I’ve been trying to get my hands on The Crown’s Game ever since I heard about it, because 1. Russian mythology and characters, that’s cool, and 2. Magicians! Well, “enchanters,” but it’s basically the same thing. Actually, I don’t know. Magicians seem more fun and light-hearted than enchanters, because magicians are all about illusions and entertainment and enchanters are all about magic, which is darker and requires more sacrifices, usually.
I ended up liking this story! It was a really good read– I never got bored, and the characters were easy to keep up with. There are really only three main ones: Pasha, Vika and Nikolai, so you don’t have to worry about remembering a bunch of names. Also, they all have very common Russian names, like Sergei and Alexander (??) something like that. The tsar, that’s his name. Anyways, it’s really not bad. There are a bunch of side characters, but the only important ones are Renata, Ludmilla (sorry I’m so bad at names) and then a few other miscellaneous people like the Crown Princess, Galina, and Sergei.
Okay, so basically the story is about this game that the two enchanters of the Russian kingdom have to play. There can only be one enchanter, so it’s a duel to the death. They each take a turn casting spells upon the city to *hopefully* kill each other, but it gets more complicated as Vika and Nikolai start getting closer.
This is where it gets kind of blurry. Because I’m not really sure if they loved each other? Nikolai certainly loves Vika, and even admits it in the end, but Vika never really states outright that she loves him. She does get jealous when Renata kisses him, and she’s constantly thinking about him, so it’s basically confirmed except in words. I guess.
Anyways, things get complicated because they start getting closer and neither wants to kill the other. Meanwhile, Pasha’s infatuated with Vika, whom he caught sight of when he and Nikolai were traipsing around this island. Pasha is an okay character– I don’t hate him– but I don’t particularly like him because he’s such a… golden retriever. He’s super excitable, super enthusiastic and charming and pretty much Mr. Golden Boy, and he loves adventure and scurrying off to uncharted places, but the thing is, he’s also really idealistic. He does a lot of acting before thinking, and he’s ridiculously stubborn about things, and he basically signs Nikolai’s death certificate in the end when he demands, as the tsar, that Nikolai and Vika have a final battle.
Of course, the entire time, he’s being manipulated by his younger sister. I think she’ll be the antagonist in the second book.
The saddest thing about this one is that NIKOLAI DIED. I was really looking forward to a lighthearted read, but geez. Was not ready for that. It was horrid. He actually disintegrates and gets blown away by the wind, and Vika’s heartbroken. I’m kind of excited for The Crown’s Heir, though, because I really want to see her as this cold and emotionless sorceress. That one’s definitely going to center around Pavel, because, I mean, look at the title. I also kind of suspect that Ms. Skye will have Pasha and Vika fall in love, which would be a pity because I really think that they make great friends. There are those people, you know, that would be awesome friends but not be nearly as great if they were actually together. I don’t know if that makes sense. But I think Pasha and Vika would have a cool friendship, plus, they can both bond over Nikolai’s death.
I really want to see Renata in the next novel. She was featured minutely in this one– she’s the servant goal in Nikolai’s household, and she’s also in love with him. She reads tea leaves. It’s pretty cute. But he doesn’t love her back, which is sad. I thought that maybe Renata and Pasha might have a thing, and I’m still holding out hope because it would be a cool twist for her to be featured as a main character in the next novel, but I’m also 100% sure that she’s going to be entirely ignored in the next book. Except maybe she’ll show up to be like “yay, Nikolai, you’re back,” if he gets resurrected. Which I’m also holding out hope for. I don’t know, we’ll see! I really like her because she’s so brave, and she’s a really good friend to Nikolai. I’ll definitely be disappointed if she doesn’t show up at all.
This was a good book! I would recommend it, if you like The Night Circus or anything similar. I will tell you now that it doesn’t have a happy ending, so if you’re not looking to be like “:(” at the end of your night, maybe wait until I get my hands on The Crown’s Heir (coming out 2017!) and until I get to see if that one has a happy ending, to try this novel out!