Series: The Crown's Game #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on May 17th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Narrator: Steve West
Length: 12 hours and 1 minute
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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.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I am very much a black sheep when it comes to this book and I was surprised and very sad to have to DNF it. This was one of my highly anticipated books of 2016! There is magic, Russian culture and a magical duel to the death! It sounded so epic and wonderful and I was just so excited for this story.
I was sorely disappointed and no one is sadder about it than me. Firstly, I tried so hard to push through it. The narrator of the audiobook is Steve West, one of my absolute favorite narrators! I could listen to his voice endlessly. But with this story, I just couldn’t find it in me to continue and here are some of my issues.
There is no magic system in this book. Things just happen when you use the magic. There are two enchanters. Apparently you can do whatever you want. Are there limitations? Not sure. Can you just wave your hands and have whatever you want to happen, happen? Apparently so. The lack of a solid magic system I could perhaps come to ignore but then we get to the characters. I just didn’t really care for them. They seemed a little too fantasy character stereotypical cut out for me and I was not invested in them at all.
The plot was lackluster and nearly nonexistent. The story centers around this game where they battle to the death for the good of Russia — each enchanter gets a turn to showcase not only their ability but to prove why they should be the one to protect Russia. It sounds like it could be really cool but honestly? With this “powerful” magic, the enchanters do some really juvenile stuff during their turns. I thought the whole point in being the Imperial Enchanter is to safeguard Russia from dire threats. Instead I just see juvenile acts of magic that make me think “okay… really? this is what we’re going to be doing with the magic?”
There’s also a love triangle. A really stereotypical love triangle that was so predictable and awful and did I mention instalovey that I kept rolling my eyes regardless of the fact that Steve West’s voice was trying to soothe me.
It honestly felt like there were just a bunch of YA fantasy tropes that were cobbled together and jumbled roughly into a book. Good fantasy elements are there but just not handled well. The plot is thin, the lack of magic system made me wince and the terrible romantic aspect did not help matters. I did like the Russian elements but all my other issues outweighed it and I had to DNF it.
Keep in mind that most people I know loved this book! It just really did not work for me, sadly.