Book: The Crown’s Fate
Author: Evelyn Skye
I read the first book in this duology back in February, as part of my #RockMyTBR Challenge, and I really enjoyed it, all the different enchantments, the setting, the actual concept of the game, everything was really good for the most part so naturally after I read it, I was really excited for the sequel to come out. I saved it for December as I thought it would fit really well with this time of year (which it did) but I have to admit, I was a tad disappointed. Compared to the first book, this sequel was kind of lacklustre. Without the Game as a driving force, the pacing seemed even slower than it was the first time around and when the book came to an end, I just felt like “Well was that it?”. It certainly didn’t end the series with a bang, that’s for sure. Here is a short synopsis of the book:
Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.
Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.
For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.
With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.
The writing, as with the first book was truly lovely, Evelyn Skye certainly has a way with words, but even the prettiest writing can’t hide a lacklustre plot, so as much as I loved the way the book was written, I wasn’t in love with everything that was going on and as a reader, that means more to me. You can have the prettiest writing in the world, but if the plot isn’t strong then I won’t love the book.
Whilst I didn’t love the pacing, as I felt it was rather slow in places, I did appreciate the mix of longer and shorter chapters, it makes it a lot easier for me to read a book when the chapters aren’t all like twenty pages long! But the pacing really ruined it, the really intense climax was over within a few chapters, when we’d spent like seventy chapters getting there and the payoff just didn’t seem worth it. Chapters and chapters seemed to be spent on insignificant details, which I didn’t like.
I still loved the setting, especially given that the book was set around Christmas-time, I thought that was just perfect and it really added to the magical feel of the book.
I had mixed feelings about the characters. Vika, I still really liked, although her constant switching between Pasha and Nikolai for the first half of the book was really infuriating! Still, I did like Vika for the most part, she’s spunky, she’s determined to do things her way even within the constraints of being Imperial Enchanter which I appreciated, it was interesting to see her journey in this story. Pasha I could either take or leave, I thought he was cute in the first book, but I wasn’t a fan of his constant pining over Vika or the fact that he was a complete pushover. Nikolai, I really hated in this book, he was completely oblivious to what his mother was doing to him, everything he did was completely out of character, his jealousy over Pasha and Vika when there was nothing going on was just petty and his redemption arc was entirely rushed, there was nothing to endear me to Nikolai in this book at all. I felt bad for Renata, but I didn’t feel like she added anything at all to the book? She was kind of just there, pining over Nikolai and didn’t seem to have much use in the grand scheme of things. Yuliana, I reckon could have had potential, but was completely underutilised, so she just comes off as a selfish bitch trying to control her brother for the most part. It would have been really interesting to have chapters from Yuliana’s POV as she is clearly more suited to ruling than Pasha, but she never really gets a chance to shine and that was a real shame for me.
I wasn’t expecting Aizhana to have such a big role in this one and I didn’t really love that she did? Aizhana doesn’t really have much nuance to her, she’s just evil and that’s kind of that? Her role in the story didn’t really seem to add much either, it didn’t really develop Nikolai’s character, or their relationship so I wasn’t really sure what the point of her was. It also really frustrated me that Nikolai didn’t work out what she was doing for so long!
The magic was still pretty awesome, although a lot darker than in the first book, as the magic in the first book was used for whimsical enchantments, whereas in this book it is more like warfare. Still, it was awesome to get to see just how much Vika and Nikolai could do and the enchantments get even bigger in this one than they were in the last book, which was cool.
I felt like certain things were just a little too convenient, things were just too easy for either Vika/Nikolai throughout the book and it never felt like the stakes were particularly high even though Pasha was in danger of assassination!
I love Ludmila and Vika’s surrogate mother/daughter relationship and it was a shame we didn’t get to see more of it throughout the book.
There was still lots of tasty food mentioned through the book (though slightly less than the first) which I loved, I really want to try Oreshki cookies, they sound amazing!
I still wasn’t keen on the romance, for me, Nikolai and Vika’s romance has never felt very believable, it was total insta-love and it’s not any more developed in the second book than it was in the first, so there wasn’t anything there for me to root for. Though I did love the scene when they were dancing in the volcano, but I think that was more the setting than me believing in their romance!
The ending felt incredibly rushed. Nikolai had done far too much through the book to make everyone forgive him so fast and you could barely enjoy the magical conflict before it was over, there were far too many chapters devoted to planning the Decembrists uprising and far too few detailing it. I did think that the ending was sweet and I like a happy ending, but it just didn’t feel deserved after everything else that had happened in the book.
Overall, I liked certain aspects of this book, but Nikolai’s story arc, the slow pacing and the sheer number of conveniences that happened in order to get the characters to the end point Skye wanted them, meant that I didn’t enjoy the book as much as the first one, which was a real shame as I really liked the first one. I reckon had this been a middle book of a trilogy, I could have been more forgiving but as a series finale, it was underwhelming.
My Rating: 3/5
My final review of 2017, if I am able to finish the book and write the review in time, will be of the second book in The Lunar Chronicles, and the last book in my #RockMyTBR challenge, Marissa Meyer’s Scarlet.