The Crown’s Game (The Crown’s Game #1)


Rating: 2.5 Stars
Published: May 2016
Genre: Young Adult // Fantasy
Favorite Quote

“Oh, where to begin?”
“At the beginning?”
“Of time?”
“How about the beginning of today?”
“Oh, yes, today, that’s a good place to start.”

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. (Summary from Goodreads)

I was really looking forward to this because it’s set in Russia and has magic.  It sounded wonderful but I’m left disappointed.  It took me forever to finish this.  There was so much hype surrounding this and I even pre-ordered it.  I found it lacking.

I know, I know.  Unpopular opinion alert.  But I can’t help it.

It’s been so hard figuring out what to say about this book. Usually when I put off reviews for this long, I never end up finishing them. But I will, I promise.

Vika and Nikolai are both enchanters though only one can survive the the Crown’s Game. But when they’re both drawn to each other (and each other’s magic), they’re fighting for a lot more than their lives.

Okay, so first off.
Comparisons to The Night Circus have to be made. I thought that since the concept was first introduced in the book. But I have to say, since The Night Circus  is one of my absolute favorite books, nothing can truly compare to its magical nature.

The magic seemed… a bit tame. It was certainly beautiful but for magic that’s supposed to guide an empire, it seemed more like parlor tricks. It would have been lovely if the stakes weren’t so high. And I don’t mean the life or death ones. I mean the position of being the Imperial Enchanter. I’d like to know more about where the magic came from and how enchanters become enchanters to begin with.

Pasha smiled so broadly, it was as if he’d discovered the secret to eternal life.  This was the sort of book one ought to read in pieces, to properly appreciate and savor each bit.  And yet he wanted to devour it whole.  Messily and all at once.

Pasha (the Tsarevich), I think, was my favorite part of the book.  He was so hopeful and adorable. He definitely had some of the best lines.

Or perhaps the answer is that I’m simply a brilliant escape artist.  Now come on.  Are you going to let me up? Or are we going to Romeo-and-Juliet the night away?

There were extra characters that just felt completely unnecessary, though I’m sure they’ll pop up in the next book.  The setting was okay.  It wasn’t all that I expected it to be.  I want to go to Russia and explore everything but this book didn’t satiate my desire at all.

It felt slow moving and I really just wanted it to be over. There were parts that kept me interested and parts that I liked and actually enjoyed. Though, they were few and far between.

There were some witty parts.

Thinking can be a perilous sport.

I really don’t know how I feel about the ending. I understand it. Part of me was really ambivalent. SPOILER  I know one of that had to die but I really didn’t care which one it was. I think it was a tad bit cruel that it was Nikolai after all that.

Over all, I think it was okay read. The writing was pretty good and while I don’t think I’ll pick up the sequel, I might pick up what she writes after this series.  It wasn’t what I was expecting but I had high hopes.

What’s a disappointing book you’ve recently read that hasn’t lived up to the hype? 


4 thoughts on “The Crown’s Game (The Crown’s Game #1)

    1. When a book is hyped & I like the idea of it but reviews aren’t great, I borrow it from the library or a friend. It was a hard book to review because there really were parts I liked but I couldn’t bring myself to care about the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I gave this book 2 stars and would agree on a lot of the things that you said! In fact, on my feed I found this to be quite the usual opinion, haha. Maybe on Goodreads it’s unpopular. 😛

    The magic is EXTREMELY tame and such a letdown from what we’re told Vika and Nikolai could do – never once did I worry for their safety because they’re honestly just playing dress-up with the city, and the high stakes are just not felt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I participated in a read along for the book and everyone in that group adored it. A lot of the reviews I’ve seen have low ratings, though.

      But I totally agree. Their magic wasn’t dangerous at all. It was too pretty and not at all brutal enough.


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