Vira's Reviews > The Crown's Game

The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
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When I hear "Russia-inspired fantasy" I imagine a picture of contrasts - velvet luxury of elite vs wooden simplicity of plain people, legendary generosity of a soul vs legendary brutality of a body, colorful traditions and celebrations vs darkness and hardships of everyday life. We all have our fantasies about Imperial Russia and, though not all of them are true, we hope to be tempted, charmed and amazed. As the famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin put it: "It is so easy to deceive me, for I am glad to be deceived".

But while I agree The Crown’s Game is a rather successful debut, it fails to create a desired atmosphere. Russian is my mother tongue and I am more than familiar with the culture and traditions of Imperial Russia - which may be the reason I am not that easily infatuated. My background also makes me really fastidious and critical. So let’s just say, I am aware that the Crown’s Game is a work of imagination and not a dissertation, but still I can’t help it when I see Bolshebnoye (Duplo) instead of Volshebnoye (it means "magical", for god’s sake, one of the most important words in fantasy!) or a weird transliteration of a presumably typical Russian toast - "Myevo zdarovye". There’re so many cultural elements that can help create a rich, multi-dimensional, exciting world besides a couple of local phrases and a list of traditional pastry.

My second problem with the book is that it lacks a character - in comparison to what I’ve expected, that is. A lethal magical duel between two powerful enchanters. Sounds epic, right? With passion, blood, treachery, temptation, danger and, of course, lots of first-class magic - all painting the narration in expressive, vivid colors. The story, however, is all pastels and refinement (except for the ending). Where I would want a struggle (or a slow-burner, at least) there is insta-love. Where I would want real hard-core battle of powers there is a contest of art and nature appreciation. Where I would want dramatic escalation of tension there was lack of it thereof.

Same story with the main characters, they lack real-life intensity. Introduction to each of them was full of promises - Vika, Nikolai and Pasha are of different upbringing, have different temperaments and possess different abilities. Their motives, goals and desires create a fruitful plain for conflict - and where there’s conflict, there’s growth. Unfortunately, I am not satisfied with how the characters were developed. What we see is their basic scale of emotions, which doesn’t change or transform throughout the book. I wish for more nuanced, sophisticated characters that show growth and mettle.

I won't say the book left me totally indifferent, however. It has a spark, but I need a fire. There were some beautiful scenes that made my heart beat faster and three plot twists that caught me by surprise. And the ending has also gained some points for the book - not for the way it ended per se, but for some dynamics. I felt relieved when I saw that this is a duology, the ending would have been a disaster otherwise. It was rushed and a bit messy and it left too many questions. That being said, I do hope to see progress and a decent development of the main characters in the future. Yes, that means I will read the second book (with fingers crossed).

Verdict
Disappointed - yes, hopeful for the second book - yes, recommend to give it a try - yes.

Buddy read with my dear book sister with a very Russian name Katerina, please see her angry review.
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Reading Progress

January 13, 2016 – Shelved
January 13, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
May 25, 2016 – Started Reading
May 25, 2016 – Shelved as: 2016-release
May 28, 2016 – Shelved as: fantasy
May 28, 2016 – Shelved as: russia
May 28, 2016 – Shelved as: magic
May 28, 2016 – Shelved as: ya
May 28, 2016 – Shelved as: disappointment
May 28, 2016 – Shelved as: magicians
May 28, 2016 – Shelved as: several-povs
May 28, 2016 – Shelved as: tournament
May 28, 2016 – Shelved as: works-only-as-a-series
May 28, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

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Katerina Kondrenko You're already done with review! I'll be back to read it))


Vira Katerina wrote: "You're already done with review! I'll be back to read it))"

Yup, I've decided to make it as quick and painless as possible)


Katerina Kondrenko Vira wrote: "Katerina wrote: "You're already done with review! I'll be back to read it))"

Yup, I've decided to make it as quick and painless as possible)"


I'm at ~55% and why oh why this book can't be already over. The ball scene is a cliche upon cliche.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Great review, Vira! I've heard a lot of complaints on the characters. Insta-love sucks.
Three plot twists? I might just give this a try soon.


message 5: by Luke (new) - added it

Luke Taylor I am dreading this read now... :\


Vira Luke wrote: "I am dreading this read now... :\"

No, Luke, I don't think you should) Moreover, I would really like to know what you think about this book, so give it a try.


Vira Christine wrote: "Great review, Vira! I've heard a lot of complaints on the characters. Insta-love sucks.
Three plot twists? I might just give this a try soon."


Ahmm, unexpected discoveries rather, calling them plot twists was me overreacting a bit)
Anyways, do read it just to make your own mind about the book - I think I had rather high demands from it from the very beginning.


message 8: by Luke (new) - added it

Luke Taylor Vira wrote: "Luke wrote: "I am dreading this read now... :\"

No, Luke, I don't think you should) Moreover, I would really like to know what you think about this book, so give it a try."


I have it on my shelf! Maybe after I finish TFIOS. :D


Katerina Kondrenko So diplomatic review, dear))


message 10: by Vira (new) - rated it 2 stars

Vira Katerina wrote: "So diplomatic review, dear))"

Well, I was in a peaceful mood. Looking forward to your thoughts - I like how uncompromising you get when you are mad)


message 11: by Katerina (last edited May 31, 2016 11:10AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Katerina Kondrenko Vira wrote: "Katerina wrote: "So diplomatic review, dear))"

Well, I was in a peaceful mood. Looking forward to your thoughts - I like how uncompromising you get when you are mad)"


I already wrote them down (but was lazy to scold everything)), that's why I'm here, free to read every negative and one diplomatic review on GR. YAY!)

ps: I'm curious how this review might look if you wrote it during a trip... let's say to Odessa)


Nastassja Hmm, three stars is a little much for the book, no? (no, no, I am not trying to convince you to lower you rating :D) But at least you liked some parts of the book, I, on the other hand, disliked everything about it. So, if you are going to read the next part, dear, I'll be there waiting for you to tell me and Kate if it's worth second chance))

P.S. Bolshebnoe duplo still kills me. Kate proposed to call Evelyn - Ebelyn instead if she likes so much to change V and B letters, why not))


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