I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my opinion. The review below contains my open and honest thoughts.
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.
My Thoughts on The Crown’s Game:
I was crushingly disappointed by The Crown’s Game. Things I love in books:
- Unique settings
- Historical periods I know little about
- Forbidden, impossible love
The Crown’s Game promised me all of these things, but the only one it delivered on was a unique setting. The setting of St. Petersburg was picturesque. I did love reading the descriptions of the city including the architecture, the river and the canals. But beyond that, this book offered nothing for me.
The magic system was non-existent.
Okay, maybe Sanderson ruined me a little for magic systems after reading Mistborn. I don’t necessarily need to have the same kind of elaborate magic system present in that series. But I do need some background. Some explanation. It seemed to me that Vika and Nikolai could just wave their hands and do whatever they wanted. There was no explanation on where the magic came from. There were no limitations. Was the magic elemental? Or did it come from something else? Why only Vika and Nikolai? Why did their mentors have a tiny bit of magic? Why could Vika do certain things and Nikolai do others? None of these questions are answered. NONE OF THEM. Because of this, I couldn’t buy into it. It didn’t seem real enough for me.
The competition was a let down.
So right in the synopsis it says that Vika and Nikolai have to compete to the death to become Imperial Enchanter. So I expected a grueling, dangerous, edge-of-my-seat competition that would have me chewing my nails off. But this entire book was just plain boring. Nothing happened. They didn’t fight each other. They did fluffy little magic to impress the Tsar (which I’m not really sure how he was supposed to be impressed…) and flirted with each other in their spare time. The Imperial Enchanter is supposed to stand by the Tsar and protect him from anything and everything. Um… I’m not really sure how you’re planning to protect the Tsar by throwing some pretty colors on buildings or creating beautiful dresses.
Vika’s character started out pretty strong. She was a feisty girl with a no-nonsense attitude. She seemed like the type that would destroy anyone who got in the way of her destiny. Then Nikolai touches her arm and she just dissolved into a giggling schoolgirl with no balls. Sorry not sorry. That’s what happened. And Nikolai was just angsty. He was an orphan. He’s lived a hard life. He loves Vika, but his friend likes her too. What is he supposed to do? Blah blah blah. I don’t care.
The unnecessary love box seriously annoyed me.
Yes you read that correctly. I said love box. I actually don’t mind love triangles in books if they’re done right. I believe that people can have feelings for more than one person. I don’t believe they can love more than one person, but I do believe that at the beginning of a relationship, you could have to choose between more than one person. However, if the love triangle (or box in this case) is only there in an attempt to stir up drama it pisses me off. It was clear that Vika and Pasha weren’t ever going to be a thing. It was clear that Nikolai and Renata were never going to be a thing. And it was super clear that Nikolai and Vika were most definitely going to be a thing. So why??? Why put the love triangle there? Nikolai and Vika had no interest in the other people pursuing them. This was completely pointless. The only thing it did was cause strife in Nikolai and Pasha’s friendship, the one shiny spot in the book. Ugh.
I feel a bit like a black sheep here because everybody seemed to like it, but I just did not. In fact, I almost DNFed it at 70% because I had a feeling it wasn’t going to get any better. I pushed through though and now I wish I had quit.
Have you read The Crown’s Game yet? Were you one of the ones who loved it? Did you hate it? Why? Tell me I’m not alone!