderella's Bakery and shaped like a pumpkin. Vika is buying bread for her father, Sergei, because she's a diligent child. I mainly stuck with this book for the food porn alone, I won't lie. Pastries shaped like swans. Pear pies. Blackened bread. Croissants. COME ON NOW.
Vika wasn't that interesting, honestly. Besides, her elemental abilities - which was so fucking cool, by the way - she's as bland as a stale Pringle. She had zero personality. I was glad she didn't need someone to constantly rescue her, but the relationship between she and Nikolai was too much. Pasha's eighteenth birthday scene was a giant example of how "she isn't like most girls." All the other girls are in plain, ordinary gowns and Vika comes in a dress made of actual, glittering ice.
I was seeing grand statements about a love-triangle, but there really isn't one. Nikolai and Vika are the main couple and Pasha and Nikolai, who are best friends and complete opposites, spend the latter half of the novel arguing over who should have her, which I cannot stand. If you're such best friends, why would you let a girl come between y'all? Come on.
Personally, I felt underwhelmed by the Crown's Game itself. For one, I expected more contestants. The deal is: Nikolai and Vika are the only two competing to impress the Tsar with their magic skillz. Need I remind you, Vika controls the elements. She can ice people and control fire and lightning, etc. Nikolai can pretty much only levitate books back onto shelves and materialize beautiful clothing out of thin air. That's pretty unfair to me, but it somehow works. Nikolai, who is believed to be an orphan, doesn't tell Pasha, the Tsar's son (aka: next-in-line royalty), he's entered the Crown's Game.(view spoiler) No offense, but how stupid was Pasha? He was the Tsar's son. Plus, he was Nikolai's best friend, so what did he think he was doing with his spare time?
And can we talk about Pasha's parents? The Tsar is a giant cheater and that's casually brushed under the rug because he married young. And he's like, "I married at fourteen and had multiple affairs because it was so hard, but I only ever wanted Elizabeth." WTF. Tell it to the judge, creep.
The ending was laughable. Sorry, but it was. Too quick. I would've loved a cliffhanger. Though we technically do receive one. The next cover for the final book of this duology was recently revealed, which you can find here. Interesting premise. I just couldn't stand Vika. Hopefully, she figures out her shit by the finale.