BOOK REVIEW + DISCUSSIONS: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

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BANNER YA

A book with an exciting premise. You’ll truly appreciate the details Evelyn Skye has thrown at us. The tsarist Russia felt alive, but I wasn’t that enthralled—it lacks something. This book has its best moments, it wasn’t all that bad. It just didn’t work out for me as much as I thought it would.

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TITLE: The Crown’s Game # 1
AUTHOR: Evelyn Skye
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray
DATE READ: July 11, 2016

ADD TO GOODREADS

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GOODREADS:

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.

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non spoilery review

Romance over ambition and rationality. :/the crown's game pic.png

I did not hate this book but I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. The premise was good. The concept of the game was interesting. I like the setting, an alternate fantasy version of the tsarist Russia. I like the idea of having one enchanter for each country to defend the state. I like the magic Nikolai and Vika possessed. I also appreciate how detailed Evelyn Skye was when she described the setting, it felt rich and magical. This book has its best moments too, it wasn’t all that bad.

But for me, the whole progression of the story felt a bit tedious.

In this book, we have two enchanters, Vika and Nikolai but each country could only have one enchanter so that all the powers will be concentrated into one individual. If there are two enchanters, the powers will be divided hence they wouldn’t have all the access to the powers out there needed to protect the tsar and the whole Russia now that the Kazakhs are showing signs of threats.

The number of enchanter shall be limited because each country’s wellspring emits a finite amount of magic at any given time. It is not without limits.

Thus, the Crown’s Game was commenced. The two enchanters will battle to win the title. But it wasn’t the physical-stupefy-expelliarmus kind of duel. Each of them will take turns and try to conjure their powers around St. Petersburg and show that he/she is better than the other. It’s up to them what move they’ll do. Each of them has a scar on their chest and once it burns, it means it’s your turn. But at the end of the Game, only one will live and the other will die. There is no escape in the Crown’s Game, because even you won’t kill your opponent, once all the 5 turns has been taken, the game itself will decide, the game itself will kill you. Death by burning

Sounds pretty intense right? Yes it was but it did not exceed my expectation The book felt promising but it lacked the tension or depth. I felt emotionally detached with the characters. The whole time I was like: COME ON GUYS! YOU HAVE POWERS! YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT!

The romance was dull and didn’t move me at all. It was a hands down insta love and I didn’t even see the reason why they should fall in love. Is it because they share the same power that’s why they felt connected? I don’t know I guess I’m becoming too old for this insta romance. The characters on this story seem to lose all sense of reason rationality when they meet another character they consider “hot.”

I didn’t find the conflict on this book as intense as it should be given the heavy plot the characters were in. I felt like the story was a bit dragged in the middle and toward the end, it was a bit rushed. I felt like throughout the book, there wasn’t much climactic events that have put me on the edge of my seat as opposed to what it promised. The last few pages of the book could have been more interesting if it didn’t feel rushed and compressed. The events on the ending should have been elaborated and crafted more so it would leave an impact . But instead, it left us with a hazy feeling.

The book is written in third person perspective and we can see all the aspects of the characters envolved; Vika, Nikolai, the Tsar and Pasha the Prince even his sister Yulianna. Given those things I didn’t like about the book, I still have to give credit to Evelyn Skye for the massive historical research she had done to include on this book; The historical event of the seige of Mesologgi from the Ottomans; the Greek Revolution; even the truths behind the tsar Pasha Alexender and his imperial court.

I can’t say I’m totally disappointed with this book but I wasn’t impressed by it. Nonetheless, I would still read the sequel hoping it would appeal to me more than the first book.

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Okay I’m not going to dwell on this book much and be straight to the point. This book was too fast-paced don’t you think? It’s not a bad thing to be fast-paced as long as the author makes sure to dwell on a bit of the characters emotions. Main reason why we felt detached with them is that Evelyn Skye did a lot of showing of the events but not really the characters depth. I didn’t grow to love any of them because they lack a sense of who they are— they lack a personality and a willful mind.

  • The Game

The game itself was boring. It was the main reason why the story was dragged too much. It could have been better if they’re really fighting. But the whole time, they aren’t. They’re always whining, contemplating and when they feel like they will make decisions, suddenly it will change. Why? Because they don’t even try hard to focus on their goal. Because of this, they ended up having unnecessary feelings for each other which bored me a lot. They have strong powers but because of the lack of characterization, they felt weak and vulnerable. The premise of the book was good but the plotting wasn’t impressive. It didn’t live up to my expectation. The first attack that Nikolai made, which is the stone birds to attack Vika was good and when Vika tried to drown him, it was also impactful. I thought from that, the story would be interesting. But their next moves become duller and more monotonous. I don’t even know why in the midst they started to develop feelings like LOVE. Why? just. Why?

  • The Conflict

What was the conflict on this book? Ah the need of an imperial enchanter to protect the tsar and Russia itself because there are threats from the Kazakhs that they needed to eliminate. Where is that in the story? I didn’t even see it in here. The story focused in showcasing Nikolai and Vika’s battle for that title. But their battle itself wasn’t edge-of-the-seat type at all. Why did Vika conjured an island all of a sudden? Is it because her frustrations over Nikolai? Why did she one day ransacked Nikolai’s room as her third or fourth move? What does that mean? Is it to show that she’s annoyed with him? I feel like the conflict of this story wasn’t much established. I think the conflict was more on their growing emotions for each other rather than the weight of the burden pressed on them and the possible threats from the Kazakhs.

  • The Revelations

So, Vika turned out to be an abandoned child who was left on the volcano. And Sergei just got her from outside its there and treated her as his own kid. He gave Vika his enchanted bracelet to give Vika more strength to withstand the game. Nikolai was an abandoned child too of a healer who came back from the dead long after she was killed and now seeking revenge to the tsar and end up killing him. These big revelations just passed too quick. Evelyn Skye didn’t dwell on it too much than she should. That is why we didn’t feel the importance and significance of these in the whole progression of the story. Sergei died in the midst of it and I wish we had the chance to know him more than just Vika’s dad. What made his relationship with Galina sour? Nikolai’s mother, she just emerged out of nowhere and she could have been a strong villain in the story, maybe in the next book, she would play a great part now that Nikolai is dead. I think she would take revenge on Vika. I also wish we get to know more about Vika’s past. I’m also intrigued what will happen to Nikolai. We all know he’s dead and now emerged as a shadow because his power is on Vika. Will one day Vika find a way to resurrect Nikolai?

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VIKA:  Vika is a character that hasn’t mature yet in this story. I’m thinking that maybe she would on the later installments. In this book, she’s like a child whining all the time and I don’t get it why she had an “insta love” feeling for Nikolai. She’s indecisive and some of her actions are reckless. But she’s powerful enough for you to cower at her feet but we haven’t seen her at her best. She has this amazing skill that is in line with the nature itself. She can conjure things out of the living things. She can also teleport which they call evanesce.  I want to know more of her birth origin because a girl with this kind of power must have had a strong origin and now that she also had Nikolai’s power, she could be so much powerful. I wish on the second book she would be more mature because I can’t stand her being so childish.

NIKOLAI: He is my favorite character on this story. He was a broken boy show seeks love and recognition because he has always been an outcast. Being an imperial enchanter is his ticket to gain a high status in life. He can conjure bridges and other amazing things out of non-living things. He can see right through something without any barricades. I don’t know if he deserves to die. After he died, I realized that all along, I was rooting for him. I don’t think Vika deserves his sacrifice. All his life, he lived in the shadows because of his past and now that he had the single chance to make things right for his life, he ended still becoming a shadow. He’s the only character on this book who knows all his sh*ts and willing to make a stand. I wish he didn’t die.

PASHA: A curious mind and a born explorer. He’s not like the other because even he is the tsaverich, he dresses up as a commoner to get a hold of what’s really happening outside his empire. He dressed up a poor guy and anything and that is why he met Nikolai. He really has an insta love feeling toward Vika. What I like about Pasha is that when he wants something, he truly invest his whole time in it. Like for instance, he wanted to know why Vika has powers, and he read every books in his imperial library to understand her better. I like his passion toward things and I felt bad for him because he’s on the friendzone side.

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Do I need to say more? There’s a love triangle on this book that will annoy you to death because like what I’ve been telling since earlier, it’s all INSTA LOVE. Ughh. The characters on this story seem to lose all sense of reason or rational brain function when they meet another character they consider “hot.” Let me show you a passage about Vika when she met Nikolai, for the first freakin’ time. 

The instant he touched her, his shadow flickered, and his real self flashed through. Vika sucked in a breath.
Oh, mercy, he was handsome, all ebony hair and ink-black eyes and a face so precisely chiseled, Vika could almost picture the blade that had created him. And the sparks that danced through his magic! Goose bumps rose where his hand held her, even though there was a glove and a sleeve between them. Everything inside Vika quivered.

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Every Russian-inspired setting reminds me of Leigh Bardugo’s The Grisha trilogy. But this book is not like that. First of all, I appreciate the accuracy of the setting that Evelyn Skye did on this book. She mentioned on her author’s note that she did a lot of research in order to make the alternate universe she created, realistic. The book is written in a third person POV which makes it easy for us to see other characters’ perspective other than just one. I have said a lot of things above why her style of writing didn’t work out for me. There’s a lot of showing and less describing. Usually, that’s one element that makes us feel detached toward the story. As a reader, we like details. We love it when the author takes time to describe to us the events not just mere said it. In that way, the book will feel alive in our minds. Another thing is that, Evelyn Skye spent too much time on the character’s unnecessary thoughts that wouldn’t contribute in the whole plot development, let’s say for instance, the romance. If those pages were spent in developing the plot, such as showing us the real feel inside Russia, the conflict going on outside the borders, maybe the readers would truly get a hold of the tension going on.

Maybe if the game was tackled well with much grandeur, maybe we would have loved it more. Because the game felt dull. The romance shouldn’t just be the focused of the story and I’m not saying all these stuff to show off because personally, I haven’t written a book. But through years of reading, you get to distinguish the elements you wanted to see in a book. And so far, if the romance and the plot line are well balanced, it would have been a perfect blend. In this story, the romance get in the way of the character’s rationality which lead to their doom. Nevertheless, I admire Evelyn Skye’s passion in writing and I’m hoping that the next book would be more promising.

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This book is not my cup of tea but some people would probably enjoy it more than me. I recommend it if you’re a fan of a Russian-inspired setting. But if you look for a high fantasy book with so much action and tension, I don’t think this book will work out for you. I give this book a 3.5 stars because it wasn’t all bad. It just lack some elements I was looking for in a novel.

My review is just a reflection of my insights and I didn’t mean to bash anyone and I don’t have a hate feeling toward Ms. Evelyn Skye. I will still read her second book despite everything.

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WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK?  IS IT A YAY OR NAY?

SEE YOU NEXT TIME GUYS! I’LL BE HAVING A BLOG TOUR TOMORROW! STAY TUNED.

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