Book 33 of 2016
Ancient Russia. Magical forces. Duelling enchanters. Teenaged angst. Power struggles. Immaturity. Royalty. Death. All of these attributes are what make up the powerful first YA novel from Evelyn Skye, entitled The Crown’s Game.
The Crown’s Game is a historical fantasy novel that takes place in Russia in 1825. The Tsar of the Imperial Empire has a son named Pasha who is an unenthusiastic heir to the throne. Pasha is everything is father is not: fun-loving, emotive, kind, devilish. And it’s those traits that led him to meeting his best friend, Nikolai, several years earlier.
Nikolai is an orphan boy with secretive magical powers that not even his best friend knows about. He was adopted by a strict, unloving woman named Galina, who found him at a young age and helped him to practice and exercise his magical skills as he grew. Nikolai and Pasha met on one of Pasha’s many secret outings from the Palace, when he disguised himself as villager. Nikolai helped Pasha out of a jam, and now at age sixteen, the boys have been inseparable ever since.
Pasha’s father is worried about the current state of the union and decides that the time has come for the kingdom to call on additional magical protection from an ‘enchanter.’ In the past, only one enchanter has ever been alive at a time, but it is brought to the Tsar’s attention that there are two enchanters living in Russia. This means they must hold an ancient tournament called The Crown’s Game. The rules require two enchanters to compete and fight to the death using their magical powers, all in order to secure the coveted spot as the Tsar’s Imperial Enchanter.
In addition to Nikolai, red-headed fireball Vika is the other enchanter. Admittedly fond of self-aware melodrama, Vika is a theatrical, confident heroine who is insanely competitive and fierce. Early in the novel and before the tournament is announced, Vika unintentionally charms both Pasha and Nikolai, but before she knows it, she is summoned to The Crown’s Game and must focus on staying alive, rather than the two best friends after her heart.
The Game begins and magical burning tattoos have been applied to Nikolai and Vika’s chests. As per the Tsar’s request, Pasha is completely clueless to the competition happening under his nose, and Nikolai keeps everything a secret from his best friend as well. Nikolai soon finds himself smitten with Vika and instead of trying to kill her, he finds himself wanting to protect her. Vika starts to feel the same way, and while the two try to outdo one another with magical skill, they also learn to work together. Beautiful magic is created to entertain, heal and enchant the Russian Empire. The problem is, only one of the enchanters can survive, and time is running out.
The Crown’s Game is one of the first novels I have read where, for most of the story, I was torn between favourite love interests; I was intrigued with and fond of both Pasha and Nikolai. While there is so much more to this book than a love triangle, of course I have to call it out. There were many tender moments between Vika with each boy who made me swoon. And while the magical competition was dangerous and mysterious, I enjoyed that there were so many beautiful elements to the enchanters’ powers; the book wasn’t all about violence, which so many trilogies of its kind often are. There was also a sprinkling of true Russian history peppered throughout the story as well, which I found fascinating. But you’ll have to wait to read the author’s note at the end of the book to see what the correlations are!
The Crown’s Game was intriguing, exciting and compelling. Upon finishing it, I immediately clicked onto Evelyn Skye’s Twitter handle to ask her if there would be a sequel. She replied almost immediately, and lucky for all us, there will be! The Crown’s Fate has a set release date of May 16, 2017.
Buy this book! If you love fantasy, historical novels (I always say I don’t like historical novels, yet every piece of historical fiction I have read recently, I have enjoyed), magic and/or young adult fiction, read this story. I think The Crown’s Game would make a great film, too! I recently found a fantastic book-buying site (click here) called SocialBookCo and it compares book prices on various sites for you before you purchase a book. For book lovers like me, buying literature can get expensive, so check out this link for the best price for The Crown’s Game now. Let the site do the work for you and let me know how you enjoy the novel! You won’t regret it!