I was surprised how much I actually enjoyed this!
The Crown’s Game revolves around two enchanters named Nikolai and Vika. They are the only two in the whole of Russia that are able to conjure and manipulate magic and they are both vying for the position of the Imperial Enchanter to the Tsar. In order to attain this position they must both compete in the crown game, a series of tests that will determine the winner and the loser is sentenced to death.
I’ve read a couple of books set in Russia this year and I have to say I have really loved the setting and the atmosphere. I liked how the different traditions and lore was very much present in the story; it added a layer of realism to what is an otherwise very fantastical tale.
Vika was a character that I kind of grew to dislike over the course of the plot. She starts off a little naïve which is a bit of a pet peeve for me, although it wasn’t really her fault. She was quite sheltered her whole life by her father and he did keep a lot of secrets from her. Some of her actions after she found out about Sergei I was a little iffy about, especially when she ravages Nikolai’s apartment. Even though they have the rivalry in place I thought a lot of her anger was misplaced, which she does acknowledge. She becomes a little too full of herself in a way, too reliant on the excess power that she doesn’t even realize she has.
Nikolai is a very likable character. He has had to overcome a lot of adversity throughout his life and he constantly has to live under the shadow of Pasha. We delve pretty deep into his background which I appreciated as well. I wasn’t quite a fan of how his arc ended though. I had hopes that there would be a resolution where both characters would make it through and it still seems like that could be a possibility in the next book.
I didn’t really like Pasha at all, I found him to be quite insufferable and spoilt. Being the tsavevich grants him a lot of power over people and even though he goes to great lengths to kind of shirk his responsibilities I feel he still utilizes that power whenever it benefits him. Like banning people from venturing to the island that Vika created so he can be the first to explore it and making Nikolai drop everything and cater to his every whim and be ready at his beck and call.
I still found the plot to be incredibly engaging and the magic system very whimsical and pretty straightforward, it was quite easy to understand! The pacing was very constant and the tension steadily rises throughout the course of the plot. I was entertained right from the start and the premise was unique and fresh!
⭐️4/5 stars whimsical, unpredictable, thrilling!