” 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.”
If you want a young adult fantasy that is light and fluffy with lots of beautiful descriptions of food and clothes and 19th century Russia then look no further. The Crown’s Game has royalty and magic and masked balls and beautiful dresses and love triangles. Which would be perfect except it completely lacks any of the tension, drama and intrigue that the synopsis promises.
Any slight mystery or intrigue or question the reader would wonder about or ask was resolved within a few paragraphs of the issue being raised. I always knew what was happening next – nothing was left to be resolved later. This made the book at times boring and much of the drama was forced unnecessarily. There was NO REASON at all for Sergei to do what he did. Nikolai even after having it CLEARLY explained to him that one of them will die at the end of the game, no matter what happens, still takes it upon himself to try and murder his opponent from the beginning. Pasha’s only reason for existing seem to be so he can see Vika ONE TIME, fall in love and create the not even remotely needed love triangle. The love at first sight thing to me is tired, but The Crown’s Game takes it to extremes to force a love triangle that has no reason to exist. Who would choose Pasha over Nikolai anyway?! It’s not even a difficult choice and like everything in The Crown’s Game this issue is neatly resolved.
Also side note but was still annoying. The book focuses on magic and says that the enchanters are able to draw on only Russian magic. Each country has it’s own “well” let’s say, so you can’t steal it from other countries cos it wouldn’t answer to you. There’s a limited amount of magic in the “well” and so there can’t be two enchanters using it up, hence why the The Crown’s Game exists. Okay makes sense. However throughout the book they mention that the magic only exists when people believe it does. So when the game commences why does NO ONE believe in magic? Everything that is done throughout the Game the general public are confused by and dismiss as trickery etc. How can magic even exist in Russia if no-one believes in it? I know its a minor detail but the public’s reactions to the game is mentioned a lot, so its one of those plot holes you are reminded of over and over.
That said I did like the twist at the end, I did like the beautiful descriptions of the city and the magic and lord I would sit on them benches all damn day. I think this book however is too light and fluffy and lacking in the conflict, tension and threat of death that was promised.