Russian magic…Two words that probably don’t take centre stage together very often, it is however what first attracted me to this book. Unfortunately it did not quite live up to my expectations.
I think it was a very ambitious novel with a lot of promise but it just failed take off. That said, it is not one that will land in my pile of “Worse novels I have ever read” far from it. When I think of “The Crown’s Game” it makes me think of cookie dough…and what I mean by that is just that it is not quite done baking…
Ultimately, I think the author had way too many things too explore and it was just too much to fit into this first installment.
Let’s first have a look at our triangle of main protagonists. Pasha is heir to the Russian throne, Vika and Nikolai are both contenders to the much sought after and highly respected role of Imperial Enchanter and this makes them fated to battle each other to the death. Adding a layer of complication to this situation is the feelings both Pasha and Nikolai seemed to have developed for Vika. We already know this love triangle is in for a rough ride.
Of course these characters come with their own connections who have their own stories. Pasha has the Imperial family while Vika and Nikolai’s mentors also play an integral part of the story.
For me, this is where the problems lies. They were all very good characters and choosing who to put at the forefront was a struggle for the author and I think it showed. What the reader received was a taster of everyone’s story and never the whole piece.
This morsel delivery effect was felt through the entire book. For example, we encounter the magical contenders’ mentors and get a sense at their rivalry, but we never really know why it is so in the first place, and where the historical magical myth could have been explored in more depth and potentially be the backbone supporting this epic battle it just isn’t so. The history of Russian magic was just only briefly mentioned as the reason why the Crown’s Game came to be but never elaborated upon.
Now going back to my cookie dough analogy, with the right ingredients…and enough baking time this saga could potentially be great. I definitely feel that more should be told about the Russian history of that era, its magical source and its rules, more about how the mentors are chosen and the connection to the Imperial family who seemed to have a somewhat very slim magical link but present nonetheless. Anyway, those are my hopes for the second installment.
And while we wait, I would still recommend readers to pick up this piece as I am curious to know if others felt the same one.
Hope you’ll let me know.
Thanking team @harper360uk for providing me with a copy of this title.