Format: Hardcover, 399 pages
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
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.
The Crown's Game is the first installment in author Ellen Skye's new series by the same name. The story is a Young Adult, Historical Fiction novel set during the reign of Alexander I of Russia. The key characters are Nikolai Karimov, Vika Andreyeva, Pasha Romanov, Galina Zakrevsky, Sergei Andreyev, and Alzhana. Nikolai and Vika are magical users. Both have been under the tutelage of chosen mentors (Sergei & Galina) to learn how to wield their incredible abilities. Both are about to face each other in a what's called The Crown's Game to become the Emperor's one and only Enchanter.
16-year old Vika has lives on Ovchinin Island along with her father. She's been under the impression that she is alone as Imperial Russia's only enchanter. She's incredibly strong and powerful. Vika has the ability to control the elements, and magic is definitely strong in her bloodline. That strength and power will soon be put to the ultimate test. Vika accepts an invitation from the Tsar to prove her worth. The winner gets to be the Tsar's Enchanter. The losers will die.
18-year old Nikolai lives in St. Petersburg. He is a Kazah orphan who has been studying to become the Tsar's Enchanter. He, like Vika, have been told they are the only enchanters in Imperial Russia. Nikolai, like Vika, is pushed to accept his part in the Crown's Game. Like Vika, he has some unique and interesting abilities that can twist stone to life, and make clothes come together. After learning he's not the only enchanter in Russia, and that he will have to participate in a 5 round contest called The Crown's Game, things become much more serious when he learns what the loser is fated for.
16-year old Pasha Romanov is the Crown Prince, Heir to the crown, and Nikolai's best friend. He has been known to sneak around disguised as one of the commoners which gives him more understanding at what his people are feeling and thinking. Upon hearing about The Crown's Game, Pasha becomes enthralled about the possibility of magic users in Russia. Pasha is a softie for a heir of a country. That softness leads him to a girl with the ability to make rivers flow different colors.
I am not afraid to say I really liked this story. First, because it was during the time when Russia was under siege from the Ottoman Empire. Second, because even though the main characters are fictional, the amazing setting of St. Petersburg, and the historical aspects of Tsar Alexander I make the book that more realistic. Even though Pasha is a soft character, I still liked him because he wasn't afraid of doing what he wanted to do even though it might make his family upset. I'm not normally a huge fan of multiple narratives. I would have preferred to stick with just Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha. But, it doesn't affect my overall rating.
Sequel: The Crown's Fate, releases May 16, 2017