Today, I'm featuring one of the debuts that I patiently pined for since 2015 and that I enjoyed reading this year. Stick around for a giveaway at the end.
I have always wanted to got to Russia. But now, instead of Moscow, I want to walk the streets and bridges of Saint Petersburg and possibly, live there for the rest of my life. I am completely enamored with the time period and the land, with its marvelous architecture, fashion and palpable culture. The detailed description of food, particularly the bread and the pastries, left my mouth watering and craving for dessert. The switching from French to Russian and back again by the characters reminded me so much of my own country, wherein we speak English and Filipino and oftentimes mix them.
The magic in the book was ancient and almost forgotten by the public. The source of the magic was briefly explained, coming in the form of an enchanted hollow, which was the center of all magic in Russia. Instead of the typical take on magic, wherein individuals were born with it, in The Crown's Game, individuals served as "vessels" for the magic. The situation was that there were never supposed to be two enchanters at a time; the magic was never supposed to be shared.
Vika was one of the enchanters, hailing from Ovchinin island. Her power was more focused on the elements and nature. I found her determined, ambitious and mischievous. But she was not without faults: her curiosity often got the nest of her. She was intelligent, a true visionary who delivered picturesque and stunning magical works. Her magic has always been a part of her, defining her. I loved that she didn't shy away from the weird looks, the terror that people show her because of her magic.
Nikolai was the other enchanter. He was born on the Kazakh steppe and was found by Galina at a young age. His dramatic past transitions into a colorful life in Saint Petersburg. He was multitalented and resourceful, making opportunities where there were none. I loved how he rose up, despite the struggles, the obstacles and the limitations. He was the perfect gentleman. Together with Pasha, the tsesarevich, he could be a bit reckless.
Vika and Nikolai were pawns in an old game, set up against one another. But instead of going head on against each other, squeezing out the life force and hope out of each other, the opposite happened. They were drawn towards each other's personalities and power. They were the two halves of a whole. Two souls set apart from society, who found companionship, understanding and comfort in each other. I enjoyed reading about how they slowly fell and began to care for one another. It was a scenario of self-preservation and logic versus the workings of a good heart and the sheer gravity-like pull of feelings.
The plot was a tapestry of colorful elements. Different kinds of relationships and connections were tackled in the book, from familial relationships to friendship. The factor of having a battle to the death raised the stakes. There were twists and turns in the novel that could and could not be guessed. The ending was beautifully done, bittersweet and touching and enough of a blow on a booklover's heart. Overall, it was entertaining and well paced.
The Crown's Game was a sweeping fantasy with a breathtaking view of old world Russia, that highlights the classic elements of magic, starcrossed lovers and tragedy. I highly recommend this to readers of fantasy and romance, to readers of historical novels who are looking for a specific time period and to readers who are interested in old world Russia.
About the Author:
Hardcover, 399 pages
Published May 17th 2016 by Balzer + Bray
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.
What's up for grabs: Paperback of The Crown's Game
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full schedule and links to the posts!