The Crown's Game
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher....Harper 360!
You Will: Want to throw it across the room at the ending, and re-read it endlessly!
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.
Okay so I had to jump at the chance to participate in the blog tour for this book and review it because I'd seen a lot of hype about it all over Twitter and I checked it out on GoodReads and the setting appealed to me! I mean...it's an interesting time period and there's hardly ever any books set in a historical period of Russia and it's always nice to read something a little bit different!
So, as soon as I started to read the book I was hooked, the writing style, the world of the book, it all hooked me in. I loved the imagery, and the way things where described, "Like lumbering giants attempting to construct a glass dollhouse" and so on. I loved how the magic was written, how it manifested and so on, it was brilliantly done, you could see what made it work. I liked how it was rare, and how it's used and the politics of the world regarding magic as well as politics in general. I just loved the authors writing style and the pace of the book was perfect. There where some fantastic plot twists that I really didn't see coming until they slapped me in the face, and then my brain immediately flashed on all the foreshadowing for each twist that I was clearly too dense to put together! The ending though...the ending is really not okay! Not when there's a wait for the next book! I couldn't believe it and I'm looking at the book like...where's the rest? That can't be it? NOOOO! I'm incredibly excited for the sequel and to see where things are going to go next, I have some theories and suspicions but I'm always wrong!
The world really does rise up around you thanks to the world building and the writing, from the first page you have a mental image of what the setting looks like and it continues throughout the book with all the different settings, it's very vivid. You find yourself immersed in Imperial Russia, or rather alternate Imperial Russia! Skye perfectly blends fact and fiction, and makes the setting very authentic and believable without being over the top with the Russian words everywhere and stereotypes to prove it's Russia like some books I've read in the past! You get a feel for Russia, and there's the everyday life woven in as well as the rich history! Skye has created an incredibly rich setting, with a rich and unique magical system installed in to it, and gives you the politics of the world with enough detail to understand but not to drag dow the flow.
The characters in the book are brilliant. I loved Vika, she was a delight to read, she was fiery, she took no shit from anyone, and she loved a challenge and rose to it. Nikolai was more laid back than Vika, he works hard and is quite mischievous too, and I got SUCH Will Herondale vibes! I really felt for his character and for Vika, they where both relatable and believable characters that you rooted for and I was getting tense with how things where going to end because I loved both characters SO much! Pasha was also a brilliant character, I loved him, I was easy to relate to because fellow book worm! He was such a happy, cheerful soul, but then towards the end of the book...I can't even! Why is it always the characters I like that end up needing to be smacked upside the head!? I was so disappointed in him at the end. I understood where he was coming from and his reasoning but still. WHY PASHA WHY.
As well as our main characters there's a tonne of really awesome secondary characters, Ludmila who I adored, she was like a mother to Vika and I loved their relationship; Renata who I wasn't too sure about in the beginning but I ended up really liking and how she behaved towards Vika, she surprised me and her behaviour made a nice change from the usual! Gavriil and Ilya Pasha's guards who where a humorous point, and seeing them interact with Pasha just brought everything to life a bit more, made it a bit more realistic. Guards are usually mentioned and are just there in the background, the interactions made them more real! Aizhana the creepy woman who you can't help but feel for and then there's Yuliana, Pasha's sister. Yuliana was interesting, I liked her in the beginning but towards the end I was kinda like, okay...maybe not. I mean it was kind of the same as with Pasha, I got her actions and why she did it, but at the same time I didn't like her much for it or for influencing Pasha. She's not like Pasha, she's more stern and scary!
Skye writes the relationships between the characters brilliantly! Pasha and Yuliana, like I said, where hilariously opposite. Pasha loves to read and hunt and is almost carefree, whereas Yuliana is more serious and more interested in the economics and politics and so on, she takes things more seriously than her older brother. I did like their interactions though and their relationship! I completely loved the friendship between Pasha and Nikolai, I actually liked that Pasha felt that Nikolai was better than him at everything, and he was good humoured about it, and it made him more believable than the usual "I am so great" male characters. Although towards the end you do see that it bothers him at some point, and again, it made him believable, especially with one of the plot twists! Pasha viewing himself as lesser than Nikolai, adequate even, made him endearing and relatable to me! I loved their banter, it made me chuckle and they where brilliant together and while I understood Pasha's reaction and couldn't really blame him, he did take it too far but still.
The book is multi-pov, Vika, Nikolai, Pasha, Yuliana a little bit and Aizhana who provided the mysterious and creepy POV! Each character has a distinctive tone so you can differentiate between them, and I liked reading each characters interpretation of events, their thought process and so on. It helped you to understand all of the characters, their motivations and so on and made you connect with them. The cast of characters is truly brilliant and I'm excited to see more of them and to watch them change and develop more. It will be a shame for Pasha to lose his personality but I do think he's gonna have to change a bit after the events of this book, purely because he needs to with everything coming.
There where so many things about this book that surprised me, when I read the synopsis I was expecting some public game, like the Hunger Games of magic or something but with two people, and this huge love triangle and all of this but I was pleasantly surprised. You have Vika thinking she's the only Enchanter and getting a rude awakening, Nikolai knowing who Vika is and what she is but she not knowing that he's the other Enchanter for the beginning of the book which was a nice change! I also wasn't expecting how things went between them in the beginning, I really liked how they both wrestled with their own morality for that period of time! I also wasn't expecting for the Crown's Game to be waged basically in secret with only the Enchanters and the Tsar knowing, it made it really interesting how they where playing this game and Pasha just thought all this stuff was happening because of his birthday and the people explained it away. It just made a pleasant change how some characters didn't know who or what other characters where, and didn't know what was going on and so on, it was so different from what I was expecting and it made me love the book even more.
I really liked the romance, I have to say. The romance was secondary to the plot, the main focus of the book was the magic and the characters and I loved it, but there was the right amount of romance woven throughout. I loved watching Vika interact with Pasha and Nikolai and the relationships with both unfold. There's a little bit of a love triangle but it's obvious which is the real deal. Pasha had the whole lust thing going on rather than love, but I did think Pasha and Vika made good friends! I'd like to see that friendship sorted out in the next book, if it can be, which I'm not too sure about! I loved the relationship between Vika and Nikolai, they have their own problems, they're wrestling with their morality, and both of them are focusing on the Game, and trying to ignore the feelings that are slowly building up throughout the book. I just loved the two of them together! The ending of the book broke me it was like....OMG WHY?! *ugly sobs* *throws book* I'm so desperate for the next book already! I was worried at one point like...what if there isn't sequel!? But there definitely is so it's all good!
I got some Will Herondale vibes from Nikolai but I got some serious Infernal Devices vibes from the book itself and I can't quite put my finger on why, but I liked it! I think it might be because I've not been this surprised by a book, this astounded and wondering since I read Clockwork Angel for the first time. Nikolai definitely reminded me of Will, but there where some vibes! OH I have to mention the bakery because oh my God! Like....it added a little fairy tale element to it with the bakery and the pumpkin shape of it, and the giant glass pumpkin and everything! There's this one scene inside the bakery with all the magical creations and oh my God I think I drooled a little bit.
The Crown's Game was a brilliantly surprising read, it's well written, with fantastic imagery, and the world of the book is beautifully brought to life. Everything about this book is rich, the characters, the magic, the world, the settings, the history, the politics and so on. There where surprises everywhere and I think I was either too dense or too engrossed in the book to properly pick up on all the foreshadowing, so I at least was surprised! The book is imaginative, it sparked my imagination and I found it to be a magical, colourful and humorous read, with brilliant characters that where relatable and believable and brought the book to colourful and lively life! Plus there's a lovely romance that didn't compromise the plot of the book in any way and was brilliantly built up! I am incredibly excited to see what the author does with the story and characters next, it's definitely become a favourite of mine!
The Best Magical Powers in Fiction
There's a lot of totally awesome magic in The Crown's Game and so I thought I'd hit you guys with the best magical powers in fiction....well...in my opinion. I also had a little help from Nazima and Shazina! Although it kind of morphed from magical powers to magical systems at some points, so just roll with it! So for this part, I debated again and again and again and I've probably missed out loads, which is actually most likely a good thing because I've got 15 here as it is. Although to be fair the first two can probably be combined in to one! Feel free to point out any I missed down in the comments! In no particular order....
Ice Make Magic
Yep. I'm chucking in some magical powers from Manga, I couldn't not! Okay so this is Gray's magic from Fairy Tail and I actually think it's totally awesome because you can legit make anything out of ice with it, weapons, a clone of yourself, ice creatures etc etc. Maker magic in general is pretty awesome in Fairy Tail, so awesome I had to mention a different form of it....
Memory Make Magic
Yes. I'm doing another maker magic from Fairy Tail because this one is pretty freaking awesome too! With this magical power, you can control memories. Plus you can memorise other people's magic, which means you can make new spells by combining the two. Hello unlimited magical power that no-one can anticipate!
Shadow Dragon Slayer Magic
This is the third and final magic I'm taking from Fairy Tail okay! Just...being able to turn to shadow has got it's advantages, sneaking up on people, hiding and so on. Not to mention being able to make weapons from shadow and all the other various things you can do with it. I think shadow magic is pretty cool!
Okay so this is probably controversial because on the one hand do you really want to know when people are lying and everything, but on the other hand...it could come in handy a lot.
Truthwitch magic means you can tell truth from lie...tell me that won't ever come in handy?! Bloodwitch...being able to track people by their blood scent and control their blood...definitely useful....and kind of evil but still!
This is Mare's magic from Red Queen, and she can control and generate electricity. Now. Put that magic in our world...like....imagine never needing to lug a charger about...ever. Aside from that, in the books it comes in pretty handy, powering up stuff, killing people and so on. You never really see electrical magic in books, it's usually the standard four, Earth, Wind, Fire and Air. Also it's purple. Love me some purple. (I feel like Shadows, and Singers should get a mention as well because who doesn't want to be able to bend light to become invisible and use their voice to control people?)
Heartrenders are one of two types of Corporalki in the Grisha world. I so want to be a Heartrender *evil laughter* not only do they have a totally cool name but they have a cool power. They can manipulate the body of another person to damage it and when wouldn't that come in handy in life? For, you know, self defence....and torture.....and murder...wait what?! It's a pretty badass power. The other type of Corporalki being a Healer, the opposite of a Heartrender.
This is pretty broad and there's a tonne of books that have healing magic in them, the Grisha for instance, as mentioned above! How could this not be one of the best powers in fiction? When is being able to heal yourself or others never not useful? It had to make the list!
Okaaaaayyy this is totally one of the coolest magical powers ever, I mean the whole Allomancy thing, consuming different Allomantic metals to do different things...strength, control peoples moods and so on...totally awesome in it's own right whichever one you get. But being a Mistborn...being able to use ALL of the Allomancy powers....TOO FREAKING AWESOME!
This is Kell's magic from A Darker Shade of Magic, Kell is a Traveler so he gets to travel between different parallel universes. In the book he goes to different London's and that's all I'm saying because spoilers! I think it's a totally cool magical power to have...travelling to parallel universes...getting to visit different places. I'd love to visit Grey London the most I think!
This is pretty broad, so I'm going to be more specific...I'm talking the Fae magic from the Throne of Glass series and the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, I couldn't not mention Bae aka Rhys! Fae have some pretty epic magical powers, they have super fast healing, Aelin can control fire and water, she can shift in to another animal form; Rowan's got some nifty water and ice magic and can also shift in to an animal form. Over in ACOTAR each different Fae has different magic depending on what court they're from but I'm gonna have to choose Rhys's magical power because I love the whole night and shadows thing. He can winnow between different places, he can read minds and memories, he can manipulate memories, he's got the whole controlling darkness thing down and that's just a few examples of what he can do....Rhys is awesome okay.
Okaaaayy this is from the Arcana Chronicles obviously, mostly I think Evie's is the most awesome. She's the Poison Princess aka The Empress, and she makes plants look hella scary okay. Poison thorn claws, thorn tornados, poison lips, regeneration, create plant life with growth, controlling plants (obviously), she's got some freaky palm lotus that throws out spores everywhere and chokes people, her hair emits toxic spores, and she can mesmerise men. Pretty freaking cool right? The other Arcana have some pretty freaky, but awesome, powers but Evie's is my favourite because it's the first time I didn't think plant/earth magic was lame!
Not from any specific book, it's in a fair few, The Bone Season for example, but I kinda think it's one of the best. Yeah it's gross and involves hanging out in graveyards a lot which is kind of freaky but think about it. You have the power to animate an army. Like there are graveyards eveywhere, you have access anywhere you go to thousands of potential members for your army. Cool but gross, right?
Speaking of The Bone Season, Paige's magical power is pretty awesome! She can casually jump in to the dreamscapes of other Clairvoyants, I think it's pretty cool! There's also a load of other types of clairvoyants in the books and some of them have some pretty cool powers too! I love the clairvoyant hierarchy going on in the Bone Season, not going to lie!
Come on book nerds, we all know we'd love to be able to read our favourite characters and favourite items out of the books we read. Rhys anyone? How freaking awesome would it be to have your own The One Ring. Or a casual pet dragon. Or your own Rhys *heart eyes* I can't even. Forever gutted as a kid that I didn't have this power, not going to lie!
Not entirely sure this counts, but let's roll with it. This is from the Ruby Red Trilogy (I still really need to read the other two!). The time travellers in the book are born with the time travelling gene and they prepare their whole lives for ya know...time travelling. Personally, the history nerd in me needs this power more than I need air. Imagine travelling back in time and solving some of the worlds biggest mysteries! I'm also gonna throw in other time manipulation like freezing time that I've seen in the Savant books by Joss Stirling..off the top of my head!