Genre: Fantasy, Fiction
Book Jacket Synopsis: “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, a duel of magical skill. 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.”
Review: I desperately wish that I had read The Crown’s Game before I read The Night Circus, primarily because they have shockingly similar plots but, in my opinion, The Crown’s Game is more engaging and better written. Unfortunately, however, the plot felt extremely overused and predictable since I had read The Night Circus just last month (and given that The Night Circus was published in 2011 and The Crown’s Game was published this year, I have to wonder if there wasn’t a little bit of idea-swiping on Skye’s end). I was also easily frustrated with the “instalove” that kept cropping up, not only between Vika and Nikolai but also between Pasha and Vika. Given Skye’s extensive background in Russian history and culture, I was surprised that she used such stereotypical examples to illustrate the fact that the book did indeed take place in Russia (for example, Nikolai and Pasha meet at a bar where they drink lager and vodka and eat pickled herring). On a more positive note, The Crown’s Game did benefit from a well-placed plot and I loved seeing what Vika and Nikolai came up with as they attempted to best each other in their magical duel. Whereas the duel between Celia and Marco in The Night Circus NEVER felt like a duel, Vika and Nikolai at least started out trying to kill each other. The additional plot complexities that stemmed from Nikolai’s mostly dead mother and Vika’s pseudo-father/mentor were nice additions. In conclusion, The Crown’s Game ended up being a fairly unremarkable (but also unoffensive) book and I would definitely recommend this novel before recommending the extremely dense, slow read that is The Night Circus. I think my rating would have been higher had I read The Crown’s Game first.