Author: Evelyn Skye
Info: Balzer + Bray, copyright 2016, 399 pages
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.
This is one I feel like I should have reviewed right away. It has only been a couple days since I finished, so it should be okay, but I already feel a little vague on the details. And...I have zippo idea how to spell any of the names. The struggle of audiobooks.
The gist. There are two enchanters living and harnessing their power in Russia. Vika, a wild, unsophisticated, and powerful young woman, and Nikolai, a young, creative man struggling to hide his abilities from his best friend. There can only be one enchanter, and with the Ottoman Empire breathing down the Tsar's neck, it's time to determine who will become the Tsar's newest advisor. Enter the Crown's Game - "an ancient duel of magical skill". Enchanter pitted against enchanter where death comes to the loser.
This reminded me a lot of The Night Circus. Not as fully realized, atmospheric, or well-written as The Night Circus, but very similar in premises - complete with forbidden love story. It might have been because I was listening at super-speed, but each "turn" during the duel (where the Enchanters create something awesome in an attempt to impress the heir apparent) seemed to happen abruptly. "Ta-da! Here you go!" A lot of telling without showing. There also lacked a sense of urgency. The Ottoman's were mentioned, but there didn't seem to be much in the way of impending doom or how the enchanters would actually play a part in protecting the kingdom.
All that being said, I was invested enough to want to continue reading. There have been series starters I've read this year that left me lukewarm without an overwhelming desire to continue when the next installment arrives, but this one was different. This one intrigued me enough to anticipate what will happen next.